JCD: Duke Performances dedicated a significant portion of our 2015 summer season to celebrating Music Maker's 20th anniversary. We featured artists including Cool John Ferguson, Sam Frazier Jr., Boo Hanks, John Dee Holeman, Ironing Board Sam, Williette Hinton, The Branchettes, Pat 'Mother Blues' Cohen & Big Ron Hunter. Over the past decade, we've also had the good fortune of presenting Music Maker artists Joe Thompson, Dom Flemons & Bishop Dready Manning. Keep an eye on our offerings, I'm sure that we'll have opportunity to showcase more of the elders as time goes by. Finally, I'd be careful w/ the term 'original musicians', none of the folks living today were making music alongside Rev. Gary Davis, Etta Baker & Blind Boy Fuller during the 'heyday' of the Piedmont blues in the 1920s, 30s & 40s.
Gerald & the team on 'Piedmont Blues' spent a great deal of time with living, though elderly, Piedmont blues musicians. Duke Performances, working with Music Makers, has presented many of these artists over the past decade. After considerable conversation & consideration it was our conclusion that none of those musicians was nimble enough to effectively participate in this project. To be clear, Clayton's 'Piedmont Blues' is a synthetic project that attempts to honor the elders while making a presentation that bristles with a contemporary energy; only the audience will be able to determine whether this approach works.
Thanks for the fine article about Hiss Golden Messenger + William Gedney = 'Heart Like a Levee'
A few quick corrections/additions:
• Jim Findlay, who's directing & designing the piece at Duke Performances, is not a Duke drama department employee. Jim is, like Michael an exceptional visiting artist, the winner of 2x Obie awards, 2x Bessie awards, a Lucille Lortel award, etc.
Jim Findlay's bio is here: http://jimfindlaynyc.com/about/
• Margaret Sartor's William Gedney expert-ness is likely best illustrated by the book 'What Was True: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney', which she co-edited w/ Geoff Dyer.
• Bill Frisell's 'Disfarmer' — which used the photographs of Mike Disfarmer — was not a project of 'From the Archives'; however, singer-songwriter Jenny Scheinman's 'Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait' — which used the Piedmont films of H. Lee Waters & premiered at Duke Performances in March 2015 — was a project of the initiative.
—Aaron Greenwald, executive director of Duke Performances
Thanks to Amanda Black for this review of Duke Performances' presentation of Ana Tijoux.
At Duke Performances, we're committed to presenting the most interesting & forward thinking artists from around the world, while simultaneously providing access for as broad a local audience as possible. Such an enterprise will most certainly require ongoing constructive feedback of the variety Ms. Black offers in the last couple paragraphs of her above review.
I do wonder, though, whether providing promotional copy in the native language of the artist would best enable that access? & should we follow this suggestion for all of the artists we offer on the season who have a primary language other than English? For context, since we started the season in mid-September 2015, Duke Performances has presented artists from Ethiopia (Mahmoud Ahmed), Portugal (Lula Pena), Spain (Patricia Ibanez & Abel Herana and Cuarteto Casals), India (L. Subramaniam) Austria (Vienna Boys' Choir) &, in Ms. Tijoux's case, Chile.
We currently strive to make strategic outreach to ethnic & cultural communities that we feel might connect w/ the artists we're offering, but the imperative to employ a native language in reaching broader audiences is a notion I think worthy of additional conversation.
Thanks & best regards,
Executive Director of Duke Performances
Quick note: Friday, September 5 at the Bull Durham Blues Festival is a collaboration btw. Hayti & Duke Performances & features The Campbell Brothers' new interpretation of John Coltrane's iconic jazz composition 'A Love Supreme' — a commission from Duke Performances & Lincoln Center.
Note: Duke Performances rented & rigged sound in DPAC for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. The house PA system in DPAC, while very good for live music, was not able to satisfy the surround-sound requirements of the Cunningham Company.
Wonder -- albeit from a somewhat self serving vantage -- whether the Indy Weekly's Scan will make another post sometime soon? This announce went up March 31 & it's been radio silence since.
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