Yale Glee Club, YSO, Yale Bands to present Project 14 in support of Black Lives Matter
The project consists of 14 prerecorded pieces, performed by a pool of musicians from the Yale Concert Band, Yale Jazz Ensembles, Yale Precision Marching Band, Yale Glee Club and Yale Symphony Orchestra.
Courtesy of Jeff Douma
For this year’s family weekend — from Oct. 8 to Oct. 10 — the Yale Glee Club, Yale Symphony Orchestra and Yale Bands will come together to produce Project 14: a project featuring works by Black composers and composers of color in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The project consists of 14 prerecorded pieces, performed by a pool of musicians from the Yale Concert Band, Yale Jazz Ensembles, Yale Precision Marching Band, Yale Glee Club and Yale Symphony Orchestra. Each piece is between 3 and 8 minutes long and will be recorded in a different residential college courtyard, selected at random. Nine of the pieces were newly commissioned or are being premiered for this project, including Joel Thompson’s “Meditation,” Ayanna Woods’ “Ode to Passerby,” Angélica Negrón’s “Paradise” and Derrick Skye’s “Glimpse Elation.”
“I am so happy that this special commissioning project marks the collective emergence of the Glee Club, Symphony, Bands from our pandemic silence,” Jeffrey Douma, Yale Glee Club director, told the News. “Joel, Ayanna, Angélica and Derrick are four of the most exciting individual voices in the world of concert music today, and it is a privilege for us to be able to work with them to bring their musical visions to life and to add these important pieces to the repertoire.”
Thomas Duffy, director of University Bands at Yale, said this project reflects their commitment to presenting and maintaining pioneering programs that are “diverse, inclusive and innovative.” The Yale Bands’ history of commissioned composers includes only two Black composers.
Douma, who will conduct three pieces, said the Yale Glee Club began rehearsals for Project 14 last weekend. Douma said the new works are challenging in different ways, but he is confident that students will enjoy rehearsing and raising awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m glad to see an effort to bring awareness to racial injustice through performance,” YSO oboist Matthew Miller ’24 said. “This project is an important early step in the work to uplift Black voices through classical music.”
Duffy said that since most pieces were composed for smaller ensembles, it was challenging to include all musicians in the final project. But Duffy noted that the band committee tried to include “as many players as possible.”
Though Duffy admitted that producing 14 recordings in 14 residential colleges over the course of a week will be difficult, he hopes these courtyard recording sessions will allow students and staff members in every college to appreciate “highly talented student musicians” perform.
Due to Yale’s health and safety precautions, all family weekend events, including Project 14, will be held virtually. Project 14 is set to be released as a video on the weekend.
Correction, Sept. 20: A previous version of this story stated that four pieces are commissioned and being premiered as part of Project 14. In fact, nine of the pieces are new commissions or premieres. The article has been updated.