First MIT Video produced especially for broadcast television
Airs on WGBH/Channel 2 Boston, Friday, May 31, 10:30pm
“Awakening: Evoking the Arab Spring through Music”
The PBS affiliate WGBH Boston/Channel 2 will air the MIT music documentary “Awakening: Evoking the Arab Spring through Music” on Friday, May 31 at 10:30pm.
Several firsts are involved in this event: the broadcast marks the first time PBS has shown an MIT music documentary; this is the first work that MIT Video Productions has produced specifically for broadcast television; and the 30-minute program features the world premiere of “Awakening,” by composer and MIT alumnus Jamshied Sharifi. The work debuted in March 2012, performed by the MIT Wind Ensemble, led by Dr. Frederick E. Harris, conductor of the ensemble, and Director of Wind and Jazz Ensembles for MIT Music and Theater Arts.
Music to connect with the world
The music, and ultimately the documentary film, were set in motion by conductor Harris’ vision for engaging his MIT music students with the momentous events of the Arab Spring. To encourage his students to contemplate and understand the historical context for the Arab Spring, Harris proposed to Sharifi that he compose a piece that related to the movement sweeping Egypt and other Arab countries.
Harris knew Sharifi to be uniquely qualified to undertake the project: born to an Iranian father and American mother, Sharifi had studied and taught at MIT, serving as director of the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble from 1985-1992.
Sharifi composed “Awakening” while in residence at MIT’s Visiting Artists Program. Reflecting on what the commission meant to him, Sharifi says, “For those of us with Persian heritage who watched the earlier political protests in Iran, initially with hope and then with bitter disappointment, the success of the civil movements in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were especially gratifying. The labor of developing effective and responsive political systems in those three countries still remains. But something in the Middle East has undeniably changed. And I tried to honor that shift in this piece.” Read more.