The Premiere of Hart Island Suite: Honoring NYC’s Potters Field
My goal is to produce the premiere performance of my latest composition Hart Island Suite in a NYC theater or other significant venue, to honor those who rest on Hart Island, NYC’s public cemetery. Through my family’s poignant story this piece acknowledges the commonly held perception that the potters field is a dark, foreboding place and asks the listener to consider its natural beauty. In its finale it provides a joyous New Orleans style Second Line Funeral celebration for my family member and all one million souls who rest with her.
On December 4, 2019 Mayor DiBlasio signed into law a package of bills that changes the jurisdiction of Hart Island from the Department of Corrections to Department of Parks by July 2021. I hope to increase awareness of Hart Island through performances of Hart Island Suite, including a performance in one of New York’s formidable venues.
The first rehearsal for this work was booked for mid March 2020. Due to the pandemic and the slow re-opening of the entertainment industry this process has started anew.
Through my longstanding relationship with Fractured Atlas, a fundraising campaign is underway to finance preview performances in smaller venues. All performances will be presented by Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra under my baton. This ensemble of seasoned players boasts credits include Grammy-Winning Maria Schneider, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lincoln Center and The Vanguard Jazz Orchestras, Steely Dan, The Original Blues Brothers, and Broadway shows Wicked, Mama Mia, Frozen, countless films, jingles and more.
Before the quarantine closures I had inquired with The City Parks Foundation and several NYC venues including theaters, jazz clubs and other unique performance spaces including The Jazz Gallery, Symphony Space, Saint Peter’s Church (aka The Jazz Church), Greenwich House, The Blue Note and the like. Funding for this project will serve my intent to present a full-length concert at a venues that supports independent artists. Venues outside NYC I have approached regarding additional dates include Hudson House, Nyack Jazz Week (Nyack), Jazz Forum Arts (Tarrytown) and the Banking Room at ArtsWestchester (White Plains). I have also begun to inquire with officials on City Island to learn about concert opportunities, since Hart Island is only accessible from its Fordham Street dock.
Bringing this story and awareness to the public means a lot to me. Those who rest on Hart Island, or in any potters field, deserve a funerary ritual and a celebration of life. Hart Island Suite honors them and their resting place through my filter.
Hart Island Suite:
I. Mother’s Story
II. Terra Incognita
III. Julie’s Second Line
This track features Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra from our debut CD, 27 EAST. It won an ASCAP New Big Band Music Award thru The Center for Jazz Compositions Composers Symposium. The melody is heard in the French horn by Theresa MacDonnell; Trumpet soloist is Greg Gisbert. It creates the feel of sitting at the foot of the Montauk lighthouse where its melody was composed; the ostinato evokes the light’s revolutions–a device revisited in Work Sample 2. Its unusual structure inspired a Clinic presented at the IAJE in NYC, CJC and several colleges.
Start and End Dates
06/01/2021 — 08/31/2022
New York, New York