Viriditas, Greenness — 17 March at 3:30

What a Neighborhood! celebrates Greenness!

In anticipation of spring, What a Neighborhood! seeds the Upper West Side with the opening of its fifteenth season celebrating local composers on Saturday, March 17, at 3:30 PM. Viriditas: Greenness, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 521 West 126th Street, will focus on plant metaphors in music, featuring songs by twelfth-century Abbess Hildegard von Bingen, new works by Hsueh-Yung Shen, Samuel Newsome, and Peter Homans, and commissions from Rosalie Burrell and Ishmael Wallace. Performers include the Orfeo Duo (Ishmael Wallace, piano and baritone, and Vita Wallace, violin and vielle), Dongmyung Ahn, vielle, and Samuel Newsome, soprano saxophone. Suggested donation: $10, but all are welcome.

There will be an exhibition of artwork by members of The Makers’ Guild of St Mary’s as well as an exquisite icon, Our Lady of Ferguson, on display. The audience is invited to swap seeds and meet the artists at a reception after the concert.

Samuel Newsome, who will be performing his own music, sees himself more along the lines of a visual artist who paints with notes and sounds rather than shapes and colors. “My music,” says Newsome, “is a type of improvisatory art music in which jazz functions more as a resource than a musical genre to be interpreted with stylistic specificity.” Even though Newsome’s approach is unorthodox, it has proven to be very fruitful—musically and critically. Mr. Newsome’s creative efforts have earned him the 2016 NYFA Artist’s Fellowship for the Music/Sound category; nomination for Soprano Saxophonist of the Year by the 2016 Jazz Journalist Association (JJA); and top placement in the Soprano Saxophone category in the 64th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll.

What a Neighborhood!, founded in 2003 by the Orfeo Duo (Vita and Ishmael Wallace), celebrates the creative spirit in Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Bloomingdale (the part of the Upper West Side just south of Morningside Heights, including the area known as Manhattan Valley) primarily through the music of living local composers. Its goals are: to encourage and inspire composers and other neighbors; to develop grassroots support for new American music; and to draw neighbors together, nurturing a vibrant community that includes all of the diversity of the area. Program offerings include mainly chamber music and songs, but also dance, poetry, art, and more.