Launched in 2016, Bridges is a powerful outreach initiative that engages entire communities in the process of making music. Over the course of six months, a specially commissioned composer-in-residence works with community members to create an original piece – shaped by the stories, abilities, and perspectives of residents – that is then performed for local audiences, followed by a reprise in a Manhattan venue.
Designed to “bridge” the divide between professional artists and community members, Bridges performances include a diverse range of local residents – from kindergartners to seniors – alongside the MasterVoices Chorus, professional soloists and orchestras, and a public art-making project. The result is a transformative experience that embodies the MasterVoices mission: diverse voices coming together, making music that is accessible to all.
As a truly intensive experience, each Bridges project takes two years to develop. The first step is to identify a specific local community – such as Lawrence, Long Island (2016), Lower Manhattan (2018), or the South Bronx (2020) – and begin cultivating relationships. We then commission a composer who identifies with the issues and perspectives of the community, and from there the creative process develops organically over the course of several months until the piece is ready to rehearse and perform.
PAST BRIDGES PROJECTS
In 2015-16, MasterVoices commissioned composer Marisa Michelson and librettist Royce Vavrek to compose a new piece with community members from Lawrence, Long Island – a community became close after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Over 200 people came together at Lawrence High School on June 2, 2016 and again at Ansche Chesed synagogue on June 5, 2016 to perform the resulting “community oratorio”, Naamah’s Ark – a retelling of the moment when Noah’s Ark lands and all the animals must learn to share the future. Local performers included Life Rhythms Percussion Ensemble, a Gospel Chorus, the Meshuggah Daddies, and the Lawrence Elementary School Chorus, among others.
Enjoy photos from MasterVoices’ 2016 Bridges performance:
In 2017-18, MasterVoices recreated Naamah’s Ark with communities in Lower Manhattan – another area that had been devastated by Sandy. This time soloist Victoria Clark joined with Sachal Vasandani, Cantor Rebecca Garfein, Melody Betts, Stuyvesant High School Chorus, Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir of Middle Collegiate Church, Congregation Rodeph Sholom Choir, Emre Durali, for a performance in Rockefeller Park on June 17, 2018 as a part of the River to River Festival.
MasterVoices partnered with Max Frieder of Artolution, to create a visual arts element to the performance. The community was invited to join prior to the performance to create fun, whimsical animal sculptures from found objects which then adorned the park, helping to bring Naamah’s Ark to life.
Enjoy photos from MasterVoices’ 2018 Bridges performance:
This year MasterVoices will be working in the South Bronx with the venerable East Side House Settlement community, which represents a continuum of programs for lower-income Bronx residents ranging from early childhood education to senior care. Our commissioned composer is Tariq Al-Sabir. Performances will take place in May 2020 – see season details for more information!