Chicago Premier of "Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler" by Flutist/Composer Nicole Mitchell


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Performed for the first time in Chicago by Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, “Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler" will take you on a musical excursion of the otherworldly kind on Friday, December 7, 2007 at 7PM in the Cassidy Theater of the Chicago Cultural Center located at 78 East Washington Boulevard. Inspired by the literary work of award winning science fiction author and Afro-Futurist Octavia Butler, this specially commissioned suite gives musical life to Butler's visions through a series of completely original compositions created in her honor. This performance is free and open to the public.

Known for creative compositions and passionate performances, Nicole Mitchell has long been fascinated by the unsettling nature of Octavia Butler's work. “My compositional journey was stimulated by my emotional reaction to Butler's novel 'Dawn." Mitchell says. “Dawn' intimately deals with the condition of fear and our ability to adapt in inhumane circumstances. The process of writing this music allowed me to face the feeling of fear head on - to enter and explore it."

Mitchell was one of 14 recipients selected nationwide in 2006 for Chamber Music America's New Works: Creation and Presentation Program generously funded by the Doris Dukes Foundation. Currently entering its eighth grant cycle, this program supports the creation and performance of new composition that includes improvisation as an integral component, multiple movements and meets a high artistic standard.

One of few African American women in her field and the only science fiction author to receive the MacArthur “Genius" grant, Octavia Butler explored social issues through futuristic settings. Mitchell met the mystifying Butler at a Chicago State University Black Writers' Conference in 2005; a meeting that further enhanced Mitchell's fascination with the author. Mitchell was shocked to find that Butler passed not long after the submission of her proposal for “Xenogenesis Suite". Writing, performing and completing this project is both a personal and professional tribute; one that carries a profound relevance for Mitchell.

About Nicole Mitchell Noted as a “compelling improviser of wit, determination, positivity, and tremendous talent" (Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader), Nicole Mitchell placed first as Downbeat Magazine's Rising Start Flutist 2005-2007 and received “Chicagoan of the Year 2006" from the Chicago Tribune. Founder of the critically acclaimed Black Earth Ensemble and Black Earth Strings, Mitchell's compositions reach across sound worlds, integrating new ideas with moments in the legacy of Jazz, Gospel, Pop and African Percussion, creating a fascinating synthesis of “postmodern jazz". She has performed at festivals and art venues throughout Europe, the U.S. and Canada. As Co-President of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), she works to continue the bold and exciting directions AACM has chartered for decades.

About “Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler" Composed and directed by Nicole Mitchell and commissioned by Chamber Music America, “Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler" highlights a journey into otherworldly experiences inspired by the award winning science fiction author and Afro-Futurist Octavia Butler. Rather than following the narrative arc of the stories, Mitchell uses Butler's work as a source of thematic and emotional inspiration, creating a wholly original composition in the author's honor. The first premiere of Xenogensis Suite was at the 2007 Vision Festival in Manhatten. The CD is slated for release on Firehouse 12 Records in early 2008.

“Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler" is performed by:
Nicole Mitchell, flute
Mankwe Ndosi, voice
David Boykin, tenor sax
David Young, trumpet
Tomeka Reid, cello
Justin Dillard, piano
Josh Abrams, bass
Marcus Evans, drumset
Avreeayl Ra, percussion

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