Juneteenth Chamber Recital – Carlos Simon and Friends Program Notes

Shawn Okpebholo, On a Poem by MIho Nonaka: Harvard Square

This composition – Inspired by Harvard Square, a poem by the Japanese poet, Miho Nonaka – is a work for solo flute, composed for and premiered by virtuoso flutist, Caen Thomason-Redus. It was not my intention to, necessarily, text paint each word of the poem; rather, I tried to evoke the essence of the poem’s meaning. In one word, Nonaka describes Her Poem As Being About ‘resonance.’ A Natural Term In The Music World, The Word ‘resonance’, Figuratively Speaking, Can Also Mean Evoking Images, Memories And Emotions, Which She Beautifully Achieves In Harvard Square. This Composition Is For The Virtuoso Flutist, Utilizing Various Extended Flute Techniques. For Example, The Composition Begins With The Flute Playing Bamboo Tones, A Way For The Modern Western Flute To, By Using Nontraditional Fingerings (Which I Notated In The Score), Sound Like A Shakuhachi Flute, A Japanese Bamboo Flute.  © Shawn Okpebholo


Jasmine Barnes, Songs for the African Violet

The African Violet as a flower holds special characteristics similar to Black women: They bloom continuously even throughout the darker months of winter, they come in a variety of vibrant colors and sizes and are notable for their velvety texture, they possess ability to rid the air of toxic byproducts, they’re one of the longest living flowers and with great care can grow for several years, though they are lovely and popular domestic plants, they are at threat of extinction in the wild.

When someone sees a beautiful flower, they often want to savor it, by picking it, thus cutting it off from growing  just for the flower picker’s selfish wants; not seeing that the act of it killed the flower, and once the flower is dried up and dead, it’s discarded, forgotten, undesirable. This reflects treatment of Black Women. Loved for the vibrancy she brings to the world and utilized for pop culture, yet plucked from growth and discarded for dead. “Songs for the African Violet” by comparison to African Violets, pays homage to Black Women, describing her in ways not oft described and urging the world to take care of her, rather than plucking her from the ground.  © Jasmine Barnes