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Ensemble Pi: Reparations NOW! Streaming premiere 10/19 at 7 pm)

October 9, 2020 | By Isabelle Deconinck

The Center at West Park (NYC) Presents
 
ENSEMBLE PI: REPARATIONS NOW!
A concert honoring Black Lives Matter
 

World premieres by Allison Loggins-Hull, Angélica Negrón & Trevor WestonWorks by Courtney Bryan & Georg Friedrich Haas
 
Streaming premiere on Thursday, October 29 at 7 p.m.
Followed by a Q&A with the artists

Recording available on www.ensemble-pi.org until November 30
 
“Reparations is a litmus test for whether a person is being a racist or anti-racist when it comes to one of the most damaging racial inequities of our time, of all American time—the racial wealth gap. To oppose reparations is to be racist. To support reparations is to be anti-racist.”Ibram X. Xendi, The Atlantic, 2019

Reparations NOW! is Ensemble Pi’s new project, inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ congressional testimony and Ibram X. Kendi’s best-seller book, How to Be an Antiracist – both of which offer powerful and compelling arguments in support of reparations for the African-American community. Focusing on social justice, the new-music collective Ensemble Pi has presented concerts in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and opposing police brutality and systemic racism since 2015. This new project features works from a diverse group of talented composers, including world premieres by Allison Loggins-Hull, Angélica Negrón, and Trevor Weston, and a composition by Courtney Bryan – all commissioned by Ensemble Pi. It also includes Georg Friedrich Haas’ I can’t breathe (In memoriam Eric Garner), a musical improvisation, Requiem for Elijah, based on the last words of Elijah McClain, and the reading of an excerpt from Kendi's book, narrated by Damian Norfleet with percussion accompaniment. 

Reparations Now! is presented by The Center at West Park, where Ensemble Pi are artists-in-residence this fall. The concert premiere will be streamed on Thursday, October 29 at 7 pm. This streaming premiere is free with a suggested donation of $10. 
--> Register online at https://www.centeratwestpark.org/events/ensemble-pi-reparations-now


The Center at West Park is a community performing arts center based in the historic West Park Presbyterian Church, a New York City landmark. This concert is presented as part of the Center’s new Virtual Performance residency program, which provides artists with safe and socially-distant space for media production, marketing and fundraising support, 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales and donations, and connection to an interdisciplinary creative community. Learn more at www.centeratwestpark.org.

PROGRAM:
Courtney Bryan: Elegy (2018)
Piano, clarinet, violin, cello

Georg Friedrich Haas: I can’t breathe (In memoriam Eric Garner) (2014)
Solo trumpet

Allison Loggins-Hull: Pattern (2020, World Premiere)
With text from Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow
Piano, flute, clarinet, percussion, violin, cello

Angélica Negrón: Conversación a distancia (2020, World Premiere)
Piano, clarinet, percussion, violin, cello, accordion

Trevor Weston: Pinkster Kings (2020, World Premiere)
Piano, clarinet, percussion, violin, cello, narrator and conductor
 
Requiem for Elijah (2020)
Improvisation for any combination of instruments and/or voices, based on Elijah McClain’s last words.

Reading of an excerpt from Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist 
Narrator and percussion
 
Idith Meshulam (piano), Allison Loggins- Hull (flute), Moran Katz (clarinet), Wayne Dumaine (trumpet), Bill Trigg (percussion), Airi Yoshioka (violin), Alexis Gerlach (cello), and Damian Norfleet (narrator), with Trevor Weston (conductor).

About the program:
Courtney Bryan’s Elegy (2018) was written as a response to Abel Meeropol’s composition Strange Fruit. Made famous by the iconic 1939 Billie Holiday recording, Strange Fruit is a protest song symbolizing the brutality and racism of the practice of lynching in the United States in the early part of the 20th century. Divided in three sections – “A lament,” “spirit journey,” and “the ascent” – Bryan’s Elegy seeks to honor the spirits of past victims, as well as present ones, through imagining the transition of the spirit from the body to the beyond. 
 
I can’t Breathe (In memoriam Eric Garner) (2014) by German composer Georg Friedrich Haas is a solo trumpet in memory of Eric Garner who died in the NYC borough of Staten Island, after being placed in a chokehold by police. It begins with a dirge within the world of twelve tones; the intervals start contracting until the song suffocates, ending in a sixth-tone scale.
 
The Pattern (2020) by composer/flutist Allison Loggins-Hull is a piece for chamber ensemble which features texts from Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow projected through video. The composition serves as a case for reparations, focusing on the white supremacy’s toxic pattern of blocking Black Americans from progress since the end of the Civil War through Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and Black Lives Matter. The music moves into a section expressing the hope and optimism felt by Black Americans but also the looming and inevitable attack from white supremacy. It suggests that history will repeat itself and putting an end to this abuse is a much needed and overdue form of reparations.
 
Conversatión a distancia (2020) by Puerto Rican-born composer/multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is inspired by Conversación, a danza from Puerto Rican composer, Juan Morel Campos (1857-1896). Using field recordings from Ponce, where Campos was born, the piece is also motivated by the composer’s personal realization of the erasure of Afro-latinx in Puerto Rico, Latin America and the diaspora, and the histories lost along the way. 
 
With Pinkster Kings (2020), composer Trevor Weston delves into the little-known Afro-Dutch traditions in New York and New jersey in the 17th-19th centuries. During the colonial period, the Dutch celebration of Pentecost led to a week-long Black celebration, which included a procession of the king and dancing. Using historical texts with music, Weston simulates an imagined celebration of Pinkster (Anglicization of the Dutch word for Pentecost) to illuminate the important contributions of Africans to the formation of New York. 
 
Composers and performers will come together for the improvisation, Requiem for Elijah, honoring Elijah McClain who died in August 2019 after being placed in a chokehold by police and sedated by paramedics. The piece will include McClain’s last words: “I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting.”
 
This concert was made possible in part by public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, and the Fund for Creative Communities supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, as well as through the generous support of individual donors.

Bios:
 
Ensemble Pi, a socially conscious new-music group founded in 2002, features composers whose work seeks to open a dialogue between ideas and music on some of the world’s current and critical issues. For more than eighteen years, Ensemble Pi presented an annual Peace Project concert, commissioning new works and collaborating with visual artists, writers, actors and journalists such as William Kentridge, Naomi Wolf and David Riker. The ensemble was in residence for four American music festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance and now collaborates with the APNM. Symphony Space presented Ensemble Pi in birthday celebrations for composers Gunther Schuller and Krzysztof Penderecki. A multi-year collaboration with composer Elias Tanenbaum resulted in a CD of his chamber music, Keep Going, released by Parma Recordings in 2010 and reviewed by Gramophoneas “a touching tribute to Elias Tanenbaum that is played with conviction and verve.” It was followed by a second CD of the music Laura Kaminsky, “played with warmth and variety” (American Record Guide). Ensemble Pi is currently working on the third CD. www.ensemble-pi.org
 
Courtney Bryan, a native of New Orleans, is a pianist and composer whose music is in conversation with various musical genres, including jazz and other types of experimental music, as well as traditional gospel, spirituals, and hymns. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Bryan's compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation. Bryan’s work has been presented in a wide range of venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, The Stone, Roulette Intermedium, La MaMa Experimental Theatre, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Blue Note Jazz Club, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Bethany and Abyssinian Baptist Churches, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and Ojai Music Festival. Her compositions have been performed by the Jacksonville Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, International Contemporary Ensemble, La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Aperture Duo, Duo Noire, Ekmeles, Ensemble Pi, New York Jazzharmonic, Spektral String Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Quince Vocal Ensemble, Jennifer Koh, and Kelly Hall-Tompkins. She has two recordings, Quest for Freedom (2007) and This Little Light of Mine (2010) and has a third recording in progress, Sounds of Freedom (2020). Bryan is currently writing an opera, Awakening, a collaboration with the International Contemporary Ensemble, Charlotte Brathwaite, Helga Davis, Cauleen Smith, Sharan Strange, Sunder Ganglani, and Matthew Morrison, which will premiere in 2021. Bryan was the 2018 music recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2019 Bard College Freehand Fellow, and is currently a 2019-20 recipient of the Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Music Composition and a 2020 United States Artists Fellow. She has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and Columbia University (DMA) with advisor George Lewis, and completed an appointment as Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Music in the Newcomb Department of Music at Tulane University, and the Mary Carr Patton Composer-in-Residence with the Jacksonville Symphony. 
 
Allison Loggins-Hull is a flutist, composer and producer with an active career performing and creating music of multiple genres. In 2009, she and Nathalie Joachim co-founded the critically acclaimed duo Flutronix. Loggins-Hull has performed at The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall (Chicago), World Cafe Live, and several other major venues and festivals around the world. She has performed or recorded with a wide-range of artists including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Imani Winds, Lizzo, The National Sawdust Ensemble and others. With Flutronix, she has released two full studio albums (Flutronix and 2.0), a live album (Live From the Attucks Theatre), an EP (City of Breath) and is signed to Village Again Records in Japan. As a member of The Re-Collective Orchestra, Allison was co-principal flutist on the soundtrack to Disney’s 2019 remake of “The Lion King,” working closely with Hans Zimmer. As a composer, Loggins-Hull has written for Flutronix, Julia Bullock and others and has been commissioned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carolina Performing Arts, Alarm Will Sound and The Library of Congress. She was a co-producer of Nathalie Joachim’s celebrated album “Fanm d’Ayiti,” which was nominated for a 2020 GRAMMY for Best World Music Album.  In support of her work, Allison has been awarded grants from New Music USA and a fellowship at The Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, Florida. She is on the flute faculty of The John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University and a teaching artist at The Juilliard School’s Global Ventures.
 
Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón writes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys and electronics as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. Negrón has been commissioned by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, loadbang, MATA Festival, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Kronos Quartet, So Percussion, the American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Botanical Garden, among others.  Her music has been performed at the Kennedy Center, the Ecstatic Music Festival, EMPAC, Bang on a Can Marathon, and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial, and her film scores have been heard numerous times at the Tribeca Film Festival. A founding member of the tropical electronic band Balún, she is currently a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center (CUNY), focusing on the work of Meredith Monk for her dissertation. She's a teaching artist for New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers Program working with young learners on creative composition projects. Upcoming premieres include works for the LA Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, and NY Philharmonic Project 19 initiative. Negrón continues to perform and compose for film.
 
Trevor Weston is a composer whose honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, Berkeley; a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and residencies from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the MacDowell Colony. Carnegie Hall co-commissioned Weston’s Flying Fish, with the American Composers Orchestra, for its 125 Commissions Project. The Bang on a Can All-Stars premiered Weston’s Dig It, for the Ecstatic Music Festival in NYC earlier this year. Weston’s work Juba for Strings won the 2019 Sonori/New Orleans Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition. Weston co-authored with Olly Wilson, “Duke Ellington as a Cultural Icon” in the Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, published by Cambridge University Press. Dr. Weston is currently Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Drew University in Madison, NJ.

PRESS CONTACT: Isabelle Deconinck | Lernerdeconinck.com
646-623-1709 | isadeco@earthlink.net

 


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