Brightmoor, a musical composition in two parts, describes the rise and fall of one of America’s hardest hit neighborhoods: a community of the same name in the Northwest corner of Detroit. The story is emblematic of many of America’s heartland cities. The piece spans a timeline of over one hundred years, beginning when Brightmoor was a flourishing community—hailed as a perfect example of the American dream—to the present day, when almost 75% of the houses are vacant or torn down, and many streets go on for miles without a single occupied building.
The piece is in two sections. The first, for solo piano, is a musical illustration of several generations of one family caught in the grips of change, describing their struggles and triumphs as they fight to maintain their lives. The second section, for string quartet, distributes musical elements of the family’s story within the larger context of the neighborhood’s collapse. A 40-minute video of Brightmoor will be projected as the string quartet plays. The entire piece is based of a short theme that opens the piece, which then transforms itself throughout, mirroring the change and struggle of the neighborhood itself.
The composer and pianist, Samuel Saunders, first came to Brightmoor through an organization he started that provides free music lessons to children in Detroit. He lived in Brightmoor while developing the organization and working on this piece. Sam graduated from the University of Michigan School of Music with a degree in composition; he recently moved to Baltimore to study composition with Michael Hersch at the Peabody Conservatory.
Sam will be performing the piano piece. The string quartet will be led by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jonathan Carney, and will include the BSO Principal Violist Lisa Steltenpohl, Jacques-Pierre Malan.