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Wadada Leo Smith to Premiere Civil Rights Opus ‘Ten Freedom Summers’

Multi-media project was inspired by August Wilson's 'Pittsburgh Cycle'

Trumpeter/Composer Wadada Leo Smith will present the world premiere of his multi-media Civil Rights opus “Ten Freedom Summers” with the Golden Quartet and Southwest Chamber Music October 28-30 at the REDCAT Theater in the Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex in Los Angeles.

“Ten Freedom Summers” is described as “a collaboration between Smith’s celebrated Golden Quartet featuring pianist/composer Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Susie Ibarra, and the acclaimed Southwest Chamber Music ensemble conducted by Grammy Award-winner Jeff von der Schmidt.” According to a press release, the musicians will record the project in the days after the premiere for release on Cuneiform in the spring of 2012. “In designing the sprawling multi-movement work,” the release says, “Smith focused on the formative decade framed by the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education that overturned the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson decision ratifying Jim Crow segregation, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed many forms of racial discrimination.”

“Ten Freedom Summers” is a multimedia project that incorporates archival news footage and cinematic imagery edited with a musical sensibility. The production was inspired conceptually by August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 10-play “Pittsburgh Cycle,” in which each play chronicles a decade of African-American life in the 20th century.

Smith has divided the 18 movements into three thematic collections: “Defining Moments in America,” “What is Democracy?” and “Ten Freedom Summers.” Movements are dedicated to the Mississippi Freedom Democracy Party leader Fannie Lou Hamer, the brutally slain teenager Emmett Till, and Montgomery bus boycott catalyst Rosa Parks.

Smith composed two movements during a Djerassi Foundation residency and five pieces during his 2009/2010 Fellowship with the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. F

Ten Freedom Summers Concert

October 28 Ten Freedom Summers, Part One 8:30 p.m.

October 29 Ten Freedom Summers, Part Two 8:30 p.m.

October 30 Ten Freedom Summers, Part Three 7 p.m.

Tickets are $38 each for evening general admission; $28 each evening for students/CalArts Faculty/Staff. Visit Ten Freedom Summers or call (213) 237-2800.

Originally Published