Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together is a startlingly beautiful and deeply political work for spoken voice and instrumental ensemble. The text for the piece originates from a letter by political protester Sam Melville, written while he was in prison in the Attica Correctional Institute; two years after this letter was written, he was killed in the Attica Prison Riots, one of the most important events of the prison rights movement in the United States. In this light, Melville’s observations—”the indifferent brutality, incessant noise”—continue to be particularly relevant in today’s climate of political extremism, racism, and dysfunctional incarceration systems. Here, Rzewski has transformed the text so that it encompasses both the raw and the political, as well as the abstract and existential.
Saturday, 8 October 2016, 8 pm, Jesus Chapel, Jesus College, Cambridge
Image: “Inmates at Attica shouted their demands during a negotiating session with state corrections officials,” Associated Press, 1971.