Hidden from small

Hannibal’s Oasis of Inspiration

January 03, 2019

“I love you, babies.”

“We love you, Mr. Hannibal.”

It’s a familiar farewell between students at Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy and Music Alive Composer-in-Residence Hannibal.

Hannibal describes the school, located in Camden, NJ, as an “oasis.” He recently met with members of the jazz band to discuss his new work for The Philadelphia Orchestra, Healing Tones––the text of which they helped to inspire.

In addition to discussing the piece, Hannibal opened himself up to the students to discuss matters of importance to young artists. He made sure they know he is always available and that no subjects are off limits.

Jamari, a senior, said, “It’s a real honor working with him and just hearing what he has to say. He’s built with wisdom. Sometimes we text him just to talk to him. It doesn’t have to be about anything, just ‘how is your day.’ Anything. He’s got energy, he’s a good person to be around.”

Toj-Mpre, a junior, agreed about Hannibal’s contagious spirit. “It’s inspiring. It gives you a burning rage to keep going no matter how hard it is.”

Hannibal’s regular conversations with these students over the past few years have served as inspiration for the text of his new work that will receive its world premiere March 28-30, performed by the Orchestra led by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Hannibal describes the work as “a visceral look into what it means to be a human being.”

Hannibal shared a memory from his childhood, which informed much of his latest composition. When he was five years old, his mother told a white preacher that she saw God as a black woman. Hannibal shared a photo of singer Funmike Lagoke, who will portray the role of God in the upcoming performances of Healing Tones.

Hannibal left the students with a message about music and their ancestry: “This is what kept us alive––don’t ever forget it. When they didn’t even have instruments, they were the instruments.”

Experience the world premiere of Hannibal’s latest composition and hear the influence of these special students throughout the work, March 28-30, at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Photos by Zenovia Gallagher