2022-23 CAST Visiting Artist
“she energetically bends music to her will and reshapes it with fascinating results.”
– Jazz Improv Magazine
Multifaceted vocalist, music educator, and composer Clarice Assad composed a new musical work that was premiered in March 2023 by the MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, and Vocal Jazz Ensemble. The student ensembles, directed by Frederick Harris Jr., were joined in the performance by Assad herself and by MIT Music Section faculty member and classical violinist Natalie Lin Douglas.
Titled Amazonia sem lei (Lawless Amazon), the composition addresses political issues related to–and celebrates the soundscape of–the Amazon rainforest in Assad’s home country of Brazil. Her creation of this piece intersects with Hearing Amazonia, a multi-year project underway at MIT under Harris’s leadership that combines research on the music and ecosystems of Brazil.
By putting different musical instruments and styles in conversation with each other, Amazonia sem lei epitomizes the playful, curious spirit of Assad’s acclaimed VOXploration education programs, in which participants utilize their bodies and voices for spontaneous music creation, employing techniques such as scatting and beatboxing. Known for moving fluently between the worlds of jazz and classical music, Assad is uniquely positioned to bring together MIT’s strong programs in both genres while infusing the new work with influences from world music.
Assad’s two-part residency at MIT included initial visits in the 2022 fall semester to workshop the work-in-progress with the student ensembles, followed by a return visit in spring 2023 for the rehearsal and performance of the finished commission. Her time on campus also included guest presentations in MIT Music Section classes in composition and other subjects.
Commission Premiere, Amazonia sem lei
8:00pm / March 11, 2023
MIT Kresge Auditorium, W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
Featuring the world premiere of Amazônia Sem Lei (“Lawless Amazon”) by Grammy-nominated Brazilian-American composer Clarice Assad, this special concert continues the Hearing Amazônia—The Responsibility of Existence project launched in the fall of 2021 and comes weeks before MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, and MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble travel to Manaus, Brazil.
Assad’s new work features violinist and MIT professor Natalie Lin Douglas and Assad herself. The concert also includes Antônio Carlos Jobim’s Passarim, Hermeto Pascoal’s Hermanos Latinos, Chiquinha Gonzaga’s Corta Jaca, and Drill by composer/bass clarinetist Evan Ziporyn.
Assistant professor in the Music and Theater Arts program at MIT, Dr. Natalie Lin Douglas is a New Zealand-born violinist, educator, and arts entrepreneur. She is the founder and artistic director of Kinetic, the Houston-based conductorless ensemble committed to amplifying diverse, under-represented, and newly composed classical music. An avid chamber musician, Douglas teaches Chamber Music and Advanced Music Performance at MIT. She has toured throughout New Zealand in concerts presented by Chamber Music New Zealand and in the UK with the Scottish Ensemble.
A powerful communicator renowned for her musical scope and versatility, Brazilian American Clarice Assad is a significant artistic voice in the classical, world music, pop, and jazz genres. A Grammy-nominated composer, celebrated pianist, inventive vocalist, and educator, she is renowned for her evocative colors, rich textures, and diverse stylistic range. As an innovator, her award-winning education program, VOXploration, has been presented throughout the United States, Brazil, Europe and Qatar.