We Are All in This Together:
An evening of poetry & music celebrating the influence of African-American culture
with poetry by Rajnii Eddins
and music by Erik Nielsen
performed by Alison Cerutti, Hilary Goldblatt, Jane Kittredge, Dan Liptak and Kyle Saulnier
Friday, January 27, 2023, 7 p.m.
Richmond Free Library, Richmond, Vermont
Saturday, January 28, 2023, 7 p.m.
Christ Episcopal Church, Montpelier, Vermont
Poem: Ode to Freda Josephine McDonald
*Black Venus (2020) Hilary Goldblatt, flute
Poem: How Long, Not Long
*Long Time Comin’ (2020) Dan Liptak, tenor saxophone
II. How Long
Poem: Ode to Breonna Taylor
**Elegy (2020) Jane Kittredge, violin
**The Down Low (2022) Kyle Saulnier,
Poem: Living Gospel
The Calling (2018) Alison Cerutti, piano
Poem: The Time is Always Now
**This Time (2022) The ensemble
* Concert premiere
** World premiere
Black Venus (2020): This is a single-movement work for solo flute dedicated to the memory of the American ex-patriate Josephine Baker (also called Freda Josephine McDonald), who was not only a celebrated dancer and singer, but also worked for the resistance in France in WWII and was later a civil-rights activist. The main theme evokes music of the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. It is interrupted several times by trills and buzzing flutter-tonguing sounds that represent the dream-like quality of viewing something from the distant past. In the middle of the piece comes a slow, spiritual-like melody that for me represents Josephine’s youth growing up in the St. Louis area during the early years of the 20th century. This leads back to a return of the original theme before the work ends in mystery.
Long Time Comin’ (2020) is a three-movement work (Funk, How Long, and Swing) for solo tenor saxophone. While the first and third movements are self-explanatory because of their titles, the middle movement has special meaning for me. It takes much of its rhythm from the wonderful speech Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965 that included the repeated refrain “How long? Not long”. If you listen carefully, you can hear that idea repeated several times and you may even notice near the end of the movement a musical rendition of the words “Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”, then a snippet from “The Battle Hymn of The Republic” (quoted by Dr. King) and then the phrase “Glory, Hallelujah, Glory, Hallelujah, Glory Hallelujah! His truth is marching on!” as Dr. King ended the speech. Here’s my dedication to the piece: “This work is dedicated to all those in the African-American community and their allies who have fought so long and hard for social justice, and to the music that has inspired and sustained them.”
Elegy (2020): The title says it all. This single-movement work for solo violin is dedicated to the memory of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Memphis police after they burst into her apartment and started shooting on March 13, 2020.
The Down Low (2022): This three-movement work for baritone saxophone is dedicated to the memory of Harry Carney, the long-time baritone sax player in the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
The Calling (2019): This two-movement work for solo piano is dedicated to our pianist, Alison Cerutti. The main theme of the second movement is inspired by the melodies of African-American spirituals.
This Time (2022): This is a single-movement work for all five of our musicians and was written specifically for this concert. Much of the music in it was inspired by blues and jazz and is “dedicated to all those who work tirelessly for racial equity and justice”.
CREATORS AND PERFORMERS
Originally from Seattle Washington, Spoken Word Poet/Emcee and Teaching Artist Rajnii Eddins has been engaging diverse community audiences for over 30 years. He was the youngest member of the Afrikan American Writers Alliance at age 11 and has been actively sharing with youth and community in Vermont since 2010.
Rajnii’s diverse talents and passions allow him to offer a wide variety of powerful experiences that foster connection, learning, and mutual growth. He thrives at creating spaces that are educational, explorative, and celebratory, whether in a classroom, a conference hall, a community center, or online.
Composer Erik Nielsen has written two operas, A Fleeting Animal (2015) and Aliceheimer’s (2022). He has also created music for chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, solo instruments, chamber music, dance works, film scores and electronic music. His pieces have been performed all over the world by ensembles including A Far Cry, the Amabile, Chiara, Emerson and Ying String Quartets; the Vermont Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra. He has won awards from ASCAP, the National Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Music Teachers Association. Erik was inducted into the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. He lives in Brookfield, Vermont.
Alison Bruce Cerutti, pianist, has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Vermont, in Canada with Elizabeth Reid; and as a pianist for Louis Moyse’s flute masterclasses in the U.S. and France. Over the past year, Cerutti has performed a series of solo concerts, including appearances in the Plainfield Opera House series and the Frank Suchomel Memorial Arts Center piano concert series. She also premiered excerpts from Aliceheimer’s, an opera by Dana Walrath and Erik Nielsen and recorded Women of Aeronautics by Danielle O’Hallisey with TURNmusic. Cerutti has collaborated in a viola-piano duo with her friend and colleague Elizabeth Reid since 2004, which led to ensembles such as the Cerutti-Reid Duo, Arioso, with contralto Linda Radtke, and the Northern Third Piano Quartet, with violinist Sofia Hirsch and cellist John Dunlop.
Hilary Goldblatt lives in Montpelier where she enjoys teaching instrumental music students at Main Street Middle School and Montpelier High School. Together with Erik Nielsen, she has established a very successful annual composition residency and performance as a highlight of the curriculum. As a flutist, she loves playing in the Middlebury Opera Orchestra, TURNmusic, Saturn People’s Sound Collective, and musical theater productions at several Vermont high schools. Skiing and sailing are two favorite Vermont pastimes enjoyed with her husband and sons.
Violinist, educator and curator Jane Kittredge holds Bachelor and Masters of Music degrees from the Mannes College of Music under the tutelage of Sally Thomas, Lucie Robert, Laurie Smukler and Garrett Fischbach. Her solo performance engagements, orchestral tours and chamber festival appearances have brought her across the United States, throughout Mexico, London, Beijing, Italy, Canada and the French Alps. A native of Vermont, Jane can be seen and heard performing with numerous regional ensembles including the Vermont Symphony and Springfield Symphony. An avid educator, Jane is an Artist Faculty member at the University of Vermont and maintains a small private studio in Shelburne.
Educator and woodwind musician Dan Liptak is a graduate of the Hartt School, and currently teaches band at the Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury VT. Equally versed in Jazz, classical and contemporary music, Dan has toured throughout Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. Recent performances have included playing with the Middlebury Opera Company, Eleva Chamber Players, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and TURNmusic.
Kyle Saulnier performs on acoustic and electric bass, as well as the baritone saxophone and woodwind doubles, specializing in creative, composer-driven projects that blur the lines of traditional genre. He lives in Monkton with his wife, violinist Brooke Quiggins, as well as two high-maintenance cats, and his chili recipe is not for sale.
Bill and Elizabeth Arsenault
Dr. Kenneth Borie
Sally Cargill and Richard Mansfield
Stephen Falbel and Lindsey Warren
Betsy and Rich Hale
Allen and Heide Horsley
Linda and Richard Miller
George and Linda Milne
Amalia di Stefano
Alan and Karen Zaur
With apologies to those whose contributions arrived too late to
be included in the program