The Kennedy Center

Sophia Brous


National Sawdust Artist in Residence Sophia Brous is a inter-disciplinary musician, vocalist, performer, creative director and curator. An artist with diverse interests, she collaborates with companies and artists internationally on new and devised works and commissions. Brous is current resident artist at New York’s National Sawdust and past resident artist at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center and the Red Bull Studios New York. She is finalist in the Melbourne Prize for Music Outstanding Artist Award.
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, and now largely based in New York, recent commissions and collaborations include the celebrated song cycle Lullaby Movement with David Coulter and Leo Abrahams’; In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited’ (The Barbican, Paris Philharmonie), large ensemble collective EXO-TECH featuring Kimbra, Moses Sumney, Colin Stetson, Yuka Honda, Sean Lennon and many others, Arthur Russell Retrospective for BAM; Hallucinations for DOCUMENTA Athens 2017; motion picture Mary Magdelene, Frank Zappa opera ‘200 Motels’ for Southbank Centre London; and forthcoming commission Gorgons (National Sawdust/Yale University).

Alongside her creative projects, Brous is a recognised artistic director and curator and from the age of 22, emerged as one of Australia’s youngest arts leaders as Program Director of the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and Curator of Music at the Adelaide Festival of the Arts. She is current Artistic Associate at the Arts Centre Melbourne where she is founder and curator of Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic. She is a 2019 Creators Fund recipient of the State Government of Victoria

Watch Past Performances


Australian performer and National Sawdust artist-in-resident Sophia Brous joins with New York icon and guitarist Marc Ribot to premiere a new collaboration with Shazhad Ismaily on percussion.

In the Birth of Tragedy, Frederik Nietzsche theorized the religious myth of Silenus (“the best thing for you would be to have never been born”) as the trauma that necessitated the birth of the artistic beauty of Greek Tragic theater.
The Carter Family’s “When the World’s On Fire” points to a different process at work in American culture: when utopian optimism collided with the lived reality of the New World and produced apocalyptic visions of devils, fire, and brimstone. As Greil Marcus writes, paving the way for the “devil” as a primary antagonist in the sublime musical expression of musician Robert Johnson and a blues and gospel musical heritage of enormous power and beauty.

Whatever the political effects of these socio-religious transformations might be, it seems clear to us that they have “stung…into poetry” some of the great beauty of the wellsprings of our musical heritage.

Today, as myth and fantasy spill out into the political stage, New York icon, guitarist Marc Ribot joins with National Sawdust artist-in-resident, celebrated performer and vocalist Sophia Brous to premiere a new exploration into songs of beauty, disorder and dissent for a new America, where the blurred lines between dream and waking call on a new songbook of lullabies, hymns and songs of resistance to guide us in the days ahead.

Featuring selections from Sophia Brous’ celebrated song cycle Lullaby Movement (originally conceived with David Coulter and Leo Abrahams), Marc Ribot’s forthcoming Songs of Resistance project, and other world premiere repertoire.

Presented in collaboration with National Sawdust.

Presented as part of the Kennedy Center's DIRECT CURRENT inaugural season. For more information on the season, please click HERE.

Sophia Brous