Imani Uzuri - The Haunting of Cambridge (work in progress)

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FROMM PLAYERS 2021, CONCERT II, curated by Vijay Iyer

Imani Uzuri: The Haunting of Cambridge (work in progress)

Composition, voices, tambourine, and experimental film by Imani Uzuri

Program Notes:
This is the first exploratory iteration of vocalist, composer and experimental ethnographer Imani Uzuri's new work The Haunting of Cambridge which interrogates the documented and envisioned lives of enslaved Black people-children and adults, known and unknown, named and unnamed within the Cambridge, MA area such as Venus, Titus, Juba and Bilhah, who were enslaved on Harvard's campus (between 1725-1769); Mother Abba with daughter Cuba and siblings, (and eventually Cuba's children with husband Tony) all enslaved at Vassall House starting in 1739 (now known as Longfellow House) on Brattle street; Father and daughter Papa Renty and Delia who were photographed in 1850 as part of a university-led "experiment"; and also including accused Black and Indigenous enslaved "witch" Tituba (a teenager) of nearby Salem who was jailed in Cambridge for thirteen months during the 1692-1693 trials.

This project is an ephemeral remembrance ritual to sonically and visually render evident the embedded yet often sublimated cruel legacy of enslavement in Cambridge and to honor and conjure imagined maroonage of these precious beloved Black ancestors.

The Haunting of Cambridge is published by Imani Uzuri Music (ASCAP).

Artist Bio:
IMANI UZURI, raised in rural North Carolina, is an award-winning vocalist, composer, librettist, and improviser called “a postmodernist Bessie Smith” by the Village Voice. She composes, performs, and creates interdisciplinary works often dealing with themes of ancestral memory, magical realism, liminality, Black American vernacular culture, spirituality and landscape. Her ritual performance Wild Cotton was recently cited as one “with subtlety and vision” by the New York Times. As a Jerome Foundation Composer/Sound Artist Fellow Uzuri made international sojourns in support of her forthcoming ritual opera celebrating the holy iconography of the Black Madonna. Uzuri has been commissioned by Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, The Ford Foundation and her recent Chamber Music America New Jazz Works commission She Knows Suite premiered at Lincoln Center Atrium in February 2020. Uzuri received her MFA from Goddard College Vermont and her in African American Studies from Columbia University. Uzuri was a 2019-2020 Harvard University W. E. B. DuBois Hutchins Center Fellow in support of her forthcoming experimental chamber opera Hush Arbor (The Opera), which has been commissioned by The Momentary.
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