Voic(ed) Project Comission

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A few months ago, the countertenor talented Carl Alexander approached me about composing for the first iteration of his Voic(ed) Project. Now the project is live on the internet, and I can finally share some of what I've been working on conceptually...

The endeavor as best described on the Voic(ed) Project website:

The Voic(ed) Project is an organization that seeks to perform, record, and promote new music by new, young, and un-highlighted composers from the world at large. Through engagement with composers and their works, we hope to generate community, conversation, and congruence. This organization enhances and uplifts young compositional voices for a lifetime.

This season, through a recording project that will be released on all major streaming services, we hope to create a platform for young composers to use their voices to tackle the issues facing their communities at large and to detail the experience of a generation under fire. This specific project serves as a means of examining and expressing Black identity through the concert medium. With this endeavor, we hope to build a sense of community between artists and receivers of their art while sharing personal narratives of the Black experience and reflecting the needs of communities through the works included in this project.

The recording sessions will take place in March and April of 2018, and the EP will be comprised of works by 21 Black composers under the age of 40. The recording will include everything from songs for solo unaccompanied voice and art song, to large chamber works. Carl Alexander, Countertenor, will be the featured artist in this project.

The recording process will take place in Chicago, Illinois. The final release is planned for June 2018. Publicity for the release will include interviews with the composers, an EP release gala where a few of the works will be performed, as well as other media to give further exposure to the composers and their new works.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and now The Fire This Time compiled by Jesmyn Ward have been a large inspiration to the big social justice movers and shakers of the United States. Both of these works address the Black experience from decades apart but very few things have changed with the injustice that is imposed upon the diaspora of black and african communities.

Furthermore, as we seek to explore and address social and political issues through music, it has become increasingly apparent that the voice of the young Black composer has been stifled in an art form that is primarily composed of artists that don’t look like them and that don’t come from similar experiences. The Voic(ed) Project seeks to uncover these forgotten composers and feature their works.

Through this project, we seek not only to engage compositionally and musically with our communities, social fractures, and political junctions but hope to generate conversation amongst our own communities and seek real social engagement and dialogue through the arts.

This project enters new territory. The world of music knows the experience and music of people of African descent prior to the 1980’s, but the tides have changed. Race, Religion, Politics, Sexism, among others are structures that still reinforce schisms and lack of community in the Black experience in new found ways, and this project aims to serve as the communal therapy session for a breakthrough in true, social activism.

A brief description of the new work commissioned for this particular project is detailed below:

For Countertenor, Cello, Oboe, Percussion, Fixed Media, Interactive Electronics
Society has a myriad of psychological and auditory expectations surrounding black music. This work will take sonic stereotypes, turn them on their head and ultimately, deconstruct them; creating a tapestry that eludes to the familiar while wholly rejecting the traditional premise of black music. From a vocal perspective, the piece plays with phrasing and the deconstruction of words into sounds that marry with electronics to create a dynamic sound where the vocalist transcends their perceived box and becomes an instrument. In a similar fashion, the instrumentalists may indulge in vocal sounds, by speaking into their instrument. “Fire is necessary in order to clear the old brush to make way for the new. A musical conflagration, deconstructs the known and paves the way for a new brighter future.”

I'm excited to share updates on this project as they roll out!