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May 26-28: International Contemporary Ensemble Hosts Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum, Feat. George Lewis, Julia Bullock, Courtney Bryan, Tyshawn Sorey

April 19, 2021 | By Katy Salomon
Account Director, Morahan Arts and Media


PR Contact: 
Katy Salomon | Morahan Arts and Media | 863.660.2214

International Contemporary Ensemble and Dr. Naomi André
Host Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum, Online May 26–28, 2021

In partnership with FringeArts and Opera Omaha

Featuring IONE, George Lewis, Lisa E. Harris, 
Courtney Bryan, Julia Bullock, Tyshawn Sorey, and More 

New York, NY (April 19, 2021) — The International Contemporary Ensemblein partnership with Opera Omaha and FringeArts, presents the Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum online from May 26-28, 2021. The Forum is a free, three-day series of online events produced by colleagues and collaborators of the International Contemporary Ensemble in order to celebrate, share, and reflect on four operas that have had a major impact on the organization and collaborators. They include: George Lewis’ Afterword (2015), Tyshawn Sorey’s Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine Baker (2016), Pauline Oliveros and IONE’s The Nubian Word for Flowers: A Phantom Opera (2017), and a new work-in-development, Awakening (to be premiered in 2022), by Courtney Bryan with Charlotte Brathwaite, Sharan Strange, Cauleen Smith, and Helga Davis. 

In order to cultivate awareness among presenters, producers, ensembles, and audiences, the Ensemble will bring these works into conversation with one another and with leading scholars in the field. Renowned musicologist Dr. Naomi André is the lead scholar and conversation partner for this three-day series featuring presenters and panelists such as Julia Bullock, IONE, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey, and many others (see below for full list). 

Throughout this Forum, attendees, presenters, and panelists are guided by the following questions: 

- What impact do these works have for opera today?
- What is the role of composer, librettist, and performer?
- How do these operas give us new ways to reimagine and expand what the genre is and meant to be?  

More details about the schedule of events will be announced at the beginning of May at receive updates and news, please register here.  

Artists, Presenters, Panelists
Dr. Naomi André
     Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies
     Department of Women's and Gender Studies
     The Residential College
     University of Michigan,
     Author: Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (University of Illinois Press)
George Lewis, composer and scholar, Afterword (2015)
Tyshawn Sorey, composer, scholar, and instrumentalist, Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine (2016) 
Julia Bullock, classical singer, Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine (2016)
IONE, author, performer, director, The Nubian Word for Flowers: A Phantom Opera (2017), Author: Pride of Family (Publisher: Harlem Moon Classics – Penguin Random House)
Courtney Bryan, composer and instrumentalist, Awakening (2022)
Helga Davis, lead vocalist, Awakening (2022)
Charlotte Brathwaite, director, Awakening (2022) 
Dr. Matthew D. Morrison, dramaturg, Awakening (2022) 
Sharan Strange, librettist, Awakening (2022) 
Melanie Bacaling, co-curator & associate producing director, Opera Omaha's Amplifying the Black Experience series 
Dr. Fredara Hadley, ethnomusicologist, recent research focus: Shirley Graham Du Bois’ Tom Tom 
Dr. Dr. Daniele Daude, scholar & dramaturg
Lisa E. Harris, vocalist, composer, interdisciplinary artist
Derrell Acon, activist, performer, & arts leader

The Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum is produced and hosted by the International Contemporary Ensemble with financial and organizational support from Opera Omaha, FringeArts, and Arlene and Larry Dunn.

About the International Contemporary Ensemble
The International Contemporary Ensemble is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, the Ensemble explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The Ensemble’s 36 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored the Ensemble’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present.

A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the International Contemporary Ensemble was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The International Contemporary Ensemble was featured at the Ojai Music Festival from 2015 to 2017, and at recent festivals abroad such as gmem-CNCM-marseille and Vértice at Cultura UNAM, Mexico City. Other performance stages have included the Park Avenue Armory, The Stone, ice floes at Greenland’s Diskotek Sessions, and boats on the Amazon River.

OpenICE, made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, offers free concerts and interactive, educational programming wherever the Ensemble performs. As the Ensemble in Residence of the Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology, the International Contemporary Ensemble advances music technology and digital communications as an empowering tool for artists from all backgrounds. Curricular activities include a residency and coursework at the New School College of Performing Arts, along with a summer intensive program, called Ensemble Evolution, where topics of equity, diversity, and inclusion build new bridges and pathways for the future of creative sound practices. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for the Ensemble. Read more at and watch over 350 videos of live performances and documentaries at

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