by Anthony R. Green
Kwanzaa season is almost over; today's saba (principle) is Kuumba - creativity. Castle of our Skins is thoroughly indebted to creativity, especially Black creativity. Not only do we feature the creativity of Black artists across vast genres and practices, but we also must be creative ourselves in how we present the incredible art and information we come across. What you have seen from COOS is nothing compared to how much we actually want to share - and this is SUCH a good thing! This gives so much for our audiences to find and share on their own, on top of giving COOS quite a bit of fuel for seasons to come.
Left: COOS founders with musicians Emerson Sudbury, Kennedy Taylor Dixon, and Corie Rose Soumah;
Right: COOS founders with musician Terence Blanchard at The Met, New York
Tomorrow, January first - the first day of the year, is the last day of Kwanzaa. This day's saba is imani - faith. Castle of our Skins has already filled its 9th season with SO MANY NEW THINGS!! 20 world premieres, a new #BCMC, a first ever #BPMC, a new Shirley Graham Du Bois creative-in-residence (and our first significant partnership with a literary artist), 5 new educational partners, 10 new collaborations, and so much more coming in the rest of the season! And next year, Castle of our Skins will celebrate its 10th season, a celebration and a transitional year as Castle of our Skins focuses on becoming a Black arts institution. Tomorrow will be the first day of a new journey for Castle of our Skins - a journey which we cannot truly take without imani.
Joyous Kwanzaa and Happy 2022 to all of you!
by Anthony R. Green
Last week, Castle of our Skins had the honor of hosting the lovely South African composer Dr. Bongani Ndodana-Breen. For this residency at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, Dr. Ndodana-Breen oversaw rehearsals, gave masterclasses, a lecture for the composers, an informal talk for students of the Longy Black Student Union and for students at Project STEP, and was featured in a portrait concert. The portrait concert featured 6 pieces: Two Nguni Dances for piano trio, Intlanzi Yase Mzantsi for piano quintet (world premiere), Apologia at Umzimvubu for string quartet, Khanyisa - an elegy for violin and piano, Impepho for string quartet, and Safika: Three Tales of African Migration for piano quintet.
Dr. Bongani Ndodana-Breen answers a question
from Ashleigh Gordon at a Longy BSU event
After so long without live chamber music, this concert packed power, a breadth of emotions, and - to paraphrase Dr. Ndodana-Breen - a free trip to Africa through music! Each piece reflected some or multiple aspects of African music practice and praxis, from complex interlocking rhythms and vibrant call-and-response, to a fluidity and omnipresence of structure and a sense of timed timelessness. My personal favorites were the lushness of the Khanyisa and the visceral power of Safika. That said, each work contains worlds of color, texture, and vibrancy that everyone should explore! The performance of each piece was expertly handled by COOS musicians: Gabriella Díaz and Mina Lavcheva (violin), Ashleigh Gordon (viola), Francesa McNeeley (cello), and Sarah Bob (piano). For these talented musicians to figure out such complicated rhythms and perform without a conductor, still maintaining a high sense of musicality and ensemble - this was a feat truly to be witnessed.
Missed the concert and want to witness it? No fear! You can still catch the concert's livestream by CLICKING HERE! Enjoy!!!
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