UNCHAINED is an intermedia collaborative experience that unites powerful storytelling delving into the courageous narratives of women who have defied conventions and persevered. This immersive experience celebrates their strength and resilience while fusing music, dance, and video.
Midtown Arts and Theater Complex Houston
3400 Main St, Houston, TX 77002
The ticket operates on a "pay what you can" basis
a new music collective
– MUSIQA PRESENTS –
An Immersive Multimedia Concert Experience
Tahirih the Pure (2017)
I. The Day of Alast
Electric Sky Blue (2022)
Caroline Owen, Piano
Kyle Sharkey, Painting
Half-Told Stories (2023)
I. Bigsby, the Dog
II. the Father
III. the Mother
IV. the Grandmother
I. Born In Autumn
II. Places Far Away
III. It Sits With The Morning
IV. Child-Like Delight
V. The Gray, The Stormy, The Deep Rumbling
VI. Dark Midnight, With All Its Shadows
VII. An Intoxicating Beat You Can’t Help But Dance To
VIII. Round, Plump, Malleable
IX. Bold Yet Graceful
X. Its Truest Form
Caroline Owen, Piano
Tahirih The Pure
for solo piano and live processed projected painting
Caroline owen, piano | Kyle sharkey, painting
In 2017, I was honored to receive a commission from my former piano professor, Liza Stepanova. The task at hand was to compose a solo piece as an integral part of a project she had meticulously developed to highlight and celebrate the music of immigrants in the United States. Liza's unwavering dedication to contemporary music and her bold audacity to feature pieces from lesser-known composers ignited a spark within me. This inspiration led me to craft my composition around the life of an extraordinary figure - a scholar, poet, philosopher, teacher, prisoner, mother, martyr, women's rights activist, and theologian of the Bábí faith in Iran, known as Qurratu’l-‘Ayn Tahirih (c. 1818-1852). Tahirih, a symbol of feminine power and the women's movement for many Iranians, is universally acknowledged as one of the most influential women in the annals of Iranian history.
Historians believe that Tahirih was the first Babi woman to courageously reject the tradition of wearing the hijab. She advocated for the inclusion of women in society and their equal rights - a groundbreaking and radical concept in the context of nineteenth-century Iran. In 1848, Tahirih attended the Badasht conference, the sole woman amidst 80 men. During this assembly, Tahirih made the audacious move to remove her veil - a significant revolutionary act which led to her secret execution in mid-1852.
"Tahirih The Pure" is a sonic narrative that traces the heroic journey of Tahirih. The first movement, "The Day of Alast," draws inspiration from Tahirih’s innovative interpretation and adaptation of Islamic ideology, as beautifully reflected in her mystical poetry. The second movement, "Unchained," encapsulates Tahirih’s indomitable spirit and the influence it had in triggering one of the most profound women's rights movements of the 19th century. The third movement, "Badasht," recreates the historic conference of Badasht, where Tahirih vehemently challenged prevalent notions of women's equality and symbolically unveiled her hijab. The coda represents my artistic envisioning of Tahirih in her final moments, where she embraced her fate with serenity, chanting and praying.
At an artist retreat in 2022, I met Kyle. With Caroline, we contemplated on an idea that integrated live painting with live computer-assisted processing. After a year of experimentation and in-depth workshopping, we are thrilled to present this innovative rendition of "Tahirih the Pure" to you this evening.
Half-Told Stories is an exploration of the intersection of personal narratives and artistic expression. It brings an artistic lens to the understanding of how personal experiences can be effectively translated into performance and underlines the importance of empathy in creating meaningful, relatable content. My journey began with a series of dialogues with Andy and Dionne Noble in March, focusing on telling stories that need to be shared.
We selected four female dancers whose unique stories provided a broad spectrum of experiences related to this issue. These personal narratives were abstracted and then interpreted into sound, abstract moving images, and dance, offering viewers a nuanced understanding of their lived experiences.
Our first act was inspired by Lindsey's narrative, which uses the chase of a dog as a metaphor for the pursuit of life and normalcy. The second explores Angelica's internal conflicts regarding forgiveness toward a loved one. The third narrative encapsulated Fiona's lessons of independence inherited from her mother. The final act spotlighted Lauren's narrative of her grandmother's daring journey from the Philippines to the United States during a time of war.
In creating Half-Told Stories, my aim was to listen, feel, and empathize with these women's experiences and then channel those emotions into the creation of an artistic performance that resonates with audiences on a deeply emotional level. I had the privilege to work with the remarkable saxophonist Wilson Poffenburger. Together, we shaped raw and poignant soundscapes with precise intonations that echo the emotional cadences of the women's narratives.
An Artistic Fusion of Dance, Storytelling, and multimedia Design
in collaboration with noblemotion dance
PC: Lynn Lane
electric sky blue
Electric Sky Blue (2022) is a collaborative exploration of immersive and interactive sound, color, and movement, crafted exclusively for Caroline. It is a multi-sensory experience that allows both performer and audience to engage with the artwork on a multi-dimensional level. A year was spent researching and workshopping, developing algorithms to translate Caroline's movements, both on and off the piano, into sound and visuals.
Electric Sky Blue integrates various media to create a comprehensive work of art that surpasses the limitations of individual mediums. The interactive visuals within the performance are intricately linked to both the dance movements and piano playing. Through an interplay of motion-capturing and amplitude-following technologies, Caroline's choreography and piano performance are transformed into an immersive visual experience.
The genesis of the work's structure stems from Caroline's poetic reflection on the color, electric sky blue. This poem serves as the foundation of the piece, which unfolds across ten scenes, each of which is based on a line of Owen’s poetry. The performance abstractly follows the surface narrative of the poem while simultaneously tracing a broader journey of transformation, beginning with the themes of birth and innocence and progressing through anxiety and struggle to culminate in a powerful sense of newfound resilience and authenticity.
Born in Autumn, in the crisp air of mid-October,
It takes you to places far away, with cypress trees and gravel paths along hillsides, with medieval towns across the valley. Places that have
stood still for centuries, with grasses blowing in the quiet all around.
It sits with the morning, still in its freshness and full of possibility for what a day could hold.
It longs for life, for adventure, for full breaths deep inside your lungs.
For running and jumping into a pile of crunchy leaves, with a child-like delight.
It hides the gray, the stormy, the deep rumbling that is still there.
It is not like the dark midnight, with all its shadows and anxiousness.
It nods along to a song of exuberant joy, with an intoxicating beat you can’t help but dance to.
Constantly shifting and morphing, round, plump, malleable.
It moves with leaps––bold yet graceful.
It befriends the rustling leaves in the trees, with the branches that frame it and bring out its electricity, its truest form, its most vibrant hue.
An Interactive and Immersive Intermedia Solo Performance
Badie Khaleghian is an Iranian-born-American composer, multimedia artist, performer, and educator. Described as “a well-crafted, attractive modern score” ((ARTS ATL), Khaleghian’s music embraces the intersection of art, cultures, science, technology, and people. The intersections between sound, visuals, movement, and abstraction function as the focal point of his creative practice. His recent works engage live interactive data visualization and sonification of any type of data, from motion capturing to sound amplitude followers to the brain’s electrical activity (EEG).
As a performer, he frequently performs the kamancheh (Persian string instrument) with interactive audio and visuals. His most recent project, Electric Sky Blue, for piano, movement, and interactive intermedia, has been performed in the United States, Korea, and Argentina. In addition, his music has been included in festivals such as The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (NYC), CampGround23 (Tampa, Fl), Turn-Up Multimedia Festival (Tuscon, AZ), the Atemporanea Festival (Buenos Aires City, Argentina), Korea Electro-Acoustic Music Society's Annual Conference (Seoul, Korea), Ammerman Center’s Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology, Omaha Under the Radar, and Alba Music Festival (Italy), and performed by ensembles such as Crossing Borders, Hub New Music, Talea Ensemble, Transient Canvas, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Khaleghian’s research and creative interests include the intersection of art and science. He is involved in collaborative research with the University of Houston’s IUCRC BRAIN Center, Houston Methodist’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, and Rice University Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
A native of Atlanta, pianist Caroline Owen frequently performs as a soloist and collaborator. She has played in venues across the U.S. and in Europe, including the DiMenna Center for Classical Music (New York) and the Wiener Saal and Solitär at the Mozarteum (Salzburg).
Owen was the winner of the Florida MTNA Young Artist Competition and a semifinalist in the 14th International Mozart Competition Salzburg and International Keyboard Odyssiad. She also won the Pro-Mozart Society of Atlanta Competition, from which she received a scholarship to study at the Salzburg Mozarteum. Her 2023 schedule, most recently featuring the premiere of a new work with the Orlando Contemporary Chamber Orchestra last month, includes solo and collaborative performances across the U.S., Canada, and the Czech Republic.
Owen has performed at festivals including PianoFest in the Hamptons, PianoTexas, Atlantic Music Festival, and the Prague Piano Festival, and she has worked with distinguished artists such as Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Richard Goode, Ursula Oppens, and Pascal Rogé, among others. With a background in dance, Owen enjoys her ongoing interdisciplinary collaborations with Badie Khaleghian. The duo's most recent work, Electric Sky Blue (2022), has been performed in festivals across the U.S. and internationally.
Sharkey is a Detroit based artist who obtained his Bachelor of Fine Art from Kendall College of Art & Design where he majored in drawing. He then received his Master of Fine Art at Wayne State University in painting and drawing. For the past six years he has been a Part-Time Faculty member teaching painting and drawing courses at various institutions around the Detroit area. He has been an active artist both regional and nationally whose body of work is an ongoing investigation of culture and experience through the philosophical practice of Skepticism. His intention is to create a visual lexicon to redirect attention from unevidenced claims toward ideas that are evidenced to be beneficial. Sharkey combines image making with Skepticism to uncover the root causes of why certain beliefs, perceptions, and biases are held. Particularly when claims are far-fetched or violate physical laws of reality that obstruct the search for as many true things and as few false things as possible.
Described as an “Admirably skilled player” (The News-Gazette), South Georgia based saxophonist WILSON POFFENBERGER is in demand as a soloist, educator, chamber musician and improviser. Wilson is currently Lecturer of Saxophone at Valdosta State University where he teaches applied saxophone, jazz improvisation, woodwind methods, and chamber music. Wilson has performed as a soloist with the Mostly Modern Orchestra, Sinfonia da Camera, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, contraBAND Ensemble, and the Illinois Modern Ensemble. He has presented at conference and festivals such as the Boston New Music Initiative, Cortona Sessions for New Music, XVIII World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia, Splice New Music Festival, International Saxophone Symposium, the Fondation des Etats-Unis and the Fondation Bierman-Lapotre. Additionally, Wilson has won prizes at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Mostly Modern Festival Concerto Competition, Krannert Debut Artist Competition, Enkor International Competition, and the Harriet Hale Woolley award. A strong advocate for new music, Wilson has premiered and commissioned over 30 new works by composers such as Matthew Aucoin, Annika Socolofsky, Étienne Rolin, Badie Khaleghian, and more. He is a founder of the saxophone and viola duo, RE: Duo, whose mission is to engage audiences with innovative programming that blurs the lines between a variety of artistic disciplines. RE: duo has been in residence at institutions and festivals such as the Cortona Sessions for New Music, International Saxophone Symposium, University of Illinois, and the University of North Texas. Wilson is currently ABD D.M.A. from the University of Illinois, holds a MM from Youngstown State University, a BME from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and studied abroad at CRR Boulogne-Billancourt in Paris, France.
Lauren Serrano is originally from Orange County where she trained at many local studios and attended Orange County High School for the Performing Arts for classical and commercial dance. She graduated from University of California Santa Barbara with a B.F.A. in dance, and in addition to her Masters in Dance Education from the Arnold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College in 2015. In New York City Lauren had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Jennifer Muller, Young Soon Kim, Toni Renee Johnson, Pedro Ruiz, and Mike Esperanza. Lauren moved back to Santa Barbara to teach and direct the youth competitive teams at Santa Barbara Dance Arts while dancing with Santa Barbara Dance Theater and as a soloist for Nebula Dance Lab. While dancing with SBDT she performed works by Andrea Schermolly, Yusha Sorzano, Christopher Pilafian, Jennifer Muller, Stephanie Miracle, Brandon Whited, and Edgar Zendejas.
Lauren recently graduated from Sam Houston State University with her M.F.A. She is currently based in Houston, Texas and dances with NobleMotion Dance directed by Andy and Dionne Noble and co-directs NobleMotion Dance 2.
Fiona Dorr is a performer and movement artist who began her training at the age of 5 in Tuscaloosa, AL. Fiona graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University where she received her BF in dance. She was able to explore her interests under the tutelage of llana Goldman, Gwen Welliver, Jawole Willow Jo Zollar, Anjali Austin, and Donna Uchizono, among others. While there, she had the pleasure to perform in works premiering both onstage and on screen through FSU's School of Dance and School of Film.
Upon graduation, Fiona worked with Grand Rapids Ballet were she had the pleasure of performing work by George Balanchine and Christopher Stowell. Most recently, Fiona became a company member with Vitacca Ballet where she's performed works by Garrett Smith and Madison Hicks. Fiona has had the pleasure to continue exploring her artistic voice with companies and choreographers including Orsolina28, Peter Chu, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Gaga Movement Language, Alonzo King Lines Ballet and others. As well as working within choreographic processes with choreographers Juliano Nunes, Florian Lochner and Alice Klock, Francisco Gella, Gregg Russell, and others. She has found that exploring a variety of genres and processes that she immerses herself has pushed her to dive into her own creative expression and develop optimism for the art of movement. Fiona is excited to join NobleMotion this summer!
Lindsey McGill was born in Houston, Texas. She began her formal dance training under Elizabeth and Rosemary Molak in Orange County, California and continued training at the Houston Ballet Academy under the direction of Ben Stevenson, Clara Crave, and Priscilla Nathan Murphy. Since graduating from the Houston Ballet Academy, Lindsey has worked with companies in Houston, New York, and Portland including Northwest Dance Project, Hope Stone Dance, Michele Brangwen Dance Ensemble, iMEE, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, NobleMotion Dance, The Next Stage Project, KDNY, and O Dance. She has also had the opportunity to dance in projects by jhon r. stronks, Teresa Chapman, Vault, 6 Degrees, Freneticore, and iLluminate, among others. Lindsey was voted Reader's Choice Best Dancer in 2006 for the Houston Press' annual "Best…..of Houston" series, and artistic directors and dancers awarded her the 2007 Buffy Award for Best Performing Artist in Houston 2005-2007. Lindsey has been choreographing since 2004 and has made works for Revolve Dance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, iMEE, Northwest Dance Project, O Dance, Freneticore, 12 Minutes Max, Frenetic Fringe Festival, and the Big Range Dance Festival. She serves as co-director, choreographer, and dancer for Group Acorde. After guesting with NobleMotion in 2013, Lindsay has returned for a fourth season dancing with NobleMotion Dance.
Angelica Villa is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher from Houston, Texas. She began furthering her studies at Texas Woman's University and later obtained her BFA in Dance at Sam Houston State University.
She performed works by artists such as Sidra Bell and Andy Noble, in addition to working closely with Donald Shorter Jr. and Adele Nickel. Villa's notable performances include Dance Gallery Festival, Barnstorm Dance Festival, ACDA South-Central Conference Gala Performance, and Performing Arts Houston's New/Now Series. Angelica is currently teaching classes in the Houston area and is in her second season with NobleMotion Dance.
Regarded as “Truly Enchanting” by the New York Concert Review, Caio Diniz is a Brazilian cellist, sound engineer and musician.
Praised for his “vibrant and charismatic artistry,” Caio Diniz finds himself at home in Houston's vibrant New Music scene. He joins his passion for new music with his deep roots in Brazilian folk traditions, often collaborating with emerging composers in the commission of works exploring different aspects of his heritage.
In 2019, Mr. Diniz made his debut at Carnegie Hall captivating audiences with a “superbly brought to life” performance of Kaleidoscope Fantasy, a solo cello work composed by Dinos Constantinides. The success of this concert led to his return in 2022, when he gave the Carnegie Hall premiere of another solo cello work by Constantinides, Ballade for the Hellenic Land, with “a performance that danced and sang.”
When not performing, Caio works behind the scenes as a Producer, Sound and Recording Engineer. A notable highlight is the album “Reflections” The Music of Dinos Constantinides, Niloufar Iravani, and Christopher Lowry (Centaur Label, 2022), where Mr. Diniz served as a Performer and Assistant Recording Engineer, garnering praise as a “superb release” by Fanfare Magazine.
Caio has had the pleasure of studying cello under the mentorship of Felipe Avellar de Aquino, Dennis Parker, Helga Winold, Scott Kluksdahl and Norman Fischer. He currently holds the position of Chamber Music Manager at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
NobleMotion Dance (NMD), one of Texas’ premier dance companies, is recognized for their intense physicality and unique collaborations. NMD has been named Houston’s Best Dance Company by the Houston Press three times over, 2015, 2016, & 2019. Most notably, NMD was featured on the Emmy Award winning ABC TV show American Crime. NMD collaborated with Academy Award winner John Ridley to develop a four-minute contemporary dance work that was shown in its entirety on primetime TV and drew an audience viewership of 4 million. Other achievements include its inclusion on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Roster and graduation from the Houston Arts Alliance three-year Resident Incubator Program. The company received a Mid-America Arts Alliance Innovations Grant in 2017 for its collaboration with industrial designers. NMD has received over 50 positive reviews and been featured in articles from national critics including publications in Entertainment Weekly, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Press, and Arts+Culture. NobleMotion Dance was featured in The New York Times bestselling book, Dancers Among Us and the AAA Texas Journal as one of the dance companies helping to make Houston “The Big Apple of the South.”
Led by four composers, Musiqa’s mission is to enrich and inspire our community through programs that integrate new music with other modern art-forms. With its innovative collaborations and educational programming, Musiqa strives to make modern repertoire accessible and vital to audiences of all ages and musical backgrounds.
Musiqa performed its debut concert at the Rothko Chapel on April 28, 2002. A capacity crowd heard adventurous music by Morton Feldman, Earl Kim, and the first public performance of the poem “Two Suitcases of Children’s Drawings from Terezin,” by celebrated poet Edward Hirsch, which inaugurated Musiqa’s interdisciplinary approach. Invigorated by the success of its debut, Musiqa was incorporated in December 2002.
Since its founding, Musiqa has grown steadily, launching an award-winning education program in 2004 in collaboration with The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, with “Around the World with Musiqa”, an interdisciplinary musical production written by Musiqa composers. In the ensuing twelve years Musiqa added another original production in collaboration with the Alley Theatre, entitled “Musiqa ReMix”. These programs have provided free arts education to over 50,000 public school students from over 230 schools in and around Houston.
Musiqa launched its commissioning program with the work, “Deep Sky Objects”, by Sebastian Currier in 2010. In subsequent years Musiqa commissioned Karim Al-Zand in 2014 to score music for the silent film “Cinderella” with the support of a grant from New
Music USA; Anthony Brandt’s chamber opera, “Ulysses, Home” in 2015 with support from the Sarofim Foundation; and Marcus Maroney’s “Earth Music” in 2016 with support from FotoFest. Musiqa also created the Emerging Composer Program in 2014 to provide young composers with mentorship and an opportunities to create new work and build repertoire to be performed by a professional chamber ensemble.
Each season, Musiqa programs a diverse series of public performances introducing Houston audiences to dynamic and challenging music by contemporary composers, making it one of the most active contemporary music ensembles in the United States. Since its founding, Musiqa has presented more than 200 performances — including more than 30 world premieres — and performed the music of over180 modern composers. Our concerts are unique artistic experiences that highlight fresh, modern music by renowned local and national composers paired with another contemporary art form, such as literature, film, theatre, art or dance.
Musiqa’s national honors include: 2013 and 2016 Awards for Adventurous Programming from Chamber Music America/ASCAP—the highest national honor for chamber ensembles—the 2019 Father Eugène Merlet Award for Community Service from Pro Musicis, and numerous awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.