Threshold, a site specific new music work and a mythopoetic underworld journey—what kind of world will we create?

Misha Penton, soprano, concept, text, artistic director. George Heathco, guitars. Luke Hubley, percussion. Music by Penton, Heathco, and Hubley; with Sherry Cheng, Neil Ellis Orts, and Michael Walsh

Threshold is new music site-specific work is loosely inspired by the ancient and enigmatic biannual Greek initiatory rite, The Eleusinian Mysteries (as in Eleusis, Greece). Little is known of the details of the original events, but the ceremonies enacted the tale retold in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (seventh century BCE-ish): a mother-daughter passion play of abduction, loss, and renewal. The rites were held for a thousand years before the rise of Christianity and artists freely interpreted the story, as I, and my collaborators, do now. The ceremonies were said to be transformational for participants, honoring the cycle of life and offering a philosophy based in meaning-making and hope.

Threshold premiered April 30, 2017 at the Silos at Sawyer Yards: an enormous, labyrinthine sonic wonderland. It’s an old rice factory now converted into an industrial arts space.

Read some of my thoughts about the project during the process: Crossing the Threshold: a word, a whisper and An Ancient Mystery Cult and an Abandoned Texas Rice Factory

Listen to a live version of THRESHOLD recorded at Houston Public Media Misha Penton, soprano and text, George Heathco, guitar, and Luke Hubley, percussion. Music by Penton, Heathco, Hubley. Recorded by Todd Hulslander:



The experimental music film above is a version of the live Threshold performance event. Misha Penton: Director, Editor, Sound Editing & Mix, Sound Score, Concept & Text. Todd Hulslander: Sound Recording, Final Sound Mix & Mastering. Raul Casares: Director of Photography. Dave Nickerson: Second Camera. CAST: Misha Penton: Soprano & Voices with original contributions by: Sherry Cheng, Neil Ellis Orts, Michael Walsh: Voices. George Heathco: Guitars. Luke Hubley: Percussion. Misha Penton Productions

Filmed at The Silos at Sawyer Yards and Winter Street Studios
Houston, Texas. Special thanks to Jon Deal, David Deal, and Houston Public Media

Read my piece Vocality, Space, and Mediated Works (2018) about the rehearsal, performance, and video process of Threshold in Body, Space, Technology Journal University of Brunel, UK. Open Library of the Humanities.

THRESHOLD sounds like the love child of George Crumb and John Cage
— Michael Walsh



LIVE PERFORMANCE (excerpt, dress rehearsal)

Misha Penton is not only a visionary creative artist, but also a fearless leader and director. There is nothing she can’t do, and it’s that firm belief and strong dedication that sets the standard for all of us who take part in this journey.
— Sherry Cheng


Misha polished us all up and made us shine in these shadows.
— Neil Ellis Orts

MishaSilos on Sawyer