Alembic #14: Karen Bernard “Ouette” + Tim DuRoche and Michael Stirling

Performance Works NorthWest presents

  • Karen Bernard (NYC) performs her solo “Ouette”, using text, dance, and a roving laptop and projector in a transformative exploration of identity, mortality and desire
  • Percussionist Tim DuRoche and vocalist Michael Stirling collaborate on ‘“a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance,” for wind gong, voice and tambura
  • Tim DuRoche moderates a panel including Karen Bernard, PWNW director Linda Austin and others examining the role of artist-led organizations in the larger creative ecosystem

Note: Lisa Radon is unable to perform as originally scheduled. 

May 20 & 21. Friday and Saturday at 8pm.
:  May 22, Sunday 2pm (free admission)

Tickets $12-$15 (discounts for Boris & Natasha Fan Club
At the door or at

Performance Works NorthWest
4625 SE 67th Ave., Portland, OR 97206

Alembic #14 is made possible in part by the Regional Art & Culture Council.


NYC-based artist Karen Bernard uses a roving laptop and projector to create spaces evoking imagined and real experiences in a heightened film noir for “Ouette,” loosely based on Francois Ozon’s movie “Swimming Pool.” Themes explored in this fractured narrative are: personal fantasies of romance and sexuality; aspects of 20th century modernism; Hitchcock’s cinematic conceits; and a relationship to mortality. As Bernard voyages beyond the space she occupies, she generates an emotional, if not a physical, freedom, her travels becoming a language for sexual liberation and empowerment.

a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance
“a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance,”  is a work for voice/tambura and 40″ wind gong built around an exploration of resonance, decay, and cycle/pulse by  jazz musician-composer Tim DuRoche (percussion) and Pandit Pran Nath disciple Michael Stirling (vocals/tambura). Engaging spacious use of overtone, sustain and circumambience, the work draws sonic inspiration from Blaise Pascal’s quote,  “Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere but whose circumference is nowhere” and  Jorge Luis Borges’ consideration of Pascal’s Sphere:  “It may be that universal history is the history of the different intonations given a handful of metaphors.”

“I saw a small iridescent sphere of almost unbearable brilliance. At first I thought it was revolving; then I realised that this movement was an illusion created by the dizzying world it bounded”
—Jorge Luis Borges

Panel & Community Discussion:
Performance Works celebrates the occasion of Karen Bernard’s visit to Portland with an invitation to a panel discussion and community roundtable moderated by Tim DuRoche ( probing the role of small, artist-run organizations as fundamental, essential enzymatic forces in a larger creative ecosystem. Bernard, the founder and director of New Dance Alliance in NYC, just celebrating its 25th anniversary, will be joined by Linda Austin of Performance Works NW, Brian Weaver of Portland Playhouse, Marc Moscato of The Dill Pickle Club and Jeremy Rossen of Cinema Project. Following on the heels of a May 19 panel focused more on individual artists and organized by the new-in-town Boom Arts, our Sunday afternoon conversation will look at artist-space and artist-led initiatives as conveners, catalysts, incubators; the challenges they face; models of survival and sustainability; and how these spaces exist to serve artistic ‘biodiversity’, provide voice for community, or provide platforms for the working artists. Bagels and coffee will accompany our discussion.


New York City-based soloist Karen Bernard described as a “spellbinding performer with unusual themes” (Jennifer Dunning, New York Times), is Founder and Director of New Dance Alliance (NDA), a non-profit arts service organization that produces an annual performance festival, now celebrating 25 years. She also teaches, lectures and serves on advisory panels across the U.S., Canada and Europe. Bernard is committed to nurturing an ongoing social dialogue among U.S. and international artists, one that exemplifies her lifelong commitment to performance.

Bernard’s solo performance, incorporating video, conversational text and dance, has been performed at Dia Center for the Arts, Dixon Place, the Kitchen, festivals in Newfoundland, Vienna and New York.

In 2008, Surfing The Shadow premiered at Joyce SoHo – “wit and creativy,” said April Greene in the Brooklyn Rail. Bernard has received support as a Movement Research Resident Artist and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Meet The Composer, The Field’s Independent Artist Challenge Program Grant, and the Experimental Television Center with support from New York State Arts Council. Her work has been developed through The Field and via residencies at Earthdance, Silo, White Oak and Wassard Elea. In 2009, she received a Bogliasco Fellowship to create work at the Liguria Study Center in Italy. For her “invaluable service to artists” in the founding and development of the Performance Mix Festival, she received the honor of a BAX 10 Award. Bernard has served on numerous panels, most recently for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Tim DuRoche is a jazz drummer-composer, writer, and conceptual artist living in Portland, Oregon. He’s played everything from ragtime to no time–creating performances with Beijing Opera musicians, Russian circus clowns, silent film, dance, spoken word, auctioneers, and with installation-performance artists. DuRoche has created original scores for a number of NW dance artists, including Tere Mathern Dance, Oslund+Co. BodyVox, Cydney Wilkes, and Linda K. Johnson and he has worked extensively with array of US and European avant-garde jazz innovators, including Dominic Duval, Matana Roberts, Paul Plimley-Lisle Ellis, Wally Shoup, Jon Raskin, Perry Robinson, Phillip Greenlief, Jack Wright, and Frank Gratkowski. Recent projects include a month-long public art/sound installation project in Portland’s South Waterfront neighborhood and an evening length score composed for Tere Mathern Dance. He’s appeared as a soloist and featured performer at the 20th Seattle Improvised Music Festival, The Big Sur Experimental Music Festival, Portland Experimental Jazz Festival, San Francisco’s Edgetone New Music Summit,and the Olympia Experimental Music Festivals.

Vocalist Michael Stirling began the study of North Indian classical vocal music (Khayal singing of the Kirana Gharana) with Pandit Pran Nath (Guruji) in 1983, subsequently traveled with him to India and became his disciple. After Pandit Pran Nath’s passing in 1996, Michael continued study and practice of this celestial art form with Guruji’s senior American student, the highly regarded composer and performer, Terry Riley. Michael has accompanied Pandit Pran Nath and Mr. Riley in classes and concerts in America, at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas and in India at the dhargha of Sufi Hazarat Inayat Khan in New Dehli and at Diggi Palace in Jaipur; in California and elsewhere. Michael has also studied and performed with sarangi virtuoso Ustad Hafizullah Khan, vocalists Sri Karunamayee, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Lakshmi Shankar, the American bansuri artist Steve Gorn, tabla/esraj artist Benjy Wertheimer, Gurubhai tabla player/vocalist Rik Masterson, dhrupad vocalists Uday Balwalker, the Gundecha Brothers, kirtan artists Shantala (Benjy & Heather Wertheimer), Gina Sala, Snatam Kaur, Shanti Shivani and others. At the urging of his teacher, Michael offers instruction in North Indian classical vocal music to individual students and small groups in Portland, Oregon (he has taught at Marylhurst University, University of Portland, Community Music Center, First Unitarian Church, Amrita: A Santuary for Yoga, Yoga Shala of Portland, Beloved Festival, and other locations.

Alembic #14 is supported in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council

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