The Industry’s Star Choir by Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade Screens at Hammer Museum

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On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the Hammer Museum presents Star Choir, a film chronicling the live premiere of the eponymous opera by artists Malik Gaines (Critical Studies MFA 99) and Alexandro Segade. The opera was produced by The Industry, a widely acclaimed experimental opera company in Los Angeles, with music conducted by Marc Lowenstein, faculty of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts.

Vocalists featured in Star Choir include Sarah Beaty, Carmen Edano, Mikaela Elson (Music MFA 23), Kelci Hahn, Shyheim Selvan Hinnant, Jon Lee Keenan, Ben Lin, and Gregório Taniguchi with instrumentalists Guillermo E. Brown, Elizabeth Huston, Marlon Martinez, Ethan Philbrick, Malik Taylor, and Lucy Yates.

An interstellar chamber opera that was performed inside the historic Mount Wilson Observatory, the story follows a starship crew that lands on the enigmatic Planet 85K: Aurora. As they encounter unseen intelligent life, the planet defends itself, leading humans to evolve into a multispecies organism known as the Holobiont.

Man in interstellar space crew costume.
Still from Star Choir by The Industry, 2024 (pictured: Shyheim Selvan Hinnant) | Image: Michael Thomas. Courtesy of Hammer Museum.

The narrative explores the challenges of coexistence and reimagines humanity as a transformative force in the face of the unknown. Segade’s lyrical worldbuilding draws inspiration from sci-fi epics like Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Series and Ridley Scott’s Alien. Ecological theorists like Zakiyyah Iman Jackson and Donna Haraway also informed the text. Gaines’ composition combines lush classical music, psychedelic jazz, and space disco to create a dynamic score. A celebration of the collective voice, the opera features virtuosic vocal play, instructional scores for indigenous lifeforms, and a celestial choir of stars.

For decades, Gaines, artistic co-director of The Industry, has collaborated with Segade on theater, film, video, installation, and live performance art. Together, they co-founded various collaborative groups, most notably My Barbarian in 2000 with Jade Gordon. My Barbarian recently garnered attention with a survey exhibition and performance program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, accompanied by a monograph jointly published by the Whitney Museum and Yale University Press. Their presence extends to major art events, including two Performa Biennials, the Whitney Biennial, two California Biennials, the Montreal Biennial, and the Baltic Triennial.

Following the film screening, Assistant Professor of English at UCLA Summer Kim Lee will moderate a Q&A with Gaines, Segade, and vocalist Hahn.

CalArts Wild Beast | Image by California Institute of the Arts
PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth McRae

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