Laurie Anderson

Party in the Bardo: Conversations with Laurie Anderson—Episode One

Friday, June 5, 2020 at 4:00am
WESU Middletown 88.1FM


Friday, June 5, 2020 at 4:00pm
WESU Middletown 88.1FM


Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 10:00pm
WESU Middletown 88.1FM

The first episode of writer, director, visual artist, and vocalist Laurie Anderson's radio show, “Party in the Bardo: Conversations with Laurie Anderson,” on WESU Middletown 88.1FM originally aired on her 73rd birthday. Each program will be available to stream from WESU's show archives for two weeks following the broadcast.

Click here to stream this two-hour episode from WESU's show archives.

Laurie Anderson has created groundbreaking works that span the worlds of art, theater, and experimental music. A renowned and daring creative pioneer, she has contributed music to dance pieces by Bill T. Jones and Trisha Brown. Her 2018 recording with the Kronos Quartet, "Landfall," won a GRAMMY Award. Her most recent collaboration is 2019’s “Songs from the Bardo” with Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith.

“Since the early ‘80s, I’ve dreamed of...having a radio show in the middle of the night” said Laurie Anderson. “When time slows down, where the lines between sleeping and waking, between dreams and reality, are getting blurred, and when people’s defenses drop away, and logic just seems to be very limiting.”

Episode One of “Party in the Bardo” is a profound, sometimes whimsical, wide-ranging conversation with writer Jonathan Cott, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the recent author of Listening: Interviews 1970-1989 (University of Minnesota Press, April 2020), about hesitation and ways of looking at time. Cott and Anderson share and discuss pieces of music—from Frédéric Chopin and Johann Sebastian Bach to Thelonious Monk, Olivier Messiaen, and Munir Bashir; as well as the track "Song for Bob" composed by Laurie Anderson and performed by pianist Timo Andres from the new Nonesuch Records compilation album "I Still Play,” released on May 22—that move and astound them. Between musical offerings, their conversation wanders through ideas of perfection, beauty, symmetry, mayflies, mosquitoes, childhood memories, and much more. The second half of Episode One of “Party in the Bardo” continues Anderson's conversation with Cott, and features music by Asaf Avidan, Ann Peebles, Antony and The Johnsons, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Marika Papagika, Mose Allison, Chirgilchin, Thelonious Monk, Antonín Dvořák, and Violeta Parra. The first episode is dedicated to their friend and music producer Hal Willner, who passed away from COVID-19 in New York City on April 7.

Writer Jonathan Cott returned for the eleventh and final episode of “Party in the Bardo: Conversations with Laurie Anderson” for a conversation about love on Friday, November 6, 2020. Cott also took part in "After Party in the Bardo: A Conversation with Laurie Anderson" on Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 7pm

“Party in the Bardo: Conversations with Laurie Anderson” brings listeners into intimate conversations between Anderson and her close friends and colleagues—artists, writers, and thinkers who share Anderson’s zeal to ask questions, explore, and understand the world. “Party in the Bardo” was created for this moment in time, when our global and local communities are grappling with the new reality of COVID-19. In Tibetan tradition, the “Bardo” is the in-between: a state of existence after death and before one’s next birth, when consciousness is not connected to a physical body. By design, each episode will premiere on Friday at 4am, when thoughts drift and new connections become possible —and a time, in 2020, when many of us are awake and wondering at the moment we are living though. (For those who sleep well, “Party in the Bardo” will also air again the same day at 4pm.)

“Party in the Bardo” was created and hosted by Laurie Anderson as part of her 2019-2020 artist residence at Wesleyan University, and is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Philip J. '71 and Lynn Rauch Fund for Innovation, with support from Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts and WESU Middletown 88.1 FM.

Image of Laurie Anderson by Ebru Yildiz. Thumbnail of Jonathan Cott by Rachel Papo.