Tuxedo: Vasco ‘de’ Gama takes its title from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic 1982–3 artwork Tuxedo, a collection of 16 diagrammatic block pieces that come together to form a figure adorned with Basquiat’s trademark three-point crown symbol. It highlights recurring notions of majesty in his output, as does the tuxedo itself, which is a garment associated with luxury and elegance.
A multitude of Basquiat’s thematic preoccupations are displayed in the intricate hand-drawn and -written iconographic detail, encompassing a variety of histories. Indeed, his reference to Vasco da Gama (written as ‘Vasco de Gama’), the first European to voyage to Asia by sea, offers a commentary on exploration and the seeds of globalisation and multiculturalism: two important themes in the context of the year 2020.
The music moves between bright and buoyant moments of high energy and expansive stillness, underpinned by the incorporated harmonicas, which also function as a nod to the blues. Basquiat often drew attention to historical and contemporary matters of the African Diaspora. In a similar fashion, I have included a transcription of ‘Wade in the Water’, a traditional African-American spiritual, for music box.
American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is dedicated to the creation, celebration, performance, and promotion of orchestral music by American composers. With commitment to diversity, disruption and discovery, ACO produces concerts, pre-college and college education programs, and emerging composer professional development to foster a community of creators, audience, performers, collaborators, and funders.
Receive the latest news
Join Our Mailing List!
Get notified about new events, opportunities and the latest ACO happenings