Nkeiru Okoye | The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series

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Nkeiru Okoye headshot and artwork

This speaker event was recorded live on Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 5:30 pm in the Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI.

Nkeiru Okoye is an American-born composer of African American and Nigerian ancestry. After studying composition, music theory, piano, conducting, and Africana Studies at Oberlin Conservatory, she pursued graduate studies at Rutgers University and became one of the leading African American women composers. An activist through the arts, Okoye creates a body of work that welcomes and affirms both traditional and new audiences.

Nkeiru Okoye’s new commission When the Caged Bird Sings premieres on Saturday, February 102024 at 7:30 PM at UM’s Hill Auditorium, as a collaboration between UMS and the U‑M School of Music, Theatre & Dance. When the Caged Bird Sings fuses elements of oratorio, theater, and opera in a multi-movement musical ceremony, which Okoye describes as ​a gathering” that invokes the ritual of the concert experience as a ritual of community. Drawing inspiration from the Black church, it celebrates the spirit of rising above expectations and transforming adversity into triumph. Partly in tribute to the activist and poet laureate Maya Angelou, the work celebrates the transformative ability of Black women, commemorating those who have paved a path for future generations in many fields of human endeavor.

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The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series Spring 2024 Season

This spring, the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series brings respected leaders and innovators from a broad spectrum of creative fields to Ann Arbor’s historic Michigan Theater for weekly in-person events.

Detroit Public Television and PBS Books, in partnership with the Stamps School, will stream each week’s event Fridays at 8pm.

See the full schedule of events livestreamed by PBS Books here.

Some programs may not be available online, depending on artist requests. Interested in receiving notifications before online videos go live? Sign up to receive a reminder before each event begins streaming.

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