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Contemporary Folk Music: Lula Wiles
Dec 12 @ 7:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Celebrate the new Smithsonian Folkways recording by the creative folk trio Lula Wiles. Their original songs are inspired by musical traditions ranging from the protest anthems of Woody Guthrie to the trailblazing songs of Elizabeth Cotton and Hazel Dickens. In the new release What Will We Do, the voices of Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin burn, twist together, mingle, and rise like smoke signaling changes to come. Anchoring this delicate touch is a mastery of folk music—and the trio’s willingness to subvert its hallowed conventions.

In 2016, the band self-released Lula Wiles, a sensitive, twang-tinged collection of original songs. Since then, the trio has toured internationally, winning fans at the Newport and Philadelphia folk festivals and sharing stages with Aoife O’Donovan, the Wood Brothers, and Tim O’Brien.

Lula Wiles creates music that questions cultural virtues, soothes aching wounds, and envisions a better world. The musicians take turns in different roles––Burke and Buckland on guitar and fiddle, Obomsawin on bass, with all three singing—but no matter who plays what, they operate in close tandem, buoyed by the nimble touch of drummer (and frequent collaborator) Sean Trischka. In carrying on the folk ritual of innovation, they infuse their songs with distinctly modern sounds: pop hooks, distorted electric guitars, and dissonant multi-layered vocals, all employed in the service of songs that reclaim folk music in their own voice.

This concert is presented as part of the Smithsonian’s Future of Music Public Forum, held December 12–14, 2019. For more information on the conference go to

Vijay Iyer, piano and keyboards; Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet
Dec 14 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Don’t miss this unique collaboration between visionary jazz pianist Vijay Iyer and legendary trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith. Iyer has been named Artist of the Year four times in DownBeat magazine, and Smith has been honored as Artist and Album of the Year by Downbeat in 2017, Artist of the Year by Jazz Times in 2016, and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Los Angeles Times critic Chris Barton described their 2015 duo album, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke, as “haunting, meditative and transportive in a work that draws from abstract Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi and reaches for the stars.” New Yorker critic Alec Wilkinson called it a “two-figure play in which the exchanges involve mortality or impermanence or divinity . . . the discourses are both cultivated and passionate.” And the New Yorker’s Alex Ross, in reviewing the Big Ears Festival, noted, “I was mesmerized most by the lonely meanderings of the trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith and the pianist-composer Vijay Iyer. A few days later, making a five-hour drive from Los Angeles to Death Valley, I listened five times in a row to Smith and Iyer’s album . . . the music nearly as vast as the landscape around me. On the way back, I listened five times again.”

Read more about Vijay Iyer at and Wadada Leo Smith at

This concert is presented as part of the Smithsonian’s Future of Music Public Forum, December 12–14, 2019. For more information please visit

New Music by Iranian Women Composers
Feb 8 @ 7:30 pm – 7:30 pm

In person: composers Aida Shirazi, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, and Golnaz Shariatzadeh 

Hear the Washington premieres of new works composed by Iranian-born women and performed by an outstanding wind and percussion ensemble from New York. Composers Anahita Abbasi, Aida Shirazi, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh established the Iranian Female Composers Association in 2017 and presented their inaugural concert at New York’s cutting-edge venue National Sawdust. They coproduced a second concert last summer as part of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. Their music and a work by Golnaz Shariatzadeh make up this program.

Niloufar Nourbakhsh won a 2019 Female Discovery Grant from Opera America, and her music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Seal Bay Festival, SPLICE Institute, and University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival. Aida Shirazi’s music has been featured at the New Music Gathering, SPLICE, the Tehran Contemporary Music Festival, Klasik Keyifler, Bilgi New Music Days, and Sesin Yolculuğu. Her works have been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, Miranda Cuckson, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Ensemble Dal Niente, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Empyrean Ensemble, Lydian String Quartet, and Bilkent Symphony Orchestra. Winner of a prestigious Morton Gold ASCAP Young Composers Award, Anahita Abbasi has composed works performed at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Ircam (Manifeste Academy), Matrix (Experimental studio des SWR), the Impuls Festival, the Time of Music, and the Atlas Festival. She was awarded a scholarship from Experimentalstudio des SWR in Freiburg.

Documentary videos about the composers are shown between pieces in the program, and three of the composers—Aida Shirazi, Golnaz Shariatzadeh, and Niloufar Nourbakhsh—will be on hand to introduce their works in person. The complete program comprises ephemera by Aida Shirazi (for clarinet and percussion), Seven Impressions by Anahita Abbasi (for voice and percussion), Sitting on a Broken Periphery by Golnaz Shariatzadeh (for flute, clarinet, and percussion), and Firing Squad by Niloufar Nourbakhsh (for oboe, clarinets, saxophone, and bassoon with electronics).

The ensemble for this concert features soprano Alice Teyssier, whom the Los Angeles Times has called “an arresting soprano, in all senses.” She has appeared with the San Diego Symphony, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, San Francisco New Music Players, Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, and 21st Century Consort. Saxophonist Ryan Muncy has been praised for his “superb” performances by the New York Times as well as his ability to, as the Chicago Reader noted, “show off the instrument's malleability and freakish extended range as well as its delicacy and refinement.” His debut solo album was called “absorbing” (Alex Ross) and “one of the year's best albums” (Time Out New York). The ensemble also features New York new music specialists Rebekah Heller on bassoon, Ross Karre on percussion, Campbell MacDonald on clarinet, Christa Robinson on oboe (TBC), and Joshua Rubin on clarinet.

The event is presented in conjunction with the exhibition My Iran: Six Women Photographers.