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The Leonard & Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts features three major theaters, flexible event space, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. Rentals and ticketed programs directly support the programmatic mission of Brooklyn College, and most importantly, the students and artists we work with. 

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Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

America Transformed
Friday, September 8, 2023 – Monday, September 11, 2023
7pm doors / 7:30–9:30pm performances
Don Buchwald Theater
$30 general (discounts available for students, faculty, staff, veterans, and seniors, contact box office for more info)

The Leonard & Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College is pleased to launch its Fall 2023 program with the work of world-renowned composer Wadada Leo Smith. Premiering over four days at Brooklyn College’s new acoustically exceptional Don Buchwald Theater, America Transformed features eighteen compositions by Smith created between 1985–2023. The program will include notes by Grammy-winning music writer, Thulani Davis. 

America Transformed is a spiritual sequel to Smith’s much-lauded Ten Freedom Summers, which was named a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in music. Where that monumental piece encompassed a decade in America’s struggle for civil rights, America Transformed, written over a 37-year period, widens the lens even further, exploring the artists and activists who have fought to realize the Constitutional promise of freedom and equality for all in the United States. Smith says: “The collections are centered around those individuals, events and ideas that forced the articles of the Constitution to be employed and enforced by Congress into protecting the interests of the American people.”

Wadada Leo Smith was part of the first generation of musicians to come out of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and has established himself as one of the leading composers and performers of creative contemporary music. Since the early 1970s Smith has mostly led his own groups, including the ensembles New Dalta Akhri, N’Da Kulture, the Golden Quartet and Quintet, the Silver Orchestra, Organic, Mbira, the Great Lakes Quartet and Najwa. His epic tribute to the Civil Rights movement, Ten Freedom Summers, was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2013. From 2021-22, Smith celebrated his 80th birthday with a stunning series of releases on TUM Records, including a set of solo trumpet music; a meeting of masters with Bill Laswell and Milford Graves; trumpet-drum duos with Pheeroan akLaff, Andrew Cyrille, Han Bennink and Jack DeJohnette; a trio outing with DeJohnette and Vijay Iyer; a set by his Great Lakes Quartet featuring Henry Threadgill; and the seven-volume collection String Quartets Nos. 1–12


RedKoral Quartet
Shalini Vijayan, violin 
Mona Tian, violin 
Andrew McIntosh, viola 
Ashley Walters, cello
Karen Parks soprano voice

Purple Kikuyu 
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet, composer
Ashley Walters, cello
Erika Dohi, piano
Sylvie Courvoisier, piano
Pheeroan aKlaff, drums
Frank Morrison, drums

Additional Musicians
José Solares, saxophone (Mrs. Till and Emmett Till; Again, Can You See the Light)
Ana Luisa Diaz de Cossio, violin (Muhammad Ali)
Yoshi Weinberg, flute (Muhammad Ali)
Aaron Rourk (Muhammad Ali)
Marianne Gythfeldt, bass clarinet (Muhammad Ali)
Chris Nappi, percussion (Muhammad Ali)
Martine Thomas, viola (Muhammad Ali)


Friday, September 8, 2023
1) String Quartet no. 13: The 13th Amendment to the Constitution (RedKoral with Karen Parks, soloist)
2) Mercy 1: Movement 1–7 (Kikuyu)
3) Chaco Canyon, The Ancient Pueblo Civilization: Pueblo Bonito, Pueblo Alto, Hugo Pavi, Tsin Kletzin (Kikuyu)
4) Muhammad Ali (RedKoral, Kikuyu, chamber orchestra, and Shalini Vijayan, soloist)

Saturday, September 9, 2023
5) String Quartet no. 14: The 14th Amendment to the Constitution (RedKoral)
6) MLK Jr. Birmingham Letter, a Lover’s Meditation (Kikuyu)
7) Monk, The Thelonious (Kikuyu)
8) Lake Biwa: A Full Moon Purewater Gold, for Solos Violin, Piano and River Flowing (Kikuyu with Mona Tian and Erika Dohi, soloists)
9) Miriam Makeba: A Magnificent Voice: The Empress of Peace (1932-2008) (Kikuyu)
10) That Sunday Morning – Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Denise McNair (RedKoral and Kikuyu, with Sylvie Courvoisier, soloist)

Sunday, September 10, 2023
11) String Quartet no. 15: The 15th Amendment to the Constitution (RedKoral)
12) Lorraine Vivian Hansberry (Kikuyu) 
13) Mercy 2: A Cantata (Kikuyu with Karen Parks, soloist)
14) Mrs. Till and Emmett Till; Again, Can You See the Light (RedKoral and Kikuyu, with Ashley Walters and Andrew McIntosh, soloists)

Monday, September 11, 2023
15) Ceremony and Remembrance of the Nine Eleven Victims (Kikuyu)
16) String Quartet no. 16: Flight Ninety-Three, In Pennsylvania’s Sky (RedKoral)
17) Earth…The Asian American Culture, Unity, and Ceremonial Practices with Love in America (Kikuyu) 
18) JFK in Dallas: Parkland: 11.22.1963 (Kikuyu)

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