With the return of students comes the return of the Harvard University Committee on the Arts’ commissions, which give artists an opportunity to research, create, and premiere new work on campus.
On Sept. 15 and 16, HUCA will host Atlantic Connections, a jazz performance created by vocalist and composer Alicia Hall Moran and Yosvany Terry, a senior lecturer on music in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the director of the Jazz Ensemble. The performance is a song cycle — a collection of songs and poems woven together into one musical piece — that will explore motherhood, homeland, love, loss, distance, displacement, and water as some of the elements that spiritually connect the peoples of the African diaspora, the cycle’s theme.
“People can look forward to seeing, listening to, and experiencing a different dimension and understanding of the African diaspora,” said Terry, an internationally known composer and Grammy-nominated musician. “This is a multidisciplinary project that includes poetry and music, but it also includes composition and improvisation in the moment, and therefore some form of performance or theater could come through as well.”
The music is inspired by words from prominent artists of the African diaspora, including Maya Angelou, Salgado Maranhão, and Sylvie Kandé. Each poem was selected by Terry based on common elements of belonging and connections between the knowledge and philosophies that have traveled out of Africa, into the Americas, and around the world.
“The song is a vehicle to portray the culture and philosophy of the diaspora,” said Terry. “When you hear it, one of the things that will happen to you is that you will find familiarities — notice things that you’ve heard before — but also hear things that you don’t recognize, but speak to you at the same time. It’s music that has just been born.”
“It’s an instrumental concept based in language,” explained Hall Moran, who will be the vocal presence for the performance. “It will really be a unique excursion; my voice will really be an instrument.