Afterword is an experimental opera that imagines the future legacy of the great black collective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. Created by composer, musician, and AACM member George Lewis, media/theater artist Catherine Sullivan, and director Sean Griffin with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Afterword is a multimedia work that combines chamber opera with real-time improvisation.
From George Lewis:
“Founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1965, the AACM has long played an internationally recognized role in American experimental music. Afterword functions not as a history of the collective, but as a “Bildungsoper”—a coming-of-age opera of ideas, positionality, and testament. The libretto is drawn from my 2008 book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press), a chronicle showing how artists and musicians assumed central roles in forging new models of black identity and social activism. What I call the AACM’s “unstable polyphony” of voices, at once independent and in harmony in imagining the future of music, is the inspiration for Afterword, my first experimental opera, and where interpenetration of subject with artistic method becomes a vital touchstone for operatic experience.”
The premiere performances of Afterword are presented in conjunction with the MCA exhibition The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now, on display through November 22.
On October 17, join the conversation! Afterword: The AACM (as) Opera, a discussion presented at the Logan Center from 2–3 pm, takes place as part of Humanities Day at the University of Chicago. Free, reservations required.
Want to learn more? Read the program notes and get the full scoop on the artists and the premiere. Learn more about how a book about the AACM become an opera in George Lewis’s interview in the Chicago Tribune.