September 21 and 22: Niki Ulehla and Echidna’s Choir Boys

Join us for Hansel and Hansel (and a Small Show), a puppetshow by Niki Ulehla and Echidna’s Choir Boys.

Hansel and Hansel is a marionette play, featuring an original score by Daniel Brown, performed live by a five piece chamber ensemble.

Puppetshow by Niki Ulehla and Echidna’s Choir Boys
Score by Daniel Brown
Conducted by Nathaniel Berman
September 21 and 22, 8:00pm
Advance tickets $15; tickets at the door $20/student$15
click here to buy tickets

Echidna’s Choir Boys make puppet shows in which the puppeteer is visible. Our focus as puppeteers is to work with gravity to allow the marionettes to come alive.

Their performances began in 2005 as part of Cows for Tuttle, an ensemble comprised of accordion, voice, oboe, saw, tuba, percussion, a tap dancer and marionettes. After this, they began developing puppet shows that told stories (vaguely familiar or invented), maintaining the emphasis on close collaboration with musicians, performers and composers.

Hansel and Hansel are twins created in 2000. Not identical, they are nevertheless a mirror of each other– a fantasy of doubling and boyhood. They were the second and third marionettes made by Niki Ulehla. Their physical construction leaves them with several challenges in movement but these define the boys in action. Originally imagined as characters to retell the popular opera by Engelbert Humperdinck, they now have their own story by Niki Ulehla and score by Daniel Brown.

In addition to Hansel and Hansel, the ensemble will also perform a Small Show, a new exploration into small scale puppets. This work developed as an evolving combination of Niki’s work as a jewelry maker and puppeteer.

Niki Ulehla is a San Francisco based artist and jewelry designer who has been making carved wooden marionettes for over ten years. She has performed in Europe and the US. She received a BA from Stanford University in Drawing and Painting, then studied marionette making in the Czech Republic. She has been regularly performing with her marionettes since 2005.

Daniel Brown is a composer and cellist living in Santa Cruz, CA. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from UC Santa Cruz, and a Bachelor of Science in Discrete Mathematics from Georgia Tech. His compositions have been performed in the US, Japan, Korea, India, and Latin America. In addition to composing, he has developed several computer programs that compose and perform music.

Conductor Nathaniel Berman maintains a wide range of activities as a performer and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. A faculty member at UC Santa Cruz, he is conductor of the UCSC Concert Choir, and has appeared as guest conductor of the Orchestra and Opera Theater. Mr. Berman is also Music Director of the Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony, and assistant conductor of Peninsula Symphony. Equally dedicated to new music and interdisciplinary collaboration, Mr. Berman has been a member and assistant conductor of the professional new-music chorus Volti, and is currently the conductor for the San Francisco-based new-music collective Wild Rumpus. In April of 2013, he will premiere music by UCSC faculty member Hi Kyung Kim at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the Smithsonian in Washington, D. C. Mr. Berman received his Master’s degree in conducting from UC Santa Cruz, where he studied with Nicole Paiement. His first instrument was trumpet, and he grew up playing duets with his dad, a jazz pianist and singer.