Two nights in Cambridge and NYC
Puerto Rican-born MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow and multi-Grammy-nominated saxophonist-composer Miguel Zenón joins conductor Fred Harris and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Festival Jazz Ensemble and clarinetist/composer Evan Ziporyn in two special benefit concerts for the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Both performances will feature the world premiere of En Pie De Lucha, Zenón’s new composition for jazz ensemble.
Zenón and the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE) were slated to tour Puerto Rico in January of this year but had to postpone due to Hurricane Maria. “We were so excited about this trip,” says MTE FJE music director Fred Harris. “Along with concerts, we were planning on educational outreach events connecting MIT students with middle and high school students. We look forward to making the trip happen in 2019 but we want to contribute something now!”
All funds raised will be donated to the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund
Concerts take place:
• Friday, March 2, 8 p.m. at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, 48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. Tickets $15-$20. For information visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/en-pie-de-lucha-performance-at-mit-tickets-42546873845
• Saturday, March 3, 8 p.m. at Silberman School of Social Work Auditorium, 2180 Third Avenue, New York City. Tickets $15-$20. For information visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/en-pie-de-lucha-peformance-at-hunter-college-tickets-42569947860
“Even though it isn’t front page news anymore, there’s still a lot of need in Puerto Rico,” says Zenón. “I’m very excited about these concerts and grateful to Fred and MIT for putting them together. The benefits are meant to raise funds as well as awareness about the situation on the island.”
Zenón has twice been an artist-in-residence at MIT, most recently in 2015 for the premiere of his extended composition for wind ensemble Music as Service, which was the subject of the MIT documentary film Call and Response.
Both concerts will feature the world premiere of Zenón’s En Pie De Lucha, an homage to the people of his home country. “The piece was inspired by the resiliency and courage of Puerto Rican people during these very trying times. It’s a tribute to those who stayed on the island in the aftermath of the destruction, who were willing to put up a fight and rebuild their country.”
The program also features music from Zenón’s celebrated recordings as well as other works by noted jazz artists. MIT Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music, Faculty Director for MIT’s Center for Art, Science & Technology, head of the MIT Music & Theater Arts Section, and renowned clarinetist-composer Evan Ziporyn will be a featured soloist on both concerts.
The Silberman Auditorium concert is co-sponsored by MIT Music and Theater Arts and Hunter College. Other collaborators include The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and the Association for Cultural Equity, an independent cultural research organization affiliated with Hunter College.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS / THE PUERTO RICO RECOVERY FUND
Multiple Grammy Nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón represents a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American Folkloric Music and Jazz.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has released ten recordings as a leader, including the Grammy-nominated Tipico (2017) and Identities Are Changeable (2014). As a sideman he has worked with jazz luminaries such as The SFJAZZ Collective, Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, David Sanchez, Danilo Perez, The Village Vanguard Orchestra, Guillermo Klein & Los Guachos, The Jeff Ballard Trio, Antonio Sanchez, David Gilmore, Paoli Mejias, Brian Lynch, Jason Lindner, Miles Okazaki, Ray Barreto, Andy Montanez, Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band, The Mingus Big Band, Bobby Hutcherson and Steve Coleman.
Zenón has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, as well as gracing the cover of DownBeat Magazine on two occasions (2010 and 2014). In addition, he topped both the Jazz Artist of the Year and Alto Saxophonist categories on the 2014 Jazz Times Critics Poll and was selected as 2015 Alto Saxophonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association.
As a composer he has been commissioned by SFJAZZ, The New York State Council for the Arts, Chamber Music America, Logan Center for the Arts, The Hyde Park Jazz Festival, The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Jazz Reach, Peak Performances, MIT, PRISM Quartet and many of his peers. Zenón has given hundreds of lectures and master classes at institutions all over the world, and is a permanent faculty member at New England Conservatory of Music. In 2011 he founded Caravana Cultural, a program which presents free-of-charge jazz concerts in rural areas of Puerto Rico. In April 2001 Zenón received a fellowship from the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Later that year he was one of 25 distinguished individuals chosen to receive the coveted MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genuis Grant.”
The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble was founded in 1963 by Boston jazz icon Herb Pomeroy and led since 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. The FJE is comprised of outstanding MIT undergraduate and graduate students studying a wide range of disciplines. It is the 2013 recipient of the Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Award in the Arts at MIT and is the only MIT entity that has earned this recognition three times, a testament to its consistent high quality over many decades. The FJE has released five professional recordings including its major jazz label debut release on Sunnyside in 2015, Infinite Winds. This recording earned a five-star review in DownBeat Magazine and was named as one of DownBeat’s “Best Albums of 2015: Five-star Masterpieces.”
The MIT FJE has a long history of performing original music by MIT students and composers from around the world. Since 2001, it has presented over 45 world premieres. Among others, Mark Harvey, Herb Pomeroy, Jamshied Sharifi, Ran Blake, John Harbison, Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Kenny Werner, Don Byron, Steve Turre, Magai Souriau, Guillermo Klein, Bill McHenry, Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenón, Dominique Eade, Eviyan, Jacob Collier, Ryan Keberle, Claire Daly, and George Schuller have worked with the FJE.
Composer-clarinetist Evan Ziporyn has composed for the Silk Road Ensemble, the American Composers Orchestra, Brooklyn Rider, So Percussion, Maya Beiser, Wu Man, Sentieri Selvaggi, and Bang on a Can All-Stars. He studied at Eastman, Yale and UC Berkeley with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick, and Gerard Grisey. He is the Inaugural Director of MIT’s new Center for Art, Science and Technology, where he has taught since 1990. His work is informed by his 30-plus year involvement with the traditional gamelan. He received a Fulbright in 1987, founded Gamelan Galak Tika in 1993, and has composed a series of groundbreaking compositions for gamelan and western instruments. These include three evening-length works: ShadowBang (2001), Oedipus Rex (2004, Robert Woodruff, director), and A House in Bali (2009), which was featured at BAM Next Wave in October 2010.
Awards include a USA Artist Fellowship, the Goddard Lieberson Prize from the American Academy, Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship, the MIT Gyorgy Kepes Prize, and commissions from Carnegie Hall, Kronos Quartet, Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program, and Meet the Composer. He co-founded the Bang on a Can All-Stars in 1992, performing with the group for 20 years. He has also recorded with Paul Simon, Steve Reich Ensemble (sharing in their 1988 Grammy), and Matthew Shipp, and he currently performs with Iva Bittova and Gyan Riley in Eviyan.
The Center for a New Economy (CNE) is an independent, non-partisan think-tank. Founded in 1998, it produces rigorous public policy research and analysis and is one of the most credible and influential voices in Puerto Rico and the United States on the island’s economy. Since 2014, CNE has been recognized as one of the Top Think-Tanks to Watch by the Global Think Tank Report produced by the University of Pennsylvania.
Seeking to mobilize US mainland resources to provide an emergency response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, CNE created the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund. The Fund seeks to provide relief for the people’s most immediate needs—food water, clothing—while garnering resources for mid and long-term initiatives focused on ensuring a more productive and stable Puerto Rico. The Fund mobilized its first planeload of emergency supplies from the US into the island within a week of Maria’s destructive path. These supplies were distributed to affected non-profits in Puerto Rico within 24-hours of their arrival on the island.
With offices in San Juan and Washington, DC, CNE will be a strong and compelling advocate in the US capital for the island’s recovery and reconstruction efforts. A highly credible purveyor of rigorous and independent research and policy thinking, CNE will focus its efforts in the nation’s capital on the need to mobilize a significant amount of federal resources towards a comprehensive recovery and rebuilding program for Puerto Rico.