Never before has what we call “new music” been so diverse and relevant to our times. Spoleto’s Music in Time series features the latest in new music from all around the world and here is what you should know.
You can expect to see and hear works by current composers which will invite you to consider and reframe your sonic and social sensibilities. In the first of this series directed and hosted by John Kennedy, members of the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra perform the US premiere of Jessie Cox’s Alongside a Chorus of Voices; Mikhail Johnson’s Evil’s Peak, a song cycle with text in Patois, inspired by a 13th-century frieze; and compositions from bassoonist Joy Guidry’s recent album, Radical Acceptance.
A Little More…
Jessie Cox (composer) is one of the world’s most brazenly experimental composers. Cox makes music about the universe and our future in it. Through avant-garde classical, experimental jazz, and sound art, he has devised his own strand of musical science fiction, one that asks where we go next. Cox’s music goes forward. When he describes it, he compares it to time travel and space exploration, likening the role of a composer to that of a rocket ship traversing undiscovered galaxies. He is influenced by a vast array of artists who have used their music to imagine futures, and takes Afrofuturism as a core inspiration, asking questions about existence, and the ways we make spaces habitable. Known for its disquieting tone and unexpected structural changes, his music steps into the unknown, and has been referred to by the New Yorker as a “nebulous and ever-expanding sound world that includes breathy instrumental noises, mournfully wailing glissandi, and climactic stampedes of frantic figuration.”
Mikhail Johnson (composer) is one of Jamaica’s most promising pianists and composers. Johnson’s unique style has resulted in several commissions from Departure Duo, Transient Canvas, fivebyfive, the David Bruce 5 Composers 1 Theme series, UNC Greensboro, Texas Tech, and Bowling Green State Universities. His music has been featured in the Wire Magazine London, Dallas Opera TV, and the David Bruce 5 Composers 1 Theme series. Johnson has also been chief adjudicator for several international music competitions. Johnson holds degrees from Texas Tech University, Bowling Green State University, and Northern Caribbean University. This is Johnson’s compositional debut at the Spoleto Festival USA.
Joy Guidry (composer, bassoon) Radical self-love, compassion, laughter, and the drive to amplify Black artmakers comprise the core of Joy Guidry’s work. Based in New York City, Guidry holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and Mannes School of Music. They have performed with the Dance Centre Kenya Ballet Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Alarm Will Sound, and have been a featured soloist in the opera Fear is their Alibi (Prototype, 2021). They have been commissioned by National Sawdust, Long Beach Opera, JACK Quartet, and the I&I Foundation, and featured at Spoleto Festival USA and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Guidry is a finalist for the 2021 Berlin Prize for Young Artists. They founded Sounds of the African Diaspora, a competition and commissioning platform for composers from the African diaspora that offers resources to foster new, innovative music.
The Music in Time series is directed and hosted by John Kennedy, Spoleto Festival USA Resident Conductor and Director of Orchestral Activities. Anchored in his commitment to exploring the diversity and possibility of what opera can be, in his role at Spoleto since 2011 he has distinguished the Festival’s opera programming with a succession of critically acclaimed premiere productions of new operas. This has included the 2018 U.S. Premiere of Liza Lim’s Tree of Codes, the 2015 World Premiere of Huang Ruo’s Paradise Interrupted, as well as this year’s world premiere of Omar.
Connect on social
The Music in Time series begins at Festival Hall on Sunday, May 29.