I'm so pleased that violinist Sarah Jane Kenner has chosen to perform excerpts of my solo violin partita on this wonderful online concert from Ars Musica Chicago. Attendance is free, donations are welcome. I'm looking forward to hearing my work on *Baroque Violin.* The program also includes works by Telemann and Lully. A link to more information is here. Please join us!
I am still buzzing with gratitude from a recent performance of my six-minute flute soliloquy, Falling Skyward, by the wonderfully talented and ever-resourceful principal flutist of the Wichita Symphony, Carmen Lemoine. She, along with WSO concertmaster Holly Mulcahy, produced an inspiring online concert of new works that featured music by living composers. I was really happy to have my music included with the likes of Jonathan McNair and Marco Granados.
To me, the concert was what it might have been like to experience a 19th-century salon: it was informal and warm as the composers and musicians took questions from the other Zoom call participants. My thanks to all involved for keeping new music alive in the time of Covid. These are the sorts of efforts that ensure we can and will defeat the worst this pandemic has to offer. Even in the midst of challenging times, we can still meet together, make music together, adapt, and thrive.
My thanks to my colleague and friend Nicholle Andrews, music director and conductor of the intrepid Phoenix Chamber Choir, for inviting me into conversation with some really wonderful and brave musical artists and diversity stewards. Our discussion was wide-ranging and expansive, and yet always driven by a sense of mission. One thing we know for certain is that aspiring to musical justice is generational work. Endeavoring to make our musical choirs reflect the diversity, breadth, and depth of society is not one person’s job; it is not the job of one community, city, or country. It is the job of all of us. I’m really humbled to have been a part of this exchange. I was nervous (and it shows, at least to me), but it’s really important that we each find ways of putting ourselves out there, testing our discomfort, and try to be a part of solutions. Whether it’s racial injustice, climate crises, or the plight of refugees around the world, Making Music in the Mess has encouraged me to look for ways of asking more challenging questions of myself and my community. Hopefully, conversations like this might encourage you to know that, in the beautiful struggle to affect positive change in your community, you are not alone.
A link to our conversation is here.
Looking forward to discussing diversity in Canadian choral music with this brilliant panel of forward-thinking artists! Hope to see some of you there!
Making Music in the Mess:
A conversation towards a greater understanding of African Diasporic voices in Canadian choral music.
Monday, July 6th, 2020
1:00pm PST / 4:00pm EST
Studies in Hope on WMHT radio
Happy to be a part of the Juneteenth celebrations for WMHT. If ever you wanted to take a listen to the complete piece, now’s your chance! Tune in if you can!￼
His friends described George Floyd as a gentle giant, as a spiritual man.
We are losing so many to pandemics of illness, violence, and rage.
Many of you are struggling with what to do next in the face of racialized injustice. I certainly don’t have any answers. I’ve spent a lot of my life under the radar, trying not to draw the attention of lethal force, so I don’t feel like the best person to speak with authority on how to bring about change and social justice. I literally have just tried to stay alive.
But here’s what I’m thinking about now. Begin anywhere. Every morning I remind myself that I’m not dead. I literally speak those words out loud, “I’m not dead.“ I do this to speak into the world the truth that poet Lucille Clifton put in a poem: that every day something has tried to kill me and failed. I struggle with you. So maybe it’s time for me to start working past not being dead and start working towards being alive.
I would add to the insight below from poet Gregory Orr: turn your words back into the world. Repeat the cycle. Create an alternating current that powers your desire for social justice. Words matter. Words help me live into the world with more courage. Words power change. And change powers words. And that alternating current creates electricity that powers our desire for social justice.
So talk with your friends; talk with your neighbors; speak with your community leaders. If you’re white, listen and bear witness. If you’re black, don’t be afraid to make your opinion, heart, and mind known. Speak out from the shadows. Let’s strive not for equality but for justice. The difference is subtle but important. Because in America we’re not the same. But to live well together, everyone has to belong. ✊🏽 🌈
My first radio interview. I'm filled to the brim with gratitude for the extraordinary musicians and staff of the Albany Symphony, and its director David Alan Miller; the Albany High School Chamber Choir, and its director Brendan Hoffman; student rappers Mohamed & Esmeralda; and soprano soloists Paule Aboite & Chelsea Fingal DeSouza. Their tremendous work on "Studies in Hope: Frederick Douglass" this December was a massive undertaking, but always a labor of love. Such a joy to celebrate with each of you! From my heart to yours, *thank you*!
2019 has been a wonderful year, and new adventures await in 2020! Wishing all of you a joyous New Year!!
In Albany this week for the orchestra premiere of “Studies in Hope: Frederick Douglass” with the Albany Symphony, and choir from Albany Highschool, who are crushing it in rehearsals. I’m doing radio interviews with David Alan Miller the next couple days if you want to tune in. *Note changed times* Friday 12/6/19 @ 2:00pm on WMHT, and 12/6/19 @ 11:00am on WAMC. 😀🎼
I'll be in Troy, New York at the end of May for the premiere of my latest piece "Good Fred," with the Dogs of Desire & Albany High School Chorus. I'm glad to share the program with fellow University of Michigan alum Clarice Assad, and I'm also hoping to see my old friends the Argus Quartet, who got their start at Renaissance Arts Academy when I was on the faculty there. The trip represents a kind of homecoming for me. I spent some of my formative years in Western New York, living and working as a confused, ambitious twenty-something in the city of Rochester. It's been twenty years since I've been back in the area, and I'm looking forward to the trip! For more information on the American Music Festival, visit: https://www.albanysymphony.com/aboutamf. Hope to see you there!!
Here is the Program Note I wrote for my composition, Good Fred:
Good Fred, by Andre Myers
Scored for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Bassoon, French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Drum Kit, Two Sopranos, High School Choir, Hip-Hop MCs, Piano, Two Violins, Viola, ‘Cello, and Double Bass/Electric Bass
Commissioned by the Dogs of Desire, David Alan Miller, conductor
Duration: about 20 minutes
The first movement of Good Fred introduces the premise of the composition: that the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, whose instagram handle I imagined to be “Good Fred,” was the most adroit social media influencer of his time, utilizing print media, photography, autobiography, religious exhortation & public oratory, voluminous written correspondence, and coalition building to further his political agenda and moral imagination. The second movement features a quartet of young MCs who outline a narrative of his life. His struggle was a fundamentally American one, and it is important we draw courage from it in our time. The third movement features the Dogs of Desire, and reflects on how Douglass recognized the rights and liberties of women and African Americans to be deeply connected. “Permission to Rise” asserts that intersectional thinking about the struggle of blacks, women, and LGBTQ+ persons is as important today as it was during Douglass’s days of coalition building with the suffragette movement during Reconstruction. The fourth and final movement features the Albany High School Choir, and asserts the legacy of Frederick Douglass to be for everyone. As our world gets more connected, and the challenges of our time grow increasingly intense, Frederick Douglass’s call to community action is as prescient as ever.
I moved to Rochester New York when I was 18, and taught myself very little about Douglass’s life, work, or local significance during my six years living downtown. I do not remember once visiting his grave, or reading any of his works. Perhaps if I had, I would have felt less alone and less afraid on my own. I composed Good Fred thinking about young people today who may not be familiar with his extraordinary life and legacy. I hope the piece illustrates how History is not static, but dynamic and fluid as water; how one life lived in community can inspire, edify, and bring solace to a generation of folks that too often feel isolated from their past, and lonely in their present. I believe Frederick Douglass can be a friend to us all.
"Wear your mask & practice social distancing. Together, we can defeat Covid 19!"
"Literacy in Music & Arts is one of your vital links to global citizenship!"
"Be sure to support the arts in *your* community!"