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True stories and personal histories told through music

Music’s ability to get to the emotional heart of a story is the inspiration for The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s No Fiction Festival. Programming includes SPCO chamber music concerts at the Capri Theater, Turf Club and Saint Paul Academy on the theme of sisterhood, featuring works by intrepid composers Amy Beach, the Boulanger sisters (Nadia and Lili), and Dame Gillian Whitehead; Liquid Music presentations of Fanm d’Ayiti, spotlighting women of Haitian song, and Shawnee, Ohio, illuminating life in a small Appalachian mining town; and additional events with partners On Being, Macalester College and Carleton College.

“Through the No Fiction Festival, the SPCO is excited to tell many stories that we feel will resonate with our community,” said Kim. “The intimacy of our Chamber Music Series and the innovation of our Liquid Music Series are two powerful ways in which we can connect more deeply with our audiences.”

Flutist and composer Nathalie Joachim (Eighth Blackbird, Flutronix), “an edgy multi-genre performance artist who has long been pushing boundaries with her flute” (The Washington Post), brings her infectious passion for music and living tradition to Saint Paul in the culmination of her 2016.17 Liquid Music Virtual Residency. Fanm d’Ayiti (Women of Haiti) explores Haitian song and the role of women’s voices in Haitian music culture. Joachim’s new arrangements and compositions for flute, string quartet, vocals and electronics, examine some of the most prominent female voices in Haitian music, tracking international influences and telling stories of political exile, cultural affirmation and independence.

Fanm d’Ayiti Related event:
On Being with Nathalie Joachim and Krista Tippett

This program celebrates remarkable composers whose works featured here trace their strength through different channels. At the heart of the program are works by Nadia and Lili Boulanger, the most famous sisters in classical music. The sisters drew upon each other for strength and inspiration, but after Lili’s tragic death at the age of 24, Nadia stopped composing and focused on teaching, becoming the most influential composition teacher of the 20th century. In addition to works by the Boulangers, this program also features pieces by Dame Gillian Whitehead, who wrote No Stars, Not Even Clouds about her close friend’s struggle with cancer; and Amy Beach, whose accomplishments were a beacon in the suffrage movement.

In this Liquid Music Series presentation, a group of eleven portraits of people and songs from Appalachian Ohio chronicles their history with energy and extraction, from 19th century coal mining to fracking today. “Harnetty brings gem recordings up out of the basement and into the light…the resulting music isn’t about stepping back into the past, but rather experiencing the past and the present simultaneously in a way that is instructive” (New Music Box). Performed with sampled archives, field recordings and live musicians, Shawnee, Ohio critically engages ecology, energy, place and personal history to ask: What are the sounds of mining? Of fracking? Of a town fighting to survive after a century of economic decline and environmental degradation? These sounds are recorded as compositional material reflecting layers of history and memory in Appalachian Ohio. Shawnee’s history includes coal, gas and clay extraction, and the formation of early labor unions. The town’s downturn and partial restoration act as an ethos of the struggles and hopes of the larger region, now immersed in a controversial fracking boom. Shawnee, Ohio considers these histories, evokes place through sound, and listens to the present alongside traces of the past.

Additional educational and auxiliary events for the festival will include partnership programming with the Capri Theater in North Minneapolis, a panel discussion/talk-back following the Shawnee, Ohio presentation and a virtual residency with Nathalie Joachim in our CONNECT schools through the premiere of Fanm d’Ayiti.