New work by Jessica Meyer featuring Sandbox Percussion with Elspeth Davis and Melissa Wimbish
In 2016, the trial of Brock Turner was yet another controversial episode in an ongoing debate about rape culture, privilege in the criminal justice system, and campus safety. In court, the victim read aloud a letter to her attacker that has since been read millions of times and has influenced legislation in California. The text of this letter is both a painful reminder of what an incident like this does to a woman’s life, and how society continues to react to situations like these.
20 Minutes of Action will be a setting of select quotes from the letter Chanel Miller read aloud in court to Brock Turner. Jessica plans to set specific sentences from the letter to express these ideas and situations that continue to happen all too frequently, such as “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence...”, and, “at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.” Meanwhile, Brock’s father sent a letter to the judge pleading, “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life...” (Brock was subsequently released after only serving 3 months). At the end of the victim’s statement, she remarkably chooses not to end in despair, but with a message to girls everywhere – “we are getting somewhere...you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you.“
When Jessica conceived of 20 Minutes of Action several years ago (and were awarded a grant by New Music USA to develop the work), we lived in an entirely different time. Now with the rise of the #MeToo movement, the almost daily revelations of sexual abuse by public figures, and the release of the victim's identity with her book “Know My Name” - the artists would like to do their part by raising awareness among our audience and community.
20 Minutes of Action will be twenty minutes in duration, and will be written in the Spring/Summer of 2020. The piece will tour during the 2020-21 season (5 years after the sentencing), targeting colleges and other venues that will allow the artists to reach as many young people as possible. The concert will not only be an artistic experience, but also an opportunity to open up valuable discussions around what we are directly or indirectly told by both the people we are raised around and the culture that permeates the technology we use on a daily basis.
20 minutes. The rest of the program will consist of pre-existing works and arrangements using this instrumentation that express different themes related to the piece
1. But Not Until
2. Ring Out, Wild Bells
1. George Crumb’s Unto The Hills (with Sandbox Percussion)
1. George Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre
1. Christopher Cerrone’s Goldbeater’s Skin (with Elspeth Davis)
2. Andy Akiho’s Pillar IV
With playing that is “fierce and lyrical” and works that are “other- worldly” (The Strad) and “evocative” (New York Times), Jessica Meyer is a versatile composer and violist whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility and emotional clarity. On her appearance at The TANK Center for Sonic Arts, where she wrote a solo piece on site for this destination concert venue that boasts a 20-second reverb, Alex Ross of the New Yorker says, “Meyer’s fierce-edged playing activated the Tank’s awe-inspiring properties.” Meyer’s compositions viscerally explore the wide palette of emotionally expressive colors available to each instrument while using traditional and extended techniques inspired by her varied experiences as a contemporary and period instrumentalist. Since embarking on her composition career only five years ago, premieres have included performances by Grammy-winning vocal ensembles Roomful of Teeth and Vox Clamantis, cellist Amanda Gookin for her Forward Music Project represented by National Sawdust, soprano Melissa Wimbish for her Carnegie Hall debut, Sybarite 5, PUBLIQuartet, NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner, and a work for A Far Cry commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
In the world-premiere of Josephine, The Washington Post gushed, “... the afternoon belonged to Melissa Wimbish, who was creating the role of Josephine Baker in this world-premiere ... Beautifully prepared, vocally stunning, and theatrically riveting, Wimbish effortlessly held the audience in her hand throughout this one-woman show.” She is known for her chameleon-like vocal talent, which spans traditional, contemporary, and popular styles. Melissa made her Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in 2014 featuring a program of all-contemporary American art song and a world-premiere of Jessica Meyer’s song cycle Space in Chains. In 2017, she made a rousing solo debut in György Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with the Baltimore Symphony. At the Kennedy Center, she was a featured soloist in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Washington Ballet. Career highlights include Nimue in Camelot with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Carmina Burana with Washington Ballet, Candide with Baltimore Symphony, and Mozart’s Requiem with Richmond Symphony.
Elspeth Davis is a mezzo-soprano specializing in contemporary chamber music. She was most recently seen singing the role of Der Trommler with Arizona Opera and Violins for Hope, an organization that restores instruments that survived the Holocaust. Last season, she sang György Ligeti’s Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel with Sandbox Percussion at Trinity Church Wall Street. She premiered the new chamber work Eleanor and Hildegard, by composer Kevin Clark, with The Sound Ensemble in Seattle. She made her European debut as Der Trommler in Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Schulterwerke and the Klangforum Wein in Veinna, and was one of seven singers invited to the inaugural season of Liederfest in Suzhou, in Suzhou, China. You can also listen to her every Friday, as a cohost of the music podcast Opera After Dark.
Lauded by The Washington Post as “revitalizing the world of contemporary music” with “jaw- dropping virtuosity,” Sandbox Percussion has established themselves as a leading proponent in this generation of contemporary percussion chamber music. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion, captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning. Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music. This season, Sandbox will collaborate with The Industry, an opera company in Los Angeles, for the world premiere of Galileo by Andy Akiho. Other highlights will include a performance of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Síppal, dobbal,nádihegedüvel with mezzo-soprano Elspeth Davis at the Percussion Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, IN, and a West Coast tour including 11 performances from Seattle to Los Angeles. Sandbox Percussion endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, Vic Firth drumsticks and Remo drumheads.