The world premiere of Love Always, co-commissioned by The Clarice and the Matt Marks Impact Fund, along with Alyssa Piper’s Cradle.
Love Always, a song cycle co-created by Allison Loggins-Hull and Toshi Reagon, is rooted in long-standing African American traditions of elders writing letters to their children and storytelling through music, conversation, and listening. Inspired by James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me,” Allison writes letters to her own son, which serve as the text in this piece and as a call for understanding to allow her son to navigate through this world. Toshi composed a 3-piece song cycle opening with “3’T’s.” It is an abstract exploration of the lines connecting Three Toshi’s. Toshi Aline Ohta Seeger, Godmother to Toshi Reagon, and Toshi Georgianna Widoff Woodson, Goddaughter to Toshi Reagon. It covers over 100 years grounded in the birth of Toshi Seeger in 1922. “If You Ask About Love (I’ll Tell You Everything)” once again bends time and gives voice to our ancestors who lived through the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the United States of America hundreds of years of slavery. Black love technology survived. The Final Song, “From the People of Grace (Dedicated to Greg Tate)” is a prayer. It comes from Toshi’s understanding that she belonged because of the love her people extended to her every time they looked into her eyes. Critic, author, and musician Greg Tate passed away on December 7th, 2021. His deep love and understanding of the sonic vibrational possibilities of Black music made him the most evolved town crier ever. His journalism, his books, and his music was a shout-out a sky-filled banner of knowledge in poetic verse. His ability to hold the cosmic expansiveness of Black music changed the way everyone wrote about Black music. He moved us to hear wider. He made listening to music a powerful journey home.
Performing with Toshi and Alarm Will Sound are the vocalist Josette Newsam and Be Steadwell.
Alyssa Pyper initially created Cradle as a solo work for violin, loop pedal and voice as part of a symbolic journey into the trauma of growing up queer, classically trained and Mormon. In equal part, the composition of the piece emerged through the composer’s dissonance with not only fundamentalist religion, but a pedagogy of classical violin dispersed through the frame of a perfectionist religious culture. Through a close mentorship, members of Alarm Will Sound co-created with Pyper a version of Cradle that allows for members of an ensemble to tap into its arc and participate in its call.
This event is part of the Visiting Artist Series. The Clarice’s Visiting Artist Series features regional, national and international artists who visit the University of Maryland for performances and other activities.