The Cedar Commissions is a flagship program for local emerging artists made possible with a grant from the Jerome Foundation. Since the program began in 2011, the Commissions have showcased new work by over 50 Minnesotan emerging composers and musicians, including Dessa, Aby Wolf, Adam Levy, Maria Isa, Joe Horton, Joey Van Phillips, Gao Hong, Dameun Strange, and many more. Artists receive mentorship and financial support to create 30+ minutes of brand new music.
Goals of The Cedar Commissions:
Facilitate the creation of innovative new work by Minnesota-based emerging artists/composers. The Cedar Commissions provide artists an opportunity to push the boundaries of their work through thoughtful and intentional next steps.
Provide audiences a platform to discover new music. The Cedar Commissions offers an exciting opportunity to reach, serve, and engage new communities with unique music and performance they have never seen before.
Increase artist exposure. By presenting The Cedar Commissions annually, The Cedar is building an audience for emerging artists. Our press coverage has also grown steadily, helping to raise awareness about the work to the wider public.
Foster and develop artists’ work and creativity. The Cedar Commissions provides artists with the resources, opportunities, and flexibility to explore new creative pathways and collaborations, cultivating and improving the artists’ skills and talent.
We’ll be announcing our next call for artists in May 2019. For now, get a taste of the program by reading about the eighth annual Cedar Commissions, which featured new works by Antoine Martinneau, Brianna Lane, Jo Kellen, Kashimana, Yigitcan Eryaman and Tarek Abdelqader.
NIGHT ONE: FEBRUARY 1, 2019
ARTISTS in order of appearance:
In "Authenticity and Identity," Tarek Abdelqader presents a fusion of Palestinian folk music and contemporary jazz. Inspired by a mixed cultural heritage and diverse musical influences, Abdelqader’s performance blends instrumentation to include Middle Eastern percussion and saxophone with a standard jazz rhythm section of guitar, bass, drum set, and keyboard. These compositions avoid strict adherence to a single, homogenous tradition. Instead, they aim to show that distinct cultural identities – and musical styles – can coexist in harmony.
Local musician Antoine Martinneau and collaborators will perform a piece named On Love and Labor. Using his love of hip-hop as inspiration, the piece reflects on Martinneau’s emotional relationship to making a living and his search to find a sustainable balance amidst fear of poverty and the daily struggle of combating chronic mental illness. Combining live instrumentation, turntables and spoken rhymes, he will tell a story filled with ups and downs with beats to bob your head to.
Awareness Month is a contemporary musical theater piece illustrating life with invisible chronic illness. This piece will take the audience through one months time living with chronic Lyme, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), depression, and anxiety. This piece will bring to light what we don't see from people living with invisible chronic illness and how compassion is key. "Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle” -Ian Maclaren
NIGHT TWO: FEBRUARY 2, 2019
ARTISTS in order of appearance:
Composer, guitarist and songwriter Yigitcan Eryaman’s piece explores Minnesota seasons as experienced through a Turkish man’s eyes and ears. Minnesota's seasons are colorful, intense, and varied, and induce the necessary combination of feelings and mental processes in a composer’s mind to spur new music. Accompanied by buzuki, darbuka and violin, with classical guitar and voice at the lead, Eryaman draws on this seasonal inspiration as well as his cultural perspective to create a palette of beautiful new sounds.
Phantom Cries exposes the true trials of conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum depression, recovery, loss, early motherhood, and the glorious epiphany that everything is different. Composer and vocalist Kashimana Ahua has created ten songs exploring some common misconceptions surrounding pregnancy while shedding a light on the increasing maternal and infant mortality rate especially among women of color in the United States. Phantom Cries is giving voice to the voiceless through ten vocally driven songs supported by bass and percussion in an effort to encourage difficult conversations and real action.
Is having fun in public a risk? Jo Kellen thought maybe their relationship to identity could help explore the question. Serious Glee, Kellen’s multimedia song cycle, combines music, puppetry, and projections to consider the complexity of personal autonomy. With the help of percussionist Toby Ramaswamy and cellist Hilary James, Kellen’s compositions come to genre-bending fruition. Dance punks and freak folk fans will feel right at home. Hattie Ball’s disorienting projection design and Leah Nelson’s puppets dance alongside the music to create a surreal, darkly fun atmosphere. Expect optometrists, cowboy landlords, and a weirdly encouraging tall person.