In its first live and in-person performance since before the pandemic, the New Gallery Concert Series (NewGal) presents an immersive tour of art and music, exploring themes of adoption and adaptation. On Saturday, April 30 at 8 pm, Adopt and Adapt will welcome audiences to take an active journey roaming visual and musical installations at the Longy School of Music. Performances and art installations found throughout the rooms of the historic Zabriskie House are designed to mirror the experience of being adopted-into a family, into a country, into a person’s true self-and to evoke resilience, belonging, and empathy.
The program centers on the work of three local creators-visual artist Sharon Berke and composers Maria Finkelmeier and Jonathan Bailey Holland-who are creating through the lens of their own adoption experiences. A diverse group of artists-including composers Fred Onovwerosuoke and Sarah Hennies, pianist Sarah Bob, cuatro player Fabiola Méndez and her trio, The Fisher/Lau Project, and percussionists Steph Davis and Aaron Trant-will broaden the concert’s theme by exploring the complexities of discovering and adapting to one’s true identity.
“NewGal exists to elevate new works of music art alongside the living composers and artists who create them,” says the organization’s president Sarah Bob. “Whether someone has joined a new family, moved countries, or uncovered a new part of themselves, Adopt and Adapt invites curious listeners and adventurous art fans to traverse the complexities of identity as if it were a house of endless rooms.”
Throughout the evening, concertgoers will frequently encounter works from artist Sharon Berke’s Rearrangement series. These paintings and collages are studies of duality, home, family, separation, connection, and belonging-all deeply personal ideas to Berke, who was adopted at birth. Her works are abstractions of domestic scenes and serve as personal narratives for the artist, who says that each piece reflects her own constantly evolving self-awareness.
Adapt and Adopt begins in Pickman Hall with the world premiere of Jonathan Bailey Holland’s String Quartet No. 4, for string quartet and recording, which explores the distortion of time and narrative that accompany assimilation. The composer challenges the audience to ask questions: What does the process of adoption and adaptation do to the concept of memory or history? How is a narrative created when the connection to the past is no longer known? The quartet will feature Gabriela Diaz and Lilit Hartunian on violin, Ashleigh Gordon on viola and David Russell on cello. As the string quartet fades, the audience’s self-guided journey through the music and art installations in the Zabriskie House begins.
In one room, audiences will discover Sarah Bob performing selections from composer Fred Onovwerosuoke‘s The Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms. Born in Ghana to Nigerian parents, the award-winning composer grew up in both countries and traveled through about 30 African countries before settling down in Saint Louis, MO, and founding the Intercultural Music Initiative. Onovwerosuoke’s music is informed by a lifetime of adoption and adapting to new surroundings, while staying true to his roots. The Twenty-Four Studies in African Rhythms draw inspiration from distinct dances and musical patterns found across the continent.
In another room, concertgoers will find Fabiola Méndez and her trio performing pieces from her album “Afrorriqueña” (Afro-Rican). The album is inspired by her experience as a Black Puerto Rican woman and celebrates the pride, joy, challenges, and self-acceptance that comes with adopting and adapting one’s true identity. Fabiola Méndez Trio will also perform selections from Mendez’s album “Al Otro Lado del Charco” (On the other side of the pond), which features music inspired by the concept of leaving one’s homeland in search of new opportunities and growth.
Audiences will also discover percussionists Steph Davis and Aaron Trant performing composer Sarah Hennies‘ work Settle. Hennies’ minimalist piece allows two vibraphone players to adopt and adapt their artistic interpretations of the work based on their changing physical or mental space. Their compositions often explore musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer & trans identity, psychoacoustics, and the social and neurological conditions underlying creative thought.
Adopt and Adapt culminates with the world premiere of percussionist, composer, educator, and public artist Maria Finkelmeier‘s latest installation, the Me you See. Designed for a large, flexible ensemble, the Me you See encompasses all the performers on the program. The work begins with an on-stage performance by contemporary percussion music duo, the Fisher/Lau project, who are gradually joined on stage by additional performers throughout the new work. Throughout the performance of the Me you See, a stunning video projection will showcase a brand new collage created live during the performance by visual artist Sharon Berke.
Tickets for Adopt and Adapt are available online for between $10-$20. All attendees will be required to show their ticket and proof of vaccination (including booster shot) upon arrival. Masking is optional and additional COVID information relevant to the Longy School of Music is available here. Adopt and Adapt is made possible by funding from Live Arts Boston through The Boston Foundation.