Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine

  • Julia Bullock. Courtesy of The International Contemporary Ensemble. 


  1. May 2, 2019, 7:30 – 8:30 pm
Level 3, Bookshop

In conjunction with Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine presented by Harvard University Music Department, is a talk at the Carpenter Center Bookshop on May 2  with curator Naomi Beckwithvocalist Julia Bullock, director Peter Sellars, composer Tyshawn Sorey will speak about Perle Noire its unique and poignant take on the iconic Josephine Baker and her brilliance, public courage, and private tragedies.

Conceived by Peter Sellars, with original music by Tyshawn Sorey and texts by Claudia Rankine, ​Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine​ is an 85-minute, staged, one-act song-cycle featuring Julia Bullock as vocal soloist and living embodiment of the spirit of Joséphine Baker. Composer Tyshawn Sorey is joined by the International Contemporary Ensemble in an instrumental sextet that weaves composed music and improvisation together to create a seamless interplay between song, spoken word, dance, and contemplative instrumental interludes.

The May 3rd performance Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine is presented at the Oberon. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. For more information, visit Harvard University Music Department

Naomi Beckwith

Naomi Beckwith is the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, where her exhibition and book projects focus on the impact of identity and multi-disciplinary practices for shaping contemporary art. Prior to the MCA, Beckwith held positions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Her numerous exhibitions include The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now and 30 Seconds off an Inch, both considering the persistent resonance of black cultural practices across contemporary art internationally. She has been an early champion of such rising artists as Rashid Johnson, Jimmy Robert, Keren Cytter, The Propeller Group, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Beckwith has contributed to numerous publications and served on the jury of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. She holds a BA in History from Northwestern University and an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute in London.

Julia Bullock

Soprano Julia Bullock is celebrated as one of today’s most creative voices before the public. Recent opera highlights include The Rake's Progress (Dutch National Opera, Festival d'Aix en Provence), Girls of the Golden West (Dutch National Opera, San Francisco Opera), and Doctor Atomic (Santa Fe Opera). On concert and recital stages, Julia Bullock has appeared throughout the world having performed with the philharmonics of Berlin, Los Angeles, and New York as well as with the symphonies of Boston, London, and Sydney.  Julia Bullock is a founding core member of the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) and this season is Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Peter Sellars

Opera, theater and festival director Peter Sellars is known for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of classical works, from Sophocles to Mozart, and for collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative artists. He has worked extensively in the field of 20th-century and contemporary opera, including works by Messiaen, Ligeti and Saariaho. A long time collaborator of composer John Adams, they have worked together on the operas Nixon in ChinaThe Death of KlinghofferEl NiñoDoctor Atomic, A Flowering TreeThe Gospel According to the Other Mary, and, most recently, Girls of the Golden West

Tyshawn Sorey

Newark-born multi-instrumentalist and composer Tyshawn Sorey is celebrated for his incomparable virtuosity and an extraordinary ability to blend composition and improvisation in his work. He has performed nationally and internationally with his own ensembles, as well as with numerous luminaries from a wide variety of musical backgrounds. Sorey's latest recording project, Pillars, has been praised by Rolling Stone as "an immersive soundworld… sprawling, mysterious… thrilling" and has been named as one of BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction 2018 albums of the year. Sorey was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 2017 and holds the position of Assistant Professor of Composition and Creative Music at Wesleyan University

The International Contemporary Ensemble

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, ICE explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The ensemble’s 35 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. 

A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, ICE was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artists in residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for ICE. Read more at