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The MassArt Art Museum and Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice collaborate to premiere new work by student composers

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Members of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice at the MassArt Art Museum in front of Valkyrie Mumbet by Joana Vasconcelos. Photo by Kelly Davidson. Top row left to right: Anabel Gil Diaz, Brian Urra, Katie Webster, Kris Davis (Associate Program Director). Bottom row left to right: Arina Bagaryakova, Nika Ko and Devon Gates
 

The MassArt Art Museum and Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice collaborate to premiere new work by student composers
Saturday, October 29 at the MassArt Art Museum

Commissioned by the Museum, pieces pay tribute to Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman and are inspired by artist Joana Vasconcelos’ installation Valkyrie Mumbet

Boston, MA – Tuesday, October 18, 2022 – Hear the heroic story of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman come to life in the world premiere performances of original compositions written by students and performed by musicians from the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice on Saturday, October 29 at 1:30 p.m. at the MassArt Art Museum (MAAM), 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston. Commissioned by MAAM, student composers found inspiration in renowned Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos’ monumental installation Valkyrie Mumbet.

The site-specific installation and the music honor Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, an enslaved woman whose 1781 court battle for freedom helped make slavery illegal in Massachusetts. The program includes works by Katie Webster, Brian Urra, Devon Gates, Arina Bagaryakova, Nika Ko and Anabel Gil Diaz. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. For information and to register for your ticket, visit https://maam.massart.edu/event/berklee-institute-jazz-and-gender-justice-debuts-new-works

“I am thrilled to announce this collaboration between The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and MAAM,” says pianist Kris Davis. “Although we work in different artistic mediums, both institutions share similar values, working toward a cultural shift by providing opportunities and a platform for underrepresented artists. This commission is a unique opportunity for young composers to explore a multidisciplinary approach to composing, inspired by Joana Vasconcelos’ installation and the history of Elizabeth ‘Mumbet’ Freeman. The Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice has chosen some of our most creative students for this opportunity, and we are excited to hear their creations!”

“As MassArt’s teaching museum, and Boston’s only free contemporary art museum, MAAM is a space for all, to see something new and participate in conversation about today’s critical issues,” says Lisa Tung, Executive and Artistic Director of the MassArt Art Museum. “Elizabeth ‘Mumbet’ Freeman’s story of bravery, equality, and liberation is one that all citizens should share and celebrate and I am so delighted that it will take on new life through the original compositions of The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. I can not wait to hear how Freeman and Joana Vasconcelos’ monumental installation has inspired the students.”

Katie Webster is an alto saxophonist, composer and improviser from Seattle, Washington. Currently pursuing her master’s degree at Berklee College of Music, she studies in both the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice and the Global Jazz Institute. As a composer, she explores distinctive soundscapes though layers of playful counterpoint, seeking to capture particular moods while allowing musicians as much agency for interpretation as possible. Some of her musical inspirations include Anthony Braxton, Gary Bartz, Nicole Mitchell, Kris Davis, Tineke Postma and Tony Malaby.

A Chilean violinist and composer, Brian Urra blends jazz, soul, Celtic, and contemporary classical improvisation in his music. Currently in his final year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Brian is pursuing a dual degree in Jazz Composition and Performance and is a student at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.

Devon Gates is a bassist, vocalist, and composer from Atlanta. She is studying social anthropology at Harvard College and jazz performance at Berklee College of Music, where she is also a student and intern with the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. As a composer, she is interested in bridging contemporary and traditional modes of storytelling across styles, genres, and disciplines in order to create embodied spaces for collective reflection and community building.

Arina Bagaryakova (bagarisha) is a singer, poet and pianist from Ekaterinburg (Russia) currently in her seventh semester at Berklee. Her sound can be described as a blend of Russian folk music, jazz and pop. She has been a student at the Berklee Jazz and Gender Justice Institute for three years. 

Nika Ko is a pianist and composer from Portland, Oregon. They are currently completing their last semester at Berklee where they study film scoring and piano performance. Their music spans many genres, including jazz, classical, and electronic music. Whether it’s presented in a film or on the bandstand, Nika’s music has often been described as cinematic and evocative. They take inspiration from composers like Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Bela Bartok, Gustav Mahler, Joe Hisaishi, John Williams and A.R Rahman.

Anabel Gil Diaz is a flutist, pianist and composer from Cuba/Spain, currently in her seventh semester at Berklee College of Music. Her music incorporates elements of Cuban music, third-stream jazz and flamenco music. Her main compositional influence is Orbert Davis, director of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom she has worked for eight years.

The Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice was founded by Terri Lyne Carrington in 2018. The mission of the institute is to foster creative practice and scholarship in jazz within an integrated and egalitarian setting. The institute seeks to engage ourselves and others in the pursuit of jazz without patriarchy, and in making a long-last cultural shift in jazz and other music communities, recognizing the role that jazz can play in the larger struggle for gender and racial justice.

The MassArt Art Museum (MAAM) is Boston’s only free contemporary art museum. After extensive renovations, MAAM opened in February 2020 in the space formerly known as the Bakalar & Paine Galleries at the heart of MassArt’s campus on the Avenue of the Arts. MAAM is a kunsthalle, or non-collecting museum, showing temporary exhibitions that feature the work of emerging to established artists to bring fresh and varied perspectives to Boston. As MassArt’s teaching museum, MAAM is a resource for MassArt students and faculty, educating students about contemporary art, partnering with faculty to support the curriculum, and preparing students for careers in the museum field. As an extension of the College’s public mission, the Museum offers pathways to education in the arts and free, unique educational programming for the public.

Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice | Berklee College of Music

MassArt Art Museum

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