Babylon: Ghetto, Renaissance, and Modern Oblivion considers the resonance of Psalm 137 (By the Waters of Babylon) through the music of two ghettoized peoples – Italian Jews of Mantua during the period of the Counter-Reformation, and African Americans before, during, and after the Harlem Renaissance.
A 29-minute voyage through four centuries, Babylon confronts vital questions about minority musicians and their foundational roles in the music we enjoy today.
Who was celebrated? Who was erased? Who was invited to the party and who was left out in the cold? Whose genius was attributed to someone else? Who contributed the most while remaining on the sidelines of history? And most importantly, why does it keep happening?
Ezra Knight narrates a script that interweaves works by Italian-Jewish composer Salomone Rossi (1570 – 1630) and contemporary American Brandon Waddles (1988 –). Featuring the groundbreaking Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, other musical selections include historical recordings by Ma Rainey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Mama Thornton, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, as well as two luminaries in contemporary West African music – Kevin Nathaniel Hylton and Yacouba Sissoko.
Additional Rossi works include performances by the Bacchus Consort, Voices of Music, and soprano Jessica Gould in collaboration with lutenist Lucas Harris.
Since its December 2020 première, Babylon has garnered over 90 laurels from film festivals across the globe in multiple categories.
Babylon is an original project of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts and made possible by the generous support of NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.