Remembrance, Resilience And Renewal: Genocide Awareness through the Arts

Judith Lynn Stillman’s historic “Remembrance, Resilience And Renewal” to showcase multiple diverse artists

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Judith Lynn Stillman, Rhode Island College’s Artist-in-Residence, serves as the artistic director, pianist and curator of “Remembrance, Resilience and Renewal: Genocide Awareness through the Arts,” a multidisciplinary program embracing the music, art, spoken word and dance of four extraordinary and resilient cultures that have faced the scourge of genocide. The event takes place during Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month on Sunday, April 28 at 2:30 p.m. in the Sapinsley Hall at Rhode Island College’s Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts in Providence, RI. 

Stillman has brought together multiple diverse multinational artists for a tour-de-force collaboration “to raise awareness about, and in condemnation of, the atrocity of genocide; to remember and honor those who were lost as a result of the inhumanity of humans to other humans; and to celebrate the resilience and fortitude of survivors, peoples and cultures,” says Stillman.

Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month is commemorated in April because the month contains many significant dates in the history of genocide. These include the beginnings of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the Armenian Genocide, the Cambodian Genocide and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazi regime/the Holocaust. The 20th century is often referred to as the “Century of Genocide.” Tragically, this trend has continued into the 21st century. 

The historic program includes celebrated Armenian-American soprano Anush Avetisyan and venerated Armenian violinist Nuné Melik performing iconic Armenian classical and folk music; Armenian painter Mher Khachatryan creating a work of art live on stage during musical performances; renowned Cambodian Pinpeat musician Song Heng – a survivor of the Cambodian Genocide – and his grandchildren performing traditional Cambodian music; Cambodian-American sculptor Alex Tum, a Rhode Island College student and a rising star in the art world; collaborative musical works in remembrance of the Holocaust with Rhode Island Philharmonic musicians Ian Greitzer and Willine Thoe; Rwandan poetry written by Haki Madhubuti, founder of the oldest independent Black publishing house; and the world premiere of “We Have No More Tears” – an original multidisciplinary work by Stillman based upon a traditional Rwandan folk melody, featuring African dance specialist and choreographer Shani Collins-Achille, narrator and steel pan virtuoso Becky Bass, vocals by Anush Avetisyan, the Silk Rhode Singers and Rhode Island College student, alumni and faculty musicians Michael Laurendeau, Bryan Round, Joseph Bentley and Michael De Quattro, with Stillman at the piano.

Stillman, an artistic visionary who uses her art to “give voice to the voiceless,” is reputed for her “true genius” as she leads audiences “on a journey through pain and loss, toward healing, solidarity and hope. Stillman reaches for the stars and succeeds brilliantly in transporting us through darkness toward life and growth.” (The Armenian Weekly)

Admission is free for the event and pre-registration is required. (Donations are welcome at the door.)

Judith Lynn Stillman enjoys a distinguished international career as a pianist, composer, music director, filmmaker and artistic visionary, using her creative platform to champion human rights, women’s rights and diversity and inclusion, further genocide education and give a voice to the voiceless. Hailed by Wynton Marsalis as “a remarkable virtuoso; a consummate artist,” she holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from The Juilliard School. Stillman is the Artist-in-Residence and a professor of music at Rhode Island College. She was named Honored Artist of The American Prize in Piano and Composition, awarded a first Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, and is the winner of 20 competitions. Her many career highlights include music festivals such as Marlboro, Tanglewood, Grand Teton, Yale-at-Norfolk, Kol HaMusica (Israel) and Ravel Academy (France); performer at the GRAMMYs honoring Rostropovich; and world premieres at Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Wynton Marsalis and Stillman’s acclaimed Sony duo album was on the Top Ten of the Billboard charts. Having collaborated with many notable musicians, Stillman’s compositions have received extensive national media coverage. Her unique “play-within-a-concert”™ productions have received accolades worldwide. Stillman was named Creative Services Industry Leader in PBN’s 2023 Business Women Awards.

Armenian-American soprano Anush Avetisyan has “proved to be a gifted singer and interpreter beyond her years” (German World Magazine). Avetisyan, along with Livermore Valley Opera, is a recipient of the American Prize in Opera for her 2021 performance of Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, as well as Bianca in Zemlinsky’s “A Florentine Tragedy.” She was a recent two-time fellow at the Music Academy of the West and was awarded a Fast Pitch Awardee for her work in promoting Armenian classical music in the classical canon. 

Becky Bass is an award-winning actress, musician, vocalist, steel pannist, recording artist and theater and music educator. She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies from Brown University and won the Best Caribbean Female Vocalist Award in the New England Urban Music Awards.

Shani Collins-Achille has been sharing her expertise and passion for dance at Connecticut College since 2009. Her practice and research over the past 14 years have led her to become a wealth of knowledge in many dance forms and disciplines, including West African dance, modern dance, choreography and dance history.

Michael DeQuattro is an eclectic artist known for fusing together acoustic, electronic and improvisational elements. He is able to move freely among classical, jazz, popular and world idioms, often weaving these styles together in his compositions. He currently teaches percussion and digital audio and accompanies for dance at Rhode Island College. Previous accompaniment positions include The Boston Conservatory and 20 years of service for Roger Williams University. 

Ian Greitzer serves as associate professor in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at Rhode Island College, and as principal clarinetist of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the Boston Classical Orchestra. He performs with the Boston Symphony, Cantata Singers, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Collage New Music. Greitzer holds both a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music Degree from the New England Conservatory.

Master Cambodian musician Song Heng is devoted to keeping traditional Cambodian music alive. Heng and three of his grandchildren perform together on classical Khmer Pinpeat instruments including roneat ek, a xylophone, kong and a circle of bronze gongs. Heng is a survivor of the Cambodian Genocide who undertook a miraculous journey of resilience and survival.

Armenian born and New York-based artist Mher Khachatryan, known as “The Smoke Artist,” always had an interest in the beauty of smoke and fire, life and death. He escapes the limits of the real world through his art. As a youth, Khachatryan studied in Yerevan at the Art School of Hakob Kodjoyan. He began private art lessons at the age of five. He earned his BFA in drawing and painting at the Art College of Panos Terlemezyan and MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts in Yerevan, Armenia.

Nuné Melik is an artist who believes that art has no limitations. She has performed as solo violinist at Carnegie Hall and at the United Nations Headquarters. She was born in Siberia, studied in Moscow and is of Armenian, Georgian and Jewish heritage. Having initiated the Hidden Treasure International, she advocates the music of the Caucasus, concurrently performing with orchestras and in chamber groups all over the world.

Willine Thoe was raised in Hong Kong, attended the highly selective Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, received a Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance with high distinction from the Eastman School of Music, Master of Music with honors from the New England Conservatory of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts from Boston University. She serves as assistant viola principal of the Portland Symphony and a member of the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

Alexander Tum grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, a child of Cambodian and American parents. Alexander is a Bachelor of Fine Arts candidate with a concentration in sculpture and digital media at Rhode Island College. His work has won awards from the Warwick Center for the Arts and the Providence Art Club. Tum’s work reflects a synthesis of cross-cultural perspectives, in which conventions of power dynamics, discipline and repression are examined through large-scale sculptural forms.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

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