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Aria Code Breakers: Terence Blanchard (VIRTUAL)

Originally Aired: Friday, October 8, 2021

Available for viewing

Overview

This fall, Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones became the first opera by a Black composer staged at the Metropolitan Opera. In this very special online talk, Aria Code host Rhiannon Giddens will talk with Terence about this historic premiere, his writing process and the unique challenges of writing and staging an opera in the wake of a global pandemic.

Aria Code is produced by WNYC Studios and WQXR in partnership with the Metropolitan Opera.

Oscar nominee, six-time Grammy-winner and 2018 USA Fellow trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard has been a consistent artistic force for making powerful musical statements concerning painful American tragedies – past and present.

From his expansive work composing the scores for Spike Lee films ranging from the documentary When the Levees Broke, about Blanchard’s hometown of New Orleans during the devastation from Hurricane Katrina to the epic Malcolm X; and the latest Lee film, Da 5 Bloods which was released by Netflix on June 12, Blanchard has interwoven melodies that created strong backdrops to human stories.

Blanchard received an Oscar nomination for his original score for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. He was also BAFTA nominated for his original music for the film. He won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for writing “Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil)” a track from BlacKkKlansman. Read more…

The acclaimed musician Rhiannon Giddens uses her art to excavate the past and reveal bold truths about our present. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens co-founded the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, and she has been nominated for six additional Grammys for her work as a soloist and collaborator. She was most recently nominated for her collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other (2019). Giddens’s forthcoming album, They’re Calling Me Home, is a twelve-track album, recorded with Turrisi in Ireland during the recent lockdown; it speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death, which has been a tragic reality for so many during the COVID-19 crisis.

Giddens’s lifelong mission is to lift up people whose contributions to American musical history have previously been erased, and to work toward a more accurate understanding of the country’s musical origins. Pitchfork has said of her work, “few artists are so fearless and so ravenous in their exploration,” and Smithsonian Magazine calls her “an electrifying artist who brings alive the memories of forgotten predecessors, white and black.” Read more…

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