Kennedy Center Commissions Boykin: Dignified Composition

Brittney Boykin

The Kennedy Center commissioned School of Music Assistant Professor Brittney Boykin to compose a piece for The Cartography Project.

The project, a multi-year music commissioning initiative by the Kennedy Center, aims to engage Black artists from around the United States while giving a cultural perspective into the Black American experience. In particular, the project commissions teams from different regions to respond to an event of extrajudicial violence in that region.

Boykin’s piece, Mo(u)rning, one of the first group of eight commissioned pieces, was inspired by and dedicated to Atlanta resident Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot by police.

"Mo(u)rning offers a unique perspective of Rayshard Brooks. The poem, written by Brittny Ray Crowell, captures that perspective beautifully. It was our goal to bring his story to light, but to humanize his memory as well," Boykin said.

“We did not want the tragedy of how he was lost to overshadow how he lived."

The powerful pieces of the project acknowledge Black American tragedies caused by race-based violence. They also engage listeners with an open conversation about Black dignity and healing.

"I believe my approach to designing and teaching new music encourages students to make critical connections between music and the human experience. It’s exciting that a lot of those new connections and creations are happening now. Students can see things happening in real time," Boykin said.

Boykin, Director of the Treble Choir at the Georgia Tech, considers that Georgia Tech being in the heart of downtown Atlanta holds a unique position to the responsibility and relationship it develops with Black artistry.

"This presents an amazing opportunity to be connected to the many other art organizations within the metropolitan area. The School of Music is formulating a few initiatives to further engage and connect these communities over time, and I greatly look forward to Georgia Tech being considered one of the pillars in the Atlanta art community," Boykin said.

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