We Are the Forest—Music of Resilience and Activism program

We Are the Forest—Music of Resilience and Activism 

Saturday, April 29, 2023


MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble & MIT Wind Ensemble
Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director & Project Creator/Leader

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Laura Grill Jaye, Director

Anat Cohen, clarinetist-composer
Miguel Martinez, percussionist
David Rosado Ortiz, percussionist
Sara Serpa, vocalist-composer
Marcus Santos, percussionist
Djuena Tikuna, vocalist-indigenous activist
Miguel Zenón, saxophonist-composer
Evan Ziporyn, clarinetist-composer

Program introduced by Agustín Rayo, Dean, MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and Professor of Philosophy

Susan Wilson, Producer, MIT Institute Events


Água de Beber 
Performed by MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994)
Arrranged by Michael Philip Mossman

Cry Me a River
Performed by MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Composed by Arthur Hamilton (b. 1926)
Arrranged by Oded Lev-Ari

Corta Jaca
Performed by Anat Cohen, clarinet
Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet
Nicholas Ortiz ’23, clarinet
MIT Wind Ensemble Clarinets
Marcus Santos, percussion
MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble rhythm section
Composed by Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935)
Arrranged by Evan Ziporyn

Alma Adentro 
Performed by Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone
Composed by Sylvia Rexach (1922-1961)
Arrranged by Zenón & Guillermo Klein, orch. Gambourg

MIT's Festival Jazz Ensemble tours Puerto Rico with Miguel Zenón
MIT Video Productions film

En Pie de Lucha (For the Resilient People of Puerto Rico) 
Performed by Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone
David Rosado Ortiz, Miguel Martinez, percussionists
Composed by Miguel Zenón (b. 1976)

Composed for the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble in 2018

For You I Must Become a Tree 
Performed by Sara Serpa & Laura Grill Jaye, vocals
Anat Cohen, clarinet
Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet
Peter Godart, piano
Composed by Sara Serpa (b. 1979) & Emmanuel Iduma (b. 1989)

Canoa, Canoa 
Performed by MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Laura Grill Jaye, Director
Sara Serpa, voice
Composed by Nelson Angelo (b. 1949) & Fernando Brant (1946-2015)
Arrranged by Luciana Souza

Hearing Amazônia—Art and Resistance
MIT Video Productions film

Nós Somos A Floresta—Eware (Reflections on Amazonia) (We Are The Forest—Sacred Land)
Performed by Djuena Tikuna, vocals
Anat Cohen, clarinet
David Rosado Ortiz, percussion
Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet
Songs composed by Djuena Tikuna Eware lyrics from traditional song of the Tikuna People
Arrangement of Eware by Nadav Erlich
Photos by Diego Janatã

Performed by MIT Wind Ensemble
MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Sara Serpa, vocals
Marcus Santos, percussion
Composed by Jobim 
Arrranged by Klein

Hermanos Latinos
Performed by MIT Wind Ensemble
MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Anat Cohen, clarinet
Marcus Santos, percussion
Sara Serpa, voice
Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone
Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet
Composed by Hermeto Pascoal (b. 1936)
Arrranged by Klein

About We Are the Forest—Music of Resilience and Activism

A sonic awakening to the plight of the natural world and our individual urgent responsibility to preserve it

The impact of ecological devastation in the Amazon is representative of the climate crisis worldwide. Inspired by the research and activism of Talia Khan, MIT SB ’20, and building upon experiences with 2020-21 CAST Virtual Visiting Artists Luciana Souza and Anat Cohen, Hearing Amazônia—The Responsibility of Existence was created by MIT Sounding Co-Director Frederick Harris Jr.

The project was launched with a consciousness-raising concert at MIT in November 2021 featuring Brazilian and Amazonian music influenced by the rhythms of the natural world. The performance was part eulogy and part praise song; a way of bearing witness to loss, while celebrating the living and evolving cultural heritage of Amazônia. Portugal-born vocalist-composer Sara Serpa, clarinetist-composer Anat Cohen, and MIT Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music Evan Ziporyn, joined an array of MIT musicians (MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Wind Ensemble, and MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble) in a unique program of Brazilian music, including virtual performances by indigenous Amazonian musicians. The event included short talks by, Maritta R. von Bieberstein Koch-Weser, founder and President, Earth3000; Brazilian music scholar Genevieve Dempsey; and Talia Khan, who spoke of her research on natural botanical resins and traditional carimbó music in Santarém, Pará, Brazil.

Listen to voices—connecting to make a difference

The next step for Hearing Amazônia was to take the participants to the Brazilian Amazon itself—focusing on music’s storytelling power to shine a light on cultural and environmental sustainability.

During the Institute's spring break in March 2023, nearly 80 musicians became only the second segment of MIT students to ever travel to the Brazilian Amazon. They were based in Manaus, located in the center of the world’s largest rainforest and home to the National Institute of Amazonian Research, the most important center for scientific studies in the Amazon region for international sustainability issues.

Activities included cultural/scientific exchanges with indigenous Amazonians through Nobre Academia de Robótica and the São Sebastião community on the Tarumã River, the National Institute of Amazonian Research, the Cultural Center of the Peoples of the Amazon, and Fundação Amazônia Sustentável. Musically, students connected with local indigenous instrument builders, the Amazonas State Jazz Orchestra, and vocalist-composer Djuena Tikuna.

A major concert in the famed 19th century opera house, Teatro Amazonas, concluded the trip on March 31. The event featured the MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, vocalist-composer Luciana Souza, clarinetist-composer Anat Cohen, clarinetist-composer and MIT professor Evan Ziporyn, local musicians from Manuas, and a special large-scale collaborative performance with Djuena Tikuna, the first Brazilian Amazonian musician to perform in the Teatro Amazonas (her debut there was in 2015).

Program Notes

About the Performers and Contributors

Anat Cohen is an internationally celebrated Grammy-nominated jazz clarinetist-saxophonist and renowned Brazilian music performer. The Jazz Journalists Association has awarded her "Clarinetist of the Year" annually since 2007.

Sara Serpa is a vocalist-composer widely recognized as a top jazz vocalist by NPR, The New York Times, and Downbeat Magazine. As co-founder of Mutual Mentorship for Musicians, she is a leader in gender equity in music.

Miguel Zenón is a multi-Grammy nominee, MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, and a leading jazz saxophonist-composer of his generation. Beginning in the fall of 2023 he serves as Assistant Professor of Music in Jazz at MIT.

Djuena Tikuna is a vocalist-songwriter and activist. The Tikuna people are Brazil’s largest indigenous Amazonian ethnic group. Djuena has performed at the Olympic Games and the Indigenous World Games.

Evan Ziporyn is an internationally recognized composer-clarinetist, former music director of Bang on a Can All-Stars, celebrated recording artist, MIT Distinguished Professor of Music, and Director of MIT’s Center for Art, Science and Technology. An expert in Balinese music, he founded MIT’s Gamelan Gala Tika.


Born and raised outside of Chicago, Laura Grill Jaye grew up with an appetite for picking up instruments… and the inability to put them down. In seemingly no time this translated to a personal investment in the study and creation of new music. Laura traded the heartland for the coast and moved to Boston in 2008. In the company of Crooked Still, Joy Kills Sorrow and Sarah Jarosz, Grill found her voice at the New England Conservatory. Amongst the crowd of conservatory musicians, Laura assembled her eclectic band of Tucker Antell (Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone), Matt Consul (Viola, Violin, Mandolin) and Brad Barrett (Bass, Cello). Although clearly infused with Jazz and Classical sensibilities the Laura Grill Band sound is undeniably folk. Reflective lyrics are combined with tastes of chamber music, improvisation, and four-part harmonies to create a sound that is uncatalogued. “Never Before,” the debut album from the Laura Grill Band, was released to much acclaim. The collection of intimate songs was recorded one-hundred percent live in a picturesque snowy cabin in New Hampshire.

For more information, visit mta.mit.edu/person/laura-grill-jaye www.lauragrilljaye.com

Frederick Harris, Jr. is the Director of Wind and Jazz Ensembles at MIT, where he serves as Music Director of the MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Coordinator, overseeing jazz chamber music programs including three combos, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and the Emerson Jazz Scholars Program. Harris is also the creator and director of It Must Be Now!, a project creating music and visual art on themes of racial justice.

For more information, visit mta.mit.edu/person/fred-harris

MIT Wind Ensemble
Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director
Kenneth Amis, Assistant Conductor

Phoebe Lin ’24 CA
Charlotte Wickert ’23 CO

Irene Huang ’24 CA
Phoebe Lin ’24 CA
Vincent Lin ’24 NE
Sara Simpson (G) CA
Hailey Quinn ’24 NJ
Charlotte Wickert ’23 CO

Jennifer Kim ’26 TX
Michelle Kornberg ’20 MA
Kathryn Kummel ’25 CO

Rebecca Chang ’26 CA
Kylee Cogdill ’26 IA
Andy Huang ’13 CA
Ola Kaminska ’26 IL
Katherine Kitzinger ’24 MD
Teo Lara ’26 GA
Jenny Li ’24 VA
Kayla O’Donnell ’25 MI
Nicholas Ortiz ’23 IL
Andi Qu ’25 South Africa
Iris Shi ’25 CT
Lawrence Shi ’25 VA
Teddy Warner (G) NM
Jason Zhang ’25 KY

Bass Clarinet
Richard Chen ’25 MA

Zoe Beck MA
Miranda Macias TX

Soprano Saxophone
Kyle DeBry (G) OH

Alto Saxophone
Kyle DeBry (G) OH
Daniel Gliksberg ’26 MA

Tenor Saxophone
Rachel Morgan (G) MD

Baritone Saxophone
Brian Xiao ’23 PA

Daniel Brown ’25 SC
Alejandro Gonzalez-Ayala ’25 TX
Cameron Holt ’26 HI
Haeri Kim ’24 HI
Armando Moncada ’24 IL
Daina Neithardt ’25 PA
Andrew Woo ’25 KOR

French Horn
Madison Bronnimann ’24 IL
Logan Fischer FL
Samantha Rencher ’24 AZ
Scott Stransky ’05/’07 CT

Aaron Buede, KY
Evan Harrison ’26 MD
Dylan Rodriguez Barrera ’26 OR
Laura Koemmpel ’19 CA

Bass Trombone
Eric Lee (G) Canada
Chris Urffer MA

John San Soucie (G) TX
Linnaea Uliassi ’24 AK
Hannah Waltz ’26 NH

Frederick Ajisafe ’23 FL
Pranav Krishna ’23 NJ
Tyler Matsuzaki ’26 HI

Lisa Blomberg ’23 OR
Isabella Butler NC
Rila Shishido ’23 Japan
Daniel Villagran ’24 TX
Frank Wang ’24 NJ

Claire Southard ’25 MO

Founded by Music Director Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. in the fall of 1999, the MIT Wind Ensemble (MITWE) is one of the most innovative ensembles of its kind. Comprised primarily of outstanding MIT undergraduates and graduate students studying a wide range of disciplines within science, engineering, and the humanities. Repertoire includes outstanding traditional works and new music for full wind ensemble, chamber winds, brass ensemble, percussion ensemble, and woodwind ensembles. MITWE has commissioned 45 original works from many prominent composers. MIT Affiliated Artist, renowned composer, and tuba player of the Empire Brass, Kenneth Amis, is the Assistant Conductor of MITWE.

MITWE has been featured on NPR and was the subject of the 2014 Emmy-winning documentary Awakening: Evoking the Arab Spring Through Music, aired on PBS. MITWE is also featured in the 2019 Emmy-nominated documentary The Great Clarinet Summit, and Call and Response: Creativity at MIT. MITWE’s joint recording with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, Infinite Winds, received a five-star review from DownBeat and was chosen by the magazine as one of its “Best Albums of 2015 Five-Star Masterpieces” — the first such recognition of its kind for a collegiate wind ensemble. The Boston Globe called the recording “one of the most compelling of 2015.”

Throughout its 21-year history, MITWE has collaborated with elementary, middle and high school students throughout Massachusetts. In March of 2019, MITWE embarked on its first tour, spending a week in the Dominican Republic, presenting four concerts, many STEAM presentations for middle, high school and college students, and premiering the eco-music piece In Praise Of The Humpback.

In May of 2020, MITWE had the honor of opening MIT’s virtual Commencement with To The Light, To The Flame. MITWE also participated in MIT’s 2021 virtual Commencement, performing Diary Of A Pandemic Year.

For more information, visit mta.mit.edu/music/performance/mit-wind-ensemble

MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble
Frederick Harris, Jr., Music Director

Vincent Lin ’24 NE
Sara Simpson (G) CA

Teo Lara ’26 GA
Nicholas Ortiz ’23 IL

Alto Saxophone
Ezekiel Daye ’25 CT
Andrew Li ’25 NE

Tenor Saxophone
Isaac Taylor ’25 DC
Brian Xiao ’23 PA

Baritone Saxophone
Nick Cerone ’26 PA

Daniel Brown ’25 SC
Emeka Echezona ’24 NJ
Miles Kaming-Thanassi ’23 NY
Ben Lammers ’26 MI
Andrew Lee ’26 MA

Michael Gerace NY
Evan Harrison ’26 MD
Ethan LaBelle ’23 AZ
Dylan Rodriguez Barrera ’26 OR

Peter Godart ’15/’21 NJ
Mike Jiang (G) Switzerland

Emily Albornoz ’26 CA

Evan Boothe ’25 OK
Daniel Hurtado, Visiting Professor, Chile

Diego Barros ’25 FL

Alby Musaelian (Harvard) CO

Axel Vera Sanchez (G) Puerto Rico

The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (MIT FJE) was founded in 1963 by Boston jazz icon Herb Pomeroy and led since 1999 by Dr. Frederick Harris, Jr. This advanced 18 to 20-member big band/jazz ensemble is comprised of outstanding MIT undergraduate and graduate students studying a wide range of disciplines. An advanced combo is formed from the membership of the MIT FJE. MIT FJE performs traditional and contemporary jazz ensemble literature, including student compositions and new works written for the MIT FJE by major jazz composers. Improvisation is a prominent part of the MIT FJE experience. MIT FJE has released five professional recordings including its major jazz label debut on Sunnyside in 2015, Infinite Winds, which received a five-star review from DownBeat and was chosen by the magazine as one of its “Best Albums of 2015 Five-Star Masterpieces.”

The FJE has a long history of performing original music by MIT students and composers from around the world. Since 2001, it has presented over 50 world premieres. Among others, Mark Harvey, Herb Pomeroy, Jamshied Sharifi, Ran Blake, John Harbison, Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Gunther and George Schuller, Kenny Werner, Don Byron, Steve Turre, Magali Souriau, Guillermo Klein, Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenón, Dominique Eade, and Luciana Souza have collaborated with the MIT FJE. In January of 2019 the FJE participated in a highly successful cultural exchange, touring Puerto Rico with Miguel Zenón, presenting concerts in various venues and also STEM workshops in middle and high schools.

Learn about the MIT FJE’s collaboration with Grammy-winner Jacob Collier in this Emmy-winning documentary. Watch the Emmy-nominated documentary The Great Clarinet Summit, featuring MIT FJE. See an overview of MIT FJE’s recent tour of Puerto Rico. Watch MIT FJE and Sean Jones perform an original composition by MIT student Alan Osmundson and Warren Wolf perform Heal! by MIT pianist-composer Peter Godart. MIT FJE participated in MIT's 2021 virtual Commencement, performing Diary of a Pandemic Year.

For more information, visit mta.mit.edu/music/performance/festival-jazz-ensemble

MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Laura Grill Jaye, Director

Adanna Abraham-Igwe ’24 CA
Alex Boccon-Gibod (G) CA
Julia Cha ’18 NY
Autumn Geil ’21 CA
Gabe Kane ’21 VA
Talia Khan (G) AZ
Raima Mahmud ’23 NJ
Ari Pero IL
Michael Peters IL
Brindha Rathinasabapathi ’24 FL
Tiandra Ray (G ) NY
Jorge Sandoval (G) Costa Rica
Claire Walsh, Econ. Dept. CO

The MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble (MITVJE) was founded by Institute Professor John Harbison in the spring of 2011 as the first and only vocal jazz performance group at the Institute. Boston-based vocalist-arranger-composer Laura Grill Jaye is the current director and coach of VJE, which has quickly risen to high recognition not only on campus but throughout Boston. Performance opportunities have included a professional recording with the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble of the MIT school song and “A Rhumba for Rafael Reif,” as well as an appearance with the Boston Pops at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Professor Harbison has arranged many pieces for VJE over the years.

VJE’s debut recording Vocal Jazz at MIT: Store-Bought Hair, was released in 2015. Past collaborations have included performances with Jacob Collier, Dominique Eade, and Luciana Souza. Under the direction of Laura Grill Jaye, VJE has participated and earned high praise in a special residency with Audra McDonald, and has collaborated and recorded with The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble.

VJE sings ensemble and solo jazz music. It performs with jazz instrumentalists on and off campus, including a concert in Killian Hall at the end of each semester. The ensemble also offers members opportunities for arranging and songwriting. The MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble is coordinated and overseen by Dr. Fred Harris.

For more information, visit mta.mit.edu/music/performance/mit-vocal-jazz-ensemble

About the Presenters

About MIT Music and Theater Arts (MTA)

The Music and Theater Arts Section of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences annually affords 1,500 students per year the opportunity to experience the unique language and process of the performing arts. Faculty and teaching staff, informed by their ongoing professional activities, help students understand art’s demand for rigor and discipline and its non-quantitative standards of excellence and beauty.

For more information, please contact mta@mit.edu or visit mta.mit.edu

About MIT-Brazil (MITSI)

The MIT-Brazil Program is one of the 25+ country, regional, or thematic programs that are part of MIT’s International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). The MISTI programs work across departments, centers, and labs throughout the Institute to enable immersive, impactful learning experiences and research opportunities for students and faculty alike. Whether it’s creating one-of-a-kind student programs, fueling partnerships between researchers, or serving as an enabling partner for exciting programs across the Institute, MISTI delivers the training, resources, insights, and expertise that make it possible for MIT students and faculty to learn from the world and with it. In 12 years the MIT-Brazil Program has facilitated more than 420 placements of MIT students in Brazil in teaching, research, and industry projects, and funded 80 grants fostering collaborations between MIT faculty and Brazilian researchers.

For more information, visit misti.mit.edu/mit-brazil

Special thanks to Laura Grill Jaye, Kenneth Amis, MIT Video Productions, MIT Institute Events, Ben Bloomberg,and all of the students and student leaders of MITWE, MIT FJE, and MIT VJE.