poster for Of Ebony Embers


The University at Albany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences and in conjunction the Alumni Association and the Office of Multicultural Student Success, is pleased to present the Core Ensemble in a performance of Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 7:30pm.  This chamber theatre work celebrates the lives of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Claude McKay, three great African-American poets, as seen through the eyes of the great muralist and painter Aaron Douglas.  This performance marks the Core Ensemble’s second visit to UAlbany after presenting performances of Ain’t I a Woman last season.

Chamber music theatre is a unique performance format developed by the Core Ensemble featuring a marriage of theatrical narrative to chamber music performance.  Performers in Of Ebony Embers include cellist Tahirah Whittington, pianist Hugh Hinton, percussionist Michael Parola and actor Jamyl Dobson, who portrays multiple characters while interacting with the onstage musical trio.  The show is written and directed by Akin Babatunde, an accomplished actor, director and writer whose theatrical career spans Broadway, regional theatre, film and television and who is founder/artistic director of Vivid Theater Ensemble of Dallas as well as founder of Ebony Emeralds Classic Theater Company. The musical score includes works by Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonius Monk and Charles Mingus as well as concert music by Jeffrey Mumford and George Walker.

Since 1993, the Core Ensemble has toured its works in every region of the United States and internationally to Australia, England, Russia, Ukraine and the British Virgin Islands. Performances have taken place in such prestigious venues as the Guggenheim Museum, Central Park SummerStage, the Chautauqua Institution, the Daytona International Festival, the Fromm Series at Harvard University and New Music Festivals in Massachusetts, California, Ohio and Indiana.

A member of Actor’s Equity, Jamyl Dobson recently completed the international tour of Zorro the Musical. Local audiences most recently have seen him in Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s performances of Fondly Do We Hope, Fervently Do We Pray at SPAC in 2010.  Dobson’s New York City credits include The Seven at New York Theatre Workshop, Fela! at Broadway Workshop, Romeo and Juliet and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death at Classical Theatre of Harlem. Film credits include Hall Pass, More Moments the Go and the PBS documentary, A Good Man.

Hugh Hinton has performed widely as a chamber musician and recitalist including concerts and residencies throughout the Middle East as a U.S. Information Agency Artistic Ambassador. Orchestral concerto engagements include the Aequalis Ensemble’s world premiere performances of the Chinary Ung Triple Concerto with the Phoenix, Honolulu, New Hampshire and Stony Brook symphonies as well as the world premiere performances of the Bernard Rands Triple Concerto with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Florida Philharmonic, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony and the New Hampshire Symphony. His recordings of chamber and contemporary music have been broadcast internationally on "Art of the States" and can be found on the New World, Albany, CRI, Etcetera and Newport Classics labels.

A founding member and percussionist with the Aequalis Trio from 1984-93 and then founder of the Core Ensemble, Michael Parola has commissioned dozens of new chamber music trios for the unique instrumental combination of cello, piano and percussion.  He has served as percussion instructor at the Harid Conservatory of Music from 1993-99, Florida Atlantic University from 1993-98 and the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University from 1999-2008. In addition to his roles as percussionist and Executive Director, Parola has served since 1995 as Executive Producer for nearly a dozen Core Ensemble chamber music theatre works.

Originally from Houston, Tahirah Whittington has performed for audiences in the United States, Chile, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Bermuda, St. Kitts and Japan. She is a founding member of The Young Eight, a touring string octet based in Seattle, and a resident member of the Ritz Chamber Players based in Jacksonville, FL. She is featured on Cedille Records' recording of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's unaccompanied cello work, "Lamentations: a Black Folk Song Suite," for which she received a Grammy nomination. Whittington has collaborated with jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman and reggae artist Beres Hammond and has performed on recordings with R&B artists Alicia Keys, Angie Stone, Joe and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.

Tickets for the performance are $15 for the general public, $12 for seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff and $10 for students.  For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

There will also be a special morning matinee performance of Of Ebony Embers for high school groups on Thursday, January 31 at 10am. Information and reservations for this matinee are available by calling the Performing Arts Center office at (518) 442-5738.