Oracle by Kendrick Scott
Two shows remain in its current season, but Da Camera – the Houston-based chamber music and jazz organization – has announced its 2022/23 season. The performances that will take place during the season will represent music with a global and hyper-local perspective. Among those with close ties will be “Unearthed”, a world premiere of a new work by Kendrick Scott. A native of Houston and a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Scott became a first-call jazz drummer, appearing in numerous sessions while cultivating his own career as a bandleader.
Scott’s new work is inspired by “Sugar Land 95,” the remains of which were discovered in 2018 when groundbreaking began for the James Reese Career and Technical Center at Fort Bend ISD. Those found were inmates of the Bullhead Convict Labor Camp and were part of a Texas program that rented prisoners from a local plantation for cheap labor in the years following the Civil War.
Da Camera’s artistic director, Sarah Rothenberg, usually sets a theme for a season. The upcoming season touches on the theme of memory, into which Scott’s work fits.
“There’s nothing you could consider more forgotten than people found in unmarked graves,” says Rothenberg. “We still don’t have names for these people.”
Scott came to Rothenberg with the idea when news of the discovery broke. “There’s something about a terrible story like this, you can make a documentary or read about it in the paper,” Rothenberg says. “But having someone like Kendrick create a work of art brings a very direct emotional power to an audience, some of whom may not know anything about the convict rental system that has gone on in places like Sugar Land.”
Scott’s premiere will be an expansive piece that includes the Harlem String Quartet, his jazz quartet (which includes another Houstonian in saxophonist Walter Smith III), as well as two other locals: poet Deborah Mouton and artist Robert Hodge.
Other jazz artists included in the upcoming season include Branford Marsalis, Miguel Zenón, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Christian McBride. The two-day Summerjazz event will return in August with performances from Jazzmeia Horn, Pedrito Martínez and Joshua Redman.
On the chamber music side, music and poetry will nestle together thanks to a collaboration between Da Camera and Inprint, the Houston-based literary arts organization. “True Life: A Celebration of Poet Adam Zagajewski” pays tribute to an internationally renowned Polish poet who died last year. Zagajewski for years taught poetry in the creative writing program at the University of Houston.
Rothenberg will play piano with cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton at the event. She says the show will be “mostly short musical works intertwined with Adam’s poetry, which includes a wonderful new book – so it’s not just about remembering but also about discovering”.
Two takes on Bach illustrate the breadth of Da Camera’s programming. Pianist Jeremy Denk will finally bring here a pandemic-delayed rendition of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’, while Bach’s work will receive a new set of tonic arrangements from baroque ensemble Ruckus who will be joined by flautist Emi Ferguson for “Fly the Coop: Music by JS Bach. Rothenberg calls the ensemble “innovative and dynamic” and says they help show the connections between baroque music and jazz.
Other performers in the chamber music series include Emanuel Ax, the Juilliard String Quartet, the Ensemble Intercontemporain (debuting in Texas), and the Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt Trio.
Rothenberg is particularly enthusiastic about a performance by the Silk Road Ensemble of a work he commissioned: Osvaldo Golijov’s ‘Falling Out of Time’, which she calls “a fantastic work that draws on the music of so many geographical regions and heritages”.
Subscription packages are on sale. For tickets and venues, visit dacamera.com.
Houston Summerjazz (all three shows at Wortham Theater Center):
Jazzmeia Horn, August 19; Pedrito Martínez Group, August 20; Joshua Redman, August 20
Da Camera season 2022/23:
Gil Shaham with Akira Eguchi, October 14; Jeremy Denk, October 17-18; Branford Marsalis Quartet, November 4; “Revelation Music for Just Intonation” by Michael Harrison, November 5; Meta4, November 14-15; Sullivan Fortner, December 5-6; Juilliard String Quartet, January 13, 2023; Miguel Zenón Quartet, January 21; Cécile McLorin Salvant, February 10; Ruckus with Emi Ferguson, Feb. 18; “True Life: A Celebration of Poet Adam Zagajewski,” Feb. 27; Sonia Wieder-Atherton and Sarah Rothenberg, February 28; Christian McBride and New Jawn, March 3; Ensemble Intercontemporain with Matthias Pintscher, March 23; Trio Tetzlaff-Tetzlaff-Vogt, March 30; Osvaldo Golijov, “Falling out of time”, April 15-16; Emanuel Axe, April 22, Kendrick Scott, “Unearthed”, May 12