Christopher's current projects include:
Premiering in December 2016, and touring internationally in through 2018, Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, directed by Christopher McElroen, is a live mixed media concert by celebrated jazz pianist / composer / bandleader Gerald Clayton that explores the essence and impact of the Piedmont Blues. The Project features a nine-piece band led by Clayton and including vocalist René Marie and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut. Entwined throughout the live concert is an assemblage of projected film, new and archival photography, and folklore underscoring the verdant cultural landscape of the Piedmont region, including performances by some of the last of the living original Piedmont Blues musicians: NEA National Heritage Fellow bluesman John Dee Holman, as well as Piedmont songsters Boo Hanks and Algia Mae Hinton.
Using songs, lyrics, and imagery from the Piedmont Blues tradition, the Project makes a testimony of the struggle endured by African-Americans in the Southeast during Jim Crow and chronicles the efficacy of the Piedmont Blues as a salve for suffering.
Duke Performances | Duke University is the lead commissioner of Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation; co-commissioners include the Music Center at Strathmore, the Savannah Music Festival, and the Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond.
Produced by the american vicarious, Christopher McElroen Productions, LLC, & B Natural Management, Inc.
Premiering at the 2017 Performance Arcade in Wellington, New Zealand, and touring through 2018, Static Apnea is a performative installation in which a single performer exchanges questions with an audience of one. In no more than 9 minutes and 2 seconds – the current women’s world record for static apnea – the experience dives into the myth of Orpheus and the world of the free diver to explore just how deep one might be willing to go, and why.
(A)Loft Modulation is a new play by Jaymes Jorsling, inspired by Sam Stephenson's The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965.
In 1955 W. Eugene Smith, a celebrated photographer at Life magazine, quit his longtime well-paying job in search of greater freedom and artistic license. Two years later, in 1957, he moved into a dilapidated, five-story loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City’s wholesale flower district. The building was a late-night haunt of some of the biggest names in jazz—Charles Mingus, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk—and countless fascinating, underground characters. From 1957 to 1965, Smith exposed 1,447 rolls of film at the loft, making roughly 40,000 pictures. He also wired the building like a surreptitious recording studio and made 1,740 reels (4,500 hours) of audiotape, capturing hundreds of musicians, icons and obscure figures alike. The tapes and photographs are a remarkable document capturing the struggles of creativity, as well as the struggles of a nation between '57 and '65.
(A)Loft Modulation traces the roiling obsessions of the artists in the building against the backdrop of the social chaos growing in American culture at large.