This season at New England Conservatory, 30+ concerts demonstrate just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Programs range from roots music to Beethoven, fight songs to anti-war anthems. Join our year-long exploration of how music speaks truth to power!
"Some call me Mister Ra.
Some call me Mister Re.
But you can call me Mister Mystery."
—Sun Ra, in the film A Joyful Noise
Who was Sun Ra? Was he Herman Blount, born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1914, who came in to Fletcher Henderson's big band as a pianist and arranger just after WWII? That persona had disappeared by the 1950s, when—as Sun Ra—he was already leading a big band of his own, soon to be called the Arkestra, and was claiming to have come from Saturn, with connections to the Egyptian gods.
This persona represented the ultimate liberation from space and time, and gave Sun Ra the freedom to create an immersive experience that built on classic big band chops to go deep into collective improvisation and multimedia performance. All of this was rooted in a communal living situation where the band could focus on their sound, look, and ideas with a minimum of interference from mundane associations.
Sun Ra's unfettered, joyful music is summed up by the exhortation to join him and the Arkestra as We Travel the Spaceways. Other signature songs that will guide your journey tonight are Space Is the Place, A Call for All Demons, Brainville, Planet Earth, Saturn, El Is the Sound of Joy, Enlightenment, Love in Outer Space, and Satellites Are Spinning.
Are you an NEC faculty member or student who is giving a school concert? Submit your artist and repertoire information now!
NEC's FREE concerts do not require a ticket, unless stated in concert listing.
Unreserved seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors open 30 minutes prior to the concert's start time.