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2018-2019 Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts

Beyond Exoticism

Global history reveals the many ways that nations have viewed cultures different from their own as exciting or exotic, often adopting pieces of those cultures into their own. This history is particularly evident in the arts: music, film, theater, and visual arts have all drawn inspiration from creations viewed as unique or different—in a word, as “other.” As artists and scholars have long argued, this practice is socially and politically complex, with motivations ranging from the reinforcement and validation of nationhood to more individualized attempts to bolster cultural capital. So at what point does admiration and inspiration become appropriation and misunderstanding?

Beyond Exoticism, this year’s Tucker-Boatwright Festival presented by the Department of Music, investigates expression across difference and recognizes the ethical ambiguity and aesthetic complexity this entails. Musical performances, public panels, film screenings, and a cross-disciplinary academic conference will highlight the dynamic and cosmopolitan histories of the many global cultures with which Western orientalists were once enamored, while also expanding its geographic scope beyond those cultures to examine the ways that contemporary artists maintain, resist, reject, and critique the impulse to exoticize others, or lend cultural legitimacy to themselves.

Festival Events

Trio Brasiliero
September 13
4 p.m.: Film Screening, Weinstein Hall, Brown-Alley Room
7 p.m.: Performance, Carole Weinstein International Center, Commons

We kick off the Festival with a film screening of Brasileirinho, a 2005 documentary about Brazilian choro music. Trio Brasiliero, an award-winning choro ensemble from Brazil, will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. The trio will then perform a concert at 7 p.m.

Co-sponsored by the Office of International Education and the University of Richmond International Film Series. 

Call to Prayer: Creative Liturgy in Transcultural Islamic Practice
October 1, 7:30 p.m.
North Court, Perkinson Recital Hall

Join us for a rare discussion of the Islamic call to prayer and the creative liturgy of Islamic practice featuring Yunus Khaerisman, a muezzin based in Washington D.C., Jessika Kenney, vocal faculty from the California Institute of the Arts, and Anne Rasmussen, professor of music at the College of William and Mary.

This event is co-hosted as part of the Sound Arts Richmond Festival and co-sponsored by the University of Richmond International Studies Program.

Richmond Symphony Orchestra: Middle Eastern Connections
October 3, 7:30 p.m.
Booker Hall of Music, Camp Concert Hall
FREE but ticketed for UR students, faculty, and staff
$36 for community members
Purchase/Reserve Tickets

This concert will feature classic works of the Western canon inspired by Middle Eastern cultures as well as modern works by contemporary Middle Eastern composers. The evening will include a special performance by the William and Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble featuring the Iraqi virtuoso violinst Imad Al Taha. Tickets can be reserved or purchased at the Modlin Center box office.     

W.A. Mozart: Abduction from the Seraglio Overture
Ludwig von Beethoven: Turkish March 
Kareem Roustom: Dabke
Fazil Say: Symphonic Dances
Charles Ives: Country Band March
Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 88

Bill Miller: Mohican Songs of the Spirit
October 10, 7:30 P.M.
North Court, Perkinson Recital Hall

Mohican Indian from northern Wisconsin, flutist Bill Miller has long been one of the most admired figures in the Native American music arena and beyond. As an award-winning recording artist, performer, songwriter, activist, and painter, he’s been a voice for the voiceless, and a link between two great and clashing civilizations. This event will include a panel discussion with Dr. Rachel Wheeler (Indiana University) and Dr. Sarah Eyerly (Florida State University) and a performance by Bill Miller.

Co-sponsored by the University of Richmond Department of Religion.

UR Global Sounds Concert
December 2, 3 p.m.
North Court, Perkinson Recital Hall and Choir Room 

Celebrate traditional music and dance from around the world at this family-friendly concert featuring student and community ensembles performing Brazilian, Japanese, West African and Indonesian music.

Richmond Symphony Orchestra: Southeast Asian Connections
January 23, 7:30 p.m.

This concert will feature classic works of the Western canon inspired by Southeast Asian cultures as well as modern works by contemporary Indonesian composers. The evening will include the first performance of a reconstruction of the Javanese music that Debussy heard at the 1889 Paris Exposition, performed by Gamelan Raga Kusuma, directed by the Javanese master musician Sumarsam. The Balinese shadow master Gusti Sudarta will perform an original shadow play accompanied by the symphony’s performance of Debussy’s Le boite a joujoux.

Claude Debussy: Pagodes
Claude Debussy: La boite a joujoux
Evan Ziporyn: Ngaben
Dewa Alit: Open My Door
W.A. Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in g minor

Richmond Symphony Orchestra: South Asian Connections
February 22, 7:30 p.m.

This concert will feature classic works of the Western canon inspired by South Asian cultures as well as modern works by contemporary composers of South Asian descent. Featuring guest performers Saili Oak (vocal), Amit Kevlekar (tabla), Jan Müller-Szeraws (cello). 

Reena Esmail: Avartan
Reena Esmail: Meri Sakhi Ki Avaaz
Shirish Korde: Lalit
Ludwig von Beethoven: Symphony No. 6

Conference: Contested Frequencies: Sonic Representation in the Digital Age
February 22-24

This conference will extend the festival’s focus on issues of aesthetic decolonization, appropriation, borrowing, and influence within the context of contemporary music, broadly conceived. Guthrie Ramsey (University of Pennsylvania) will present a keynote talk titled: Hide/Melt/Ghost: Writing the Early History of African American Music.

Eighth Blackbird
March 7, 7:30 p.m.

Resident ensemble Eighth Blackbird will performStay on It, featuring the eponymous and iconic work of African-American composer Julius Eastman, as well as works by Angélica Negrón, Viet Cuong and others.

Global Sounds Concert
April 7, 3:00 pm.

Celebrate traditional music and dance from around the world at this family-friendly concert.

Richmond Symphony Orchestra: Influence of the World
April 13-14
Dominion Energy Center, Carpenter Theatre
FREE but ticketed for UR students, faculty, and staff
Purchase/Reserve Tickets

Concluding the Festival, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will present a concert of works inspired by non-Western traditions featuring the world premiere of a new work for chorus and orchestra by Reena Esmail.

Ahmed Adnan Saygun: Ritual Dance
Reena Esmail: World Premiere Commission
Claude Debussy: Nocturnes
Colin McPhee: Tabuh Tabuhan
Maurice Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole

Festival Partners

We are proud to partner with many campus and community organizations to present the Festival. Collaborators include:

Richmond Symphony Orchestra
Sound Arts Richmond Festival
Hindu Cultural Center
Islamic Center of Central Virginia
Modlin Center for the Arts
University Museums
UR Chaplaincy
UR Department of Religious Studies
UR Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program
UR International Film Series
UR International Education

Beyond Exoticism at the Modlin Center for the Arts

Throughout the year, the Modlin Center will present performances by visiting artists that reflect the Festival’s theme.

Los Pleneros de la 21
September 7, 7:30 p.m.

Dina El Wedidi
September 21, 7:30 p.m.

Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer
November 9, 7:30 p.m.

Sounds of China
February 1, 7:30 p.m.

Anda Union
April 4, 7:30 p.m.

To purchase tickets, visit