‘Coming Together’ concert raising awareness for voters rights available to watch now

Music by radical U.S. composer Frederic Rzewski, African-American composer Florence Price, and Johann Sebastian Bach is featured in an online concert by the Quodlibet Ensemble with countertenor Reginald Mobley. Starting with the digital world premiere of Rzewksi’s Coming Together, the 50-minute concert traces a journey from struggle and endurance to hope and resistance amidst challenging times.

The project is in partnership with VOTESart, a non-partisan organization founded by two members of Quodlibet, Rebecca Anderson and Alex Fortes, which uses music to promote voter registration and creative civic engagement. The film features information about voting and connects viewers with voter registration and voter information resources.

Coming Together is a co-presentation with Five Boroughs Music Festival, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Tippet Rise Art Center, and Bay Chamber Concerts, partially filmed at Baryshnikov Arts Center in socially-distanced performance. These are among the first performing arts organizations in New York City to film in their own space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together is set for narrator and ensemble with text by Samuel Melville, one of the leaders of the revolt against police brutality at Attica Prison in 1971. It is followed by a set of four songs and spirituals by African-American composer Florence Price, starting with uncertainty and looking to God for strength. J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 54, Widerstehe doch der Sünde (Just Resist Sin), urges the listener to stay true to the righteous path, despite temptation.

The four songs by Florence Price include “Bewilderment” (Langston Hughes, arr. Alex Fortes), “My Soul’s Been Anchored In De Lord” (spiritual, arr. George Meyer), “Rise Mourner” (spiritual, arr. George Meyer), and “I’m Going to Lay Down My Heavy Load” (spiritual, arr. Alex Fortes). Reginald Mobley narrates the Samuel Melville text and sings the Price songs and the Bach cantata. He is among the finest and most expressive countertenors you are likely to hear these days.

Translation of the full text of the Bach cantata is provided before the music begins. What makes this cantata stand out particularly at this moment is Bach’s frequent repetition of the word “Widerstand,” the German term for resistance, the same word used in a modern political context, such as “Widerstand gegen Faschismus” (resistance against fascism).

The musical collaboration was curated by Quodlibet Ensemble’s Artistic Director Katie Hyun and created for film in collaboration with Mobley, both passionate advocates for social and political justice. Coming Together was recorded at remote locations and at BAC in September. The Rzewski was recorded and filmed by each performer individually and edited by Paul Wiancko and Katie Hyun, and the Price and Bach were recorded and engineered by Noriko Okabe. The lighting design is by Joe Levasseur.

The film was conceived by Hyun, violinist and founder of Quodlibet, and filmed by Pastor Isaac Scott, an award-winning social impact multimedia artist and human rights activist and a Fellow at the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, whose passion for human rights comes as a result of being directly affected by the criminal justice system and its disenfranchising nature. For this project, Pastor Scott was assisted by Pastor Kairi Chapman.

Available to Watch Now through Election Day, Nov. 3, at this link or any of the following links: www.bacnyc.org, www.5bmf.org, www.tippetrise.org, www.baychamberconcerts.org.


CONTRIBUTOR

Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.

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