Symphony Space to Present HARLEM RESONANCE Spring Festival, 4/2-5/11
The Harlem Resonance Festival (April 2 - May 11) is Symphony Space's second annual multi-disciplinary thematic spring festival, following last year's celebration of Gertrude Stein's Paris.
Harlem, within arm's reach of 95th Street and Broadway, has been a home to artists at the forefront of culture since the 1920s heyday of Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and Zora Neale Hurston - a nerve center of New York, the African-American community, the nation, the world. Harlem Resonance pays tribute to this extraordinary flowering with an exciting array of events taking place at Symphony Space and various locales throughout Harlem. Harlem Resonance encompasses nearly every form of cultural expression, including music, theater, film, literature, dance, and visual art. Workshops and discussions provide enrichment and context, while walking tours of literary, musical, and architectural landmarks expand the celebration into the cityscape itself.
The festival culminates in Symphony Space's signature event: the twelve-hour Wall to Wall Harlem Resonance on Saturday, May 11 (11 am - 11 pm). This day-long journey traces the Harlem Renaissance from its flourishing moment to its current-day legacy, with thematically linked performances of music, literature, and dance, plus rare film footage, a fashion show, and much more; details to come.
Says Symphony Space's Artistic Director Laura Kaminsky, "Over the course of the festival, we invite you to immerse yourself in Harlem culture past and present. Whether at Symphony Space or in the Harlem venues of our festival partners, Harlem Resonance will provoke, inspire, energize, and transform you." Partnering institutions include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, City College of New York, Columbia University, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Habana/Harlem, Harlem Arts Alliance, Harlem School of the Arts, Jazzmobile, Manhattan School of Music, The Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance, The Duke Ellington Society, and Goddard Riverside Community Center. A full schedule of events can be viewed at www.symphonyspace.org/harlem.
Harlem Resonance starts with John Cage's How to Get Started, performed by composer/pianist Arturo O'Farrill and conceptual artist/choreographer Ralph Lemon on Tuesday, April 2 (7:30 pm) in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia. An audacious experiment in "public thinking," How to Get Started calls for performers to extemporize on ten topics of personal interest. As the speaker moves from topic to topic, his/her previous words are recorded and played back along with the new remarks. Notes Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim of The New York Times, "The mind, trying to swim against its own streams of consciousness, ends up being swept down with them so that the resultant 30-minute 'piece' becomes a deeply coherent and personal whole." Both artists are associated with Harlem cultural institutions: O'Farrill with the Harlem School of the Arts, Lemon with the Studio Museum.
Three outstanding big bands highlight the festival's music offerings with shows in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre.
On Friday, April 5 (8 pm), the 18-piece Wycliffe Gordon Big Band performs an original score to accompany the Oscar Micheaux silent feature Within Our Gates, the oldest known surviving film by an African-American director. Trombonist/composer/bandleader Gordon's powerful music captures the film's turbulent times - an America embroiled in the violent years of Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration, and the emergence of the "New Negro."
The Jazzmobile Big Band, led by legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath (Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis), comes in with a program titled "Harlem Resonance" on Friday, April 19(8 pm),bringing Basie, Ellington and Foster to the bandstand with a multi-generational ensemble that includes noted jazz artists, next generation players, and rising stars of today.
Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra take the stage in an intriguing program on Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4 (both at 8 pm). The program highlights brass band traditions in the new world, including the Banda music of Mexico, Columbia, Peru, and other Latin American countries. A new work by Papo Vazquez, co-commissioned in partnership with Symphony Space, focuses on the Latino contribution to the Harlem Renaissance. Pre-performance discussion at 7PM (Friday only).
Turning to smaller ensembles in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia, "...Take the Harlem Night" is the title of the Harlem Quartet's program on Thursday, April 11 (7:30 pm). This dynamic young multi-ethnic string quartet presents a program of works by Billy Strayhorn (Take The A Train), Chick Corea (The Adventures of Hippocrates), and Wynton Marsalis (String Quartet No. 1, At the Octoroon Balls) interspersed with readings of Harlem Renaissance poetry by actor Kaneza Schaal. A product of the Sphinx Organization, the Harlem Quartet has played at the White House for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and has performed with such renowned musicians as Itzhak Perlman, Chick Corea, Misha Dichter, Paquito d'Rivera, and Carter Brey. The Quartet was featured on Chick Corea's piece Mozart Goes Dancing that won the 2013 Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition.
On Friday, April 12 (7:30 pm), Habana/Harlem presents "Crossing Harlem," with an all-star group featuring multi-instrumentalist/composer Onel Mulet, and master percussionist Roman Diaz, joined by special guests: saxophonist/composer Antoine Roney, singer LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, and 8-year old jazz drumming prodigy Kojo Roney. This far-reaching evening takes a fresh look at the influence of Latin music in Harlem, and features new arrangements by Mulet of works from key 20th-century Harlem composers, including George Gershwin, William Grant Still, and Chano Pozo.
Ellington alumnus Joe Temperley, known for his work on baritone sax and bass clarinet, celebrates the Duke's birthday with a group of selected friends, Thursday, April 18 (8 pm).
FLOWERS ARE SLEEPING
A centerpiece of the festival is Flowers are Sleeping, Eisa Davis's music-theater work, presented Thursday through Saturday, April 25, 26, + 27 (all at 7:30 pm) in the Thalia. Davis, a protean playwright, singer, songwriter, and actor, is the current Symphony Space Artist-in-Residence. She is the winner of the 2012 Alpert Award in Theatre and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Bulrusher. She wrote and starred in Angela's Mixtape, named a best of 2009 by The New Yorker. Flowers Are Sleeping was commissioned by Symphony Space.
Flowers Are Sleeping stems from Davis's lifelong interest in the figures of the Harlem Renaissance. "I've been fascinated with the way they think about blackness, the way they think about humanity," says Davis. "All the amazing writers and artists and musicians, they still have this beautiful resonance now." The show is set in New York's current-day visual art world; its central character is an artist inspired by Harlem Renaissance author and nurse Nella Larsen. Other characters are based on critic and writer Jessie Fauset, social theorist and writer W.E.B. DuBois, photographer Carl Van Vechten, and writers Alain Locke and Jean Toomer. Davis's original songs are fresh and eclectic, incorporating flavors of folk, soul, and R&B with a musical-theater slant.
WALL-TO-WALL HARLEM RESONANCE
Wall to Wall Harlem Resonance, Saturday, May 11 (11 am - 11 pm) features interwoven performances of music, literature, dance, and much more. Featured performers include members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem School with a new ballet, The Garden of Paradise and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater offering Matthew Rushing's Uptown; ensembles from Harlem School of the Arts and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program at Columbia University; leading actors familiar to our Selected Shorts fans; soprano Julia Bullock, The Harlem Chamber Players, and Continuum; and local jazz and popular musicians, including jazz artist Gregory Generet and actor/singer Tamara Tunie. Other treats include three wandering muses from the acclaimed Renaissance in the Belly of the Killer Whale, rare film footage, and a fashion show. Stay tuned for details.
JAZZ SETS IN BAR THALIA
On a more informal note, Harlem Resonance presents sets in Symphony Space's chic and cozy Bar Thalia, serving the newest talent from Harlem's vibrant jazz scene along with fine food and libations.
On Friday, April 5 and Friday, May 3 (8:30 pm) Bar Thalia hosts New York native Mimi Jones, a multi-talented bassist, vocalist, and composer; special whisky drinks are being created for the occasion. Mimi has performed or recorded with Lionel Hampton, Kenny Barron, Tia Fuller, and Terri Lyne Carrington. An international touring artist, she has studied with Lisle Atkinson, Ron Carter, and Milt Hinton.
Thursday and Friday, April 11 + 12 (8:30 pm) rising young trumpeter Adam O'Farrill, the scion of a jazz dynasty, leads a trio of upstarts. Currently a freshman at the Manhattan School of Music, Adam has performed with Stefon Harris, Lee Konitz, Wynton Marsalis, Arturo O'Farrill, Donald Harrison, Christian Scott, DJ Logic, Benny Golson, and has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, Mount Fuji Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the White House, Teatro Mella in Havana, and more.
The dynamic young group Voices of Women performs jazz and cabaret standards on Friday, April 26 + Saturday, April 27 (8:30 pm). The group is comprised of Elizabeth Eiel (Soprano), Melissa Gerstein (Mezzo-Soprano), Christina Rosas (Mezzo-Soprano), and Courtenay Casey (Soprano). VOW performs at Cornelia Street Café, Café Vivaldi, Triad Theatre, and St. Gregory the Great, and has presented a cabaret revue at the Singers Forum.
Harlem-based jazz education programs are spotlighted throughout the festival at Bar Thalia. On Sundays at 7 pm, groups from the Harlem School of the Arts take the stage. Thursday, April 4 and Thursday, April 9 (8:30 pm) bring small combos from City College of New York's Jazz Performance Programs. Combos from the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program at Columbia University fill the bar with uptown sounds on three Saturdays, April 6, 13, + 20 (8:30 pm). Guitar-bass duos from the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Program play intimate grooves on two Thursdays, April 18 + April 25 (8:30 pm).
HARLEM RESONANCE: MUSIC EVENTS AT-A-GLANCE
PJST: Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
LNT: Leonard Nimoy Thalia
Wycliffe Gordon's Within our Gates
Friday, April 5, 8 pm, PJST
Harlem Quartet with Kaneza Schaal
"...Take the Harlem Night"
Thursday, April 11, 7:30 pm, LNT
Friday, April 12, 7:30 pm, LNT
Joe Temperley + Friends
Duke Ellington Birthday Celebration
Thursday, April 18, 7:30 pm, LNT
The Jazzmobile Big Band
with music director Jimmy Heath
Friday, April 19, 8 pm, PJST
Eisa Davis: Flowers are Sleeping
Thursday, April 25, LNT
Friday, April 26, LNT
Saturday, April 27, LNT
Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
"Música Nueva 6"
Friday, May 3, 8 pm, PJST
Saturday, May 4, 8 pm, PJST
Wall to Wall Harlem Resonance
Saturday May 11, 11 am - 11 pm
Bar Thalia shows
Uptown Jazz on 95th St.
Small combos from City College of New York's Jazz Performance Program
Thursday, April 4, 8:30 pm
Thursday, May 9, 8:30 pm
Mimi Jones Trio
Friday, April 5, 8:30 pm
Friday, May 3, 8:30 pm
From the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program at Columbia University
Saturday, April 6, 8:30 pm
Saturday, April 13, 8:30 pm
Saturday, April 20, 8:30 pm
Groups from the Harlem School of the Arts
Sunday, April 7, 7 pm
Sunday, April 14, 7 pm
Sunday, April 21, 7 pm
Sunday, April 28, 7 pm
Sunday, May 5, 7 pm
Adam O'Farrill Trio
Thursday, April 11, 8:30 pm
Friday, April 12, 8:30 pm
From the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Program
Thursday, April 18, 8:30 pm
Thursday, April 25, 8:30 pm
Voices of Women
Jazz and cabaret standards
Friday, April 26, 8:30 pm
Saturday, April 27, 8:30 pm
Offsite music events
A Walk Through Musical Harlem
A 90-minute tour led by historian John T. Reddick
Begins at Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street
Saturday, April 6, 1:00 pm
Afro-Latin Jazz Workshop with Arturo O'Farrill
Harlem School of the Arts, 645 St. Nicholas Avenue
Saturday, April 20, noon
Affinities: Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes
Recently unearthed Hughes settings by unheralded Harlem Renaissance composer Bonds,
performed by vocalists from Harlem Opera Theatre.
The Studio Museum, 144 West 125th Street
Tuesday, April 23, 7:00 pm
Symphony Space traces its beginnings to a free marathon concert, Wall to Wall Bach, held in 1978 and organized by co-founders Isaiah Sheffer and Allan Miller. The music marathon then drew thousands of visitors and has since become one of the organization's signature events. Today Symphony Space presents more than 600 events each season, including music, dance, theater, film, and literary readings. Some of its best known programs include Selected Shorts, a reading of short stories by stars of stage and screen, and one of the most popular series on public radio; the Thalia Film Club, a trendy film club hosted by Marshall Fine featuring pre-release screenings and behind-the-scenes conversations with film stars; Just Kidding, one of the most talked about family entertainment series around town; and, more recently, The Music of Now, presenting an eclectic range of music in all styles and sensibilities, focusing on emerging artists and unusual work. Uptown/ Showdown has been called "New York's best comedy series" by New York magazine.
Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. Box office hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 pm - 6 pm, open two hours prior to performances and events. Tickets can also be purchased through www.symphonyspace.org, or by calling 212/864-5400.