Nicole Mitchell's Flight for For Freedom describes Harriet Tubman's heroic struggle for freedom from slavery. Performed by the Chicago Composers Orchestra at Garfield Park Conservatory on December 7, 2011
Creative flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell performed her new orchestra work with the Chicago Composers Orchestra on December 7th, 2011, at Garfield Park Conservatory. With Flight for Freedom for Creative Flute and Orchestra, Mitchell straddles contemporary classical music, jazz and creative music in ways she has never done before. The Chicago Composers Orchestra is in its first season, founded by Randall West to feature new music by living composers. The concert will be free to the public and will also include music by Lou Mallozzi, John Dorhauer, Francisco Castillo Trigueros and Kyle Vegter. From Mitchell's composer notes: “Designed to feature a flute soloist, Flight for Freedom celebrates Harriet Tubman, one of America's greatest heros, through the musical illustration of her courage, hardship, vision and creativity while illuminating one of the most volatile periods of American history. A predecessor of Dr. Martin Luther King and his commitment to social justice, Tubman was a champion for human rights through her work in the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. In the work, I draw connections between African American cultural expression and the orchestra by weaving jazz aesthetics, improvisation and classical music. Flight for Freedom is intended to be a multi-movement soundtrack of Harriet Tubman's struggle. While writing the piece I envisioned Tubman fearlessly and illusively functioning within the evils of slavery to help others escape, and the intensity of the times in which she lived. Born a slave in 1820, Tubman escaped to freedom in Canada as a youth, but her conscience taunted her to return on countless successful expeditions to rescue hundreds of people trapped in slavery. Later, Tubman worked for the Union in the Civil War as America's first woman to lead a military operation, and also as nurse and a spy. A true improviser of her lifetime, Tubman repeatedly and courageously risked her life and faced the unknown out of her love for humanity."
This is a work I created for exhibition with this music performance. Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler is the new studio recording of Chicago-based flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell's extended work of the same name, inspired by the work of Afrofuturist writer Octavia Butler (1947 - 2006), a Hugo, Locus and Nebula Award winner and the first science fiction author to receive the MacArthur Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler is the new studio recording of Chicago-based flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell's extended work of the same name, inspired by the work of Afrofuturist writer Octavia Butler (1947 - 2006), a Hugo, Locus and Nebula Award winner and the first science fiction author to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant. The piece, realized by her decade-old group, Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, received its world premiere in June 2007 at the 12th annual Vision Festival in New York and was performed again at the Chicago Cultural Center in December 2007. In the Xenogenesis series, Octavia E. Butler tells a story of confrontation and accommodation between cultures. One of these cultures is made up of human beings; the other, of far more advanced extraterrestrials called Oankali. After a war devastated Earth and killed most of its inhabitants, the Oankali transported the survivors to their spaceship, where they observed the humans for some two and a half centuries, finally concluding that human nature is so badly flawed that human beings will destroy any world they inhabit.
Time for Change video from Nicole Mitchell's MultiArts play Vision Quest: Hope, Future and Destiny (2003). Music and lyrics by Nicole M. Mitchell performed by Ugochi (vocals) and Black Earth Ensemble: Nicole Mitchell (flute), David Boykin (tenor sax), Savoirfaire (violin), Corey Wilkes (trumpet), Josh Abrams (bass), Brian Nichols (piano), Arveeayl Ra (drums). Video by Jonathon Woods. Woman in White--Aquilla Sadalla, Man with Horn--David Boykin, Woman in Green with Flute--Nicole Mitchell
Inspired by the seminal Afrofuturist, science-fiction writer Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy, virtuosic flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell evokes a journey into the horrific unknown in the newest chapter of her Xenogenesis Project, Intergalactic Beings. Butler's alien abduction tale incorporates rape, racism, and slavery into a disturbing tale of survival. Mitchell's musical interpretation was written for her Black Earth Ensemble, an improvising chamber orchestra, and taps the emotional and surreal qualities of Butler's prose. Black Earth Ensemble: Joshua Abrams, upright bass Renee Baker, violin David Boykin, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet Marcus Evans, drums Nicole Mitchell, flutes Mankwe Ndosi, vocals Jeffrey Parker, electric guitar Avreeayl Ra, percussion Tomeka Reid, cello David Young, trumpet 65 minute performance, no intermission.
April 30, 2010: Inspired by the seminal Afrofuturist, science-fiction writer Octavia Butler, virtuosic flutist and composer Nicole Mitchell evokes a journey into the horrific unknown in "Intergalactic Beings." Butler's tale of alien abduction incorporates rape, racism, and slavery into a disturbing story of survival. Mitchell's musical interpretation was written for her Black Earth Ensemble, an improvising chamber orchestra, and taps the emotional and surreal qualities of Butler's prose. For more information, please visit www.mcachicago.org.
Nicole Mitchell, flute & vocal - Harrison Bankhead, bass - Hamid Drake, drums & percussion
"An Insolent Noise" festival - 2007 Verdi Theatre - Pisa december 1st 2007
Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble plays very personal, very international jazz at the Velvet Lounge. Trailer for the DVD "Black Unstoppable".
Nicole Mitchell - Black Earth Ensemble Many Paths Meet the Sea: For Alice Coltane Ai Confini tra Sardegna e Jazz 2009 Piazza del Nuraghe, Sant'Anna Arresi, Italy, 26 agosto 2009 Nicole Mitchell flute piccolo bass flute David Boykin tenor Greg Ward alto Robert Griffin trumpet Tomeka Reid cello Renee Baker violin Maia harp voice Myra Melford piano melodica Josh Abrams bass Marcus Evans drums
Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble plays "Michelle" (Michelle Obama Tribute: Honoring Grace, featuring Khari Lemeul vocals, Nicole Mitchell flute/composition, Shanta Nurullah sitar, David Boykin tenor sax, David Young flugal horn, Justin Dillard piano, Renee Baker violin, Tomeka Reid cello, Darius Savage bass, Arveeayl Ra percussion, Marcus Evans drumset) Performed September 1, 2009 Jazz Institute of Chicago Gala at Spertus Museum. Nicole Mitchells Black Earth Orchestra. Video by Jonathon Woods. Music and Lyrics composed by Nicole M. Mitchell.
Black Earth ensemble at Sons d'Hiver playing in 2005 playing Metamorphosis