“One Way Ticket”

To celebrate the day dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on America, the DMA is hosting Boston-based performing group, Trio Ardente. The Trio will be performing “One Way Ticket”, which was created by American composer Robert Bradshaw inspired by the poem with the same name, written by Langston Hughes, at the DMA tomorrow, January 13 at 2:00 p.m.. These two major artistic works were created in response to the 60 paintings by Jacob Lawrence, titled, Migration Series.

Migration Series is a prolific piece of American art that propelled Lawrence to a place amongst the most influential painters in our country’s history. The paintings depict the migration of over a million African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North after World War I had begun. I asked Adam Gautille, one of the members of Trio Ardente about the group’s process and why they chose this piece to recreate for the performance.

A photograph from the DMA collection of Jacob Lawrence with his painting The Visitors, which is also in the DMA collection
[image credit: Arnold Newman, Jacob Lawrence with “The Visitors”, 1959, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, the Jolesch Acquisition Fund 2001.259]

Q: What drew Trio Ardente to this specific musical, art, and spoken word performance?
A: I grew up surrounded by the arts, other musicians, dancers, artists and later in college became an avid reader of poetry. I realized very quickly that art, as a whole, is something we all experience very differently. Some people are very tactile and visual learners, others are aural and some don’t particularly care for either of those and they just love poetry and words. This program “One-Way Ticket” was our first commissioned work by Robert Bradshaw. We discussed a piece involving multiple mediums of art and a strong message, we eventually landed on social justice. Rob took a dive into history and came up with a great work by pairing 4 of Jacob Lawrence’s 60 paintings in the Migration Series, with a stanza about those paintings by Langston Hughes. He wrote a movement around these elements in a response to how they moved him. 

Q: Did you and the other performers look to the Migration Series while practicing for the performance as a visual prompt?
A: We absolutely looked to the art and poetry as a way to inform the mood or colors we are striving for in our performance. The subject matter of the Great Migration is extremely powerful, so often if we are struggling with a musical decision we take a step back and look at the bigger picture to give us some guidance.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about this concert?
A: For us, the chance to celebrate Black musicians, artists, and poets is incredible. Too often in classical music we miss a rich part of American history, so when we get the chance to put it on display we take it. I also love that Jacob Lawrence was so greatly affected by his time during the Great Migration, that it made him take to art and paint his experiences.

Q: What do you think the connection is between the Migration Series and Martin Luther King Jr.’s beliefs and teachings?
A: The links between the Migration Series and Martin Luther King Jr’s beliefs and teachings are parallel. Between segregation, Jim Crow Laws, a fear of death and a desire for a new life with the same opportunities others were born with, MLK Jr. and Jacob Lawrence were seeing the same things at slightly different times. We can still see these things subtly and sometimes not so subtly in our world today, which is why it is so important to us to bring this program to the public. Many people are not taught about the Great Migration or really understand its impact on America to this day.

Trio Ardente will be performing “One Way Ticket” on Saturday, January 13 at 2:00 p.m. at the DMA. Tickets are available online or at the door for $10.

Video via Phillips Collection http://lawrencemigration.phillipscollection.org/

Katie Cooke is the Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA


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