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WeFreeStrings: Fulfillment

WeFreeStrings debut recording "Fulfillment," original compositions in the ethos of FreeJazz and the Afro-Atlantic music lexicon.


WeFreeStrings debut recording, Fulfillment, creates an Afro-Atlantic cultural arc from a 40,000-year old forest culture up to the ontological perspectives of black women in contemporary society.  As improvising viols, our music is creative action rooted in cultural identity and in a quest toward Freedom as an  existent goal.  The world-class musicians of WeFreeStrings — Charles Burnham, Gwen Laster, Melanie Dyer, Tomeka Reid, Michael Wimberly, Ken Filiano and Brandon Lopez —  embrace and deliberately dismantle western conventions in string performance, stretching the boundaries of acoustic sound and exploring harmolodic philosophy and practice. Fulfillment contains new music that provides a platform for fluid and in-form improvisation.

  • Two works (Bayaka/Yangissa) are based on the traditional music of the Batwa (forest) people.  The music highlights the striation of melodic line across a polyrhythmic song form.  Soloists use inside and extended techniques to invoke sounds related to the human voice and nature in harmony that connects to Afro Atlantic blues.  Yangissa features a djembe solo, wherein strings become drum, breaking into a contemporary bridge before returning to the fading forest rhythms.
  • After Linda/Say Her Name is a protest composition floating above the names and circumstances of black women from the late 1800s to present who have died at the hands of police/mob violence.  The piece leans in on a cry that pleas for justice, expresses outrage and speaks resolutely for justice.
  • So(u)lstice Song is a post-bop composition intoning the rhythmic ebbs and flows of central Harlem.
  • Hope & Fulfillment (working title), a fluid ballad featuring duets between viola and cello, and the two violins, is a love dance between a mother and her children.
  • I’m Still Here, a lyrical swing in 3/4 that swells into a collective ensemble solo at its close, inspired by cosmic intervention and the divine grace of a dead mother.
  • Tropes,  overt post-bop references opening into free form.
  • Linking the compositions are 90-second to 3-minute sound dialogues that demonstrate the ensemble’s acoustic versatility.

Fulfillment took the earnest path to  conception and completion at the top of 2017 when WeFreeStrings began a series of successful performances to enthusiastic audiences in New York City public venues.

As an emerging ensemble of veteran performers, WeFreeStrings wants to connect to new audiences in ways that support the music and musicians through the dissemination of live and recorded performance.  From June 2018 through June 2019, WeFreeStrings will release Fulfillment in live performance to new audiences at public venues in and near New York City, while furthering the ensemble’s creative development.


Start and End Dates



New York, New York

Project Created By

Harlem, New York
Cited in The Strad by Anthony Barnett as “…an outstanding modernist violist,” Melanie Dyer performs and composes in creative, improvised and through-composed music spheres.  She trained with William Lincer (Principal Violist, New York Philharmonic), Lee Yeingst (Principal Violist, Colorado Symphony Orchestra), John Jake Kella (NY Metropolitan Opera) and Naomi Fellows (Colorado Symphony Orchestra); and studied…

In Collaboration With

Chicago, Illinois
Violinist, featured soloist and ensemble member
Beacon, New York
Bassist, featured soloist and ensemble member
Brooklyn, New York
Percussionist, featured soloist and ensemble member


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