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The Eastman School premieres "How Bright the Sunlight" as part of its Centennial year

Bright Sunlight
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
(Growing Native is a four-part series focused on reclaiming traditional Native ways.)

Join us on Monday, December 5, 2022 at 7:30 PM in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre as the Eastman School of Music presents a very special world premiere! The Eastman Philharmonia, conducted by Timothy Long, will present Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis' "How Bright the Sunlight," a work for symphony orchestra and narrator, with a libretto curated by the first Native American US Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. Watch a video teaser below.

Haudenosaunee Clans
Clans of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy

Early in 2022, the Eastman School of Music was awarded a $15,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts, to support a commission project as part of the School's Centennial year. The project, which Dean Jamal Rossi said would "play a role in diversifying the repertoire of orchestral music," will feature a new composition by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Anthony Davis, titled How Bright the Sunlight, with a libretto curated by Poet Laureat Joy Harjo.

Rossi went on to say, "we are confident that this work will resonate far beyond the walls of the Eastman Theatre."

Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Anthony Davis
Courtesy of the artist
Composer and pianist Anthony Davis, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

The newly commissioned work, which will premier in Kodak Hall on Monday, December 5, 2022, is written for symphony orchestra and narrator, highlighting Haudenosaunee texts.

The Iroquois, officially the Haudenosaunee, are an Iroquoian-speaking confederacy of First Nations peoples in northeast North America/Turtle Island. The Eastman School of Music stands on land which was part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee welcome you as you explore the unique culture held close to the hearts of their people.

Internationally recognized composer of operatic, symphonic, choral and chamber works, Anthony Davis is of Afro-American descent.

Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate
Photograph by Shawn Miller / Library of Congress / NYT / Redux
Joy Harjo, though very much a poet of America, extracts from her own personal and cultural touchstones a more galactal understanding of the world, and her poems become richer for it.

Librettist for the work is Joy Harjo, the first Native American to hold the position of U.S. Poet Laureate.

The premier will feature Harjo as narrator along with the Eastman Philharmonia under the baton of conductor Timothy Long, a pianist and conductor of Muscogee Creek and Choctaw descent who is Music Director of Opera at Eastman School of Music.

Timothy Long, conductor ESM Opera
Timothy Long is a pianist and conductor of Muscogee Creek and Choctaw descent who is Music Director of Opera at Eastman School of Music.

Additional opportunities to hear from Anthony Davis, free and open to the public:

Sunday, December 4; 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.; Eastman East Wing (EEW), Room 415: Conversation and Q&A with Composer Anthony Davis

Monday, December 5; 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.; Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre: Pre-Concert Conversation with Composer Anthony Davis, and Conductor Timothy Long; Moderated by Peter and Ansley Jemison from Ganondagan

Monday, December 5; 7:30 p.m.; Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre: Eastman Philharmonia World Premiere of Davis’ How Bright the Sunlight, conducted by Timothy Long. Also on the program: Rossini’s Barber of Seville: Overture and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, conducted by Neil Varon.