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Sparks And Wiry Cries Announces 2023 SongSLAM Festival

Featured artists include Rhiannon Giddens, Karen Slack, Reginald Mobley, Will Liverman, and Howard Watkins.

Sparks & Wiry Cries (Sparks), led by Co-Founders and Directors Martha Guth and Erika Switzer, will present its 2023 songSLAM Festival from January 10 to 13, 2023, in New York with events at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, DiMenna Center for the Arts, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The cornerstone event of the festival is the world premiere of Shawn Okpebholo's new 55-minute song cycle Songs in Flight on Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium as part of the MetLiveArts series.

Conceived and commissioned by Sparks & Wiry Cries, the new song cycle features singer and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, soprano Karen Slack, countertenor Reginald Mobley, baritone Will Liverman, and pianist Howard Watkins. The work sets texts curated by Dr. Tsitsi Ella Jaji (Duke University), whose own work, along with the work of poet Crystal Simone Smith (Duke University), and Pulitzer Prize winner Tyehimba Jess contextualizes and responds to selected primary source materials from Freedom on the Move (FOTM). The FOTM database, started in 2019 at Cornell University, consists of more than 30,000 "runaway ads" placed during the period of slavery and acts as written records of fugitive enslaved people. Songs in Flight is presented by Sparks in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Following the concert at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Songs in Flight is presented at Philadelphia Chamber Music Society on Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 3:00 p.m.

The Festival kicks off on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. with a preview of Freedom on the Move: Songs in Flight at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's Langston Hughes Auditorium. The free event includes excerpts from the new song cycle, followed by a panel discussion with the entire creative team behind the work.

Sparks hosts its 7th annual songSLAM on Saturday, January 13, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. at the DiMenna Center for the Arts. Fashioned after poetry slams and storytelling events, teams of composers and performers compete for $2,000 audience-awarded cash prizes with new art song premieres. Additionally, last year's songSLAM commission-prize winner, Shawn Chang will premiere his new work.


Festival Information

Freedom on the Move: Songs in Flight, Preview
Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's Langston Hughes Auditorium
515 Malcolm X Boulevard (135th St and Malcolm X Blvd)
New York, NY 10037

Free admission

Songs in Flight (World Premiere)
Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028

Link: https://engage.metmuseum.org/events/metlivearts/fy22-23/songs-in-flight/

Rhiannon Giddens, singer and multi-instrumentalist
Karen Slack, soprano
Reginald Mobley, countertenor
Will Liverman, baritone
Howard Watkins, piano

Program:
SHAWN OKPEBHOLO: Songs in Flight

Tickets start at $30 (plus $5 service fee) and are available at metmuseum.org.

7th Annual NYC songSLAM
Saturday, January 13, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
DiMenna Center for the Arts
450 W 37th Street
New York, NY 10018

Link: https://www.sparksandwirycries.org/songslam

Singing Freedom - Part I
Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 3:00 p.m.
Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center
300 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Link: www.pcmsconcerts.org/concerts/singing-freedom-1/

Rhiannon Giddens, singer and multi-instrumentalist
Karen Slack, soprano
Reginald Mobley, countertenor
Will Liverman, baritone
Howard Watkins, piano

Program:
SHAWN OKPEBHOLO: Songs in Flight

Tickets, priced at $30, are available at pcmsconcerts.org.

Sparks & Wiry Cries began in 2009 as a podcast and online magazine, contextualizing the world of art song through the sharing of recordings, interviews, and articles by prominent artists and scholars. In 2015, co-founders soprano Martha Guth and pianist Erika Switzer expanded their vision by creating an art song recital series based in New York City. In 2016, Sparks grew to include the songSLAM competition and a commissioning program. Today the songSLAM Festival, established in 2018, and Art Song Magazine actively engage in current conversations through insightful publishing, programming, and commissioning. Recent additions to the Sparks brand are the curation and publication of new works through E.C. Schirmer and NewMusicShelf, and the development of art song performance projects as represented by ADA Artist Management.

Photo credits: Rhiannon Giddens by Ebru Yildiz, Karen Slack by Kia Caldwell, Reginald Mobley by Liz Linder, Will Liverman by Jaclyn Simpson Photography, Howard Watkins courtesy of the artist.



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