Written and directed by Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes
“The Transformations Suite” has been performed in Brazil and the United States. In Salvador, Brazil, the music was performed in collaboration with a number of local groups including Percussivo Mundo Novo and the Orquestra Afro-Sinfonica. Each performance was followed by a discussion with members of the audience/community, focusing on the issues brought up within the piece, such as the effects of historical enslavement and disenfranchisement on the Afro-descendant population of Bahia. In the U.S.
Centered in the belief that there is a soundtrack to every revolution, the vision for this piece is that it will foster dialogue on social justice issues throughout the world, show how art can create social change, contribute to the powerful growing movement on behalf of black lives around the country, and empower all people – especially youth – to make their voices heard.
"The Transformations Suite" is a composition in five movements, combining spoken word and music. Continuing in the tradition of artists such as Bob Marley, Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday and Tupac Shakur, the suite paints a musical picture of the current state of social inequality and injustice in the United States. It connects the experiences of all members of the African Diaspora both musically and socially, examining notions of art, oppression, spirituality, resistance, faith and love.
First created while composer Samora Pinderhughes was at Juilliard, as a response to the lack of Martin Luther King Day events that were willing to discuss the radical policies that MLK fought for in his final years. Seeking to understand the process of how the American society reframes the legacies of revolutionaries after their deaths, Samora began a larger journey into the historical roots of the African Diaspora and how this history has led to where we are today. “The Transformations Suite” connects contemporary issues, such as the prison industrial complex and the Black Lives Matter movement, with the history of revolutionary movements of color, building a bridge between the past and the future.
SAMORA ABAYOMI PINDERHUGHES
A recent graduate of Juilliard, pianist/composer Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes uses music to issue challenging questions about social justice and identity. Samora performs internationally, in venues including the White House, the Blue Note, MoMA, the Sundance Film Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, and Carnegie Hall, and tours with artists including Jose James, Harvey Mason, and Emily King.
Raised in Berkeley, CA, Samora began his musical journey by studying Venezuelan and Cuban percussion starting at age two and jazz piano at age seven, and was trained within the illustrious Young Musicians Choral Orchestra until he left to NYC for training at the Juilliard School. Upon receiving his Bachelors of Music degree from Juilliard, Samora was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for “Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music”. His teachers have included Kenny Barron, Benny Green, Patrice Rushen, Frank Foster, Marcus Belgrave, Frank Kimbrough, Kendall Briggs, and mentor Anna Deavere Smith.
Samora is the director and creator of The Transformations Suite, an acclaimed project combining music, theatre, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within the communities of the African Diaspora. His other projects as a leader include I’m Still Here: Letters on Trauma & Healing (prod. Institute for Arts and Civic Dialogue), a conversation between people dealing with trauma in spaces with high levels of violence - especially within the prison industrial complex – with a heavy focus on the healing process; "The James Baldwin Essays: Examining the American Dream Narrative", commissioned by Harlem Stage; Strayhorn: the Sutherland Period for the Celebrating Strayhorn Festival at the Kennedy Center.
Also a composer for film and theatre, he is a 2015 Sundance Composers Lab recipient.
Samora aims to create beauty and inspire change with his music. He believes strongly in the positive and creative power of art, and strives to use music to address important issues and help those in need.
THE SUITE BREAKS DOWN INTO FIVE SECTIONS:
1.Transformation: A demand for justice – a commitment to a movement focusing on a radical shift in the economic workings of the country, and an end to racism, materialism, and militarism.
2. History: A discussion of the history of systematic oppression in the Americas – a legacy inherited from the European colonial powers.
3. Cycles: An attempt to understand the aftermath of such a legacy in the present day, especially upon communities of color; a reflection on police brutality, cultural appropriation, microaggressions, and the system of mass incarceration.
4. Momentum: A call to action, no matter how much pressure we may be under to stay silent; and an examination of what it would mean to truly reshape the American society.
5. Ascension: A prayer for strength of spirit to organize and struggle against the continued destruction of our communities – and a look forward.