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Kaufman Music Center Releases New Collaborative Album With Nathalie Joachim and Special Music School Students

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Kaufman Music Center Releases New Collaborative Album With Nathalie Joachim and Special Music School Students

Kaufman Music Center has announced the release of Transformation, an album created by the 10th-grade class at Kaufman Music Center's Special Music School in collaboration with Grammy-nominated flutist, composer, vocalist and 2019-20 Kaufman Music Center Artist-in-Residence Nathalie Joachim. Special Music School is NYC's only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject.

Transformation comprises seven original works produced this spring by Joachim and student collaborators via a remote, group-driven recording process. The EP-length, digital-only album will be issued on Friday, August 14 via Bandcamp as the inaugural release on Kaufman Music Center's own label. The album can now be pre-ordered, and a preview track, Chrysalis, is available to stream.

At an online album preview event on Wednesday, August 12 (6 pm Eastern time), Joachim will perform the title track, Transformation, and discuss the album with Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Kate Sheeran and Special Music School 10th grader Zelda Rosenbloom. A track from the EP will be premiered, and audiences will have the opportunity to submit questions in advance for Nathalie and the students. The $15 ticket price includes the album download. LINK

When the COVID-19 crisis struck, a unique workshop focused on composition and improvisation quickly evolved into an ambitious album project. A 2019-20 Kaufman Music Artist-in-Residence, Joachim had intended to spend the season co-composing a performance based on the theme of "transformation" with the students, a participatory sonic experiment that would culminate in an in-person performance at the end of the school year. And then the pandemic hit.

"Suddenly, we went from being in shared spaces, to living in isolation in our homes," says Joachim. "We found ourselves universally impacted by something beyond our control, which was unsettling to say the least. However, the faculty and staff of Kaufman Music Center began to adapt immediately, with an admirable show of force in support of the students' education. That was inspiring to witness, and got me thinking: was there a way that I could also support the students at this time? Could I use all that we had learned together about the fluidity required for transformation through our creative work, to offer a new artistic outlet for the students in this challenging moment? And thus, our project took on a new shape, and became an opportunity for us to collectively process this transformative moment in all of our lives."

Under Joachim's guidance, the dynamic resulting tracks reflect new, unconventional creative processes stemming from the quarantine. From a self-generated soundbank of acoustic and electronic musical material contributed individually from home, the class worked in small groups via Zoom to create new pieces that represent their interpretations of the "transformation" theme. Their sonic explorations of textures and timbres have produced pieces ranging from ethereal beauty to pulsating rock rhythms. The album's title track, featuring vocals and flute by Joachim plus recorded samples from the soundbank, captures the haunting fragility of the moment, the sense of hope infused with uncertainty.

Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Kate Sheeran says, "The new album embodies our season-long theme of 'transformation' more than we ever could have anticipated. At a moment when our world has been turned upside-down, the possibilities for collaboration and connection through the arts are even more important. We are so proud of the students at our Special Music School High School for responding to these challenges with curiosity, resilience and support for each other. While unexpected, we are fortunate and moved that Nathalie Joachim's Artist Residency has culminated in this beautiful EP that is a sonic document of these times. We look forward to sharing it with the world."

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