Funeral Doom Spiritual.

Friday, February 9, 2024,

Collins Cinema, Wellesley College, 106 Central St, Wellesley, Massachusetts

A performance by 2023 Lunder Institute for American Art and Colby Arts Office visiting fellow, performance art fellow and Summer Think Tank 2023 participant M. Lamar as part of the Taking the White Gloves Off Performance Art Series in Honor of Lorraine O’Grady, a partnership with the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art, and the Colby Arts Office.

 M. Lamar continues to grapple with European forms like surrealism and opera, filtering them through a Black US musical tradition, starting with the spiritual. Indeed much of the inspiration for Funeral Doom Spiritual are African American spirituals that focus on New Testament themes of end-times and the rapture. “I am very interested in reading these doomsday songs through a 21st century lens. I have called these ‘the Doom Spiritual.’”  “In the hands of a Wagnerian soprano like Jessye Norman, the spiritual, which is already about soul awakening, transfigures yet again into another form of superhuman soul making.” It is in that spirit that I have composed Funeral Doom Spiritual to call and response songs like “Hush Somebody Calling My Name” “My Lord What a Morning” and “O Graveyard.”

M. Lamar is a composer who works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture and installation to craft sprawling narratives of radical becomings. Lamar holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and attended the Yale School of Art, sculpture program, before dropping out to pursue music. Lamar’s work has been presented internationally, most recently at The Rewire Festival in The Hague, Trauma Bar Berlin, Atrium na Žižkově Prague, The Manhattan School of Music, Wellcome Collection London, The Cloisters at The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, Funkhaus Berlin Germany, Kunstgebäude Stuttgart, The Meet Factory in Prague, National Sawdust New York, The Kitchen New York, MoMa PS1’s Greater New York, Merkin Hall, New York, Issue Project Room New York, The Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco; Human resources, Los Angeles;Wesleyan University; Participant Inc., New York; New Museum, New York; Södra Teatern, Stockholm; Warehouse9, Copenhagen; WWDIS Fest, Gothenburg and Stockholm; The International Theater Festival, Donzdorf, Germany; Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York; Performance Space 122, New York; and African American Art & Culture Complex, San Francisco; among others. Mr. Lamar continues to study classical and bel canto technique with Ira Siff, and is a recipient of a 2016 Jerome Fund Grant for New Music (JFund), a 2016 NYFA Fellowship in Music and Sound and grants from Material Vodka 2016, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation (2015), Harpo Foundation (2014-2015), and Franklin Furnace Fund (2013–14).

Visit the Davis Museum’s event page for more information. 

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