The Mivos follow their instrumental performance by welcoming to the stage the legendary spoken-word artist Saul Williams. The performer whom CNN calls “hip-hop’s poet laureate” developed his voice in the slam poetry crucible Nuyorican Poets Café before taking a leading role in the 1998 Sundance-winner Slam. He has since collaborated with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and published acclaimed collections of poetry. Williams’ work — an incendiary mixture of “firebrand politics with metaphysical wordplay” (AV Club) — is complemented and amplified by the Mivos Quartet.
The evening centers on Williams’ blistering poem NGH WHT, an exploration and demolition of stereotypes drawn from his 2006 book The Dead Emcee Scrolls. His words are set to music by German composer Thomas Kessler, who originally made his orchestration of Williams’ poem for the Arditti Quartet. (The Arditti appear at Duke Performances in April). The program also includes American composer Ted Hearne’s new setting of Williams’ poem The Answer to the Questions That Wings Ask, arranged for Williams and Mivos.
Saul Williams: solo, selections TBD
Ted Hearne/Saul Williams: The Answer to the Questions That Wings Ask
Thomas Kessler/Saul Williams: NGH WHT
Saul Williams & Mivos Quartet are presented as part of Duke Performances’ Hip-Hop Initiative, made possible, in part, with support from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.