On Sun, Feb 27 at 7:00 p.m., New Yorkers of all ages will take the Zankel Hall stage to showcase their original music, art, and poetry in AfroCosmicMelatopia. The special evening is part of the Hall’s citywide Afrofuturism festival and features young artists and creators from Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI)-the education and social impact arm of the Hall. Anchoring the Zankel Hall performance is Mwenso and the Shakes, a singular “troupe of global artists presenting music that merges entertainment and artistry” (Jazziz). Together with the young songwriters, they bring to life original music, art, and poetry with their own unique flair to create a genre-crossing evening that exemplifies the openhearted and boundary-defying spirit of Afrofuturism. The performance will be livestreamed on Carnegie Hall’s website, Facebook, and YouTube channels and subsequently available for on-demand viewing on the Hall’s website.
“We hope and see ourselves continuing to heal and lead through love and believe that Black roots music is the conduit to do so,” said Michael Mwenso, bandleader of Mwenso and the Shakes and co-founder of Electric Root. “Through Afrofuturism, we can create a deeper and fluid future for all of us. We are beyond grateful that WMI created this platform to feature these brilliant young artists and are excited to collaborate towards a brighter and more equitable tomorrow.”
The nearly 20 performances showcased on the program encompass a wide variety of styles including electronic, pop, digital art, R&B, soul, spoken word, jazz, and more, exploring different themes such as technology, self-expression, identity, heroism, love, freedom, and celebration of beauty. The imaginative original music and art is inspired by the infinite possibilities of Afrofuturism, and a future in which people of color thrive in all spaces and realms.
Among the composers whose works have been selected for the musical performance are participants in Future Music Project, a WMI program for teens to create, perform, and produce original music; Music Educators Workshop, which brings together teachers who work in schools and communities with K-12 students for community building and professional development; and NeON Arts-a free program of the NYC Department of Probation in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute-that offers young people in seven New York City communities the chance to explore the arts through a variety of creative projects. Additional songwriters/performers include men who participate in Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility; alums from Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States (NYO-USA) and NYO Jazz, two of the Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles for outstanding teen musicians from across the US; as well as teaching artists, and more. Teens who participated in WMI’s series of online poetry workshops this fall-led by Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member Sheree Renée Thomas-are also featured in the performance.
“This season, we were very excited to embed the ever-expansive themes of Afrofuturism into our education and social impact programs,” said Sarah Johnson, Chief Education Officer and Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “The festival themes invite young musicians, educators, and creators to tap into their imagination, and develop new art, music, and more that asks “what could be possible?” We’re thrilled to be able to showcase our dynamic WMI community on the Zankel Hall stage.”
AfroCosmicMelatopia is one of a variety of Afrofuturism-themed events from WMI throughout the 2021-2022 season. Earlier this month, hip-hop duo Soul Science Lab presented Make a Joyful Noize in Zankel Hall. Originally commissioned by the Hall as part of its 125 Commissions Project, the performance was a celebration of Black joy that blended rap, funk, soul, and Afrobeat and showcased hip-hop duo Soul Science Lab and a 10-person band. The vibrant multimedia performance featured music, film, spoken word, and dance.
Journey Into AfroCosmicMelatopia on Friday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m. is soundtracked by the futuristic sounds of leading DJs including DJ Reborn and DJ mOma, and celebrates both the work of creators from the WMI community and the multidisciplinary nature of Afrofuturism, including turntablism and digital architecture. The interactive evening in the Hall’s Resnick Education Wing features inspired young people showcasing their considerable talents through live performance, augmented reality, and art, in a celebration curated by the creative studios Intelligent Mischief and Wakanda Dream Lab. Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member Ytasha L. Womack curates immersive dance experiences. Prior to the evening, teens will participate in a special workshop with Wakanda Dream Lab focused on “World Building,” using the arts to visualize “AfroCosmicMelatopia,” a place where people of color thrive, free from race-based oppression.
The self-described “territory band, neo-tribal thang, community hang” Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber (BSAC) leads a free workshop for six rising musicians, ages 18-35, from March 31-April 3, 2022. The BSAC workshop focuses on the group’s approach to “Conduction,” and aims to enhance the selected musicians interpretive and decision-making abilities by expanding their concept of composition, orchestration, and arrangement in real-time. The residency culminates with a performance-Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber’s Cosmic Riddem, Esoteric Rambunction & Eclectic Blue Cheer~Conduction #5-in Zankel Hall on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
On Sunday, April 10 at 12:00 p.m., Spring Family Day invites children (ages 5 and up) and their adults to explore the idea of Afrofuturism in a daylong open house in the Resnick Education Wing. In a fitting nod to the boundless imagination and ever-expansive aesthetic of Afrofuturism, families enjoy an array of artistic and social experiences, including performances by Shine and the Moonbeams, instrument making with Bash the Trash, an Afrofuturism dance party lead by Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member Ytasha L. Womack, create your own comic book stations, and more. At this time, we are currently unable to welcome attendees under the age of 5 who are not fully vaccinated to Spring Family Day.
Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute Weaves Themes of Afrofuturism Across Programs
In education and social impact programs created by WMI, young musicians, teachers, and creators from New York City and across the US explore the infinite possibilities of Afrofuturism throughout the Hall’s 2021-2022 season. Imagination is a key ingredient of WMI’s programming which invites people of all ages to explore their creativity. Participants have the opportunity to engage in collaborative artistic explorations-both in person and online-creating original music, art, sound, technology, and stories that bring to life the possibility of a world shaped by music learners of all ages, experiences, and circumstances. Babies and their caregivers listen and sing along to Afrofuturist sounds in a special episode of “Sing with Carnegie Hall,” the weekly interactive video series that returns for second season this month. Young musicians and teens participate in artistic workshops featuring a range of guest artists, to collaborate and learn together about the potential of imagined futures. Teachers both locally and nationally in the Hall’s Music Educators Workshop collaborate with the hip-hop duo Soul Science Lab, exploring creative possibilities for creators of hip-hop and personal visions of the world. Men at Sing Sing Correctional Facility who participate in Musical Connections engage with festival themes through songwriting prompts, supported by teaching artists.
As a precursor to the festival, Afrofuturism Curatorial Council member and celebrated author Sheree Renée Thomas led a series of online poetry workshops this fall for young writers ages 14-19 who were interested in experimenting with voice, vivid imagery, and form, connecting their own original work to myriad themes of Afrofuturism. Ms. Thomas was joined by special guests including some of the genre’s leading Afrofuturist poets such as Linda D. Addison, Len Lawson, Gary Jackson, and Akua Lezli Hope. The Hall will publish a chapbook this spring, featuring the work the young people created in the fall workshops and contributions from all of the guest faculty members.
Sunday, February 27 at 7:00 PM
Mwenso and the Shakes
Michael Mwenso, Bandleader and Vocals
·· Shenel Johns, Vocals
·· Vuyo Sotashe, Special Guest Vocals
·· Ruben Fox, Saxophone
·· Giveton Gelin, Trumpet
·· Rashaan Salaam, Trombone
·· Franklin Rankin, Guitar
·· Chris Smith, Bass
·· Chris Pattishall, Piano and Keybaords
·· Dominique Gervais, Drums
·· Ahmad Johnson, Drums
·· Michela Lerman, Tap and Dance
·· Negah Santos, Percussionand
Deborah Adesodun, Vocals
Orson Benjamin, Vocals
Quenton Xavier Blache, Cello
BLVK Samurai, Sampler
Adia Colvin, Vocals
Shonari J. Edwards, Vocals and Keyboards
Catherine Geneo, Vocals
Ainka-Amara Gillespie, Vocals
Sarai Gonzalez, Vocals
Jamar Johnson, Vocals
Ruth Kendall, Vocals
Miles Lennox, Piano
Chimwekele Okoro, Vocals
Tiana Oquendo, Vocals
Jesse Qurios, Vocals
Imaani Russel, Dance
Cynthia Soriano, Vocals
Bishop Chantel Wright, Vocals
Jordan White, VocalsFeaturing Mwenso and the ShakesSHONARI J. EDWARDS Dive (Into the Cosmos)
Jordan White Black Magic
CATHERINE GENAO Beauty
MILES LENNOX City Walk
CYNTHIA SORIANO Black Star
RUTH KENDALL Freedom’s Anthem
BISHOP CHANTEL WRIGHT Say You Believe
DEBORAH ADESODUN They Say
Joseph Wilson Honestly
LORD JUDAH Manifestations
BLVK SAMURAI Cosmic Jungle
QUENTON XAVIER BLACHE Free for layered celli
CHIMWEKELE OKORO A Letter to My Daughter
ADIA COLVIN He is at the beginning, and we meet him at the endTickets $20, $30________________________
Additional Afrofuturism-Themed ProgrammingFriday, March 25 at 6:30 PM
Resnick Education Wing
JOURNEY INTO AFROCOSMICMELATOPIA
Additional artists to be announcedTake a journey into the world of AfroCosmicMelatopia, soundtracked by the futuristic sounds of leading DJs-including DJ Reborn and DJ mOma-from the African diaspora. This unique event celebrates both the work of young artists and creators from the Weill Music Institute community and the multidisciplinary nature of Afrofuturism, including turntablism and digital architecture. Join a community of inspired young people as they showcase their talents by designing a new world featuring live performance, augmented reality, and art, in an immersive celebration curated by the creative studio Intelligent Mischief and Wakanda Dream Lab.Tickets: $30________________________
Sunday, April 3 at 7:30 PM
BURNT SUGAR THE ARKESTRA CHAMBER
Cosmic Riddem, Esoteric Rambunction & Eclectic Blue Cheer~Conduction #5Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber (BSAC) is a New York music mainstay founded by The Village Voice’s Greg Tate, a recently departed icon eminently felt in this boundary-demolishing music. Called “a fleet-footed big band, sliding and swaggering through galactic R&B, brawny jazz, and electric funk like a Sun Ra-sized spin on Miles Davis’s On the Corner band” (Rolling Stone), BSAC brings long-form compositions, unstoppable grooves, and mighty improvisation together as one. This anticipated performance is the culmination of a one-of-a-kind workshop for six rising musicians, who will be featured alongside the ever-changing band that prides itself on “never playing anything the same way once.”Tickets: $20, $30________________________
Sunday, April 10 at 12:00 PM
RESNICK EDUCATION WING
SPRING FAMILY DAYCarnegie Hall’s Spring Family Day is a daylong open house that invites children (ages 5 and up) and their adults to explore the idea of Afrofuturism. In a fitting nod to the boundless imagination and ever-expansive aesthetic of Afrofuturism, families enjoy an array of artistic and social experiences, includinga??arts activities, music making,a??concerts, and more.a??Create and learna??alongside other families throughout the Resnick Education Wing, and experience this very special part of Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism festival. Information about registration for this event will be available in March 2022. We are currently unable to welcome attendees under the age of 5 who are not fully vaccinated to Spring Family Day. For more information of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute programs, visit carnegiehall.org/Education