HARP

(HERE Artist Residency Program)

SONGS of SANCTUARY FOR THE BLACK MADONNA Imani Uzuri

Show Description

Imani Uzuri's SONGS of SANCTUARY FOR THE BLACK MADONNA will be a multi-movement choral and chamber orchestra work inspired by the iconography of The Black Madonna. These holy Marian figures depicted with dark skin are currently worshipped within the Catholic and Orthodox Marian pantheon but can be traced back to pre-Christian pagan images specifically the sculpture of Isis (Auset) suckling Horus (Heru). They are also embraced, celebrated and worshipped by Muslim, Hindu, Roma and other communities (including African Diasporic communities from Brazil to Haiti) in rituals and processions around the world.

Uzuri's recent international research and sojourns to various altars, shrines, cathedrals and monasteries in Eastern Italy, Venice, Kosovo, Macedonia and Prague, through France, Spain, Portugal, Northern and Southern Italy, and Switzerland will provide the theoretical framework for this compositional work and will bring to light songs, prayers and images of these ancient Black Madonnas that center Black femininity as divine through the lens of sacredness and sexuality.  

Project Photo: Imani Uzuri with Black Madonna Daurade in the basilica Notre-Dame de la Daurade in Toulouse, France

Headshot: Petra Richterova

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Artist Bio

Imani Uzuri is an award-winning vocalist, composer, librettist, and conceptual artist called “a postmodernist Bessie Smith" by Village Voice. Raised in rural North Carolina, she creates interdisciplinary works and compositions for chamber ensembles, chorales, ritual performance, sound installations, and theater (including experimental, contemporary opera and musicals), which are presented at international venues/festivals including Performa Biennial, Villa La Pietra, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Kitchen, The Public Theater, MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), and Park Avenue Armory. Her work has been called “stunning” by Vulture and she has been praised in The New York Times for her "gorgeously chesty ruminations.” She has collaborated with diverse artists across various disciplines including Herbie Hancock, Carrie Mae Weems, and Robert Ashley. She recently received her M.A. in African American Studies from Columbia University and was the 2017 Keynote/Performer at Harvard University's Graduate Music Forum. Uzuri is currently composing her first contemporary chamber opera entitled Hush Arbor and a forthcoming large music work celebrating the iconography of the Black Madonna. Her recent awards include Jerome Foundation Composer/Sound Artist Fellowship, The MapFund, and The Joyce Award. She is a 2018 commissioned composer for Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Time Out New York says, "[Imani Uzuri] never fails to mesmerize audiences with her narcotic blend of…ethereal sounds.” 

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