World Premiere Of SONGS IN FLIGHT By Shawn Okpebholo & More to be Featured in SparksLIVE Winter 2023 Events

Sparks & Wiry Cries will additionally present its 7th annual songSLAM on Saturday, January 13, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

By: Dec. 07, 2022
World Premiere Of SONGS IN FLIGHT By Shawn Okpebholo & More to be Featured in SparksLIVE Winter 2023 Events
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Sparks & Wiry Cries, led by Co-Founders and Directors Martha Guth and Erika Switzer, will present a week of sparksLIVE events, from January 10 to 13, 2023 in New York, including the world premiere of Songs in Flight, co-presented by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, plus additional events at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Shawn Okpebholo's new 55-minute song cycle Songs in Flight will premiere 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 performance series. Conceived by Sparks & Wiry Cries and co-commissioned by Sparks and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (PCMS), 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 collaboration 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 will be presented at Philadelphia Chamber Music Society on Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 3:00 p.m.

On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. a preview event entitled, Freedom on the Move: Songs in Flight, is held at the 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 & Wiry Cries will additionally present its 7th annual songSLAM on Saturday, January 13, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, hosted by composer Tom Cipullo. Fashioned after poetry slams and storytelling events, 15 teams of composers and performers compete for $2,000 in audience-awarded cash prizes with new art song premieres.

Now a hybrid event, each team will have their song professionally recorded at the Blue Building in NYC and also perform the song live at Cary Hall at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, where the audience will vote to determine the winners. Virtual voting at sparksandwirycries.org will open January 13th at 7pm EST and will remain open through January 22nd.

As part of the evening, last year's songSLAM commission-prize winner, Shawn Chang, will premiere his new work, Us Now, featuring the composer as pianist together with tenor Daniel McGrew.

sparksLIVE 2023 Event 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, reservation required

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

More information about Songs in Flight can be found here: https://www.sparksandwirycries.org/songs-in-flight

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

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

Tickets for $20 (plus fee) are available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nyc-songslam-competition-and-world-premiere-by-shawn-chang-tickets-472220503237

2023 NYC songSLAM Teams:

- Maria Thompson Corley, composer & pianist with AddieRose Forstman, soprano & poet: Welcome to Guntown
- Samuel Beebe, composer, with Natasha Nelson, mezzo-soprano, Katherine Miller, pianist and Sara Constantino, poet: Let it hurt you then let it heal you
- Youngmo Na, composer & pianist, with Hannah Cho, soprano: Cultivo una rosa blanca, text by José Martí
- Timothy Morrow, composer & pianist with Josh Lisner, tenor: Hymn to the Night, text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Dina Pruzhansky, composer with Susannah Stewart, soprano and Maeve Berry, pianist: My Soul is Awakened, text by Anne Brontë
- Laura Brenneman, composer & pianist with Kyra Miller, mezzo-soprano: Forsworn, texts by William Shakespeare & Emilia Bassano Lanier
- Zoe Yucong Wang composer, with Sophie Thompson, soprano and Brian Wong, pianist: Recorders ages hence, text by Walt Whitman
- JL Marlor, composer with Micah Gleason, mezzo-soprano and Gracie Francis, pianist: Baffled for just a day or two, text by Emily Dickinson
- Laura Nevitt, composer with Regina Stroncek, soprano and Taylor Burkhardt, pianist: Moonrise, text by Hilda Doolittle
- Clint Borzoni, composer and pianist with Michelle Trovato, soprano: There is no magic anymore, text by Sara Teasdale
- Erik Franklin, composer with Claire Galloway, soprano and Edward Rothmel, pianist: Climbing, text by Amy Lowell
- Marie Herrington, composer with Emily Tate Daniel, soprano and Timothy Krippner, pianist: To the River, text by Edgar Allen
- Robert Gross, composer with Shana Oshiro, soprano and Adam Mahonske, pianist: What does Freedom Look Like? text by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
- Lauren Spavelko, composer with Jennifer Sgroe, soprano and Eric Sedgwick, pianist: Courage, text by Elizabeth Gilbert (Text adapted from "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear")
- Luis McDougal, composer with Gabriel Garcia, baritone and Nacho Ojeda, pianist: The Bells, text by Edgar Allen Poe

Plus world premiere of Us Now by pianist Shawn Chang, in live performance with tenor Daniel McGrew and in virtual release with mezzo-soprano Erin Wagner

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.

About Sparks & Wiry Cries


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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