Home Is In Your Heart – A Night in Treme
Editor’s Note: UMS will present “A Night in Treme:The Musical Majesty of New Orleans,” a night of New Orleans jazz featuring the Rebirth Brass Band, this Friday, November 11 at Hill Auditorium. The following note is from Leo Sacks, who is directing a feature documentary about the New Orleans gospel sensation Raymond Myles. After Katrina, he created The New Orleans Social Club and produced the group’s acclaimed Sing Me Back Home. He recently produced Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her first pop recording.
The heavens opened and the storm waters surged and the bowl began to fill, and our favorite street paraders, and piano ticklers, and rhythm-and-blues singers, and funkateers, and trumpeteers were scattered to the winds.
They wondered whether they would ever go home or would want to. For some it was a test of faith. Do you rebuild? Can you afford to? Can you afford not to? Will the future be friendly? Others saw it as an opportunity to reaffirm their trust in the infinite wisdom of the universe.
They are more than musicians. They are healers, and from the Diaspora of musical genius they have come together to heal themselves.
Some of them will be here this Friday.
Their stories are told on Treme, the HBO drama that follows a group of locals as they pick up the pieces in the months after the levees failed in 2005. Treme is about people who found the grace to return to their silent streets and look beyond the desolation, and believed that their lives were turned upside down for some divine reason.
This Friday, the gathered ones have come to play, for family and friends, for the displaced and the forgotten, for their elders and ancestors in the Spirit World.
“If you don’t return to the roots of a tree, it won’t be there anymore,” Donald Harrison, Jr., the saxophonist and cultural anthropologist who is also this Friday’s music director, says. “From these roots, the fruit grows all over the world.”
This Friday, we can smell the fragrance of sweet jasmine and gardenias instead of the mold and mud. This Friday, we celebrate how these musical healers have worked through their rage and fear and frustration and heartbreak and heartache—their defiance and devotion and the vulnerability.
Slowly, these musicians have rebuilt the Old Neighborhood, even if it isn’t there anymore, exactly. Today in Treme, the music prevails.
UMS on Film Series
Every summer, we come up with about three dozen companion-films to the UMS main-stage season. We’ve narrowed the list to five this year – two in the fall, and three in the winter. Each expands our understanding of artists and their cultures, and reveals emotions and ideas behind the creative process.
In the fall, the films highlight deep cultural expressions which grow from communities of shared heritage. In the winter, the films tie in with UMS’s PURE MICHIGAN RENEGADE series, which focuses on artistic innovation and experimentation. We’ve created a mini film festival, Pure Michigan Renegade on Film, to extend the renegade idea and explore other artists who have created new arts frontiers.
All films (except one! see below) are presented in the U-M Museum of Art Stern Auditorium (525 S. State Street) and are free and open to the public.
Pure Michigan Renegade on Film:
Helicopter String Quartet
(1995, Frank Sheffer, 81 min.)
Wednesday, March 7, 7:00 PM at the Michigan Theater (603 E. Liberty)
Tickets: $10 general admission; $7 students/seniors/UMS and Mich Theater members; $5 AAFF members
Purchase Tickets Here
The UMS Renegade on Film series culminates at the Michigan Theatre in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Film Festival (celebrating its 50th anniversary in March 2012!!). The curators at AAFF chose an amazing documentary that captures the renegade spirit and provides a fabulous lead-in to the San Francisco Symphony American Mavericks concerts. In one of the most certifiably eccentric musical events of the late 20th century, German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen designed and executed the performance: four string quartet members playing an original piece by Stockhausen in four separate helicopters, all flying simultaneously. The sound was then routed to a central location and mixed; the work premiered, in turn, at the 1995 Holland Festival. Frank Scheffer’s film Helicopter String Quartet depicts the behind-the-scenes preparations for this event; Scheffer also conducts and films an extended conversation with Stockhausen in which the creator discusses the conception and execution of his composition and then breaks it down analytically. Featuring music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, performed by the Arditti String Quartet. Co-presented with the Ann Arbor Film Festival in partnership with the Michigan Theater, in collaboration with the U-M Museum of Art.
Fauborg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans
(2008, Dawn Logsdon, 69 min.)
Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm
Connected with UMS’s presentation of A Night in Tremé: the Musical Majesty of New Orleans, this documentary follows Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans newspaperman on a tour of his city, a tour that becomes a reflection on the relevance of history, folded into a love letter to the storied New Orleans neighborhood, Faubourg Tremé. Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Tremé was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South during slavery, and it was also a hotbed of political ferment. In Faubourg Tremé, black and white, free and enslaved, rich and poor co-habitated, collaborated, and clashed to create America’s first Civil Rights movement and a unique American culture. Wynton Marsalis is the executive producer of the film, which also features an original jazz score by Derrick Hodge. Introducing the film is U-M American Culture faculty member Bruce Conforth, whom some may remember from last season’s series on American Roots music.
AnDa Union: From the Steppes to the City (with director Q&A)
(2011, Sophie Lascelles and Tim Pearce)
Tuesday, November 8, 7 pm
Before AnDa Union takes the stage at Hill Auditorium, filmmakers Sophie Lascelles and Tim Pearce will screen their new documentary, which follows the group of 14 musicians who all hail from the Xilingol Grassland area of Inner Mongolia. The film premieres at the London Film Festival on October 13, and Ann Arbor will be one of the first to screen it after its debut. AnDa Union is part of a musical movement that is finding inspiration in old and forgotten folk music from the nomadic herdsman cultures of Inner and Outer Mongolia, drawing on a repertoire of music that all but disappeared during China’s recent tumultuous past. Tim and Sophie will be here in Ann Arbor to introduce the film, and take audience questions after the screening.
(2006, Katharina Otto-Bernstein, 105 min.)
Tuesday, January 10, 7 pm
Absolute Wilson chronicles the epic life, times, and creative genius of theater director Robert Wilson. More than a biography, the film is an exhilarating exploration of the transformative power of creativity – and an inspiring tale of a boy who grew up as an outsider in the American South only to become a fearless artist with a profoundly original perspective on the world. The narrative reveals the deep connections between Wilson’s childhood experiences and the haunting beauty of his monumental works, which include the theatrical sensations “Deafman Glance,” “Einstein on the Beach” and “The CIVIL WarS.”
The Legend of Leigh Bowery (with director Q&A)
(2002, Charles Atlas, 60 min.)
Monday, February 13, 7 pm
Renegade filmmaker Charles Atlas (who worked extensively with the late choreographer Merce Cunningham) introduces his 2002 documentary The Legend of Leigh Bowery. Artist/designer/performer/provocateur Leigh Bowery designed costumes and performed with the enfant terrible of British dance Michael Clark, designed one-of-a-kind outrageous costumes and creations for himself, ran one of the most outrageous clubs of the 1980s London club scene (later immortalized in Boy George’s Broadway musical “Taboo”), and was the muse of the great British painter Lucian Freud. The film includes interviews with Damien Hirst, Bella Freud, Cerith Wyn Evans, Boy George, and his widow Nicola Bowery. Charles Atlas will participate in audience Q&A immediately following the film. This film is co-presented with the U-M Institute for the Humanities which hosts Charles Atlas’s video installation “Joints Array” in February 2012.