New/Now: The Houston Artist Commissioning Project
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22/23 WINNING WORKS (alphabetical by winner's last name)
Mbandu ni Mbandu
And The Clay Pot Speaketh
Be the first to see world premieres by Houston visionaries who represent the future of live arts in our city. Launched in 2020 to promote and sustain Houston’s working artists, New/Now brings Performing Arts Houston’s history of supporting new works close to home.
ABOUT 22/23 WINNERS & THEIR WORKS
Anthony Brandt is a composer, researcher, author, educator, and Artistic Director of Musiqa, an award-winning new music ensemble. His musical catalogue includes three chamber operas, as well as orchestral, chamber, vocal, theater, dance, and television scores. Recordings of his music are available on the Albany, Crystal, and Navona labels. An advocate for closer ties between the arts and science, he co-authored The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World with neuroscientist David Eagleman and is currently a co-investigator in musical experiments involving seniors with mild cognitive impairment, stroke recovery, surgeon burnout, and dance. He teaches music composition and theory at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Brandt’s commissioned work, Diabelli 200, marks the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and in collaboration with neuro-engineer Dr. Pepe Contreras-Vidal, will explore the neural synchrony between the performers and changes in brain activity throughout the performance. Brandt will use Diabelli’s waltz and Beethoven’s approach to the variations as inspiration for excerpts of his own variations, scored for flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, and cello.
Composer and cinematographer J.E. Hernández is a Mexican-born, Houston-based composer focusing on elevating personal and cultural narrative through his work. Hernández’s music has been performed at prestigious venues and by distinguished ensembles and organizations such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Houston Grand Opera, American Opera Project, Apollo Chamber Players, Foundation for Modern Music, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, American Composers Forum, the Brazil National Orchestra, and in a wide variety of films, both in the United States and abroad. He holds a degree from the University of Houston.
Hernández’s commissioned work, Desert Shelter is an interdisciplinary exploration and highlighting of the experience of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border via the Sonoran Desert pass, told through music and dance. The arduous journey of migrants is physicalized through J.E.’s composition, scored for a string sextet, and a collaboration with The Ponce Project and NobleMotion Dance.
Born and raised in Luanda, Angola, Vivalda Ndula became one of the voices of the new generation of Angolan musicians that has made a significant cultural and international impact on today’s Angolan music. Ndula is an activist, singer-songwriter, percussionist, and dancer. She is a multi-award winning, nominated/finalist of StarAfrica Sound, (ISC) International Songwriting Competition, and Angola Music Awards (AMA). Through her music, Vivalda raises social awareness against child labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking with her award-nominated songs Mazui (voices) and Monandengue (children).
Ndula’s new work, Mbandu ni Mbandu, meaning “side by side,” is a music project composed of four pieces sung in Angola’s native language Kimbundu. Mbandu ni Mbandu examines ongoing social issues such as access to health care, racial injustice, and gun violence, and conceptualizes a world where people can live together despite their differences.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Saudi Arabia, Tazeen Zahida writes plays in English and Urdu. Her plays are inspired by current affairs, social issues, family dynamics, and her experiences of living in the Middle East and America. She spearheads Houston’s only South Asian theatre company, Tee Zee Productions. Through her work, Tazeen intends to bring to life hard-to-tell and harder-to-sell stories. She is a literary translator and critic. She believes that poetry is the ultimate form of expression.
Zahida’s new theatrical work, And The Clay Pot Speaketh, retells a South Asian folktale, the love story of Sohni and Mahiwal, from Punjab. The tragic romance will be told through musical pantomime with narration, supported by South Asian poetry and folk music.
Photo by Houston photographer Claire McAdams