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Johnny Gandelsman: This Is America: Part II

February 7 at 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

$10 – $20

In 2020, in response to the turbulent and disconnected time of the early pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, violinist and former member of Silkroad Ensemble Johnny Gandelsman invited a wide array of American or US-based composers to reflect on the current state of society in a personal and intimate way.

Over the course of a year-long residency at the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth, Gandelsman performs the anthology and expands the project with three new Hop-commissioned pieces. The winter concert features Breathe, a composition by Dartmouth alum Kojiro Umezaki, commissioned by the Hop. Umezaki will be in residence to shed light on his work.

Program to Include:

Clarice Assad, O
O, the symbol for Oxygen. As we withdrew from the social arena, we watched in horror a newly discovered virus take down thousands of people from acute respiratory failure every day. Some succumbed from complications of the disease, others for lack of respirators. Preventive measures required the whole of humanity to wear masks, to protect each other from an infection that could spread through the air. Soon after, another tragedy. This time, oxygen would take center stage and be violently obstructed, by force, from entering the lungs in George Floyd’s body, whose last words, “I can’t breathe,” echoed through the four corners of the world, causing pain, anger, outrage. The air was thick with doubt and fear.

Rhea Fowler & Micaela Tobin, A City Upon a Hill?
Reaction to the events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The main theme is based on the infamous slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ in which each variation of the Americana-inspired theme becomes increasingly dissonant on the arrival of the word ‘again.’ Distorted and detuned electronic samples of politicians chanting the phrase, combined with sounds of protest, police helicopters, and stampeding animals circle and crowd the violin solo, culminating in a frenzied, sonic chaos that inevitably collapses in on itself. The sonic dissonance is meant to echo the cognitive dissonance of the far right movement itself, as the piece chronicles the gradual radicalization of an individual who holds an idealized, nostalgic memory of a freedom and equality that has never truly existed in America; someone who believes themselves to be a true patriot while simultaneously undermining basic democratic values and American institutions. The piece ends with the violin soloist’s lowly unraveling their D-string until their sound fades into obscurity. So, in this gaping silence of this detuned violin, we ask you, was America ever really great?

Angélica Negron, A través del manto luminoso
A través del manto luminoso (Through the luminous mantle) is a piece inspired by “A Book of Stars,” a collection of dark sky photographs taken in Puerto Rico and its islands by Javier Román-Nieves. “A Book of Stars” includes astrophotography showcasing night skies, sunrises and sunsets between 2011–2020. The book brought back childhood memories of the tradition of stargazing in the night sky. It also made me reflect on the night sky as an open field of possible connections to places that are distant from us while simultaneously revealing the immense distance that separates us. The synth sounds in this piece are inspired by audio recordings of a group of ancient stars that were put together by a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK. These recordings were made using data from NASA’s Kepler/K2 missions of old stars in the Milky Way’s Messier 4 (M4) cluster—one of the oldest and closest globular clusters to the sun and Earth. By measuring the vibrations of these distant stars, scientists captured a low-pitched sound which then they sped up 1-million times to bring the oscillations within the range of human hearing. “A través del manto luminoso” is a piece about longing for connection and above all, holding on to the possibility of seeing light in darkness.

Anjna Swaminathan, Surrender to the Adventure
After creating several projects centering on oppression and attempting to foster hope while sharing the stories of marginalized people, I was ready to write about something joyful and pure: love. And more specifically, my experience of love with my beautiful fiancée Shannon. As much as I’d liked it to be pure and unadulterated, our inspiring, abundant, “restoring faith in humanity” love does not exist in a vacuum. Our Black, Brown, immigrant, neurodivergent, mentally ill, disabled, queer, trans, femme love cannot be pure, for its mere existence is a constant revolution against the circumstances in which it was planted. Surrender to the Adventure is the inscription on Shannon’s engagement ring. We set it as an intention each day to Surrender to the Adventure that is our love, the adventure that is this country, the adventure that is navigating the joys and pains of being in love in America. For some, this may feel like home, for others, this may feel uncomfortable. Whatever comes up for you, Surrender to the Adventure.

Conrad Tao, Stones
In 2020, on most days, I took a walk north along the Hudson River. About two-thirds of the way up is a bank of mysterious stones. Stones stacked on top of each other, forming elegant, gravity-defying piles. The feeling of another person, the feeling of another, was very evident. When I first came across these stones, I wasn’t sure if this was the effort of many people, or just one, but regardless—the feeling of somebody’s hands, someone desiring to express, someone desiring to leave a trace of themselves—that was so palpable. So palpable, and so moving, especially at that time, when it was difficult to connect with people. I later learned that these stones were the work of a local self-taught artist named Uliks Gryka. There was something about the simplicity and the confident humility of leaving the work there, to be seen. This piece is a tribute to those Sisyphus Stones, to Uliks Gryka’s Sisyphus Stones. It is a love letter to them, a note of appreciation for what they provided for me during this most tumultuous time.

Kojiro Umezaki, Breathe
During this period, countless others surely produced works similarly or even identically titled Breathe. Movements in American social justice and protests against systemic racism rallied around and indelibly memorialized those who were deliberately and forcibly denied breath and therefore life. Raised were deep questions on how best to elevate the human condition; amplified was the rhetoric fueling the dynamics of similarity and difference. All of this against the backdrop of the world being indiscriminately and repeatedly brought to its knees by an inconspicuous peril replicating exponentially (and paradoxically) through the life-giving/sustaining act of breathing. The 20 modules in Breathe (each on average loosely around one minute in duration) are designed to be resequenced and reordered. Any number of them can be played/omitted, depending on the occasion. All the models on this recording focus on the open strings and the natural harmonics of the violin. As if the instrument were an organism, perhaps. The electronic part—an optional yet critical element of the work—echoes in its output, not repeating/fading identical copies of the input, but previously played and captured passages that lie on a continuum between most similar and most different.

Justin Messina, Music for Solitude

Presented and Commissioned by the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth in collaboration with Next Stage Arts.

Details

Date:
February 7
Time:
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cost:
$10 – $20
Event Category:
Event Tags:
Website:
https://tockify.com/next.stage.arts/detail/43/1707350400000

Organizer

Next Stage Arts
Phone
802-387-0102
Email
info@nextstagearts.org
View Organizer Website

Other

Creative Zone
Southern Vermont Zone (Bennington and Windham Counties)

Venue

Next Stage Arts
15 Kimball Hill Road
Putney, VT 05346 United States
+ Google Map
Phone
802-387-0102
View Venue Website

In 2020, in response to the turbulent and disconnected time of the early pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, violinist and former member of Silkroad Ensemble Johnny Gandelsman invited a wide array of American or US-based composers to reflect on the current state of society in a personal and intimate way.

Over the course of a year-long residency at the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth, Gandelsman performs the anthology and expands the project with three new Hop-commissioned pieces. The winter concert features Breathe, a composition by Dartmouth alum Kojiro Umezaki, commissioned by the Hop. Umezaki will be in residence to shed light on his work.

Program to Include:

Clarice Assad, O
O, the symbol for Oxygen. As we withdrew from the social arena, we watched in horror a newly discovered virus take down thousands of people from acute respiratory failure every day. Some succumbed from complications of the disease, others for lack of respirators. Preventive measures required the whole of humanity to wear masks, to protect each other from an infection that could spread through the air. Soon after, another tragedy. This time, oxygen would take center stage and be violently obstructed, by force, from entering the lungs in George Floyd’s body, whose last words, “I can’t breathe,” echoed through the four corners of the world, causing pain, anger, outrage. The air was thick with doubt and fear.

Rhea Fowler & Micaela Tobin, A City Upon a Hill?
Reaction to the events at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The main theme is based on the infamous slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ in which each variation of the Americana-inspired theme becomes increasingly dissonant on the arrival of the word ‘again.’ Distorted and detuned electronic samples of politicians chanting the phrase, combined with sounds of protest, police helicopters, and stampeding animals circle and crowd the violin solo, culminating in a frenzied, sonic chaos that inevitably collapses in on itself. The sonic dissonance is meant to echo the cognitive dissonance of the far right movement itself, as the piece chronicles the gradual radicalization of an individual who holds an idealized, nostalgic memory of a freedom and equality that has never truly existed in America; someone who believes themselves to be a true patriot while simultaneously undermining basic democratic values and American institutions. The piece ends with the violin soloist’s lowly unraveling their D-string until their sound fades into obscurity. So, in this gaping silence of this detuned violin, we ask you, was America ever really great?

Angélica Negron, A través del manto luminoso
A través del manto luminoso (Through the luminous mantle) is a piece inspired by “A Book of Stars,” a collection of dark sky photographs taken in Puerto Rico and its islands by Javier Román-Nieves. “A Book of Stars” includes astrophotography showcasing night skies, sunrises and sunsets between 2011–2020. The book brought back childhood memories of the tradition of stargazing in the night sky. It also made me reflect on the night sky as an open field of possible connections to places that are distant from us while simultaneously revealing the immense distance that separates us. The synth sounds in this piece are inspired by audio recordings of a group of ancient stars that were put together by a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK. These recordings were made using data from NASA’s Kepler/K2 missions of old stars in the Milky Way’s Messier 4 (M4) cluster—one of the oldest and closest globular clusters to the sun and Earth. By measuring the vibrations of these distant stars, scientists captured a low-pitched sound which then they sped up 1-million times to bring the oscillations within the range of human hearing. “A través del manto luminoso” is a piece about longing for connection and above all, holding on to the possibility of seeing light in darkness.

Anjna Swaminathan, Surrender to the Adventure
After creating several projects centering on oppression and attempting to foster hope while sharing the stories of marginalized people, I was ready to write about something joyful and pure: love. And more specifically, my experience of love with my beautiful fiancée Shannon. As much as I’d liked it to be pure and unadulterated, our inspiring, abundant, “restoring faith in humanity” love does not exist in a vacuum. Our Black, Brown, immigrant, neurodivergent, mentally ill, disabled, queer, trans, femme love cannot be pure, for its mere existence is a constant revolution against the circumstances in which it was planted. Surrender to the Adventure is the inscription on Shannon’s engagement ring. We set it as an intention each day to Surrender to the Adventure that is our love, the adventure that is this country, the adventure that is navigating the joys and pains of being in love in America. For some, this may feel like home, for others, this may feel uncomfortable. Whatever comes up for you, Surrender to the Adventure.

Conrad Tao, Stones
In 2020, on most days, I took a walk north along the Hudson River. About two-thirds of the way up is a bank of mysterious stones. Stones stacked on top of each other, forming elegant, gravity-defying piles. The feeling of another person, the feeling of another, was very evident. When I first came across these stones, I wasn’t sure if this was the effort of many people, or just one, but regardless—the feeling of somebody’s hands, someone desiring to express, someone desiring to leave a trace of themselves—that was so palpable. So palpable, and so moving, especially at that time, when it was difficult to connect with people. I later learned that these stones were the work of a local self-taught artist named Uliks Gryka. There was something about the simplicity and the confident humility of leaving the work there, to be seen. This piece is a tribute to those Sisyphus Stones, to Uliks Gryka’s Sisyphus Stones. It is a love letter to them, a note of appreciation for what they provided for me during this most tumultuous time.

Kojiro Umezaki, Breathe
During this period, countless others surely produced works similarly or even identically titled Breathe. Movements in American social justice and protests against systemic racism rallied around and indelibly memorialized those who were deliberately and forcibly denied breath and therefore life. Raised were deep questions on how best to elevate the human condition; amplified was the rhetoric fueling the dynamics of similarity and difference. All of this against the backdrop of the world being indiscriminately and repeatedly brought to its knees by an inconspicuous peril replicating exponentially (and paradoxically) through the life-giving/sustaining act of breathing. The 20 modules in Breathe (each on average loosely around one minute in duration) are designed to be resequenced and reordered. Any number of them can be played/omitted, depending on the occasion. All the models on this recording focus on the open strings and the natural harmonics of the violin. As if the instrument were an organism, perhaps. The electronic part—an optional yet critical element of the work—echoes in its output, not repeating/fading identical copies of the input, but previously played and captured passages that lie on a continuum between most similar and most different.

Justin Messina, Music for Solitude

Presented and Commissioned by the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth in collaboration with Next Stage Arts.

Details

Date:
February 7
Time:
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Cost:
$10 – $20
Event Category:
Event Tags:
Website:
https://tockify.com/next.stage.arts/detail/43/1707350400000

Organizer

Next Stage Arts
Phone
802-387-0102
Email
info@nextstagearts.org
View Organizer Website

Other

Creative Zone
Southern Vermont Zone (Bennington and Windham Counties)

Venue

Next Stage Arts
15 Kimball Hill Road
Putney, VT 05346 United States
+ Google Map
Phone
802-387-0102
View Venue Website