COOS INTERRUPTS YOUR SEMI-REGULAR SCHEDULED BIBA POSTING TO INTRODUCE ...
THE BLACK COMPOSER MINIATURE CHALLENGE! #BCMC
Excited by the overwhelming success and support of last year's #BCMC, Castle of our Skins has extended last year's #BCMC project into 4 parts! In this next installation, composers who identify as Black and part of the African diaspora are challenged to compose pieces for flute and harp! Each piece must be 30 seconds (give or take) or less. Pieces can be scored for:
- solo flute (piccolo, C, and alto)
- solo harp
- flute & harp duo
* if wanting to use auxiliary instruments, electronic or digital elements, or think outside of these parameters in any way, please consult with Anthony at anthony [at] castleskins.org BEFORE starting your piece!
- Pieces are due August 1, 2020 by 11:59PM; early submissions are welcome and encouraged!
- The works will be rehearsed and recorded before September 1, 2021
- The miniatures will be performed in various presentations during Castle of our Skins's upcoming 9th season. Stay tuned for more information about the premieres of these pieces!
How to submit:
- Please send your piece as a PDF and any necessary material for performance (parts, tracks, notation keys, etc ...) in any relevant format to anthony [at] castleskins.org . *Note: if sending multiple files, please use Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, WeTransfer, or other multifile web service
- along with your piece submission, please send a creative headshot and a 100 word or less bio, with any social media handles/website links you would like shared (even if you've submitted and were selected in the past!)
- NOTE: This is part 2 of a 4 part project! Composers can be part of only 2 of the 4 parts. Composers from part 1 applying to #BCMC 2.0 can NOT apply to parts 3 and 4!
WE LOOK FORWARD TO PREMIERING YOUR MINIATURES!
by Anthony R. Green
Did you catch it? Did you see Castle of our Skins's latest digital on-demand project titled From the Motherland? Including today you have 8 days left! For those who haven't seen it, set aside some time in your calendars to watch it ... at least twice! For those who have seen it only once ... SEE IT AGAIN! Why, you may ask? This performance is so rich that it is difficult to appreciate it fully in one go, even though one can easily go on this incredible journey with Tanyaradzwa and her incredible band-mates, and experience such a life-affirming musical exhibition that is sure to leave a deep impression on your heart, mind, body, and soul.
Photo Credit: www.RobertTorresPhotography.com
During this performance, Tanyaradzwa's journey through 12 songs evokes the spirit of Mwedzi, a Chivanhu word meaning moon, month, and menstrual cycle. In this evocation, Tanyaradzwa intimately and boldly recounts her journey into womanhood. She writes: Mwedzi tells the story of my rite of passage into Womanhood. This 12-year journey began in 2008, when I left Zimbabwe for the United States. As a Zimbabwean woman living in the USA, staying grounded in ancestral wisdom has been vital for my survival.
The songs run the gambit of emotions, in parallel to Tanyaradzwa's 12-year story. Enthusiastic, community-building songs invite the digital audience to participate (like the fun, bright, and rhythmically sophisticated Anchulele). Slower, intimate songs bring the audience into a spirit of reflection and (perhaps) penitence and honor (like the incredibly poignant, simple, transcendental Mwoyo Muti). Then there are moments of unadulterated mature wit and clever surmounting of life's obstacles (like the cheeky, whimsical songs Chef and Mysterious Woman). I cannot speak highly enough of the incredible musicianship of Tanyaradzwa and her band mates Etienne Charles and Gerson Lazo-Quiroga. What a synergy they all share; what a deep level of communication, clarity of destination, and ease in musical fluidity. The instrument combinations are fascinating, highlighting a wide range of colors and textures. The rhythms are so complex, yet all organically felt and executed by the incredible bond of these three talented lights.
From the Motherland - stop everything and watch now!
Hello BIBA fans! In our last #BCMC month BIBA blog, we have yet another VLOG! This time, check out a conversation with Brittany J. Green, a rising-star composer, currently working on a Ph. D. degree at Duke University! If you've enjoyed these #BCMC Blogs, be sure to share them with friends and family, and spread the word that the scores for these incredible miniatures are now available to purchase as a digital download from the Castle of our Skins store! Check them out HERE!
Hey BIBA fans! Today's BIBA is a composer chat featuring two #BCMC composers, Emerson Sudbury and Forbes Graham! Click below to listen/watch and learn more about their music, their lives, and their miniatures! We hope you enjoy the conversation, and for those who tuned into the Instagram live chat with Shannon Sea and Monthati Masebe - thank you so much! For those who could not make it, don't worry! It's archived on our instagram account, @castleskins! Next week's BIBA will be our last in this #BCMC month series, and that will be a chat with the incredible Brittany J. Green!
#BCMC Month is STILL GOING STRONG here at Castle of our Skins, and it's always a joy to revisit these miniatures. We learn something every time we hear them, and we love sharing that joy with you! With that, we have some surprises in store! Next week's BIBA (most likely posting on Wednesday or Thursday) will be a VLOG featuring composer/performer/visual artist Forbes Graham and the incredible composer/musician/arts administrator Emerson Sudbury! Additionally, Castle of our Skins will host an INSTAGRAM LIVE CHAT with Shannon Sea and Monthati Masebe!! This will happen May 24th (this coming Monday!) at 1:30PM Eastern time! To attend, just follow @castleskins on Instagram, and tune in then! In the meantime, enjoy the last set of 6 miniatures below!
This particular miniature is solidly within Nash's voice, which mixes R&B, Gospel, and Soul with classical, counterpoint, and contemporary sounds. Love the build-up in this miniature!
It was so great to receive this miniature from such a powerhouse composer! This Wagnerian miniature completely stuns and explodes! Happy 80th birthday, Adolphus Hailstork!
This poetic, Haiku-esque miniature has a realistic element with the electronics, and a melodic commentary from the instruments that speaks volumes in its simplicity. What does it say to you?
This curious exploration miniature has multiple levels : the viola has moments of instability with pitch, the pianist has moments of rhythmic instability, yet there is this insistence that dominates! Bravo!
This lite, curious miniature references medieval, romantic, classical, and contemporary styles! Above all this, however, there is a joie-de-vivre and a humor that brightens the soul!
Where Charles Murrell's miniature referenced medieval music, Violaceous fits solidly within the style, yet is the most rhythmically complex of the set. Love the caccia elements here.
Remember to catch a VLOG next week in this space, and to enter our Instagram space on Monday at 1:30PM for a LIVE chat with two of our #BCMC composers, Shannon Sea and Monthati Masebe!
May has been FULL of opportunities from Castle of our Skins! We EXTENDED OUR DEADLINE FOR THE SHIRLEY GRAHAM DU BOIS CREATIVE-IN-RESIDENCE! (If you want to apply, be sure to do so by next week, and tell your friends!) We also are looking for children 10 and under to apply for our digital summer camp, and we have offered a direct way to reach out to us for collaborative ideas! With that, we are POSTPONING the release of our second #BCMC, and we'll have a due date in July! Stay tuned for the official announcement NEXT MONTH!
In the meantime, please enjoy the next set of 6 miniatures by Shannon Sea, Jonathan Bailey Holland, Kevin Madison, Brian Raphael Nabors, Forbes Graham, and Brittany J. Green! Click below!
In this miniature character study for solo viola, Shannon Sea composes a melody that is full of insistence. It has a subtle complexity that reveals itself on repeated listenings (hint hint!).
In this miniature journey, there is a glance. It is perhaps represented by the viola's extensions. There is also a blur. The frustration of the blur along with its intrusive nature is represented in the piano.
The lengthiest of our miniatures, this penetrative piece also incorporates spoken word mixed with viola accompaniment. The practice mute informs the timbral world the most.
What a FUN miniature! Brian is no stranger to the COOS fam, having been composer-in-residence from 2018 - 2019! His contemporary-tonal-atonal seamless blending is evident here!
Did you ever think 30 seconds would be enough time to compose a work where two personalities are in dialogue with each other? Well ... it is! And Forbes has proven it!! Can you hear the dialogue?
Brittany and Anthony have the same last name, and this video was released on Anthony's birthday!! The harmonies here drop in all the right places, and the fixed audio pillow is FIRE!
#BCMC Month on BIBA will continue with our next post that will complete the 18 submissions. What will come afterwards? Well ... you'll have to wait and find out!
Last year, right around this time, co-founders Anthony R. Green and Ashleigh Gordon came up with a number of ideas to keep up our presence throughout this period of being home, a period to which many of us have grown oddly accustomed (out of necessity). One of these ideas ended up taking on a life we did not expect at all ... which brings us to now! This month, we're celebrating our Black Composer Miniature Challenge! Released almost 1 year exactly today, the #BCMC in its first iteration received submissions from 18 incredible composers and creative musicians! A year out, Castle of our Skins has released a digital anthology of these pieces, which is available for purchase today!! Interested in purchasing? Please CLICK HERE to purchase this volume from our web store!
Missed the pieces from last year? That's okay! The miniature performances are available on our Instagram, website, and will be featured here this month! As each piece is between 30 to 50 seconds, each piece is a gem that can be experienced quickly! The first 6 to be featured are Eddie Conrad, Juwon Ogungbe, Kathryn Patricia Cobbler, Monthati Masebe, Yaz Lancaster, and Mokale Koapeng!
The youngest of the composers, Eddy's Tom Bombadil is a miniature about a Lord of the Rings character of the same name! It is happy, bright, and melodious! A joy to play!
This particular miniature is about a wedding tradition in Nigeria! What I love about this delightful gem is seamless transition to another key, symbolic of love's journey!
The first of the solo viola miniatures, A Home Called 'Wander' incorporates spoken word as well. Ashe and Kathryn had a wonderful exchange in developing this miniature!
This clever gem begins with the piano instruction to play with the index fingers, and eventually accelerate to the end! The rhythms here are fascinating ... and so surprising!
Another solo viola miniature, Ashe is requested to sing - a color and a layer that adds another surprising dimension to this short yet poignant journey!
Pholoso means "salvation", and this is the first of the gems in our series that has a bold, powerful character. It excites, and hopefully inspires the desire to enact justice and positive social change!
Be sure to tune in next week for 6 more #BCMC miniatures with 6 reviews ... and an official announcement of our SECOND #BCMC, with works due in June! And if you want to buy some music after hearing, seeing, and reading about these 6 works above, be sure to CLICK HERE!
by Anthony R. Green
In anticipation of Castle of our Skins’s “From the Motherland” project this June, BIBA would like to bring your attention to the incredible world of Emahoy Tsegué‑Maryam Guèbrou ፅጌ ማርያም ገብሩ. Pan African Music published a fascinating article about her in January, which was shared with Castle of our Skins by our friend Bongani Ndodana-Breen, a fantastic scholar and composer from South Africa. In this article, one can dive into Ms. Emahoy Guèbrou’s rollercoaster of a life, which includes studying violin and piano in Switzerland as a child, becoming a prisoner of war, further studying music in Egypt, being supported by Emperor Haile Selassie, releasing her first album in her 40s, speaking 7 languages, and more. Her story and accomplishments form yet another example of a talent whose ethnicity, geography, and skin color most likely contributed to her position within the greater music world.
After reading this article, I remembered that this year was not the first time I came across the life and music of this quiet Ethiopian genius. 5 years after graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music (where Ashe and I first met!!), another classmate of mine – Mary Sutton – released the above video and shared her research and interactions with Ms. Guèbrou. Sutton considers Guèbrou “the most unique pianist of our time”, and I cannot agree with her more. Throughout YouTube, a simple search of Emahoy Tsegué‑Maryam Guèbrou will result in numerous videos of her playing her compositions and some of her albums. The search will also reveal some of the upcoming videos of other pianists performing Ms. Emahoy Tsegué‑Maryam Guèbrou’s compositions, one of whom is the focus of the PAM article, the Israeli pianist and sound artist Maya Dunietz. We here at Castle of our Skins highly suggest spending some time in this intimate world. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
This week, Castle of our Skins turned our Instagram over to the Black Student Union (BSU) at the Longy School of Music of Bard College! Read more about their organization and check out our Instagram @castleskins to learn more about the Black conservatory student experience in 2021.
The Longy Black Student Union exists to serve as a place 1) of fellowship for students and alumni of the Longy School of Music of Bard College, 2) to raise awareness for minorities (especially from the African diaspora), 3) to foment and moderate open discussions on any and all topics related to race, diversity, socio-economic status, gender, inclusion, and intersectionality, 4) to promote and celebrate the accomplishments of Black creatives, and 6) to curate events that highlight elements of the Black experience.
We were founded in 2019 by twelve students and staff members who noticed that Black students within the Longy community needed additional support in navigating the classical realm as well as the Cambridge/Boston area. We anticipate that our current membership of fifteen will double within the next couple of years as we prepare to welcome more Black immigrant students through Longy’s international programs and more Black American students through Longy’s partnership with Alabama State University.
Despite the difficulty of the pandemic, we have been able to continue virtual programming around issues like Black agency within Black music, connecting across the Afro-diaspora, and healing Black trauma. We hope that we will be able to open back up to more in-person programming opportunities one day soon. Until then we enjoy bi-weekly check-ins concerning the wellness of our members and monthly conversations with the Longy community at-large.
Castle of our Skins is seeking out our second Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence! This program – funded through a generous donation from Arlene and Larry Dunn – kicked off its inaugural year for our 8th season, with the stunning Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa at the helm. Nobody could have predicted the drastic change in the world, but Tanyaradzwa handled these changes with the same dignity, grace, and enthusiasm she takes into every project. Creating an incredible video for out “Black Love” project, prepping for curation and performance for our “From the Motherland” project, leading an educational workshop, gearing up to write BIBA Blogs, and more, Castle of our Skins has undeniably benefited from Tanyaradzwa, and her artistry will have a strong impact on us for years to come!
Would you like to collaborate with Castle of our Skins in this capacity or in other creative efforts? Do you know someone who would benefit from this collaboration? Then check out the call HERE, and act quickly as the application deadline is MAY 5TH! While you can read the details of the call on the official page, this blog post is to provide a bit of extra information to the mix. And, of course, if you and any of your friends and colleagues have any specific questions about this opportunity, please don’t hesitate to e-mail us at info [at] castleskins [dot] org!
1) This position is open to any creative artist. In our history, Castle of our Skins has worked with visual artists, spoken word artists, fashion designers, culinary artists, interdisciplinary artists, dancers, historians, writers, transmedia artists, and more. IF YOU ARE A CREATIVE ARTIST UNDER 40 YEARS OLD WORKING IN ANY GENRE OF ARTISTIC CREATIVITY, THIS OPPORTUNITY IS FOR YOU!
2) Castle of our Skins has a clear mission : we are dedicated to celebrating Black Artistry through Music. Therefore, if you are applying to this opportunity, be sure to be prepared to clearly explain (in your proposal and in any interview) how your practice fits with our mission.
3) Last year, we had and gladly accepted applicants working in photography, documentary film, music composition, music performance, music improvisation, philosophy and performance art, and more. Many of the applicants were interdisciplinary artists, combining music with visual art, photography with dance, and more. We encourage thinking outside the box!
4) Do we have any pre-conceived expectations of what the second Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence (CiR) will do for Castle of our Skins? Yes and no, but mostly no! We expect the new CiR to write at least three BIBA Blog posts, be available for consultation, and design/curate some projects with Castle of our Skins. But, as you can imagine, there is a high amount of creative freedom in this position! And also remember that the $1,ooo honorarium is SEPARATE from additional curational and project-related fees that will develop throughout the season.
Hopefully these additional tips and tidbits will encourage you to apply or encourage you to send this call to the creative people in your life. We look forward to receiving and reading as many applications as possible, and selecting our second annual Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence!
Writings, musings, photos, links, and videos about Black Artistry of ALL varieties! Feel free to drop a comment or suggestions for posts!