Artist in Residence Ashleigh Gordon
A great musician can build a rapport with an audience in just a few notes. So, imagine the connections that can be created when that artist sustains that engagement with an audience across months and years. That is the goal of the BMC Residency Program, which generates new experiences and fosters understanding between musical artists of color, local people, and our communities.
We’re delighted to be collaborating with our new Artist in Residence, violist Ashleigh Gordon, selected last summer. This accomplished and award-winning musician has recorded and performed with leading ensembles and orchestras across the globe. Among her many endeavors and accomplishments, she is an instructor of Music Artistry at the Longy School of Music at Bard College, and the co-founder and Artistic/Executive Director of Castle of our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational series celebrating Black Artistry through music.
Gordon’s two-year tenure includes working with BMC faculty, ensemble leaders, and students to develop curriculum and programming featuring lesser-known musicians and composers of color. As the BMC’s 2021-22 season continues, Ashleigh has successfully worked with the BMC to expand current curriculum and performance programs featuring African diasporic composers.
“The BMC community is incredibly generous and welcoming,” says Gordon. “I’ve had a great time getting to know and work with students, faculty, and staff these past few months. What I especially love about my time at the BMC is the space (and encouragement) to engage with both music performance and education across generations. I’m looking forward to the winter/spring months with more music making, workshops, and learning ahead.”
Heather Sommerlad, BMC faculty, EOS and Outreach Coordinator, explains, “Ashleigh is a whirlwind of talent, whose vast knowledge and expertise have already enriched our community. Music in the Schools and Youth String Orchestra students loved working with her, and both performers and audience members were blown away by her EOS concert. ”
Among Gordon’s projects during the past few months:
- A “Meet the Black Composer” series offers student-friendly introductions to the biographies and selected works of some of Gordon’s favorite composers, including Vicente Lusitano and Joseph Bologne.
- Gordon recently worked with local violinists Sarah Briggs and Gregory Diehl, cellist Wayne Smith, and pianist and BMC faculty member Susan Dedell to create a program for the EOS concert series entitled “Speaks of Rivers.” Based on the poem by Langston Hughes, the program was inspired by the Connecticut River and Gordon’s ruminations on the stories it witnessed, people it carried, and connections it fostered traveling through four different states. The concert explored the concepts of “memory” and “movement” relating to both bodies of water and African diasporic people. A number of the pieces were accompanied by original films made for this concert, including this one for Frank Tillis’ “Wade in the Water” featuring footage taken here in Brattleboro.
- Castle of our Skins, an ensemble for which Ashleigh is executive director, co-founder, and violist, presented “Sound and Applique.” This concert was stunning both sonically and visually. It included a display of beautifully complex quilts as expression to match the musical repertoire.
- When she visits Brattleboro Gordon reaches out to the broader community through the BMC, recently she was guest presenter at the Brattleboro Union Highschool.
- She continues to work with the BMC string orchestras, both youth and adult, adding to their repertoires.
- Ashleigh Gordon’s “Listening Lounges” are informal sessions that are guided tours of lesser heard BIPOC composers and works relating to a specific theme. Each Lounge is built around a playlist that is shared and discussed. You can access the playlists of previous sessions: Art Songs and Spirituals, Chamber Music, and Orchestral. In May she presents “African Composers” and “Afro-Latino Composers.”
- Also working with BMC Music School faculty, Gordon is focusing on creating a lesser heard composer repertoire for students, teaching Music in Schools strings students about African inventors, artists and other inspiring individuals and collaborating with Heather Sommerlad on EOS activities.
Gordon was selected as Artist-in-Residence after a nationwide search. Described as a “charismatic and captivating performer,” Gordon has recorded with Switzerland’s Ensemble Proton and Germany’s Ensemble Modern; performed with Grammy Award-winning BMOP and Grammy-nominated A Far Cry string ensemble; and appeared at the prestigious BBC Proms Festival with the Chineke! Orchestra.
She has performed in the Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls (London), Konzerthaus Berlin and Oper Frankfurt (Germany), Gare du Nord and Dampfzentrale Bern (Switzerland), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Lee Hysan Concert Hall (Hong Kong), and throughout Sofia, Bulgaria as part of the multi-disciplinary 180 Degrees Festival.
She is co-founder, Artistic/Executive Director and violist of Castle of our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational series devoted to celebrating Black Artistry through music. In recognition of her work, she has presented at IDEAS UMass Boston Conference and 180 Degrees Festival in Bulgaria; has been featured in the International Musician and Improper Bostonian magazines as well as the Boston Globe; and was awarded the 2016 Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award from the American Federation of Musicians.
Learn more about our Artist in Residence Program.