Press Releases

“Africa and the African Diaspora,” a Free Two-Day Arts and Ideas Festival May 10 & 11 at Symphony Space, NYC

Date Released: 4/15/2008

Purchase College presents “Africa and the African Diaspora: Traditions, Revolutions and Innovations,” a free, two-day festival and symposium of arts and ideas May 10 and 11 at Symphony Space in New York City.

The festival includes music, dance and theatre performances by the Purchase Opera, Purchase Dance Corps, Purchase Repertory Theatre, Purchase Jazz Orchestra and the Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra, all featuring students from the Purchase College School of the Arts. The Purchase College Soul Voices Gospel Ensemble will also perform.  Panel discussions will focus on the political, economic, cultural and social issues facing the African continent and its Diaspora. 

All events are free with the exception of the Soul Voices Gospel Ensemble on May 10th at 11 am, which is on the Just Kidding Series.

For more information, call 914-251-6700 or 212-864-1414, ext. 249 or visit www.purchase.edu/africa.

Symphony Space is located at 95th St. and Broadway in New York City.

“Africa and the African Diaspora: Traditions, Revolutions and Innovations” has been a year-long programming initiative involving all of the academic units of Purchase College, as well as The Performing Arts Center and Neuberger Museum of Art.  This two-day event represents a culmination of this exciting year of artistic and intellectual endeavor. 

On Saturday, May 10 at 10:45 AM Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz will welcome guests to the festival and symposium. On Sunday, May 11, Laura Kaminsky, Dean of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music and Festival and Symposium Producer, will give the opening remarks at 1 PM.

Performance highlights:
• The New York premiere of Pete Malinverni’s The Good Shepherd, a gospel-jazz composition performed by the Soul Voices Gospel Ensemble and the Purchase Jazz Orchestra.
• The Purchase Repertory Theatre presenting scenes from Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey, directed by Woodie King, Jr., founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre.
• The Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra, with guest artist Ray Santos, performing the New York premiere of Santos’ The Palladium Suite, a tribute to the famous ballroom on 53rd Street and Broadway, directed by Ray Vega.
• The Purchase Symphony Orchestra, conducted by award-winning composer and conductor Tania León, performing Ms. Leon’s new work Ácana.
• The Purchase Dance Corps performing the New York premiere of Kevin Wynn’s Expulsion from Paradise with a Neil Alexander arrangement of music by Tania León.

Panel discussions:
• Actress and playwright Eisa Davis, currently starring on Broadway in Passing Strange, will be one of three African-American playwrights exploring identity and transformation.
• James Kolker, head of UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS office will address the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary Africa, including HIV/AIDS and neoliberal development, with professors from Duke University and the University of Texas at Austin.
• Adame Diop, coordinator and representative of Femme Solitaire Africa to the United Nations, will join other experts to examine what lies ahead for African immigrant communities in New York City.
• Artist Fo Wilson, who uses the language of furniture to investigate ideas around identity and culture, and other visual artists will talk about their expectations of race and ethnicity.

Presented by Purchase College in collaboration with Symphony Space, the Business Council for International Understanding, the Africa Institute of the American Jewish Committee and the New York Immigration Coalition.

SATURDAY, MAY 10th

10:45 AM,  Leonard Nimoy Thalia
Welcome by Thomas J. Schwarz, President, Purchase College

11:00 AM, Leonard Nimoy Thalia
PANEL DISCUSSION: Challenges & Opportunities in Contemporary Africa: HIV/AIDS and Neoliberal Development

Moderator: Shaka McGlotten, director of Global Black Studies Program, Purchase College

Panelists: Neville Wallace Hoad, Professor at University of Texas at Austin; author of Sex and Politics in South Africa

James Kolker, head of UNICEF’s HIV/AIDS office, former assistant U.S. global AIDS coordinator and U.S. ambassador to Uganda

Anne-Maria Makhulu, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African & African American Studies at Duke University

11:00 AM, Peter J. Sharp Theatre
PERFORMANCE: Soul Voices Gospel Ensemble
Part of Symphony Space’s Just Kidding Series

Directed by:  Pete Malinverni, Conservatory of Music Professor, Purchase College
Sing along with the lively, uplifting young voices of the Soul Voices Gospel Ensemble

Tickets: $23/18 Children: $13
Box Office 212.864.5400
www.symphonyspace.org/event/2520

1:30 PM, Peter J. Sharp Theatre
PERFORMANCE: Soul Voices Gospel Ensemble and the Purchase Jazz Orchestra
The New York premiere of Pete Malinverni’s The Good Shepherd

Directed by: Pete Malinverni, Conservatory of Music Professor, Purchase College

4:30 PM, Leonard Nimoy Thalia
PANEL DISCUSSION: Origins, Identity and Transformation: African-American Playwrights Speak Out

Moderator: Lenora Champagne, School of Humanities Associate Professor, Purchase College; playwright and performance artist

Panelists: Kia Corthron, productions at New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, London's Royal Court Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Goodman Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and elsewhere. Awards include Bellagio Residency, McKnight National Residency, AT&T On Stage Award, NEA, Kennedy Center Fund, Callaway. New Dramatists alumnus.

Eisa Davis, currently starring in the Broadway musical Passing Strange, is the author of Bulrusher, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Other plays include Warriors Don't Cry, Hip Hop Anansi, Angela's Mixtape, Paper Armor, Umkovu, Six Minutes, and The History of Light.

Daniel Alexander Jones, award-winning interdisciplinary artist; recipient of Alpert Award in the Arts in Theatre, and support from the Rockefeller Foundation, NEA, TCG and Creative Capital; on the faculties of Goddard College and the University of Texas/Austin.

7:30 PM, Peter J. Sharp Theatre
PERFORMANCE: Purchase Repertory Theatre presents scenes from Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey. Featuring the Junior Acting Company in collaboration with the students of Design/Technology.

Directed by Woodie King, Jr., founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre in New York City. 

With its inspired interweaving of Homeric Caribbean themes, Walcott's rich and evocative interpretation of Homer's text addresses complexities of race, culture, Afro-European conflicts, colonialism, and the threat of political tyranny.


SUNDAY, MAY 11

1:00 PM, Leonard Nimoy Thalia
Welcome by Conservatory of Music Dean Laura Kaminsky, Festival & Symposium Producer

1:15 PM, Leonard Nimoy Thalia
PANEL DISCUSSION: Visual Artists Looking at Heritage: Expectations Regarding Race and Ethnicity

Moderator: Leslie King Hammond, Graduate Dean, Maryland Institute College of Art; exhibitions include: Delaware Center for Contemporary Art; Goucher College; Turner Art Center Gallery, Centenary College. Fellowships at Ragdale Foundation; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Cambridge Center

Panelists: Louis Cameron, Artist-In-Residence program at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Exhibitions at I-20 gallery, NYC; Art in General, NYC; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Contemporary Museum, Baltimore; Galerie Chez Valentin, Paris; and M'ARS Gallery, Moscow.  MFA, Tyler School of Art, Temple University.

Charles Labelle has shown across the US including at Artists Space, NYC; Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; ArtPace, San Antonio, TX; Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA. Recipient of awards and grants including a Getty Trust Fellowship; Rockefeller Foundation Grant.

Fo Wilson uses the language of furniture to investigate ideas around identity, culture and the human experience and produces work that often crosses boundaries between, art, design and craft. Her work is in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt National Museum of Design. Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. MFA, Rhode Island School of Design, Furniture Design program.

2:45 PM, Peter J. Sharp Theatre
PERFORMANCE: Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra with Guest Artist Ray Santos, artist-in-residence, Conservatory of Music, Purchase College. Featuring the New York premiere of Mr. Santos’ The Palladium Suite, commissioned by Purchase College with the support of the New York State Music Fund.

Directed by Ray Vega, Conservatory of Music Professor, Purchase College.

4:30 PM, Leonard Nimoy Thalia
PANEL DISCUSSION: African Immigrant Communities in New York: What Lies Ahead

Introduced by Laura Kaminsky, Purchase College; conference/symposium coordinator

Panelists: Tandia Bakary, Policy Advocate, African Services Committee

Adama Diop, Program Director, America Welcomes Africa (AWA); Coordinator & Representative of Femme Soliarite Africa to the United Nations

Imam Souleymane Konate, Secretary General of the Council of African Imams in America

6:00 PM, Peter J. Sharp Theatre
PERFORMANCE: Purchase Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Tania León, artist-in-residence, Conservatory of Music, Purchase College

Works by Ginastera: Dances from Estancia, Revueltas: Sensemaya, Duke Ellington: Black, Brown & Beige, Tania León: Ácana, commissioned by Purchase College with support from the New York State Music Fund.

8:30 PM, Peter J. Sharp Theatre
PERFORMANCE: Purchase Dance Corps
The New York premiere of a commissioned new work, Expulsion from Paradise, by Kevin Wynn, with a Neil Alexander arrangement of music by Tania León, plus excerpts from Dianne McIntyre’s Lyric Fire and Bill T. Jones’ D-Man in the Waters.

Purchase College and Symphony Space acknowledge the following:

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; and Wachovia Foundation Fund for the School of the Arts.