Vision Song: Our Hearts, Our Future, Our Voices

Jazz Bridge
Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts
April 9th-10th, 2016

Jazz Bridge, in collaboration with Pew fellow, jazz composer/bandleader/saxophonist Bobby Zankel, will present a new work for Zankel's band, Warriors of the Wonderful Sound. The work has been inspired by the thoughts, feelings, and dreams of what middle-school-aged children (12-14 year-olds) believe the world will be like — ecologically, technologically, socially — when they are adults. 

Vision Song was inspired by a conversation Dr. Suzanne Cloud, Executive Director of Jazz Bridge, had with her 12-year-old grandson as they were stuck in traffic. She asked him what he thought the world would be like in the future, and if he could make a film about it, what would be in the film? He said he'd start off with a picture of the planet, but he'd make it all brown. She asked him why, and he said, "because it probably won't be very nice when I grow up.' This response was the impetus for creating a piece that would help audiences understand how and what this younger generation is thinking and feeling about the future and the decisions being made about the environment today. 

In the creation of the work, a group of children from diverse socio-economic, racial, and religious backgrounds at Philadelphia's Grover Washington Jr. Middle School researched and discussed climate change all last year through a partnership with Need in Deed, a nonprofit that trains teachers to integrate civic responsibility and service learning with classroom curriculum in public and charter schools across the city. A short film by award-winning videographer Jason Fifield will be presented as part of the musical performance, which will incorporate storyboards created by the students, and jazz musician and middle-school music teacher, Wendy Simon, will conduct the student performance section of the work. Dr. Cloud serves as director of the production and hopes this work will show how the power of art can give voice to children who are seldom heard. 

This will be the World Premiere of Vision Song: Our Hearts, Our Voices, Our Future

SEI Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center