Duke Performances Commissions New Work for John Hope Franklin Centenary Celebration

This past fall was not the first performance by the Imani Winds at Duke University, they performed here in 2014 and have been back for performances, community outreach, and masterclasses with Duke student musicians; however, their return this past fall was special. Duke Performances embarked upon another of its trend-setting, mission-driven projects, and commisioned and presented the world premiere of American composer Frederic Rzewski’s Sometimes. This new work was written specifically for Imani Winds to honor the historian, activist, and Duke Professor John Hope Franklin at his centenary celebration, on October 29 in Baldwin Auditorium. The concert was part of John Hope Franklin @ 100, a university-wide celebration of Dr. Franklin’s life and legacy. Franklin wrote the authoritative African-American history From Slavery to Freedom, chaired President Clinton’s Advisory Board for the Initiative on Race, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in his lifetime.

Read more about the centenary here.

The Imani Winds Quintet has established itself as one of the most successful chamber music ensembles in the United States. Since 1997, the Grammy-nominated quintet has taken a unique path, carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, adventurous collaborations, and inspirational outreach programs.

Read more about the Imani Winds here

In addition to the Rzewski premiere Sometimes, based on the spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, the program included compositions and arrangements by Imani Winds’ Valerie Coleman (flute) and Jeff Scott (French horn). The concert also included performances by special guests The Fisk Jubilee Singers. The original Jubilee Singers introduced ‘slave songs’ to the world in 1871 and were instrumental in preserving the unique American musical tradition known today as Negro spirituals. This historic a cappella ensemble is composed of vocalist and student singers from John Hope Franklin’s alma mater, Fisk University. The evening concluded with a performance by both Jubilee Singers and Imani Winds of arrangements by Imani Winds’ Jeff Scott.

American-born composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski studied with Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, and Milton Babbitt at Harvard and Princeton and with Luigi Dallapiccola in Italy. He was a co- founder of the MEV (Musica Elettronica Viva) group in Rome, which brought together classical and jazz avant-gardists and developed an aesthetic of music as a spontaneous collective process. Two of his best-known works are The People United Will Never Be Defeated and North American Ballads. The GRAMMY-winning eighth blackbird has recorded an entire album of his music, Fred: Music of Frederic Rzewski, which includes his Pocket Symphony, written for the ensemble. Rzewski has earned acclaim for his experiments in form and notation, his explorations of twelve-tone technique, and recordings of his music on labels such as Vanguard and Nonesuch. Rzewski has been Professor of Composition for nearly forty years at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Liège, Belgium, and has also taught at such institutions as the Yale School of Music and the California Institute of the Arts.

Duke Performances is at the forefront of university performing arts presenters nationwide, attracting artists of the highest caliber and commissioning, developing, and producing a growing number of forward-thinking new works for the world stage.

Read more about Duke Performances here.