SU hosts artist residency this week

Artists will provide perspective on larger ideas about cultural and racial identity at Shenandoah University this weekend.

Shenandoah Conservatory is hosting an artist residency for Daniel Bernard Roumain, composer and violinist who has worked with artists such as Philip Glass and Lady Gaga; and Marc Bamuthi Joseph, a spoken word poet, choreographer and playwright who began his career on Broadway.

Courtney Reilly, Shenandoah Conservatory’s managing director and the artistic director of Performing Arts Live, said, “I have had the opportunity to see them perform, as well as provide important and meaningful educational engagement with educators and young audiences.”

These artists are Haitian American and their work is “deeply rooted in the artist’s ancestral Haitian folklore, but because they grew up in urban areas of America, it also has a very contemporary, hip hop aesthetic,” Reilly said.

Roumain and Joseph will hold workshops for campus and community members starting Thursday for over 400 participants.

“For the 2015-2016 season, I was particularly interested in bringing in artists who are exceptional storytellers; artists who can transfix and transform audiences; and artists who are engaging and accessible both on and off stage,” Reilly said.

“I am hoping that through these workshops, participants are empowered to use the arts in new and unique ways to tell their own stories and find their own voice,” Reilly added.

On Friday and Saturday, they will hold the world premiere performance of “Blackbird, Fly: A Concert for Voice, Body, and Strings.”

“The performance uses music, movement and narrative to explore ideas of racial and cultural identity through the artists’ own life stories,” Reilly said.

“I hope it opens people up to what is possible through the arts and encourages more dialogue around the critical issues of our time. I also hope it provides Shenandoah University with an opportunity to connect more deeply with our surrounding community,” Reilly said.

For tickets to “Blackbird, Fly: A Concert for Voice, Body, and Strings,” visit

 Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or

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