Skip to main content
Toggle menu

Freedom Suite - Leila Adu-Gilmore

"I wrote this song cycle from songs I had written over seven years in the United States of America—in 2020, this piece feels more relevant as I continue to live in a country and in a world that seems less united. The subject matter of the two songs selected for today's programme "Negative Space" and "Ghost Lullaby" are about police, environmental brutality through structural colonialism and racism, exacerbated by monolithic western culture and education. As the original (2014) programme note explains: "For over half of my life, I have written, performed and recorded songs and improvisations for piano and voice. At times the accompaniment is very simple. In Freedom Suite, I have arranged three songs in different ways, with a goal of capturing their initial simplicity in different ways for each song... The second, Ghost Lullaby, is a song I wrote when I came to the town of Princeton and realized that only a couple of people mentioned Native Americans and that no one spoke of the tribe of people who inhabited the actual space that we lived on while I was there. The third, Negative Space, is a song that I wrote upon hearing of the murder of Trayvon Martin and speaks to the vacuum created for many black people through continued effects of colonialism, slavery, prison and the justice system." As a Ghanaian British New Zealander, the situation can feel extreme here in the USA, but the roots of these systemic problems of coloniality continue to cause problems for our world and our future. These themes in a classical music setting are powerful, as inclusive and collective voices continue to create, educate and positive change." Leila Adu-Gilmore

This film was recorded as part of the London Sinfonietta's socially distanced concert Yet Unheard at the Southbank Centre on 28 October 2020, a concert of music by established and emerging black composers, co-curated by leading composer and new music thinker George Lewis and experimental vocalist, movement artist and composer Elaine Mitchener.

Support us

If you are enjoying our events, please do consider donating at whatever level you can afford to support the London Sinfonietta’s work and musicians both now and in the future – in schools, on the concert platform and in the community. It might be the price of a coffee, or the cost of a ticket to one of our live events.

Published: 18 Jan 2023