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Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre
at Columbia University School of the Arts
Pesent the eighth year of a favorite community tradition:
This year's theme:
September 21, 2019, 8 p.m.

Morningside Lights returns, illuminating the night in a sea of blue light as part of a procession of awe-inspiring handmade lanterns floating through Morningside Park to Columbia’s campus, as part of Columbia University’s Year of Water.

This free neighborhood tradition includes a week of workshops
prior to the procession to create the “island” lanterns.

Concept and direction by PROCESSIONAL ARTS WORKSHOP

Daily Lantern-Building Workshops: Sept. 14 – 20
Miller Theatre at Columbia University (116th St. and Broadway)

Family Craft Table at the Down to Earth Farmers Market:
Saturday, September 21, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Morningside Park (110th St. and Manhattan Ave.)

Illuminated Procession: Saturday, September 21, 8 p.m.
Begins in Morningside Park (116th St. and Morningside Ave.)

All events are free and open to the public

Sign-up at

Morningside Lights Lantern Building Workshop; Photo by Karli Cadel

Morningside Lights Procession 2018; Photo by Michael Seto

From Melissa Smey, Executive Director
Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre:
“I am delighted to welcome a new year at Columbia with Morningside Lights, a beloved neighborhood tradition now in its eighth year. This year’s theme is Island and is presented as part of Columbia University’s Year of Water. Under the masterful direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop, participants will collaborate in creative workshops and an illuminated public procession. I can’t wait to see the glowing island lanterns float through Morningside Park, conveying the complex and poetic relationship between humans and the natural world, individuals and the larger community. It is going to be spectacular.”

The 8th annual MORNINGSIDE LIGHTS, presented by the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University, returns with the theme Island, a luminous archipelago comprised of 50+ community-built lanterns. Each one will be a unique, personal reflection on idyllic solitude or urgent interdependency, rising tides or vanishing landscapes, utopias or dystopias, abundance or scarcity. In a community procession through Morningside Park, the glowing islands will set forth through the darkness—a shared vision to remind us that, in the end, none of us is an island. Morningside Lights is part of Columbia University’s Year of Water.

Free lantern-building workshops will be hosted daily at Miller Theatre from September 14 – 20. Workshops are geared toward teens and adults, but children ages 10 and up are welcome if working with a participating adult. A family craft designed for younger children will be hosted at the Down to Earth Farmers Market in Morningside Park on Saturday, September 21.

The workshops culminate in the illuminated procession through Morningside Park on Saturday, September 21. Information and registration are available at

Morningside Lights concept and direction by Processional Arts Workshop.
Co-produced by the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts.

The Procession
Saturday, September 21, 8 p.m.

The Morningside Lights procession begins in Morningside Park at 116th Street and Morningside Avenue at 8 p.m. Meet at this time to walk in the procession or join anywhere along the route. The procession route is approximately one mile in distance, and reaches the Columbia campus at around 8:45 p.m.

Those who wish to carry a lantern can arrive at 7 p.m. for rehearsal at 120th Street and Morningside Avenue. Lanterns are assigned first-come, first-served beginning at 7 p.m. sharp.

The Lantern Building Workshops

From Saturday, September 14 through Friday, September 20, daily lantern-building workshops will take place at Miller Theatre, on Broadway at 116th Street. Afternoon and evenings workshop sessions will be offered. Those interested in taking part can visit for more information, including a detailed schedule, and to sign up for the workshops. Participants are invited to collaborate in forming their own islands, real or imaginary, while learning techniques for making illuminated art.

Workshops are free and open to participants of all backgrounds and abilities. Activities are geared toward teens and adults, but children ages 10 and up are welcome if working with a participating adult. Materials, tools, and techniques may not be appropriate for children under age 10.

A family craft table featuring a lantern-making project designed for younger children will be hosted on Saturday, September 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Down to Earth Farmers Market in Morningside Park. Children and their families are invited to create lanterns during the day for that evening’s Morningside Lights procession.

Processional Arts Workshop

Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, PAW Artistic Directors
with workshop participants; Photos by Karli Cadel

Processional Arts Workshop (PAW), under the direction of Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, creates site-specific parades, processions, and immersive theatre happenings worldwide. Inspired by diverse, global traditions of Carnivalesque street theatre, largescale puppetry, and ritual pageant, PAW uses processional art as means to build and sustain community spirit and awareness, designing original works for established public events and festivals, as well as seeding site-specific pageant traditions in communities where no such events may have existed before. Drawing on regional cultures, history, folklore, ethnicity, and current sociopolitical concerns, PAW engages local residents in every stage of production, empowering them to identify and express the narratives that uniquely define “local” in their own community, against the modern tide of global homogenization.

Arts Initiative

The Arts Initiative at Columbia University is a pioneering venture to make arts and culture a meaningful part of every Columbian's experience. Founded in 2004, the Arts Initiative’s diverse programs encourage students, faculty, and staff to experience the creative life of the campus, engage the cultural riches of New York City and the wider world, and create arts and performance. Under the auspices of the Arts Initiative, Columbia students, faculty, and staff attend cultural events across New York City, benefit from ticket discounts and subsidies, and connect to one another through the Arts Initiative’s vibrant programming. At its core, the Arts Initiative creates and facilitates opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchange and is integral to the fabric of campus life. Its programs benefit from engagement with Columbia's world-class faculty, especially those of the School of the Arts, of which it is a part.

Miller Theatre

Miller Theatre at Columbia University is the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming. In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events, with a focus on contemporary and early music, jazz, opera, and multimedia performances. Founded in 1988, Miller Theatre has helped launch the careers of myriad composers and ensembles over the years, serving as an incubator for emerging artists and a champion of those not yet well known in the United States. A four-time recipient of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, Miller Theatre continues to meet the high expectations set forth by its founders—to present innovative programs, support the development of new work, and connect creative artists with adventurous audiences.
Miller Theatre 's 2019-20 Season is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Year of Water

Beginning in fall 2019, Columbia University will launch Year of Water, an interdisciplinary investigation of water in all of its social, political, historical, cultural, economic, and environmental inequities and complexities. Year of Water will convene institutes, schools, and programs at Columbia to present a year of art, lectures, symposia, and research focused on Earth's most precious resource.

Columbia University’s Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate
at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall.

Directions and information are available online at
or via the Miller Theatre Box Office, at 212/854-7799.

For further information, press tickets, and to arrange interviews,
please contact Aleba & Co. at 212/206-1450 or

For photos, please contact Lauren Bailey Cognetti, 212/854-1633;





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