It’s not uncommon for great pieces of journalism to be adapted into screenplays. Movies like A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Bernie and Almost Famous take stories off newsstands and put them on the big screen. But rarely has journalism crossed over into the world of music.
Contemporary chamber trio HAVEN does just that with their newly released album TWINGE, which draws text from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barry Bearak’s New York Times Magazine cover story, "The Day the Sea Came," a collection of six stories from survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
University of North Texas alumna and current clarinet professor Kimberly Cole Luevano is one-third of HAVEN, a group she formed in 2011 with colleagues and established performers, pianist Midori Koga and soprano Lindsay Kesselman.
The trio first came together for Cole Luevano’s faculty recital when she started teaching at UNT. The group found the collaboration so easy that they decided to continue performing together as HAVEN. Almost 10 years and three albums later, Cole Luevano says that even though her trio-mates live in other states and even other countries (Kesselman is from North Carolina and Koga is in Toronto) the collaboration still comes naturally.
“We really have a similar philosophy,” Cole Luevano says of her group. “It can be difficult in the music world to find like-minded people like that.”
HAVEN’s latest album, TWINGE, released earlier this week on Blue Griffin Records, was composed by Jon Magnussen and commissioned by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund. Magnussen was inspired by Bearak’s telling of the Indonesian tragedy and featured the journalist on the album, narrating excerpts of his story between movements.
Prior to recording the album, HAVEN spent two years performing the piece, including a premiere of the work at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2016. Because of current COVID-19 challenges, the group does not have any immediate plans to continue touring.
In late October, HAVEN hosted a Zoom album release event to celebrate the work. The trio, along with Magnussen, Bearak and tsunami survivors, came together to talk about the album and perform excerpts.
“Zoom created things we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” Cole Luevano says. “We could all be in the same place. Barry was able to find his translator, Linda [Bong]. And Linda found three of the survivors. It wasn't the same as the release party, but in a way, it was more poignant because it became an impetus to find the survivors and connect with them and connect with the translator.”
TWINGE is available on multiple platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon.
“The power of survivors' stories were such that they lent themselves really well to an effective setting,” Cole Luevano says.
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