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Fisher Center Presents 1619: A Commemoration in Sound

A performance marking the 400th anniversary of the start of American slavery

Eleanor Davis

Image Credit: Image: James Ransome
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— The Fisher Center presents 1619: A Commemoration in Sound, a music, dance, and spoken word performance in remembrance of the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved people from Africa in the North American British Colonies—the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States of AmericaAfrican descendants’ virtuosic negotiations with Western tonality and forms, as well as cosmopolitan explorations of different sounds, aesthetics, and cultures, have shaped vital contributions to the art, music, and dance of America. Dr. Whitney Slaten, assistant professor of music, brings together virtuosic jazz artist T.K. Blue, choreographer and visiting artist in dance Souleymane Badolo, and lauded illustrator and Dutchess County resident James Ransome for an exploration of history, memory, legacy, and gestures between the U.S. and Africa. The program will be performed on Monday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sosnoff Theater. Tickets are $25. For tickets and more information go to, or call the box office at 845-758-7900.

Presented in partnership with the Difference and Media Project, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and the Ethnomusicology Area, with support from The Music Program, Historical Studies, Art History, Africana Studies, American Studies, The Arts Division, the Center for Civic Engagement, and the Center for Experimental Humanities.

Whitney Slaten earned his doctorate in ethnomusicology. His dissertation, “Doing Sound: An Ethnography of Fidelity, Temporality, and Labor among Live Sound Engineers,” contributed to scholarship about music, technology, and labor studies. He has worked as a recording engineer and as a saxophonist in the New York City jazz and world music scenes, performing with artists including Babatunde Olatunji and Clark Terry. He previously taught or served as part-time lecturer at The New School, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, Seton Hall University, William Paterson University, and Columbia University, leading courses such as “Thriller”: Deconstructing Popular Music Production, Recording Studio as Instrument, Progressive Trends in Jazz and Concert Music, Technologies of Global Pop, Music Engineering, Theory of Music, and Masterpieces of Western Music. He has authored articles and reviews that have appeared in Current Musicology, The Diapason, Ethnomusicology Review, and Souls. His discography as a performer includes Expedition, Clark Terry and Louie Bellson; That Holiday Feeling, Ron Foster and Kindred Spirits; Live at Trumpets, Kelvin Quince Quintet; and Live at Marian’s, Clark Terry Big Band. As a producer/engineer, his discography includes Arthur Bird: Music for the American Harmonium, Artis Wodehouse; Creation Story, John-Carlos Perea; and This Little Light of Mine, Courtney Bryan. Assistant professor of music, Bard College; BM, William Paterson University; MA, MPhil, PhD, Columbia University. At Bard since 2018.

T.K. Blue  is a saxophonist, flautist, composer, educator, bandleader, and former musical director and arranger for NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston. T.K. Blue appears on over eighty recordings and has performed with such artists as Don Cherry, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sam Rivers, Archie Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Melba Liston, Chico Hamilton, Stefon Harris, Regina Carter, Bobby McFerrin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Scott, Jayne Cortez, Benny Powell, Mal Waldron, Winard Harper, Warren Wolf, Gregoire Maret, Allan Harris, Candido Camera, Bobby Sanabria, Steve Turre, Arturo O’Farrill, David Murray and Hale Smith to name just a few. In May 2017, T.K. released Amour, his 11th CD, cited as one of the best jazz recordings of the year by DownBeat Magazine (four stars). Deeply indebted to organizations such as Jazzmobile, Jazz-interactions, Henry Street Settlement, and the Muse for his own jazz studies, T.K. has remained committed to music education from pre-K to the university level. In addition Professor Blue has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from NYU, with a major in Music and Psychology, and a Master’s in Music Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.  He has taught at Suffolk Community College, Montclair State University, and Long Island University where he was also the Director of Jazz Studies from 2007 to 2014. In 2007, T.K. was commissioned by NYSCA and Transart Inc. to compose a work dedicated to the early African American presence in the Hudson Valley area of upstate New York. He released Follow the North Star, a suite based on the life of Solomon Northup and his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave

Souleymane Badolo is a Brooklyn-based dancer, choreographer, and founder of the Burkina Faso–based troupe Kongo Ba Téria, which fuses traditional African dance with Western contemporary dance. A native of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Badolo began his professional career with the African dance company DAMA. He has also performed with Salia nï Seydou and the National Ballet of Burkina Faso, and worked with French choreographers Elsa Wolliaston and Mathilde Monnier. Badolo and Kongo Ba Téria are featured in the documentary Movement (R)evolution Africa. He appeared in the 2015 BAM Next Wave Festival; has created solo projects for Danspace, New York Live Arts, Dance New Amsterdam, Harlem Stage, the 92nd Street Y, and New York’s River to River Festival; and was commissioned to create a dance for Philadanco as part of James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, which was produced by the Apollo Theater and toured nationally and internationally. He was nominated for a Bessie Award in 2011 as outstanding emerging choreographer, received the Juried Bessie Award in 2012, and a 2016 Bessie for Outstanding Production for his piece Yimbégré, which “gloriously communicated the clash and reconciliation of the different traditions held within one’s life, one’s body.” The Suitcase Fund of New York Live Arts has supported Badolo’s ongoing research in Africa. He previously taught at the New School, Denison University, and Bennington College. Artist in residence, Bard College. M.F.A., Bennington College. At Bard since 2017.

The Children’s Book Council named James E. Ransome as one of seventy-five authors and illustrators everyone should know. Currently a member of the Society of Illustrators, Ransome has received both the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration and the IBBY Honor Award for his book, The Creation. He has also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration forUncle Jed’s Barbershop which was selected as an ALA Notable Book and is currently being shown as a feature on Reading Rainbow. How Many Stars in the Sky? and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt were also Reading Rainbow selections. PBS’s Storytime featured his book, The Old Dog. Ransome has exhibited works in group and solo shows throughout the country and received The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award for his book, The Wagon. In 1999 Let My People Go received the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and Satchel Paige was reviewed in Bank Street College of Education’s “The Best Children’s Books of the Year.” In 2001, James received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York for the body of his work.  How Animals Saved the People received the SEBA (Southeastern Book Association) Best Book of the Year Award in 2002 and the Vermont Center for the Book chose Visiting Day as one of the top ten diversity books of 2002.  In 2004 James was recognized by the local art association when he received the Dutchess County Executive Arts Award for an Individual Artist.  He has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, NC. He created a historical painting commissioned by a jury for the Paterson, NJ Library and a poster for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Brown vs the Board of Education.  His traveling Exhibit, Visual Stories has been touring the United States since 2003.  His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.

About the Fisher Center at Bard

Named for the late Richard B. Fisher, former chair of Bard’s Board of Trustees, the Fisher Center has become an influential force in performing arts programming, earning critical acclaim for innovative productions of opera, orchestral, chamber, dance, and theater programs. The Center was designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry and distinguished acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, and has received international praise for its breathtaking architecture and superb sound.

The Fisher Center develops, produces, and presents performing arts across disciplines through new productions and context-rich programs that challenge and inspire. At once a premier professional performing arts center and a hub for research and education, the Fisher Center supports artists, students, and audiences in the development and examination of artistic ideas and perspectives from the past, present, and future.

Opened in 2003, the Fisher Center is the most ambitious capital project in Bard College’s history and embodies the College’s commitment to the arts as a cultural and educational necessity. The Center presents more than 200 world-class events and welcomes 50,000 visitors each year. The Fisher Center support artists at all stages of their careers and employs more than 300 professional artists annually. 

The Fisher Center is a powerful catalyst of art-making regionally, nationally, and worldwide. Every year it produces 8 to 10 major new works in various disciplines. Over the past five years, its commissioned productions have been seen in more than 100 communities around the world. During the 2018-19 season, six Fisher Center productions toured nationally and internationally.  In 2019 the Fisher Center won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for Daniel Fish’s production of Oklahoma! which began life in 2007 as an undergraduate production at Bard and was produced professionally in the Fisher Center’s SummerScape Festival in 2015 before transferring to New York City.

About Bard College

Founded in 1860, Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, is an independent, residential, coeducational college offering a four-year BA program in the liberal arts and sciences and a five-year BA/BS degree in economics and finance. The Bard College Conservatory of Music offers a five-year program in which students pursue a dual degree—a BMus and a BA in a field other than music. Bard offers MMus degrees in conjunction with the Conservatory and The Orchestra Now, and at Longy School

of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Bard and its affiliated institutions also grant the following degrees: AA at Bard High School Early College, a public school with campuses in New York City, Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.; AA and BA at Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and through the Bard Prison Initiative at six correctional institutions in New York State; MA in curatorial studies, MS and MA in economic theory and policy, and MS in environmental policy and in climate science and policy at the Annandale campus; MFA and MAT at multiple campuses; MBA in sustainability in New York City; and MA, MPhil, and PhD in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture at the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. Internationally, Bard confers BA and MAT degrees at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem and American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan; BA degrees at Bard College Berlin: A Liberal Arts University; and BA and MA degrees at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, Russia (Smolny). Bard offers nearly 50 academic programs in four divisions. Total enrollment for Bard College and its affiliates is approximately 6,000 students. The undergraduate College has an enrollment of about 1,900 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. In 2016, Bard acquired the Montgomery Place estate, bringing the size of the campus to nearly 1,000 acres. For more information about Bard College, visit

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This event was last updated on 12-11-2019