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Syracuse Symposium, Society for New Music collaborate to present 'Geography of the Imagination'

October 21, 2011

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

The Syracuse Symposium™ and the Society for New Music will present “The Geography of the Imagination,” a performance featuring the world premiere of a commissioned musical work by Gregory Wanamaker and visuals by renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems, on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel.

The performance, which is free and open to the public, addresses the poetics of identity and historical memory, incorporating music, narrative, text, visual images and projection. Syracuse Symposium™ is a semester-long exploration of the public humanities presented by the Syracuse University Humanities Center for The College of Arts and Sciences and the entire Syracuse community. “Identity” is the theme of this year’s symposium.

The commissioned piece is a major work in a program around themes of 19th-century Central New York political activism, such as the Women’s Rights movement, abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. Both artists are interested in narrative; Weems has worked with photography, video and text, while Wanamaker has worked with music and photography. They are interested in dealing with the intersection between the narrative and expressive, the lyricism of music and moving image, the counterpoint between tension and release.

The collaborative work is supported in part by National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence Grant.

In addition to Wanamaker’s piece, the performance will feature “And Legions Shall Rise” by Kevin Puts; “Falling Through Infinity” by Nicholas Omiccioli; “Fauxbourdon” by David Feurzeig; and “Lift High, Reckon—Fly Low, Come Close” by Anna Weesner. Performers, conducted by Cynthia Johnston Turner, will include Linda Greene, flute; John Friedrichs, clarinet/bass clarinet; Ann McIntyre, violin; David LeDoux, cello; Rob Bridge, percussion; and Adrienne Kim, piano.

Wanamaker is the 2011 Commissioned Composer for the Syracuse-based Society for New Music. The recipient of 16 consecutive standard awards from ASCAP, he has also received awards from the National Association of Composers/USA and Britten-On-The-Bay. Wanamaker’s music has been commissioned and performed throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia by groups such as the PRISM Quartet, Trujillo Symphony Orchestra, Capitol Quartet, The Western Plains Wind Band Consortium, The West Point Saxophone Quartet, The Gregg Smith Singers, Timothy McAllister and The Society for New Music. In demand as a composer of solo and chamber music, Wanamaker has several recorded works on the Innova, Albany, KCM, Mark Custom and Summit labels. Currently professor of composition and theory at the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam, Wanamaker studied composition with William Averitt and Thomas Albert at Shenandoah University, and with Ladislav Kubík at The Florida State University School of Music. Wanamaker publishes his own works, available exclusively through his website:

Weems is an award-winning photographer and artist. Her photographs, films and videos have been displayed in more than 50 exhibitions in the United States and abroad and focus on serious issues that face African Americans today, such as racism, gender relations, politics and personal identity. A native of Portland, Ore., she studied modern dance in San Francisco following high school. She attended the California Institute of the Arts and received her master of fine arts degree from the University of California, San Diego. Weems has won numerous awards, including the Distinguished Photographer’s Award in 2005 in recognition of her significant contributions to the world of photography. Her talents have also been recognized by numerous colleges, including Harvard and Wellesley, with fellowships, artist-in-residence and visiting professor positions.

In her work, Weems focuses on the ways in which images shape our perception of color, gender and class. Storytelling is fundamental to her work. Over her almost 30-year career, she has forged a complex body of work that has at times employed photographs, text, fabric, audio, digital images, installation and video. Weems has exhibited across the United States and internationally, including residencies in Berlin and Paris. Her work has been commissioned by institutions and museums across the United States.

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