Traces is a collaborative performance project commissioned by Community MusicWorks (CMW), tracing the sonic memory of a place: an empty lot in the West End of Providence that will be the future new home of Community MusicWorks. The work will be created by composer/public artist Shaw Pong Liu in collaboration with MusicWorks Collective (CMW’s professional resident ensemble), public historian/curator Micah Salkind, and CMW’s predominantly Latino and African-American students and families. It will mix live string performance by the MusicWorks Collective and CMW advanced students, recordings of songs and stories shared by CMW’s culturally diverse West End/South Side families, found sounds from the neighborhood, and audience participation. The project will premiere in fall 2019 in three parts: an immersive site-specific performance on the site itself, a concert version of the project performed in a nearby concert venue, and a sound installation which will remain on the site for a three-month period following the premiere.
The West End neighborhood has been the site of generations of diverse musics and sounds: from the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes, to early farmers, to the waves of European immigrant workers that powered local factories, to the middle-class supervisors and owners of those factories, to the present day communities from Central America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa.
CMW has been part of the sonic landscape of the West End for two decades, operating a community-based chamber music residency since 1997 that includes a long-term youth music education program. In our performances and with our students, we have sought to create a new definition of musicianship that goes beyond technique and artistry to encompass a responsibility for building civil society, a focus on social and racial justice, and a commitment to collaborative and egalitarian processes. Our plans for a new facility grow out of our deep relationships in the community. We want Traces to support our commitment to the community by foregrounding the voices and experiences of students, neighbors, and long-time residents as central to our work.
In collaboration with Shaw Pong Liu, CMW students, resident musicians, and family members will help develop Traces, interviewing family members about their experiences with the site and neighborhood, sharing audio recordings of stories and songs from home, and researching the sonic traces of previous occupants of the land. This sound-sharing project will take place in conjunction with CMW’s Sound Lab program, which provides recording and editing equipment and free classes to support students’ sonic explorations.
We will collaborate with Micah Salkind (Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities at Brown University and Special Projects Manager for the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism); the Rhode Island Historical Society; and the West Broadway Neighborhood Association and its Community/Communidad 1 Committee, which is working on maintaining diversity in the neighborhood.
Through Traces, we aim to engage in a collaborative process with composer, musicians, students, neighbors, historians and others, to tell a radically democratic story, through music and sound, about the place that CMW will call home.
Site-specific, birdsong-based composition for 18 solo string players and the Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA. Commissioned and premiered by A Far Cry on April 4, 2013. This project demonstrates Shaw Pong Liu’s experience composing for string ensemble and creating site-specific concerts.
Cue: 00:00 for birdsong introduction; 00:50 for strings.
Performed by MusicWorks Collective, CMW’s advanced teen students, Jonathan Gandelsman (violin), Gonzalo Grau (composer/piano), and the Habanera Band. CMW commissioned Fantasía to connect the musical heritages of our students and families with a classical/concert music tradition. In this excerpt, a violin concerto has begun its transition into a Latin music dance party. This sample demonstrates CMW’s experience in commissioning and performing concert music that honors community heritage and memory.
Start and End Dates
09/14/2019 — 12/31/2019
Providence, Rhode Island