“On the Frontlines” brings together two creative forces – Mariana Sadovska and Daniel Bernard Roumain – for a night of poetic beauty drawn from war and resistance. These riveting composer-musicians, one known as the “Ukrainian Björk” and the other hailed for his genre-defying explorations, will perform and discuss their haunting work during this unusual National Sawdust+ evening.
Sadovska will perform “The Night is Just the Beginning,” a powerful solo piece spun from her time on the front lines of her native Ukraine. Traveling with aid transports, she has given many benefit concerts along the eastern border since the Russian invasion in 2014. Her reimagined folk songs feature her singular, transfixing vocals as well as piano, sounds of the harmonium, and electronic soundscapes.
DBR will share live excerpts from “We Shall Not Be Moved,” the chamber opera acclaimed for its brooding, often joyful score combining spoken word, classical, R&B, and jazz singing. The spellbinding work, created with Marc Bamuthi Joseph (libretto) and Bill T. Jones (director/choreographer), is a timely exploration of past and present struggles, and the beauty of resistance. The opera tells the story of five North Philly teens who find refuge in an abandoned, condemned house in West Philadelphia – the very site that served as the headquarters of the MOVE organization, whose 1985 standoff with police infamously ended with a neighborhood destroyed and 11 people dead, including five children.
Roumain, a dynamic violinist, will be joined on stage by baritone Adam Richardson, Yayoi Ikawa (piano), Jim Robertson (bass), and Kenny Grohowski (drums).
About National Sawdust+
National Sawdust+ is a lively performance and conversation series in which luminaries from across disciplines share their passion for music and explore ideas, making surprising connections. The series taps artists and thinkers from theater, film and visual art, literature, science and beyond, to create insightful programs that reflect their own interests. Whether through live performances, conversations, or readings, each program has its own alchemy, engaging the audience in new and unexpected ways. Often topical, and always imaginative, National Sawdust+ is an ideal space for those with curiosity, adventure, and vision.
About the Artists
Mariana Sadovska is a remarkable singer, composer and actress who has worked with the Kronos Quartet, Lars Jan/Early Morning Opera, and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison (curator of Princeton University’s prestigious Art Atelier program, which featured Sadovska), among many others.
Reviewing her fusion of folk and avant-garde performance at GlobalFest in 2016, Jon Pareles (“The New York Times”) observed: “She wrung startling drama from traditionalist songs turned contemporary in a set that spanned folklore, humor, grief and rage. Her voice holds the clarity and bite of Slavic folk styles; her stage presence has the bright-eyed intensity of Björk or PJ Harvey.”
Her groundbreaking research, performances, and humanitarian efforts have earned her numerous awards, fellowships, and accolades around the world.
Daniel Bernard Roumain
Photo credit: Christine Turner
Daniel Bernard Roumain will be honored at National Sawdust’s “Alhambra Nights” Spring Gala on May 10, in recognition of his pioneering, disruptive artistry. His acclaimed work as a composer and performer spans more than two decades, and has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (“The New York Times”), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations traverse the worlds of Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga. “The New York Times” placed “We Shall Not Be Moved,” his chamber opera co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Apollo Theater, featuring a libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, on its year-end “The Best Classical Performance of 2017” list.
Known for his signature violin sounds infused with a myriad of electronic and urban music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He has been nominated for an EMMY for Outstanding Musical Composition for his work with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and written large scale, site-specific music for public parks. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 with “Harlem Essay for Orchestra,” performed by American Composers Orchestra, going on to compose works for the Boston Pops Orchestra; Carnegie Hall; the Library of Congress; and the Stuttgart Symphony, among others.
DBR’s commitment to arts education has led to long-term relationships with countless universities, orchestras, and performing arts centers. Currently Institute Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, DBR earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan.