Yvette Janine Jackson’s T-Minus is part of a series of radio operas themed around the environmental and socioeconomic impact of space tourism on local communities near launch sites. The idea was prompted by the livestream of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 in May 2020 which took place at a time when people around the world were taking to the streets in protests against police brutality and systemic racism. The juxtaposition of events evoked a 1970’s Gil Scott-Heron poem come to fruition. T-Minus builds on Left Behind, which was premiered by Jackson’s Radio Opera Workshop ensemble at the Venice Music Biennale, and The Coding, a video concréte influenced by Samuel Delany’s Babel-17 novel that examines the power of language.
Radio opera is a term Jackson first used to describe her narrative electroacoustic compositions, such as the Invisible People series, that frequently forefront historical events and social issues. The term continues to take on new meaning for the composer as she expands these ideas to include live performance, visuals, lighting, and interactivity. Influenced by productions from the Golden Age of Radio Drama, Jackson’s radio operas leave room for the listener’s experiences to give meaning to the music.
Also on the program is Jackson’s Swan. Swan is a musical journey that unfolds in three scenes: it opens aboard the tallship Swan transporting Africans along the Middle Passage to the Americas and gradually morphs into a spacecraft headed to freedom. Swan is a radio opera without words; the fixed media performance allows the audience to be at the center of the narrative and experience the journey. The work is composed from original foley, analog synthesis, and recordings from studio sessions by Jackson’s Invisible People Ensemble (Yvette Janine Jackson, piano; Kjell Nordeson, vibraphone; Shayla James, viola; Judith Hamann, cello; Sam Dunscombe, bass clarinet) interpreting her traditionally notated and graphic scores, as well as guided improvisations.
Yvette Janine Jackson: T-Minus
Yvette Janine Jackson: Swan
performed by International Contemporary Ensemble
This concert will be broadcast live on Wave Farm Radio WGXC 90.7-FM in NY’s Upper Hudson Valley.
A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing. Watch below or on YouTube.