The Castle of Our Skins/Black Student Union Intercollegiate Festival 2023 proved to be a delightful and enlightening journey for this journalist. The festival, featuring the talents of the Black Student Union's 8 Fellows, delivered a profound performance that explored the black futures encompassing life, music, social change, and humanity. Through their eloquent words and captivating music selections, these fellows eloquently voiced the future of Black composers and musicians, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.
The festival's theme, "Black," drew inspiration from Octavia Butler's "Parables of the Soul," a nod to the beloved black science fiction writer whose work has been cherished for over two decades. The Fellows of Castle of Our Skins hailed from esteemed musical institutions such as The New England Conservatory of Music, Boston Conservatory, Berkeley, and Longie School of Music. Each of these talented musicians embarked on a personal journey to prepare for this exceptional concert, showcasing the future of young Black composers and musicians. With precision and passion, each musician and vocalist harnessed their expertise to craft a narrative of the future, one illuminated by their unique vision and creative employment of technology.
The performance of "Aware: Where Are We?" by Deshaun Gordon King on the flute transported the audience to soulful, introspective spaces. Throughout the event, the importance of teamwork, grounding, and the creation of safe spaces for artistic expression resonated with the audience. Thought-provoking questions about the future of Black musicians and composers were posed, such as "What do you imagine for yourself?" DeShawn G. King eloquently expressed the role of Black artists in shaping identity through fashion. Additionally, the Fellows contemplated the possibilities for their communities and the world of composition and orchestration, especially for young Black girls.
The question, "Is music a form of technology?" elicited compelling responses from the Fellows. Jennifer Jordan highlighted that music serves as a medium for expressing thoughts and emotions and can be seen as a form of technological innovation, shaped by the culture and technology of its time.
As the festival progressed, the Fellows contemplated the future soundscape, envisioning a world filled with energy and innovation. Their readings from Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower" added depth to the exploration of change, purpose, and destiny, reinforcing the festival's theme of "Black Futures."
In summary, the Castle of Our Skins/Black Student Union Intercollegiate Festival 2023 was an inspiring and thought-provoking event that celebrated the rich talents of young Black composers and musicians. It not only paid homage to Octavia Butler's legacy but also offered a glimpse into the exciting and promising future of Black artists in the world of music and beyond.
Date: April 1, 2023