Jonathan Bailey Holland and Radius Ensemble Get in Synch With Black Lives Matter

By Philip Trapp on Aug 26, 2016 03:35 PM EDT

Composer Jonathan Bailey Holland reveals his tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, Synchrony, on Radius Ensemble's forthcoming album, Fresh Paint, out Sept. 1. The musical soliloquy of social consciousness samples audio excerpts of President Barack Obama, actress Cicely Tyson, and social justice martyrs Sandra Bland and Eric Garner.

The Synchrony suite was first premiered in concert by Radius Ensemble last year. Per a press release reported by Musical America Worldwide, Holland discusses the topics that inspired the symphony:

"For Synchrony, I wanted to encapsulate the internal reality of being a black male watching these events in real time. My original intention was to simply write an instrumental work that expressed the idea of simultaneous realities intertwining. As I was writing the work I watched videos of the Eric Garner arrest, the Sandra Bland arrest, and Obama's speeches."

Synchrony features the forenamed documentary clips using actual audio from President Barack Obama's 2013 speech at his second inauguration, a talk by Cicely Tyson from BET's Black Girls Rock Awards in 2015, a bystander recording of Eric Garner's 2014 arrest and the controversial dash-cam recording from Sandra Bland's 2015 Texas traffic stop. Both the Garner and Bland recordings stem from the contentious police situations that led to their unreasonable deaths.

Holland, chair of composition, theory and history at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, has been an admired composer for years. In a 2015 "art talk" with the National Endowment for the Arts, Mr. Holland spoke on his categorical and inspirational distinctions within each of his works:

"For me, I feel like every piece is a separate entity from any other piece. I think that often, for instance, I'll write a piece that's based on a work of visual art, and in those instances, I think each time that I do it, I'm trying to find a point where the art forms differ."

Below, watch a Radius Ensemble performance of Synchrony at Boston's Longy School of Music from late last year. The concert clip includes a brief preface on the piece from Mr. Holland.

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TagsJonathan Bailey Holland, Black Lives Matter, Radius Ensemble, President Barack Obama, Cicely Tyson, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner

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