Challenge the Stats, a concert celebrating African American artists in classical music, dance, and film | April 17, 7:30pm

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Challenge the Stats
a concert celebrating African American artists in classical music, dance, and film
Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. 
Northeastern University’s Fenway Center
 
Presented by Northeastern University’s John D. O’Bryant African American Institute 
and College of Arts, Media, and Design
 
Conceived, curated by, and featuring African American harpist Angelica Hairston
with African American harpists Charles Overton, Mason Morton,
soprano Jasmine Robinson, violinist Tim Reynolds, and ballet dancer Michael Morris, Jr.
 
Program includes a premiere by filmmaker Harsha Menon 
and a special appearance by student musicians from Project STEP
Featured partner: The Museum of African American History
● Concert: Sunday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. Northeastern’s Fenway Center, 77 St. Stephen St., Boston
● Tickets: Free with a ticket RSVP at www.angelicahairston.com/challengethestats.
● Twitter Gathering: Monday, April 4, from 7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. EST #ChallengeTheStats
● Additional Information: www.angelicahairston.com/challengethestats
African American harpist Angelica Hairston will present a concert on Sunday, April 17, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. featuring harpists Charles Overton and Mason Morton, soprano Jasmine Robinson, violinist Tim Reynolds, ballet dancer Michael Morris, Jr., filmmaker Harsha Menon and musicians from Boston’s own Project STEP. The concert takes place at Northeastern University’s Fenway Center, located at 77 St. Stephen St, Boston, MA, 02115. The event is sponsored by the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute and the Northeastern University College of Art, Media, and Design. The Museum of African American History is the featured partner for the event. The concert is free with a ticket entry at www.angelicahairston.com/challengethestats.
The concert was conceived by Hairston as a course requirement and in conversation and collaboration with her professor, Margo Saulnier, after hearing of shocking statistics facing minorities in the fine arts: only 4.2% of United States’ orchestral musicians are black or Hispanic, less than 4% of opera audiences are African American, and less than 1% of compositions performed by American orchestras are by composers of color. As an advocate for diversity in the fine arts, Hairston will present an evening of music that celebrates some of the top conservatory trained African American artists in the city of Boston. The concert will include music and dance performances, moving film presentations and candid conversation from the performers about the adversities they have faced as African Americans in the fine arts and the broader context of racism in the United States.
In addition to the concert, Hairston is hosting a Twitter gathering on Monday, April 4, 2016 from 7:30pm-8:30pm with organizations that promote diversity and inclusion — Sphinx Organization and Boston’s own Project STEP. Using the hashtag, #ChallengeTheStats, Hairston aims to facilitate a Twitter conversation that brings forth tangible ideas and solutions for increasing diversity in the fine arts in the 21st century.
A passionate solo and chamber musician, Angelica Hairston holds a Bachelor of Music and a Harp Performance Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto, Canada) where she studied with world renowned harpist Judy Loman. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music Industry Leadership as a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellow at Northeastern University. She is an alumna of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute where she was inspired by Ann Hobson Pilot, the African American harpist who retired after 40 years with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Hairston was a 2011 Recipient of From the Top’s $10,000 Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award and a member of the highly-selective Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program for six years (2006-2011). She has attended summer music programs at the National Music Festival, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Saratoga Harp Colony, International Harp Academy of the Pacific in Powell River B.C. and the Judith Liber Harp Masterclass in Lake Como, Italy. She has performed concertos with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Montgomery Symphony, and the Daytona Solisti Chamber Orchestra. Angelica has a deep interest in creating platforms for minority musicians in the arts.
Hairston will share the stage with two internationally renowned harpists, Charles Overton (Berklee College of Music ‘16) and Mason Morton (Rice University ‘11, Boston University ‘15). Overton has played in venues from New York City’s Carnegie Hall to the Salle Gaveaux in Paris, France. His summer study includes the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Castleton Festival, the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Mission Jazz Artist Advance, and the Pacific Music Festival (Sapporo, Japan). Overton is currently a student at the Berklee College of Music studying under the tutelage of Felice Pomeranz and Jessica Zhou. He previously attended the Interlochen Arts Academy where he studied with Joan Raeburn Holland.
Mason Morton is a member of the Sons of Serendip, the Boston-based music group that reached the finals on Season 9 of America’s Got Talent.   The group recently released their second album and performed with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra under Keith Lockhart for the 42nd annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on July 4th, 2015. Morton holds a Bachelor of Music from Rice University and a Harp Performance Diploma from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. Mason’s primary harp mentors have been principal harpist of the Atlanta Ballet, Nella Rigell, and former principal harpist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ann Hobson Pilot.
Soprano Jasmine Robinson (Spelman ‘13, Boston Conservatory ‘14) holds a Bachelor of Music from Spelman College and a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from Boston Conservatory. She participated in the International Performing Arts Institute in Kiefersfelden, Germany, performing as Giselda in I Lombardi (Verdi) and Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte (Mozart).
Violinist Tim Reynolds (Berklee ‘16) is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Berklee College of Music. He has performed at Symphony Hall with the Berklee Contemporary Symphony Orchestra, the A.R. Rahman concert with the Berklee World Strings Ensemble, and at The Boston Opera House with Dream Theatre. He currently serves as Artist-In-Residence at Anchor Church.
Ballet dancer Michael Morris Jr. (Boston Conservatory ‘16) will receive a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance in May of 2016. While at The Boston Conservatory, he has had the distinct pleasure to perform works by Dwight Rhoden, Uri Sands, Karole Armitage, and Andrea Miller. Morris has also been invited to train as a scholarship student during the summer with the American Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet, and Miami City Ballet. He is a recipient of the Gold Medal of the NAACP ACT-SO competition and the Alfred & Patricia Houston Boston Conservatory Scholarship
Filmmaker Harsha Menon (Harvard ‘13, Northeastern ‘16) is currently pursuing her MFA in Studio Art at Northeastern University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston where she is a 2015 recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Graduate Fellowship. She holds a master’s from Harvard where she studied film and anthropology. Her work has screened internationally at film festivals including the Sundance Film Festival and the Venice Biennale. In Challenge the Stats, she will present a piece highlighting the role of art as a tool for social change.
Margo Saulnier (B.Mus., MFA) is committed to innovative and interdisciplinary programming, new audience development, community engagement, and making arts accessible to all. The range and breadth of her training was developed “on the court” in producing and programming over 4,000 live shows with incredible colleagues and collaborations at the Boston Pops and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. For the past few years she has worked in various capacities for Celebrity Series of Boston on three large-scale public outdoor projects, “Play Me I’m Yours” Boston Street Piano Festival, “Le Grand Continental” dance performance in Copley Square, and Let’s Dance Boston on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. She is currently planning the return engagement of the Boston Street Piano Festival, which will take place September 23 – October 10, 2016. She is a part-time lecturer in the Music Department at Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media, and Design, focusing primarily on Performing Arts Administration, as well as a course she created, Artistic Programming and Artist Relations.
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