Pittsburgh Art Installation Inspires New Piece by Sean Jones

A Suite for Flying Girls will premiere Dec. 12 at the August Wilson Cultural Center

SEAN JONES Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

Sean Jones fronts his quartet at the 2017 Dominican Republic Jazz Festival

On Dec. 12 at the August Wilson Cultural Center (AWCC) in Pittsburgh, Pa., trumpeter/composer/educator Sean Jones will present the world premiere of his composition A Suite for Flying Girls. The piece, commissioned by the AWCC, was inspired by the installation Flying Girls by Nigerian artist Peju Alatise, which was first shown in the 2016 Venice Biennale and is currently on display at the AWCC through Mar. 24 as part of a group exhibition called Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities.

In the video above, Jones—who now occupies the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.—discusses Alatise’s work, what he sees (and hears) in it, and how he seeks to sonically depict the installation. “My interpretation of Flying Girls is polarity,” he says in part, “dealing with two aspects of your world. In this case, they are stark contrasts … A young person … lives this horrible life being trafficked around, being rented as property, in essence, sexual property. But at the same time, she has the fortitude to stay inside of her own mind and dream and go to these other worlds.”

For tickets and more information about A Suite for Flying Girls, the Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities exhibition, and the Dec. 12 concert, visit the AWCC’s website.

Read a 2014 JazzTimes feature article on Sean Jones.