Don's Weekly: Harvard is insufficiently woke for one "undefinable artist"
From time to time, the spirit moves me to deviate from the usual Weekly Listen or long form formats. Typically, it does so when I read some piece of music news so surpassingly absurd that I simply must share it. Last week, that happened when I stumbled upon an article on the departure of the self-described “undefinable” bassist and vocalist esperanza spalding (decapitalization her own, regrettably) from the university.
spalding, winner of five Grammy Awards, a “collaborative partner” of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and an undeniably brilliant musician, was first hired by Harvard in 2017 as a Professor of Practice in Music. Since then, she has taught undergraduate courses with titles like “(re)Facing (g)Odds: Black Improvisational Music and Dance” and hosted frequent jam sessions with students outside of class. For those hoping to understand the artistic world into which spalding has initiated Harvard’s undergraduates, here is a helpful précis of her musical philosophy from the Harvard Music Department website:
esperanza spalding aims to ignite and portray various hues of vital human energies through composition, singing, bass playing and live performance, with the intention of offering these sound-energies as an aide for connecting with latent portals of unity consciousness and health. She has aptly named her musical style “what it is.”
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial