CARLOS SIMON releases of Requiem for the Enslaved

Carlos Simon
Carlos Simon

 CARLOS SIMON releases of Requiem for the Enslaved

Decca is proud to announce the signing of US composer
Carlos Simon and the release of his new album Requiem for the
Enslaved. The title work sees Simon infuse the traditional Catholic requiem with music from African American spirituals to create a haunting piece for chamber ensemble and spoken word.

The album’s central piece, Requiem for the Enslaved, with
text by Marco Pavé, was commissioned by Georgetown University, where Simon is currently Assistant Professor of Composition, following a decision by its student body in 2020.A majority voted to establish a reparations fund to be paid to descendants of 272 enslaved people who were sold for $115,000 by the Maryland Jesuits, the founders of Georgetown, in 1838 to rescue the university from bankruptcy. This work honors' the passing of those people purchased and sold by the founders. Upon receiving the commission, Simon visited the Louisiana cotton plantation that purchased the enslaved people and delved through the Georgetown archives for historical research as he began work on the piece. The album’s cover is inspired by this location.

Carlos Simon says of the work, “I’m so grateful to be
joining the Decca family and to be finally releasing this project. It
is my hope that I not only honour the men, women and children
sold into slavery, but also recognize that systemic racism is still
ever present in our society.”

Alongside the full 50-minute performance of Requiem for
the Enslaved, the album features three reflective bonus tracks
reworking musical material from the piece. Simon, an esteemed
pianist, performs himself, along with trumpeter MK Zulu.

Simon, the son of a New Orleans preacher, draws on both
his gospel music heritage and his training in Western composition. Requiem for the Enslaved adapts the ten-movement requiem form, featuring spoken word by spoken word and hip-hop artist Marco Pavé, which draws from the West African griot and jali legacy of storytelling. Echoes of Gregorian chant blend into Simon’s distinctive neoromantic compositional voice, performed by the pioneering Boston-based ensemble Hub New Music (violin, flute, cello and clarinet) and trumpeter MK
Zulu. Overlapping, multi-cultural meaning is packed into the
work. Melodic cells from the spiritual “Oh When The Saints
Go Marching In”, a hymn tune often heard played by a second
line funeral procession in New Orleans, are woven into the
requiem. In a powerful nod to both the bell that rings to
direct academic life at Georgetown, and the bells that rang to
summon the enslaved people to work on the Louisiana cotton
plant, an evocative bell ring reoccurs throughout Simon’s
Requiem.

Tom Lewis and Laura Monks, Co-Presidents of Decca
Label Group, say, “Carlos is a fearless musical pioneer. He
is expanding towards new, exciting and important creative
spaces and taking audiences and critics along for the ride. We
are delighted that he has signed to Decca. He has inspired the
whole team and we can’t wait for him to inspire the world.”
Requiem for the Enslaved was released on Friday, June 17th, ahead of Juneteenth National Independence Day in the US
(June 19th), a Federal holiday commemorating the emancipation
of enslaved African-Americans. 
International tour dates for 2022 of Requiem for the Enslaved will be announced soon as well as dates for Carlos Simon’s other large works.

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