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Syncretics Series: Pheeroan akLaff / Isabelle O'Connell
ISSUE Project Room
Brooklyn, NY
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Syncretics Series: Pheeroan akLaff / Isabelle O'Connell
On Saturday, May 5th, ISSUE Project Room continues its recently inaugurated Syncretics Series with solo performances by renowned Irish pianist Isabelle OConnell and legendary drum-set master Pheeroan akLaff. Curated by Chris McIntyre, Syncretics Series presents artists at the highest level of their craft performing music ranging from virtuosic improvisations to keenly focused programs of recent and contemporary repertoire.

The May 5th concert represents this stylistic sweep by pairing two esteemed musicians from varied points on the musical spectrum. OConnell is a stalwart of the contemporary concert music scene having premiered numerous works throughout her career, most notably championing Irish colleagues in performances around the world. Her program at ISSUE features several works by Irish composers (Donnacha Dennehy, Karen Power, James Mobberley) as well as selections from iconic American composer Frederic Rzewski who turns 80 in April.

akLaff is one of the premiere percussion artists in creative music. The list of his collaborators since the mid 1970s charts the history of the field. It includes such luminaries as Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Davis, Amina Claudine Myers, Sonny Sharrock, Henry Threadgill, and Cecil Taylor. His performance on May 5th is a rare occasion to experience his work as a soloist on the drum-set. Entitled Amen Sparks Soul Knowing Eternal Being, the audience is engaged to be part of the sound making while akLaff coaxes his drums and cymbals, drawing out their orchestral and rhythmic possibilities. By channelling the ethos of being a medium for music while refraining from any attempt to extract praise, akLaff imbues his work with ancient belief systems that address creativity as received rather than generated. ISSUEs 22 Boerum space provides the reverberative space best suited to such an intimate approach.


Isabelle OConnell - solo piano

Donnacha Dennehy - Reservoir (2007)
Karen Power - loaded silence (2015)
James Mobberley - Caution to the Winds (1987)
Frederic Rzewski - selections TBA

Pheeroan akLaff - solo percussion

Amen Sparks Soul Knowing Eternal Being (part of The Amen Project)

In 1975, Pheeroan akLaff made his first music on New York stages and began a recording career that has produced hundreds of recordings with innovative composers. He is the man behind the set of countless revolutionary artists, contributing four decades of a drumming language crafted to buoy the sensibilities of musician and listener alike. akLaffs own projects as a leader have included rock trio, jazz quartet, and large ensemble formats, as well as numerous solo performances. Inspired by drummer and John Coltrane collaborator Rashied Ali, having been introduced by leading historian Robert Ferris Thompson, Pheeroan made his initial music in New York and on international festivals with Wadada Leo Smith, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Amina Claudine Myers, as well as genre-stretching mentors Cecil Taylor, Dewey Redman, Andrew Hill, Tom Pierson, and Yamashita Yosuke. A native Detroiter, Pheeroan has used elements of his vast personal and professional experience to inform his drum and cymbal orchestrations. He has lived and worked in the African nations of Ivory Coast and Nigeria, and has extensively toured Japan for over three decades. akLaff currently teaches at Wesleyan University and leads workshops worldwide. He is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit arts organization Seed Artists which was formed while raising his daughter in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Now living in Montclair, NJ, he has worked with Creative Director Chris Naiperala, the Montclair Public Library, Montclair State University, William Patterson University, 73 See Gallery, and National Jazz Museum of Harlem where he produces events to stimulate and inform an inter-generational community.

Since her Carnegie Hall debut recital in 2002, pianist Isabelle O'Connell has developed an international career as soloist and chamber musician that has taken her around the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, to venues such as Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Cleveland Museum of Art, Detroit Art Institute, the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, St Davids Hall, Cardiff and the National Concert Hall, Ireland. Isabelle is co-founder of Grand Band, a piano sextet described by the New York Times as: "six of the finest, busiest pianists active in New York's contemporary-classical scene. Isabelle has performed as concerto soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. She has also performed with Crash ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, Da Capo Chamber Players, the ConTempo and New Zealand String Quartets and is a member of the Friends of MATA ensemble. Composers she has worked with include John Adams, John Luther Adams, Morton Subotnick, Meredith Monk, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, Kevin Volans, Donnacha Dennehy, Dan Trueman, Bunita Marcus, amongst many others. Isabelle has recorded for the Diatribe, Innova and Lyric fm labels. Her debut solo album RESERVOIR released in 2010 features solo piano music by nine contemporary Irish composers and for this The New Yorker hailed her as "the young Irish piano phenom". She recorded Kevin Volans' Concerto for Piano and Winds with the RTE NSO in 2014. A former Fulbright scholar, Isabelle holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She is currently on the piano faculty at Bard College, NY.


ISSUE Project Room (View)
22 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States


Music > Experimental

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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