Amanda Gookin. Photo by Ryan Scherb

Excited to announce the release of cellist Amanda Gookin’s, “Forward Music Project 1.0” My piece “Stolen” is featured on this record which you can purchase here. Here’s more info about the project:

For elevating stories of suffering and joy. For raising awareness of injustice. For shining a light on a culture of musical patriarchal deification. Whether you come with caution and leave with curiosity, come as a victim and find a voice, or come as an ally and feel a sense of community, I founded Forward Music Project for you.

For mothers. For sisterhood. For brave storytellers and quiet listeners. I sing, I gasp, I fight, I breathe life into the work of these fearless artists. I founded Forward Music Project for you. And you are not alone.

-Amanda Gookin, April 2020
Cellist and creator of Forward Music Project

Super excited to announce my participation in the Boccaccio Project! I’ve composed a piece for my Flutronix partner, Nathalie Joachim entitled, Have and Hold. Watch video of the performance here. Read for more details about the project from The Library of Congress:

A Series of Musical Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic 

In the mid-14th century Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) wrote the Decameron, a collection of 100 stories shared between a group of 10 acquaintances who had removed themselves from society during the darkest period of a plague. This early artistic response to an outbreak provided context and a means of expression, and the parallels to the quarantine and social distancing phenomena we have been experiencing worldwide in these difficult past few months resonate with us.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we draw on Boccaccio’s example to offer some musical responses. We have asked 10 pairs of composers and performers to write and perform brief solo works to be premiered online over the course of 10 weekdays in June. 

About

Have and Hold reflects the desire to be near others during an extended period of social distancing and isolation. Personally, I have realized that being around people and experiencing life with them not only brings me great joy, but fuels my energy, creativity and spirit. This piece is truly dedicated to all of the people in my life who I miss dearly and long to be near again.

It was an honor to join violinist Randall Goosby, harpist Charles Overton and tenor George Shirley for a panel discussion on our experience as Black musicians working under the “classical” canon. Our talk concluded with powerful performances from each artist. Watch the performance of my piece “Hammers” with myself on flute and the wonderful, Sandbox Percussion.

September 15th was the inaugural concert of soprano Julia Bullock’s season-long residency at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This concert, entitled “History’s Persistent Voice,” featured the premiere of works by Tania Leon, Jessie Montgomery, Courtney Bryan and yours truly. Our music was inspired by pieces in the “History Refused to Die,” exhibit featuring works by southern African-American artists on loan from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Read the New York Times review by Zachary Wolffe here or below.


The most telling moment in Julia Bullock’s recital on Saturday evening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art came before she’d sung a note.

Featuring settings of the words of black artists from the South and fresh versions of traditional slave songs, this was the first concert in the superb rising soprano’s season-long residency at the Met. The five-event series continues on Dec. 2 with a program of new works with texts by Langston Hughes.

You would expect a musician to bathe in at least a little bit of entrance applause at this, the opening event of one of her most prominent New York showcases to date. But with the lights still up in the auditorium, Ms. Bullock modestly entered with the nine string players. The music began without her swanning on solo — in fact, without any clapping at all.

Ms. Bullock seemed to be emphasizing that, at the Met, she would truly be an artist, not a diva, in residence. It’s not that she’s a reticent singer, but she exudes humility. She serves the work she’s singing, even as she makes it better.

Saturday brought proof of this. The music — a set of premieres — was pretty good; Ms. Bullock’s calm passion made you think that swaths of it were great.

The program, “History’s Persistent Voice,” was tied to “History Refused to Die,” an exhibition of contemporary self-taught black artists on view at the Met through Sept. 23. Images from the show were projected throughout the concert, and some of the sung texts were by or related to artists with works on view.

An interview with Thornton Dial, the maker of grand mixed-media assemblages, inspired the composer Tania León’s uneasy, twitteringly unpredictable “Green Pastures.” Allison Loggins-Hull’s slyly eerie fractured lullaby, “Mama’s Little Precious Thing,” had words derived from a conversation with the granddaughter of one of the artists in the exhibition.

Ms. Bullock offered a stern reading of an excerpt from an interview with the artist Sue Willie Seltzer about the hardness of her life: “I just tried to survive,” Seltzer said. The instrumental work that followed, Courtney Bryan’s “The Hard Way,” was oddly and, I think, overly gentle after those tough words, with an easygoing clarinet solo for Mark Dover.

Jessie Montgomery’s “Five Slave Songs,” richly lyrical but fresh and light in feel, had as a highlight the stark “My Father, How Long?” Ms. Bullock sang with burning focus, as she did the whole set, which brought her mellow, dusky voice from melancholy earthiness to piercing crows. She never milked the emotion or exaggerated her presence; she commands a space without ever trying too hard.