Timeless Portraits and Dreams: A Festival/Symposium in Honor of Geri Allen

February 12, 2018


February 16-17, 2017

Conference Website

Free Concerts

On February 16-17, 2018 Harvard University will host Timeless Portraits and Dreams: A Festival/Symposium in Honor of Geri Allen, at Paine Hall (3 Street, Cambridge, MA 02138).  Two concerts and two days of panel discussions featuring top musicians and artists who worked with Allen will honor her creative vision, artistic collaborations, and the role she played in establishing the shape of jazz today. 

Geri Allen's passing last June at age 60 shocked the jazz world. Allen, a beloved pianist, composer, and educator, was known for her versatility and creativity across every stylistic area of jazz, broadly conceived.  The New York Times obituary noted that “Ms. Allen’s style—harmonically refracted and rhythmically complex, but also fluid—formed a bridge between jazz’s halcyon midcentury period and its diffuse present.” Known for her innovative pianism, solo and trio performances and recordings, original compositions, and keen imagination, Allen also collaborated with a who’s who of musicians from a previous generation. Allen had an expansive aesthetic and believed in allowing the core jazz tradition to interact freely across the full range of African American expressive forms, including Motown and spirituals, experimentalism, and tap dance.

Assembling to honor Allen at Harvard will be a towering line up of today's musicians-- Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, Craig Taborn, Don Byron, Oliver Lake, Carmen Lundy, Kenny Davis, Tia Fuller, and Yosvany Terry--who will be featured in two evening concerts. Panel discussions and presentations will take place during the day on Friday and Saturday.  Photographer Carrie Mae Weems and actor S. Epatha Merkerson will discuss their collaborations with Allen and colleagues from the Jazz Studies Program at University of Pittsburgh will address Allen's educational vision. Musicians and scholars will share their experiences with Allen and provide a rich account of the history of Allen's musical leadership.

Keynote speaker Professor Farah Griffin of Columbia University will begin the event at the Harvard University Music Building on February 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm. Pianos for Geri, curated by Vijay Iyer and featuring composer-pianists Kris Davis, Craig Taborn, Jason Moran, and Iyer in solo and duo configurations, will take place on Friday February 16 at 8:00 pm at Paine Hall, Harvard Music Building.  Saturday evening's concert, Geri: Genius, Grace and Fire, is curated by Terri Lyne Carrington and features Carmen Lundy, Oliver Lake, Don Byron, Kris Davis, Tia Fuller, and Yosvany Terry.Timeless Portraits and Dreams: A Festival/Symposium in Honor of Geri Allen is organized by Vijay Iyer, Ingrid Monson, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Esperanza Spalding.  Cosponsors of the Festival/Symposium include the Jazz Research Initiative of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Music, the Music Department, Office of the Provost, the Dean of Arts and Humanities, the Associate Provost for the Arts, and the Office for the Arts, all units at Harvard University.


Ticket are  available from the Harvard Box Office .  For more information, contact Ingrid Monson, Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Harvard University, imonson@fas,harvard.edu.  (Jazz Initiative website address).