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In collaboration with Kahil El’ Zabar and The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Fulcrum Point celebrates the unique and complex voices of Black American composers by championing the music of three generations of artists, ranging from impressionistic to pop-inspired minimalism to free jazz improv. Bridging these diverse musical stylings will be a world premiere composition by the widely acclaimed Tomeka Reid. Reid’s music is both jazz and classically influenced, making her the natural fulcrum point, where tradition meets innovation. The evening will end with a set of free jazz improv led by the legendary Kahil El’ Zabar and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, in collaboration with Fulcrum Point New Music Project. 


Featured on this program is internationally acclaimed percussionist, composer, and band leader Kahil El’Zabar and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, which was formed shortly after El’Zabar graduated from the school of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1976. After 40-plus years of eventful music making, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble is still reinventing itself while making music “with a modern sensibility and an ancestral spirit” (allmusic.com).


Alvin Singleton: In Our Own House
Olly Wilson: Piano Trio
Jessie Montgomery: Strum
Jeffrey Mumford: still air 
Tomeka Reid: World Premiere, Present Awareness 
Kahil El’Zabar: selections with the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and Fulcrum Point New Music Project


Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: 

Kahil El’Zabar, percussion/composition/vocals
Corey Wilkes, trumpet
Alex Harding, baritone saxophone



Honoring the University of Illinois sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017, Krannert Center and the School of Music collaboratively explore the enormous diversity of today’s vital contemporary music scene—a revival of the spirit of the University of Illinois Festival of Contemporary Arts, which was a major cultural force in the mid-20th century. Sonic Illinois, a month-long celebration of new music, will celebrate innovative creators who challenge convention, forge new pathways, and expand the creative process. See featured performances.

Location: Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
500 S Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

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