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Shelley Washington's Middleground


by Shelley Washington

Celeste Golden Boyer, violin

Erin Schreiber, violin

Shannon Williams, viola

Bjorn Ranheim, cello

The final installment of the St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer video series features thoroughly modern musician Shelley Washington. The composer, performer, collaborator, and educator draws on elements from jazz, rock, and American folk, new and old. “I like to write music with a big palette,” she writes.

Washington’s music confronts social injustices. “I want to create a space for public dialogue,” she writes, “while personally reclaiming power for my own experienced inequalities. Shaking the cages, raging against the machine, and supporting others make me happy.”

Middleground is a celebration of Washington’s childhood in Missouri and Kansas. It’s a road movie in musical form, taking us in a car alongside her family and friends. Washington’s program note expresses the many-layered recollections that she poured into Middleground:

MIDDLEGROUND: the space grounded, the between, the center. The Heartland. The prairie, the grasslands, Konza, Flint Hills, Manhattan, Emporia, Salina. Where we gathered.
Home of the heart, heart of the home.
The years spent in cars, daydreaming, scooping handfuls of wheat, racing out into amber fields, cycling together, water wheel ice cream, fireworks and apples. The stories shared, books read sprawled in the yard, family prayers over anything, late evening walks, quiet nights. Open arms, open hearts, humble and extraordinary.

The St. Louis Symphony: Live at the Pulitzer series is curated by the SLSO's Creative Partner, Tim Munro.


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