COMMISSIONED FOR THE SHEPHERD SCHOOL OF MUSIC AT RICE, IN COLLABORATION WITH CARNEGIE HALL
Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness is a groundbreaking multidisciplinary performance that merges visual art, music, dance, movement, and spoken word to create an urgent new language for collective expression. Inspired by James Drake’s epic drawing of the same title, the immersive performance includes a score by renowned composer Gabriela Ortiz, text by award-winning author Benjamin Sáenz, and 24 singers from the Grammy-winning choir, The Crossing conducted by Donald Nally.
James Drake (b. Lubbock, Texas, 1946) is an interdisciplinary artist currently working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His drawings, video, sculpture, photography, printmaking and installations, investigate the human condition, emotions, and systems of communication, oftentimes through allegory to underscore the cyclical nature of history. Drake received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Master of Fine Arts degree from the Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, California. He is the recipient of numerous awards, which include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Grants, and a Nancy Graves Award for Visual Arts.
Latin Grammy nominated Gabriela Ortiz is one of the foremost composers in Mexico today, and one of the most vibrant musicians emerging in the international scene. Her musical language achieves an extraordinary and expressive synthesis of tradition and the avant-garde; combining high art, folk music and jazz in novel, frequently refined and always personal ways. Her compositions are credited for being both entertaining and immediate as well as profound and sophisticated; she achieves a balance between highly organized structure and improvisatory spontaneity.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children's books.
He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humanities and Philosophy in 1977. He studied Theology at the University of Louvain in Leuven, Belgium from 1977 to 1981. He was a priest for a few years in El Paso, Texas before leaving the order.
Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure.
His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly—a diversion program for system-impacted youth at the arts nonprofit Recess, where he is Co-Director—is participatory and invested in a process of embodiment.
Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. He received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and is a recipient of support from Creative Capital, Guggenheim Social Practice, Art for Justice and A Blade of Grass. His work has been featured at The Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, and New Museum, and profiled in the New York Times and CNN. His solo exhibition, The Breath of Empty Space, was presented at MICA, MASS MoCA and The Bronx Museum. And his first major public art commission, Between Four Freedoms, premiered at Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, in the fall of 2021.
The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir.
Many of its nearly 160 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues. With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 29 releases, receiving three Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019, 2023), and eight Grammy nominations.
Alejandro Escuer (Mexico, 1963) is a Mexican multidisciplinary artist and flutist who has developed his own artistic and visual foundations on music interpretation and music composition, which has had an impact on his concerts and recordings. He's at ease performing as a soloist with symphony orchestra or only recitals with piano, guitar, electronics, percussion, multimedia or ensemble. He has captivated audiences with his commitment to and delight in performing a unique selection of original works, ranging from the masterpieces of all times to Latin American works and his own compositions and improvisations.