Mark Morris Dance Group: “Pepperland”

Posted on May 4 by SEASONS Magazine

Mark Morris Dance Group, photo by Ken Friedman.

Mark Morris Dance Group, photo by Ken Friedman.

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents the internationally-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group‘s performance of Pepperland, a new work celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The performance takes place on May 10 at 8 p.m. at The Granada Theatre, 1214 State St., Santa Barbara.

Mark Morris has been referenced as “the most successful and influential choreographer alive, and indisputably the most musical.” (The New York Times). Pepperland features Morris’ ingenuity and musicality and is accompanied seven-piece chamber ensemble. It features a score by Ethan Iverson, who was one of Morris’ music directors for five years, that intersperses arrangements of album favorites such as “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “A Day in the Life,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Within You Without You” and “Penny Lane” with six original Pepper-inspired pieces intended especially for Morris.

This evening-length work meditates on the classic Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The artful album combines jazz, classical, and world music elements that proved to be too complex for the average cover band. However, in this performance, with the unique arrangement of the chamber music ensemble of voice, theremin, soprano sax, trombone and two keyboards, there’s an emphasis on Sgt. Pepper’s non-rock and roll influences. The Pepper-inspired original pieces complement Morris’ understanding of the classical forms: Allegro, Scherzo, Adagio, and the blues.

“This great album set a radical new direction for popular music and thought,” says Morris. “I was just a child. 50 years later, with contemporary eyes and ears, we are presenting a comment and a rethinking of this profound cultural artifact with all of the imagination, surprise, humor and bizarrity intact.”

The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) was founded in New York in 1980, and has been called “the preeminent modern dance organization of our time” by Yo-Yo Ma. MMDG has received “highest praise for their technical aplomb, their musicality and their sheer human authenticity” (Bloomberg News). They are known for their commitment to using live music in every performance, which led to the founding of the MMDG ensemble in 1996. In addition, the MMDG regularly collaborates with musicians across many genres.

For tickets and more information, visit or

Ashley Killion


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