Castle of our Skins
Sunday 8 May 2022, 7-9pm Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford
Tickets available via the Music at Oxford website.
Castle of our Skins String Quartet: Gabriela Diaz (violin), Mina Lavcheva (violin), Ashleigh Gordon (viola), Francesca McNeeley (cello)
Samantha Ege (piano)
Dr Samantha Ege is a musicologist, pianist, and the Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music at Lincoln College, University of Oxford. She belongs to a new generation of practitioners who are redefining classical music and illuminating the diversity of its past, present, and future. Samantha released her debut album, Four Women: Music for solo piano by Price, Kaprálová, Bilsland and Bonds (Wave Theory Records) in May 2018. She released Fantasie Nègre: The Piano Music of Florence Price in March 2021 (Lorelt). Fantasie Nègre received critical acclaim in BBC Music Magazine, The Telegraph, New York Times and Washington Post. She gave the world premiere performance of Fantasie Nègre at the London Festival of American Music in September 2021, followed by the second UK performance of Fantasie Nègre and the UK premiere of Vítězslava Kaprálová’s Sonata Appassionata at her Barbican debut in November 2021. Her latest album is called Black Renaissance Woman (Lorelt).
Samantha’s performances and publications shed an important light on composers from underrepresented backgrounds. In 2021, she received the American Musicological Society’s Noah Greenberg Award for her recording project on five female composer-pianists from the Black Renaissance era. In 2019, she received both the Society for American Music’s Eileen Southern Fellowship and a Newberry Library Short-Term Residential Fellowship for her work on women’s contributions to concert life in interwar Chicago. Samantha’s first book is called South Side Impresarios: Race Women in the Realm of Music (University of Illinois Press, under contract). She has been contracted as co-author alongside Douglas Shadle of Price (Master Musicians Series, Oxford University Press) and co-editor alongside A. Kori Hill of The Cambridge Companion to Florence B. Price (Cambridge University Press).
Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins invites explorations into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of past and present. Castle of our Skins is deeply aware of the lack of equity in composer representation on concert stages and the omission of important stories and figures in Black history. It is this lack of equity that this series seeks to change. Through carefully designed educational workshops and creative concert programs, the series aim to highlight the achievements of Black artists and historical figures. Castle of our Skins has been hailed in the New York Times and Boston Globe as a beacon for diversity in the arts.
Gabriela Diaz, a Georgia native, began her musical training at the age of five, studying piano with her mother, and the next year, violin with her father. As a childhood cancer survivor, Gabriela is committed to supporting cancer research and treatment in her capacity as a musician. In 2004, Gabriela was a recipient of a grant from the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, an award that enabled Gabriela to create and direct the Boston Hope Ensemble. This program is now part of Winsor Music. A firm believer in the healing properties of music, Gabriela and her colleagues have performed in cancer units in Boston hospitals and presented benefit concerts for cancer research organizations in numerous venues throughout the United States.
A fierce champion of contemporary music, Gabriela has been fortunate to work closely with many significant composers on their own compositions, namely Pierre Boulez, Magnus Lindberg, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Lucier, Unsuk Chin, John Zorn, Joan Tower, Roger Reynolds, Chaya Czernowin, Steve Reich, Tania León, Brian Ferneyhough, and Helmut Lachenmann. Gabriela is a member of several Boston-area contemporary music groups, including Sound Icon, Ludovico Ensemble, BMOP, Dinosaur Annex, Boston Musica Viva, and Callithumpian Consort. She plays regularly with Winsor Music, Castle of our Skins, Radius Ensemble, and Emmanuel Music and frequently collaborates with Alarm Will Sound, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICEensemble), and A Far Cry.
Francesca McNeeley, a Haitian-American cellist, has received critical acclaim as a collaborator and soloist, and enjoys an eclectic career in the Boston area. She has premiered dozens of works, solo and chamber music—including pieces by John Harbison, Mark Neikrug, Augusta Read Thomas, and Joseph Phibbs. Recent musical collaborations have included soloing with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and touring with the Grammy-nominated A Far Cry chamber orchestra as a guest principal cellist. She is frequently featured with Castle of Our Skins, the New Gallery Concert Series, and the Celebrity Series of Boston. She has been invited to participate in various artist residencies at the Longy School of Music, Yellowbarn, the Grand Teton Music Festival, Marquette University, and Keene State College. She has performed with the Boston Symphony and Sarasota Orchestras, and can be heard on BMOP/sound with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Francesca graduated Princeton University Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to receive scholarships to attend the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the New England Conservatory for her graduate degrees in cello performance. She has earned fellowships and prizes from the Tanglewood Music Center, where she also served as a New Fromm Player. With her Fromm colleagues she has founded the Chroma Trio, championing modern string trio repertoire. She has received fellowships to attend the Music Academy of the West, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, & Toronto Summer Music. She has been awarded multiple grants from the Sphinx Organization, and now serves on The Artist Council for the National Alliance for Audition Support. Her teachers and mentors have included Tom Kraines, Darrett Adkins, Norman Fischer, Yeesun Kim, and Astrid Schween.
Ashleigh Gordon, described as a “charismatic and captivating performer,” has recorded with Switzerland’s Ensemble Proton and Germany’s Ensemble Modern; performed with Grammy-award winning BMOP and A Far Cry; and appeared at the prestigious BBC Proms Festival with the Chineke! Orchestra. Comfortable on an international stage, she has performed in the Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls (London), Konzerthaus Berlin and Oper Frankfurt (Germany), Gare du Nord and Dampfzentrale Bern (Switzerland) Centre Pompidou (Paris), and the Lee Hysan Concert Hall (Hong Kong).Francesca graduated Princeton University Phi Beta Kappa, and went on to receive scholarships to attend the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and the New England Conservatory for her graduate degrees in cello performance. She has earned fellowships and prizes from the Tanglewood Music Center, where she also served as a New Fromm Player. With her Fromm colleagues she has founded the Chroma Trio, championing modern string trio repertoire. She has received fellowships to attend the Music Academy of the West, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, & Toronto Summer Music. She has been awarded multiple grants from the Sphinx Organization, and now serves on The Artist Council for the National Alliance for Audition Support. Her teachers and mentors have included Tom Kraines, Darrett Adkins, Norman Fischer, Yeesun Kim, and Astrid Schween.
Ashleigh is co-founder, Artistic/Executive Director and violist of Castle of our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational series devoted to celebrating Black Artistry through music. In recognition of her work, she has presented at IDEAS UMass Boston Conference and 180 Degrees Festival in Bulgaria; has been featured in the International Musician and Improper Bostonian magazines as well as the Boston Globe; and was awarded the 2016 Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award from the American Federation of Musicians. She is a 2015 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award recipient, a 2019 Brother Thomas Fellow, a nominee for the 2020 “Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities,” and named one of WBUR’s “ARTery 25”, twenty-five millennials of color impacting Boston’s arts and culture scene.
Pianist Samantha Ege and the Castle of our Skins string quartet present an evening of chamber music from the African continent and diaspora. This concert gives the UK premieres of works by South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen (b. 1975) and African American composers Florence Price (1887-1953), Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989), and Frederick C. Tillis (1930-2020).
Safika: Three Tales on African Migration for piano quintet (2011) Bongani Ndodana-Breen
Soweto for piano trio (1986) Undine Smith Moore
Spiritual Fantasy for string quartet (1995) Frederick Tillis
String Quartet no. 2 in A minor (1935) Florence Price
Tickets available via the Music at Oxford website.