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Curtis is part of a growing movement to shine a light on the underappreciated composer Julius Eastman

Julius EastmanFor the second season running, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble will perform music by composer, pianist, and vocalist Julius Eastman. Eastman, a 1963 Curtis graduate, was largely overlooked during his career—in large part because his music did not shy away from addressing his identity as a Black, queer artist. Recently, advocates in the musical world have been shining a light on his work, hoping to help right some of the wrongs he faced during his life.

On February 22 the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble presents #Persona, showcasing works by a range of composers who, like Eastman, incorporate facets of their identity—such as ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and national origin—into their music. On this occasion, baritone Patrick Wilhelm will perform Eastman's Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc, one of many works in which Eastman used familar texts from Christian traditions and transformed them into political statements about society's treatment of marginalized people.

Before the performance, artistic director David Serkin Ludwig and featured composer Reena Esmail will hold a pre-concert discussion further exploring themes of identity within music, art, and the creative process.