Inspired by the seminal Afrofuturist science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell evokes a journey into the unknown in the second chapter of her Xenogenesis Suite, Intergalactic Beings." Mitchell composed Intergalactic Beings" for her Black Earth Ensemble, an improvising chamber orchestra, and taps into the emotional and surreal qualities of Butler's alien abduction tale of survival. The MCA Stage, Chicago, presents the premiere of the full-length musical piece on Friday, April 30, 2010
Intergalactic Beings" is an affecting sonic expression of resilience, resistance, and transformation. Spoken text and poetry, written by Mitchell, and nonverbal vocals are combined with dissonant instrumental arrangements to convey the haunting story of a woman abducted by aliens after all civilization is nearly lost in a nuclear war. The woman's resistance and resilience as she interacts with the intelligent extraterrestrials is expressed along with the shock and horror experienced by the aliens as they observe the devastated human condition.
The Black Earth Ensemble consists of Nicole Mitchell on flute, Josh Abrams on bass, Renee Baker on violin, David Boykin on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Marcus Evans on drums, Jeff Parker on guitar, Arveeayl Ra on percussion, Tomeka Reid on cello, David Young on trumpet, and vocalist Mankwe Ndosi. Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble have recorded five albums and toured internationally.
Mitchell's first Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler" was commissioned by Chamber Music America and premiered at the Vision Festival in 2007. Xenogensis Suite was released by Firehouse 12 Records in 2008.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, presents Nicole Mitchell: Intergalactic Beings on Friday, April 30, at 7:30 pm, at the MCA Stage, 220 East Chicago Avenue. Performance tickets ($25) are available at the MCA Box Office at 312.397.4010 or mcachicago.org. Student tickets to MCA Stage performances are $10 and subject to availability. For more information, visit the MCA website at mcachicago.org.
About Nicole Mitchell
Nicole Mitchell founded the critically acclaimed Black Earth Ensemble in 1997. She also leads the Black Earth Strings, an acoustic quartet that brings African rhythms, contemporary sounds, and improvisation to a chamber music setting. Mitchell's compositions cross music genres, integrating new ideas with moments in the legacy of jazz, gospel, pop, and African percussion to create a synthesis of postmodern jazz." As a solo flutist, Mitchell has been a highlight at art venues and festivals throughout Europe, the US, and Canada. She has performed with prominent musicians including George Lewis, Miya Masaoka, Lori Freedman, James Newton, Bill Dixon, and Muhal Richard Abrams. Mitchell also serves as the President of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
ARTISTS UP CLOSE
Talk: Literature As Art: Octavia Butler and Afrofuturism Wednesday, April 7, 6 pm, FREE Blackstone Library, 4904 S Lake Park Avenue Co- presented by the MCA and the Friends of Blackstone Library Nicole Mitchell leads a talk about the influence of Octavia Butler's writings in her music, and that of other visionaries of the Afrofuturist generation. Music artist/writer, John Corbett, co-founder of Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery, and Madhu Dubey, Associate Professor of Feminist Theory, Cultural Studies, and African-American Literature at UIC also participate in the discussion.
Open Doors: Intergalactic Beings
Thursday, April 29, 10 am - 1 pm, FREE with museum admission Museum visitors are invited to drop in to observe the stage crew at work on the MCA Stage during the production's final stages.
Opening Night Post-Show Talk
Friday, 30 April Audience members are invited to join in a talk with Nicole Mitchell and Black Earth Ensemble members following the concert.
Additional programs related to Nicole Mitchell's MCA performance are organized by Little Black Pearl, the Hyde Park Art Center, and the Hyde Park Alliance for Arts & Culture. For more information, visit hypachicago.org.