Ensemble Pi, the new-music collective praised for its socially conscious programming, will present a concert of commissioned and new works in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The program includes Sidney Boquiren’s Stop and Frisk (premiere of the orchestrated version for tenor, baritone and chamber ensemble), with text by Daniel Neer; the spirituals I Want to Go Home (arranged by Jessie Montgomery, 2016) and There Is a Balm (arranged by Trevor Weston, 2016) for baritone and chamber ensemble; Alvin Singleton’s Jasper Drag (2000) for clarinet, piano, and violin; Valerie Coleman’s Wish (2015) for flute and piano; Trevor Weston’s Shape Shifter (The Angry Bluesman) (2011) for cello; and Courtney Bryan’s Etude II: Secondline for Black Love; Piano Etudes: Carnival for Unity (2003) for piano. The event will be moderated by WQXR’s Weekday Evening host, Terrance McKnight.
Since 2003, Ensemble Pi’s Peace Project has sought to create a bridge between classical contemporary music and some of today’s most pressing social and political issues through the commissioning of works and collaborations with artists, writers and journalists. “Today, the level of despair, frustration and anger caused by systemic racism and police brutality, and documented by graphic videos of witnesses, is beyond any verbal expression,” Artistic Director and pianist Idith Meshulam says. “Ensemble Pi strongly believes in the need for a more just society. With this concert, it wishes to mourn the dead and celebrate the living by presenting the work of living composers from Black and Brown communities, who have responded musically to this painful situation.”
Ensemble Pi, a socially conscious new-music group founded in 2002, features composers whose work seeks to open a dialogue between ideas and music on some of the world’s current and critical issues. For more than thirteen years, Ensemble Pi has presented an annual Peace Project concert, commissioning new works and collaborating with visual artists, writers, actors and journalists such as William Kentridge, Naomi Wolf and David Riker. The ensemble was in residence for four American music festivals presented by the American Composers Alliance and now collaborates with the APNM. Symphony Space presented Ensemble Pi in birthday celebrations for composers Gunther Schuller and Krzysztof Penderecki. A multi-year collaboration with composer Elias Tanenbaum resulted in a CD of his chamber music, Keep Going, released by Parma Recordings in 2010 and reviewed by Gramophone as “a touching tribute to Elias Tanenbaum that is played with conviction and verve.” It was followed by a second CD of the music Laura Kaminsky, “played with warmth and variety” (American Record Guide). Ensemble Pi is currently working on the third CD. www.ensemble-pi.org