Part of From 69 to 50: A Stephin Merritt/Magnetic Fields Residency
An evening of music from The Magnetic Fields!
The original Magnetic Fields band (Stephin Merritt, Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson, John Woo, and Shirley Simms) are joined by members of the 50 Song Memoir band, and special guests, for an evening of Magnetic Fields music from the last three decades, along with the premiere of new material.
ABOUT THE MAGNETIC FIELDS + STEPHIN MERRITT
The Magnetic Fields are the main band of studio wunderkind Stephin Merritt, who writes, produces, and sings much of the material. Merritt also plays many of the instruments, concocting a sort of indie pop-synth hybrid. While the Magnetic Fields' albums draw upon the electronic textures of vintage acts like ABBA, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Joy Division, and Gary Numan, Merritt's songs are also far warmer and more purely pop-oriented than the above references indicate, sounding at times like late 20th century equivalents to the catalogs of Phil Spector or Brian Wilson.
Merritt began recording music on his own four-track at a young age, and issued his first Magnetic Fields album in 1990. Since then, Merritt has released eleven Magnetic Fields albums. There is a synth pop quotient on many of his albums, although Merritt always takes care to mix in quite a few natural instruments with the electronic ones, with the help of Claudia Gonson (piano, percussion), John Woo (banjo, guitar), and Sam Davol (cello, flute). Throughout it all, an emphasis remains on the band's pop hooks and eccentric, romantically reflective lyrics rather than the bedrock synth rhythms and textures.
In 1999, the Magnetic Fields surged into the mainstream when Merritt penned his virtuosic 3-disc set, 69 Love Songs. Conceived originally as a cabaret song cycle for the stage, Merritt set out to write 69 Love Songs using most of the known popular music styles, from punk to country to soul and jazz. The album garnered widespread acclaim, including "best of" year-end lists in Spin, Rolling Stone, the New York Times, LA Times, and many other publications. The song "The Book of Love," covered by Peter Gabriel in 2010, was placed into numerous films, and TV shows. It has also become a wedding favorite, and was performed by the Nairobi Chamber Orchestra on the occasion of Barack Obama’s first presidential visit to Kenya in 2015.
In 2002, The Magnetic Fields signed a worldwide record deal with Nonesuch Records (Warner Brothers). For the three albums that followed; i in 2004, Distortion in 2008 and Realism in 2010, Merritt decided to record using only acoustic instrumentation, and no electronic sounds. He called this his “no-synth trilogy,” and continued his long-standing tradition of recording using an array of both eclectic and mainstream instruments, from slinky to zither, to gong to bouzouki, to hammer dulcimer to the sound of leaves rustling.
Stephin Merritt composed original music and lyrics for several music theater pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. Merritt scored the academy award nominated film Pieces of April (dir. Peter Hedges). In 2016, Merritt released a new Magnetic Fields album, 50 Song Memoir (Nonesuch), a musical memoir of his first 50 years. In addition to his work with Magnetic Fields, Merritt has released multiple albums under the band names the Gothic Archies, Future Bible Heroes, and The 6ths, as well as his soundtracks and cast albums. Further information on The Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt may be found at www.houseoftomorrow.com .
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
Expected Run Time is 120 minutes