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Mural meets music: CPO, Pink Flamingo partner for I Rise concert

Pink Flamingo co-founder Allison Dunne wanted to create a place where concerts could be enjoyed by all.

They’ve partnered with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) to present I Rise on Oct. 1 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

I Rise is a celebration of a collaboration between both organizations aiming to represent the struggle of Black artists in Calgary and the beauty, strength, and resilience of the Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) communities.

“This represents the resilience, beauty, joy and the understanding of under representation and how that manifest in connection to community accomplishments and opportunities,” said the director and co-founder of Pink Flamingo, Allison Dunne.

Dunne said she struggled to fit as a young adult when attending the concerts. She wants newer generations to have a better experience than the one she did in her 20s.

“I just feel like the crowd should reflect the actual environments we were in and again, taking the orchestrated environment out of this ivory tower and really connecting it to community. Good art comes from community,” said Dunne.

On Saturday, the concert will feature the premiere of a new work for the Calgary Philharmonic Chorus by Canadian composer Laura Hawley. It’s based on LR Knost’s poem I Rise.

Mural artists participating

The debut of this new work will be accompanied by the mural artists of Pink Flamingo’s Black Lives Matter Mural Project, who were invited to respond to LR Knost’s poem in their murals.

“They’re going to have their own interpretation of what it means to write and their own lived experience is going to be different from our course,” said CPO artistic operations manager, Jason Stasiuk.

“I think the really interesting part of this collaboration is that each artist is going to respond to that idea.”

Even though the lack of gender representation has been slowly changing in classical music over the last decade, there is still a lack of racialized representation within this realm of musical expression and performance.

“This project, and really this partnership, started because there is a clear discrepancy within classical music – it has historically been dominated by straight, white men,” said Stasiuk.

“It’s been like this since the induction of classical music.”

According to Dunne, the concert will be the first Calgary step toward improving representation. Calgarians can do the same by taking their experience and shaping the conversation to a more profound, informative way to share information instead of just reading about it.

The CPO is stepping towards that change.

“The Calgary Phil would like to be part of changing that, and the mural project, which in and of itself has been so powerful, seemed like a great place to start,” said Stasiuk.

Dunne said the classical music genre is a great place to continue the conversation.

“This concert is a celebration of us, of our community, and we are making some real waves because these are not things that we have ever seen happen before in this realm of classical music,” said Dunne.

I Rise will be at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m., and tickets can be purchased online.