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Third Angle New Music presents: Sanctuaries, a Chamber Jazz Opera

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The North Warehouse
723 N Tillamook St.

Feb. 24, 2020, 7:30 p.m.


Third Angle New Music presents: Sanctuaries

Darrell Grant takes on Gentrification in Chamber Jazz Opera


Gentrification in Portland and the city’s redlining past go under the microscope in Darrell Grant’s jazz chamber opera, Sanctuaries, a new work commissioned and produced by Third Angle New Music. This world premiere, site-specific opera is composed by critically acclaimed jazz pianist Darrell Grant (who Gramophone has called “a composer of substance”), with a libretto by two-time National Poetry Slam Individual Champion Anis Mojgani and stage direction by Los Angeles-based opera director Alexander Gedeon. Blending elements of jazz, spoken word, and devised theatre, Sanctuaries speaks to the experience of displaced residents of color in Portland's historically Black Albina district. Sanctuaries opens at The North Warehouse on April 23rd with two additional performances on April 24th and 25th, all at 7:30 pm.  

“Across the country, the voices of African American artists are being heard. This project aims to hold shared space for blackness and create a sense of welcome,” says co-creator Darrell Grant. “It encourages all of us to question whose voices are valued and whose heritage deserves to be preserved.” Sanctuaries reflects the lived experiences of African-Americans in Portland’s Albina neighborhood. This ground-breaking work, recognized by the highly-competitive national MAP fund and Oregon Community Foundation’s prestigious Creative Heights Initiative, was developed by an all-Black creative team, and features an entirely African-American cast.   

“Portland is, at current, the whitest large city in America, and among the most gentrified,” says co-creator and director Alexander Gedeon. “ Sanctuaries confronts that wound by providing an unfiltered encounter with the black narratives, experiences, and bodies that have been displaced by gentrification in Portland, and the spiritual causes and effects of that displacement. ”   

Famed as a foodie destination and liberal hub, Portland and indeed Oregon’s racist pasts are little known. Grant’s research into the state’s three Black Exclusion laws, Portland’s history of redlining, deed covenants, and other discriminatory housing policies, and the city’s uprooting of an entire community to construct Interstate 5 were just the beginning of more than two years of reading, conversations, and digging into the evolution of gentrification for the 23-year Portland resident. Sanctuaries focuses on the specific experiences of four characters and their relationship to intersecting spaces —a house, a church, a business, a park—in what was once a vibrant black community. The characters grapple with the legacy of racism and complexity of community: a dispossessed resident seeks to reclaim her childhood home; a young black artist struggles with what it means to serve the community; a black minister wrestles with shuttering his neighborhood church, and an ageless wanderer reckons with seeing and being seen as the neighborhood transforms.   

Both Third Angle and the creative team aim for Sanctuaries to be a catalyst for local and national conversations about racial justice and the role of art in the fight for systemic change. While it animates stories from the local Albina neighborhood, Sanctuaries speaks to the experience of displaced people of color across America.    The performances feature four internationally-acclaimed vocalists including jazz vocalist Marilyn Keller, operatic bass-baritone Damien Geter, baritone Emmanuel Henreid, and spoken word artist and actor Ithica Tell as well as some of Portland’s top jazz musicians and instrumentalists from Third Angle’s core ensemble.  

“This commission is our most ambitious project to date,” says Third Angle Executive Director Lisa Volle. “It arose from our desire to work with Darrell Grant and to steward new forms of opera. ” “Sanctuaries seeks to explore the racial and political underpinnings of gentrification as it also expands the definition of opera: its sound, appearance, and how the genre will be defined in modern America,” says Third Angle Artistic Director Sarah Tiedemann, “In the process, we are furthering a trend in contemporary opera toward highly visual and hybridized musical works, which aligns perfectly with our mission as an organization. We can’t wait to bring this pivotal production to the stage.” For Grant, it was important that the project incorporate jazz vernacular not only as a means of authentic expression for himself but as a subversion of the long hyper-elitist artform. For Gedeon, “it was obvious that an American opera should include the American artform: jazz.”  

Tickets are available now at  



Thursday, April 23, 2020 | 7:30 PM

Friday, April 24, 2020 | 7:30 pm

Saturday, April 25, 2020 | 7:30 pm



The North Warehouse | 723 N Tillamook St, Portland


COST: Tickets are $35 general, $30 for seniors 65+, and $10 students and are available here and by calling the 3A box office at 503-331-0301. Arts for All tickets are also available by calling the 3A box office.





DARRELL GRANT | composer/co-creator

ANIS MOJGANI | librettist/co-creator

ALEXANDER GEDEON | director/ co-creator

SARAH TIEDEMANN | music director

EZRA WEISS | conductor

YUKI IZUMIHARA | set designer

CARL FABER | lighting designer

BRANIC HOWARD | sound engineer

ALISON HERYER | costume designer



DAMIEN GETER | bass-baritone



ITHICA TELL | spoken voice  



CHRIS BROWN | drums/percussion







ROGER WOODS | winds  


Sanctuaries is generously supported by Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights Initiative Oregon Cultural Trust The M.E.N.S.C.H. Fund The MAP Fund Georgeo Rowbottom & Marilyn Crilley   ### About Darrell Grant Since the release of his debut album Black Art, one of the New York Times's top ten jazz CD's of 1994, Darrell Grant has built an international reputation as a pianist, composer, and educator who channels the power of music to make change.  A former member of the bands of jazz legends Betty Carter, Tony Williams and Roy Haynes, he has performed as a leader throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe in venues ranging from Paris’s La Villa jazz club to the Havana Jazz Festival. Dedicated to themes of hope, community, and place, Grant’s compositions include his 2012 Step by Step: The Ruby Bridges Suite honoring the civil rights icon and The Territory which explores Oregon’s landscape and history. Since moving to Portland, Oregon he has been named Portland Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalist Association, received a Northwest Regional Emmy, been named the 2019 Portland Jazz Master, and received a MAP Fund grant. He is a Professor of Music at Portland State University where he directs the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute.    

About Third Angle Third Angle New Music's mission is to perform and record the masterworks of the twenty-first century while commissioning new works from regional and nationally recognized composers. Based in Portland, OR, the organization has earned abundant critical acclaim for its bold and innovative programming, high artistic standards, and tireless efforts to bring music of the 20th and 21st centuries to a diverse audience. Third Angle has a high degree of musical flexibility, bringing in top local, national and international musicians to play everything from percussion to bagpipes, and even a Chinese pipa. Third Angle has created and presented more than 175 programs of contemporary music, commissioned more than 125 new works, and released 14 recordings to critical acclaim.  

About The North Warehouse Built in 1924 in the Albina neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, wooden tall ships were once constructed under the redwood ceiling. The sweeping beams now give way to one of Portland's most unique spaces.