Castle of our Skins
As I Heard When I Was Young

Bethel A.M.E. Church

Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins invites exploration into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of past and present.

This talented and visionary group celebrates the holiday season with Brian Raphael Nabors’ Kwanzaa Suite, as well as chamber music with African roots and Pan-African ideals.

South African composer Monthati Masebe’s Nomadic Nirvana reimagine the soundscape of the mbiri (a musical instrument with tuned metal keys, sometimes referred to as a “thumb piano”) for string quartet. 

Bongani Ndodana Breen’s Apologia at Umzimvubu takes inspiration from the culture and dances of South Africa’s Xhosa people, and the landscapes and waterways of their traditional heartland.

Ugandan composer Justinian Tamasuza, born in 1951, is one of the most renowned composers on the continent. Across his long career, he has at once evoked African sounds, rhythms, and expressions, and put his own stamp on global movements like minimalist music.

American composer Derrick Skye’s 2019 work for string quartet plus double bass, As I Heard When I Was Young, blends the music of the composer’s childhood and adulthood. The free-form gospel and blues music he heard at home and at church as a child combines with African musical styles that inspire Skye as a composer, among them Malian blues guitar, Dagomba flute music from Ghana, and percussion music from the Haha tribe of Morocco.

Brian Raphael Nabors’ 2021 Kwanzaa Suite captures the spirit of a Kwanzaa celebration. In this seven-part work for tenor and string quartet, Nabors depicts each of the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Share the spirit of the season and celebrate Kuumba (creativity) with this uplifting and festive work!

You're invited! After the performance, please join the artists and your fellow audience members for a brief get-together with refreshments.

Media sponsor

“[the] hopes for [Castle of our Skins] are ambitious, but they seem right for a world that more often than not seems agonizingly divided.”

David Weininger, The Boston Globe

Bethel A.M.E. Church Venue Information

This performance is generously supported by
Amy & Ethan d'Ablemont Burnes.

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