29 Oct

Free Online Concert Explores Intersection Between Overlooked Composers of African Descent in Europe & Free Black Community of Bridgeport’s Little Libera.

Beginning November 7 featuring a performance by the American Baroque Orchestra in Partnership with Housatonic Museum of Art.

On Saturday, November 7, the American Baroque Orchestra (ABO) in partnership with the Housatonic Museum of Art will present a free online video performance entitled, “Little Liberia: Music from their Front Porch.” The concert will go online at 11:00 AM and can be viewed from the Housatonic Museum of Art’s website, www.HousatonicMuseum.org.

The program was recorded in the Housatonic Museum of Art’s Burt Chernow Galleries on Friday, October 23rd, and took inspiration from the currently running exhibition “Little Liberia” and an exhibition on view at that time, sculptor Rachel Owens’ “The Hypogean Tip,” which explored Bridgeport’s past, including Little Liberia. “The Hypogean Tip” exhibition was comprised of sculptures, such as large-scale casts of jewel-toned colored glass from the porch of the home of Mary Freeman (listed on the National Register of Historic Places).

The performance brings together the history of Bridgeport's Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses with music of the 17th through 19th centuries, highlighting overlooked composers of African descent. Just as the front porches of Little Liberia served as platforms for community discussion, the online performance imagines the intersection between inspired and accomplished composers of African descent who flourished in Europe, and the free black community that built Bridgeport's Little Liberia in the early 19th century.

The program will include music and melodies from the historic Little Liberia community, as well as composers including Joseph Bologne (1745-1799), George Bridgetower (1778-1860), and Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), who also happened to be the first person of African heritage to vote in a British election.

“The early 19th century Bridgeport neighborhood Little Liberia was a safe haven for free Blacks, runaway enslaved persons from southern states, and individuals from Native American tribes in Connecticut. Front porches were a gathering place, and this concert captures the spirit of that gone but not forgotten community,” said Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art.

The concert was developed by ABO Artistic Director Mark Bailey, ABO Associate Artistic Director Kevin Sherwin, and ABO Concertmaster, Edson Scheid. A permanent link to the concert will be available at www.americanbaroqueorchestra.com/littleliberia.

About the Housatonic Museum of Art

Housatonic Museum of Art is located on the Housatonic Community College campus, located at 900 Lafayette Blvd. in Bridgeport. It is home to one of the premier college art collections in the country, spanning the history of art from the ancient to the contemporary, and is on continuous display throughout the 300,000 square foot facility. The museum also hosts changing exhibitions in the Burt Chernow Galleries, and engaging lectures, workshops, films, special events and programs throughout the year, both in person and online. Visit www.HousatonicMuseum.org to learn more.

About American Baroque Orchestra

The American Baroque Orchestra (ABO) continually seeks to unlock and explore the hidden and fullest expressive potential of 17th, 18th, and early 19th century musical treasures, both well-known and forgotten. ABO members and leaders actively introduce new audiences to classical music, often with a focus on overlooked composers of diverse backgrounds. As well, ABO has an ongoing relationship with the New Haven Public School System, providing interactive educational programs in classical music for students at the Ross Woodward, Betsy Ross, and Wintergreen Magnet Schools.

Since its founding in 2010, ABO has presented a wide range of concert and educational programs, partnering with numerous cross-cultural organizations. These partnerships and collaborations have included concerts and workshops presented with the following schools in New Haven, Connecticut: Ross Woodward Magnet School, Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School, and the Wintergreen Interdistrict Magnet School. Additionally, ABO has presented concerts for the Town Municipality of North Haven, Connecticut; the Chatham Historical Society in Chatham, Massachusetts; the Sundays at 5 Concert Series in Ansonia, Connecticut; Yale University; St. Paul’s Children’s Choir in Fairfield, Connecticut; Falmouth Chamber Players in Falmouth, Massachusetts; Pacific Collegiate School in in Santa Cruz, California; Penfield High School in Penfield, New York.

All of ABO's concert presentations and lectures align with the goal of presenting music in a way that connects with people today through the historical circumstances and cultures of the past. Beginning in 2016, the American Baroque Orchestra presented its first Summer Choral Festival, geared toward the education about the history and performance practices of the past. Following the 2016 Festival entitled “Choral Gems of Baroque Italy,” in New Haven, Connecticut, the organization was invited to present this program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The American Baroque Orchestra has had the opportunity to serve a diverse range of audiences throughout New England, New York, and the West Coast. ABO’s takes a particular interest in connecting with audiences who are new as listeners to historically-informed performance and its educational components. The majority of our concerts are free and open to the public, enabling individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds to be exposed to the magnificent qualities of historical music and its cultural relevance today. Furthermore, the American Baroque Orchestra fosters openness and diversity through its programming of composers from near-forgotten cultures, promoting an attitude of cultural acceptance today.

Caption For Photo Above: On November 7th enjoy a free online performance by the American Baroque Orchestra in the Housatonic Museum of Art galleries entitled, “Little Liberia: Music from their Front Porch.” www.HousatonicMuseum.org