UPTOWN NIGHTS, TO THE LIGHT Reading, Film Screenings and More Set for Harlem Stage's Fall 2015 Season
Over the course of 30 years, Harlem Stage has become one of the nation's leading arts organizations, achieving this distinction by commissioning, developing, producing and presenting innovative works by visionary artists of color. Their Fall 2015 season offers a variety of events, including free neighborhood concerts and ticketed headlining events, as well as lectures and roundtable discussions that advance deeper engagement with Harlem Stage's audience. All will take place in the state-of-the art flexible performance space, the Harlem Stage Gatehouse.
Patricia Cruz, Executive Director, said, "I am very proud of the extraordinary work that Harlem Stage's Programming team, Brad Learmonth and Simone Eccleston, consistently deliver by identifying and showcasing daring, innovative artists of color who enrich and challenge the existing landscape of performance. These artists, who in many instances are unknown, move on to represent the gold standard. We are excited about the Fall Season as we continue to expand the scope of work seen in Harlem, throughout the city and the country."
Brad Learmonth, Director of Programming said, "This season stands out as one that truly honors Harlem's longstanding heritage as a cultural trailblazer. The artists we are presenting honor, celebrate and understand the legacy they draw from and, because of that firm footing, are creating new forms that will define the future in exciting and lasting ways. We cannot wait to experience their genius and share it with the world."
- Uptown Nights, Harlem Stage's ongoing series that allows audiences to engage with artists in an intimate context, featuring a listening session by Jason King (September 16); King's international dance music superband Company Freak celebrate the release of their new EP Lux Life (September 18); jazz trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah celebrates the release of his latest album, Stretch Music, with a cast of leading musicians (October 2 and 3), along with Introducing Stretch Music a Dig Deeper conversation with aTunde Adjuah (October 3); Fear & Fancy present Swank!, a masquerade experience with a special musical performance by Wondaland recording artist Jidenna (November 13); a listening session with Meshell Ndegeocello and Toshi Reagon (December 3); and Dearly Beloved - The Music of Prince, a two-night blowout performance featuring a stellar lineup assembled by Ben Williams (December 11 and 12), along with Re-Imagining Prince, a Dig Deeper conversation with Williams (December 12)
- A screening of Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band, a documentary about the life and music of one of the greatest jazz pianists, composers and arrangers who has remained largely unknown. The screening features a special performance by composer and bandleader, Geri Allen, on solo piano (September 22).
- A staged reading of Bil Wright's To the Light (A Fantasy Inspired by two American Geniuses: Baldwin and Delaney), a new play that celebrates the loving, dramatic, complex relationship between writer James Baldwin and painter Beauford Delaney (October 7 and 8)
- World premiere of PATIENT(CE) - a Physical Requiem, an evening-length, interdisciplinary work choreographed by Stefanie Batten Bland for her company, Company SBB, and made in collaboration with futuristic jazz ensemble Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, led by Greg Tate. The work is inspired by Bland's father, contemporary composer and filmmaker, Ed Bland (October 22-24).
- Free Carnegie Neighborhood Concert with Alicia Olatuja (November 18)
- A special event, presented in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art that explores the groundbreaking exhibition, 100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History (December 5)
Tickets and reservations to Harlem Stage go on sale starting August 24 and can be purchased online at www.HarlemStage.org, or via phone at 212.281.9240 ext. 19/20. All performances take place at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse (150 Convent Avenue, Manhattan).
HARLEM STAGE FALL 2015 PROGRAMMING:
Jason King-writer/producer/bandleader/DJ of dance music superband Company Freak and renowned media personality and scholar/journalist-takes us on a unique sonic journey through the rich history of orchestral disco, soul, funk, boogie and house during this listening session, as he shines the light on influential groups of the past and contemporary extensions of this legacy. He's joined in this exciting talk by some of his legendary Company Freak collaborators-former lead singers of classic disco band Chic, Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson, and powerhouse two-time Tony nominee Vivian Reed.
Harlem Stage kicks off an exciting fall season with international dance music super band Company Freak, the brainchild of producer-DJ-journalist Jason King. The band will celebrate the release of their new EP, Lux Life, at the Gatehouse with special guests Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson, formerly of Chic, as well as two-time Tony nominee and R&B powerhouse Vivian Reed. Featuring vocalists Cassondra James Kellam, Matia Washington and Dawn Tallman, and anchored by King's original tracks, Company Freak's sophisticated dance pop is a throwback to 1970s and 80s orchestral disco, soul and funk when groups like Chic, Kool & The Gang and Midnight Star ruled the airwaves.
[FILM / MUSIC]
MARY LOU WILLIAMS: THE WOMAN WHO SWINGS THE BAND
A film by Paradox Films, Produced and Directed by Carol Bash
Featuring Geri Allen in a special solo piano performance and
Post-screening discussion with Dr. Farrah Jasmine Griffin, Carol Bash and Geri Allen, moderated by Greg Thomas
Tuesday, September 22 at 7:30pm
Harlem Stage presents a riveting documentary about the life and music of one of the greatest jazz pianists, composers and arrangers who has remained largely unknown...until now. Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band tells the story of a woman who forged her own path and created some of the most sophisticated big band hits for Andy Kirk, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and many other popular orchestras in the 1930s and ?40s. She was truly a woman who swung the band. In the 1950s, bebop jazz icons regularly visited her Harlem apartment to gain knowledge and inspiration. And in the 1970s, Mary Lou Williams took jazz in a whole new direction. But away from the piano, Williams was a woman in a "man?s world," a black person in a "whites only" society, an ambitious artist who dared to be different and struggled against the imperatives of being a "star." Above all, she did not fit the (still) prevailing notions of where genius comes from or what it looks like. Time and again, she pushed back against a world that said, "You can?t" and said, "I can." It nearly cost her everything.
Featuring pianist, composer and bandleader, Geri Allen in a special solo performance and a post-screening discussion with Dr. Farrah Jasmine Griffin, Carol Bash and Geri Allen. Moderated by Greg Thomas.
UPTOWN NIGHTS: CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADJUAH PRESENTS STRETCH MUSIC
Friday - Saturday, October 2-3 at 7:30pm
DJ: Raydar Ellis
In celebration of his new release and East Coast tour, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah returns to Harlem Stage to present Stretch Music. Stretch Music is a jazz rooted, genre blind musical form that attempts to "stretch" jazz's rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions to encompass as many other musical forms, vernacular, thought processes and cultures as possible. It features a cast of some of this music's most daring conceptualists in terms of their compositional acumen & improvisational sharpness.
Dig Deeper: Introducing Stretch Music
Saturday, October 3 at 6pm
Tickets: Free with RSVP
As a preview to that evening's 7:30pm performance of Stretch Music, Harlem Stage will present an intimate conversation with Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah discussing the concept and creative process behind Stretch Music.
Complementary Education Activities:
Stretch Music Education Performance for Middle School and High School Students
Thursday, October 1 at 12pm
Stretch Music Clinic/Master Class for College Students
Thursday, October 1 at 2:30pm
For more information, please contact Simone Eccleston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TO THE LIGHT (A FANTASY INSPIRED BY TWO AMERICAN GENIUSES: BALDWIN AND DELANEY)
A Staged Reading of a New Play by Bil Wright, Directed by Reginald Douglas
Wednesday - Thursday, October 7 and 8 at 7:30pm
Tickets: Free with RSVP
Commissioned in part by the Harlem Stage Fund for New Work
To the Light (A Fantasy Inspired by two American Geniuses: Baldwin and Delaney) is a play by Bil Wright that celebrates the loving, dramatic, complex relationship between writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) and painter Beauford Delaney (1901-1979). It chronicles their friendship from their first meeting through each of their deaths. Both of these men were highly significant in the history of American arts and culture. They both lived and created during times of enormous political change in the United States, especially in regards to the country's race relations. Both were also enamored with Paris, as were other black artists, feeling it was a mecca in which art prevailed and African Americans considered beautiful both physically and artistically. This was a huge bond between the men, with both men dying in Paris, Delaney the victim of severe mental illness.
PATIENT(CE) - a Physical Requiem (world premiere)
Thursday - Friday, October 22 and 23 at 7:30pm, Saturday, October 24 at 2pm and 7:30pm
Presented in partnership with Company SBB
Supported in part by a dance stipend from Mertz Gilmore, through Harlem Stage
Choreographic artist Stefanie Batten Bland will create an evening-length, interdisciplinary work inspired by the structure of jazz with its formal emphasis on the eternal present. Through a collaboration with futuristic jazz ensemble Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber and a visual installation by Batten Bland and Alaric Hahn, PATIENT(CE) will examine the critical relationship that the musical, physical and visual arts have with space and time.
For more information, please contact Simone Eccleston at email@example.com
UPTOWN NIGHTS: FEAR AND FANCY PRESENT SWANK!
Featuring Wondaland Recording Artist Jidenna and special guests
Friday, November 13 at 7:30pm
Join us for an exciting masquerade experience curated by Fear and Fancy with a special musical performance by Wondaland recording artist Jidenna.
Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert
Wednesday, November 18 at 7:30pm
Tickets: Free with RSVP
Presented in collaboration with Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series, a program of the Weill Music Institute
To kick off the 30th anniversary season of their partnership with Carnegie Hall, Harlem Stage is excited to collaborate with the Carnegie Neighborhood Concert Series to present singer Alicia Olatuja, who electrified a crowd of a million people on the National Mall at the 2013 presidential inauguration with her richly textured, show-stopping solo with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Olatuja sings with a strong, lustrous tone, and mixes elements of classical, jazz, gospel, and pop into her fluid vocalism. Her busy performance calendar includes collaborating with bassist and husband Michael Olatuja as the Olatuja Project; performing as a soloist with the Juilliard Jazz Ensemble; and providing back-up vocals for Chaka Khan, Somi and Christian McBride.
LISTENING SESSION WITH MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO AND TOSHI REAGON
Can I Get a Witness? (The Gospel of James Baldwin)
Thursday, December 3 at 7:30pm
Presented with support Barnard College
Join us for an intimate discussion with Meshell Ndegeocello and collaborator Toshi Reagon that provides a first look at the creative process and development of Ndegeocello's new work Can I Get Witness?, a Pan-African Church Service inspired by James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. Discussion moderated by Rich Blint, Ph.D., Associate Director, Columbia University School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education.
[FILM / MUSIC]
100 YEARS IN POST-PRODUCTION: RESURRECTING A LOST LANDMARK OF BLACK FILM HISTORY
Saturday, December 5: panel discussion at 2:00pm; film presentation 3:00pm; post-discussion and Q&A 4:00pm.
The MoMA's discovery of this extraordinary footage forms the basis for an in-depth program that explores the rich and provocative history of African American performance and its impact on American theater and culture. The afternoon begins with a panel to contextualize the film and the history it highlights. The film, presented with an original score created for the occasion, is followed by a discussion on what it reveals and elicits.
The film features recently discovered, unedited footage for an unreleased black-cast feature film, originally shot in 1913 and starring the legendary Caribbean American musical theater performer and recording artist Bert Williams (1874-1922), along with several Harlem-based entertainment pioneers including J. Leubrie Hill and members of his Darktown Follies stage company.
Blending minstrel and contemporary performance styles in its telling of recycled race narratives, the work documents the effort by a community of virtuoso performers to achieve visibility in a time of segregation. The untitled project, mounted around the time that D. W. Griffith began his racist epic The Birth of a Nation, was abandoned in postproduction. Seven reels of exposed film were buried along with the photographic documentation of the black cast and white crew on the set.
Using a series of digital moving-image excerpts from the 35mm camera negative and still frames recovered from the unassembled material, this premiere installation stages a close reading of suppressed moments from the struggle for minority access to visual media.
UPTOWN NIGHTS: BEN WILLIAMS: DEARLY BELOVED - THE MUSIC OF PRINCE
Featuring Special Guests
Friday - Saturday, December 11 and 12 at 7:30pm
Commissioned in part by the Harlem Stage Fund for New Work
Assembling a stellar cast of rising stars in the worlds of R&B, funk, soul, jazz and classical, Thelonious Monk Competition Winner and Grammy Award-winning bassist Ben Williams pays tribute to the musical legacy of Prince. Drawing inspiration from his iconic discography, this concert will feature newly imagined arrangements and compositions that celebrate the virtuosity of Prince. A schedule of participating artists will be announced at a later date.
Dig Deeper: Re-Imagining Prince
Saturday, December 12, at 6pm
Tickets: Free with RSVP
As a preview to that evening's 7:30pm performance of Dearly Beloved - The Music of Prince, Harlem Stage will present an intimate conversation with Ben Williams. He'll share his creative process for Dearly Beloved and discuss the art of re-imagining and arranging works of famous artists.
For over 30 years Harlem Stage has been one of the nation's leading arts organizations, achieving this distinction by commissioning, incubating and presenting innovative works by visionary artists of color, and by facilitating a productive engagement with the communities it serves through the performing arts. Harlem Stage has a long-standing tradition of supporting artists and organizations around the corner and across the globe, including legendary artists such as Harry Belafonte, Max Roach, Sekou Sundiata, Abbey Lincoln, Sonia Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente, as well as contemporary artists like Bill T. Jones, Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, Jason Moran and more. Its education programs each year provide over 4,000 New York City children with introduction and access to the rich diversity, excitement and inspiration of the performing arts. In 2006, Harlem Stage opened the landmarked, award-winning Harlem Stage Gatehouse. This once abandoned space, originally a pivotal source for distributing fresh water to New York City, is now a vital source of creativity, ideas and culture. Harlem Stage received the Dawson Award for sustained Excellence in the Performing Arts by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in 2014.