Helga Davis


Helga Davis served as a principle actor in the 25th-anniversary international revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's seminal opera Einstein on the Beach. Her appearance in You Us We All by Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond) and Andrew Ondrejcak marked her fifth at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.

Helga is a New York-based performer whose interdisciplinary work includes theater, opera, and fine art. Since 2012 Davis has starred in the international revival of composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson's opera Einstein on the Beach; Wilson describes her as “a united whole, with spellbinding inner power and strength.”

She also starred in Wilson’s The Temptation of St. Anthony, with libretto and score by Bernice Johnson Reagon (Sweet Honey in the Rock); Milton by Katie Pearl and Lisa Damour; Elsewhere by cellist Maya Beiser and composer Missy Mazzoli; The Blue Planet, a multimedia theater piece, by Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke; and served as a “Sweet Peach” in Soho Rep’s Jomama Jones, Radiate, which made New Yorker theatre critic Hilton Als’ top ten list.

Helga’s interview with artist Kara Walker aired on WNYC's Morning Edition on the eve of her Whitney Museum retrospective. She wrote and performed a multimedia piece Imaginings at the retrospective’s conclusion.

She is the recipient of the BRIC Fireworks grant and has completed her first full-length theatre piece, Cassandra. Davis may be heard on the new VIA Records release, Oceanic Verses, a multi-media opera written for her by composer Paola Prestini. In Fall 2015, Davis performed in her fifth Next Wave festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Shara (Nova) Worden and Andrew Ondrejcak’s You Us We All.

She hosts the Helga podcast, live events for New Sounds and formerly for WQXR’s Q2 Music, and was awarded an ASCAP Multimedia Award for hosting WNYC's 24:33: Twenty-Four Hours and Thirty-Three Minutes of the Playful and Playable John Cage.


Helga Davis appears in the following:

A Little Night Music With Jenny Lin and Dover String Quartet

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Pianist Jenny Lin performs works by Silvestrov, Mozart, and Stravinsky. We also hear the Dover String Quartet with highlights from the ensemble’s performance in WQXR’s Greene Space.   


A Little Night Music With Juho Pohjonen, Davóne Tines, and the Junction Trio

Friday, August 14, 2020

This program features a 2011 A Little Night Music performance of Haydn and Mozart by pianist Juho Pohjonen and highlights from the opera The Black Clown, with bass-baritone Davóne Tines.


A Little Night Music With Inon Barnatan

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

This A Little Night Music features Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan’s 2016 Mostly Mozart debut, for which he performed a range of works from the 18th to the 21st centuries.


A Little Night Music With Emanuel Ax, Anna Polonsky, and Orion Weiss

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

This late night presentation features three pianists — Emanuel Ax, Anna Polonsky, and Orion Weiss — from A Little Night Music performance in 2015 at the Kaplan Penthouse.


A Little Night Music With Pianist Paul Lewis

Monday, August 10, 2020

This Mostly Mozart Festival late night concert features celebrated pianist Paul Lewis performing works of Schubert and Brahms, recorded in 2016 at the Kaplan Penthouse.


A Little Night Music With Pekka Kuusisto and Knut Erik Sundquist + Beatrice Rana

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Classical and folk collide on this late night program featuring Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and Norwegian bassist Erik Sundquist. 


Esperanza Spalding

Friday, May 08, 2020

Esperanza Spalding joins Helga mere weeks before her most recent Grammy win to talk about what it means to truly be a part of a community and how to find the “the yum” in things.


Elizabeth Alexander

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Poet and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President, Elizabeth Alexander shares her thoughts on a life alongside words, maintaining relationships, and what the world looks like after loss.


Ranky Tanky

Friday, May 01, 2020

Gullah Band, Ranky Tanky, talk about the tradition of the music they play, where it’s been and where they’d like to take it next. 


Maury Rubin

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pastry Chef Maury Rubin joins us in the wake of the closing of New York restaurant, City Bakery.


Judy Collins

Friday, April 24, 2020

Musician and activist Judy Collins shares the story of her decades long career. Alongside loss and addiction she maintains a clarity of voice, passion and vision as a conduit for music.


Bethann Hardison

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Activist, entrepreneur, and former model Bethann Hardison recounts moments from her unconventional life.


Stanley Whitney

Friday, April 17, 2020

Visual artist and colorist, Stanley Whitney talks about life as an artist and as a person. He uncovers what it means to be a black abstract painter, firmly rooted in the United States.


Krista Tippett

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Krista Tippett talks about her life as a mother, daughter, lover and leader and the ways that all of those roles converge in her work as host of the podcast, On Being.


Tune in to 'Helga' This Week on WNYC

Monday, November 26, 2018

Host Helga Davis stops by to talk about her chats with cultural luminaries and her "unconventional life in performance."


Learning from Elie Wiesel, 'The Female Persuasion,' The Helga Podcast

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ariel Burger on "Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom." Meg Wolitzer on "The Female Persuasion." Helga Davis on the Helga podcast.

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Art Maven Kimberly Drew

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Kimberly Drew, known online as @museummammy, is a unrelenting purveyor of art, fashion and culture. She joins Helga to talk mental health and how drinking water helps her keep the beat.


Author David Kyuman Kim

Monday, May 21, 2018

Teacher, author and speaker, David Kyuman Kim joins host Helga Davis to discuss "radical love" and the essential role of community in shaping how we perceive the world around us.


Author Jacqueline Woodson

Monday, May 07, 2018

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson sits down with host Helga Davis to talk about the power of family – the so-called alternative ones she was born into and made for herself.


Director Kenneth Lonergan

Monday, April 09, 2018

Award-winning director, screenwriter and playwright Kenneth Lonergan talks with host Helga Davis about their charged, formative years in high school and how he fuels his creativity.