Three new recording projects ask: What is America?

Posted on: June 21, 2022

“The question of ‘What is American/Who is America/What is America?’ has plagued and inspired thousands since the nation’s founding,” writes A. Kori Hill in Wednesday’s (6/15) icareifyoulisten. The article examines three new recordings responding to those questions, “What is American by PUBLIQuartet … , which takes us on a music history journey; This is America from violinist Johnny Gandelsman …, which highlights composers’ reactions to the pandemic, social injustices, and political volatility; and harpist Emily Levin’s GroundWork(s), which will feature new works for harp from 52 composers premiered in their respective hometowns over the next several years…. What is American … communicates a now standard maxim in American music historiography: American culture is indebted to Black creative practices. It’s a message woven through the album’s organization…. Gandelsman’s This is America [features] new works/commissions [including] Clarice Assad’s O [which] makes a direct correlation between the breath denied to George Floyd (‘I can’t breathe’) and the breath denied to those with COVID-19…. [In] GroundWorks(s) Levin’s goal is to commission 52 new works for harp…. Still in its early stages, GroundWork(s) has six confirmed composers: Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate (OK); Aaron Holloway-Nahum (IL); Reena Esmail (CA); Michael Ippolito (FL); Kareem Roustom (MA); and Angélica Negrón (PR).”