Written by Purnima Tulsyan for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by Amos White V for THE ARTISTS FORUM, INC
Photos: Purnima Tulsyan and Fadi Kheir
5 out of 5 stars
TWO WINGS: THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICA IN MIGRATION
NEW YORK, NY (March 31, 2019) As narrated by Professor Isabel Wilkerson during Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration at last night’s Carnegie Hall world premiere, the Great Migration, consisting of a mass migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North and West between the end of Reconstruction and the 1970’s, was one of the most important, and yet most under-reported, phenomena of the 20th century¸ whose cultural impacts included, among others, the Harlem Renaissance and the birth, diffusion, and transformation of virtually every American musical form.
The show, Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration, created by Jason Moran (known for the score of Selma, 13th, and Between the World and Me, among other works) and Alicia Hall Moran (known for Black Wall Street and Breaking Ice, among other works), collects music from a variety of genres, from the popular to the avant-garde, that surround the subject, and by juxtaposing them to each other, contextualizes them within the narrative of the Great Migration. It has a visual counterpart in the works of Professor Jacob Lawrence (1917, Atlantic City-2000, Seattle), in particular the famous 1941 Migration Series.
The heterogeneity of these works ensures that the Migration and its cultural impact can be understood in its complexity and not reduced to a single image or affect. Indeed, highlighted within Professor Wilkerson’s narration were the distinct and separated routes by which African Americans migrated North and West: their separation extended regionalisms within the South throughout America.
The pieces were played almost attacca, with the next piece beginning with the applause that accompanied the last. Particular stand-outs include: The self-narrated migration story of Professor Hilda Harris and Selections from Cane, written by Mr. Moran and performed by him alongside the Imani Winds. This piece was both a meditation on his family history in the town of Natchitoches on Louisiana’s Cane River, and a dazzling modernist masterpiece.
The evening included a stand out performance by The Artists Forum: AFTV’s very own Rebecca L. Hargrove (soprano). Her Carnegie Hall solo debut was amazing. Brava!