RTV: Zeena Parkins & Janene Higgins

Release Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This RTV episodes features harpest  Zeena Parkins and video artist Janene Higgins presenting an excerpt from their enthralling piece, Arch.

Parkins improvises, elegantly and at times wildly, on an electric harp of her own design and on her accordion. Her sound palette ranges from ethereal to earthy timbres. Higgins simultaneously creates spellbinding video synthesis in real-time, contrasting lyrical physical forms (bodies and architecture) with mysterious abstract colorizations and non-narrative movements projected on several screens. Following the performance, Parkins and Higgins discuss how they coordinate their parts and exchange ideas to develop a performance (for example, tape their rehearsal “jams” and review them). Higgins describes her early commercial video work for clients and her gradual transition to performance, while Parkins details her efforts to redefine the uses of the harp.

Aired on rTV: 2000
Performance date: 05/12/2000
Episode digital release date: 05/12/2010
Host: Phoebe Legere
Produced by Jim Staley
Directed by Matt Mehla


New York-based electro-acoustic composer/improviser /educator, Zeena Parkins is a pioneer of contemporary harp practices. Through the use of expanded playing techniques, object preparations, and electronic processing she has helped to re-situate and re-define the instrument’s capacities. Concurrently, Parkins self-designed a series of one-of-a-kind electric instruments. She leans into the harp’s physical limitations pushing into its impossibilities. In her compositions, Parkins utilizes collections, lists, recombination, historic proximities, geography, tactility, and movement. Sonic presence, history, and personality is revealed in feedback, overtones, timbral shifts, gestural intervals, perception, and residues. Honors include a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Composition, a Foundation of Contemporary Arts Fellowship to Artists, a Doris Duke Artist Award, and three New York Performance Awards for her work with dance (“The Bessie”). Parkins holds the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition, at Mills College. Parkins is excited to announce the release of Glass Triangle, a new trio with Ryan Sawyer (drums) and Mette Rausmussen (sax/objects) on Relative Pitch Records. With beautiful cover art and notes by artist Josiah McElheny.

Media artist Janene Higgins works in projection design, single channel video, installation, and video performance. She has collaborated with many of New York’spreeminent composers and improvisors of new music, and her work has been performed and exhibited in galleries, theaters, and festivals worldwide.