This August, a new music festival is coming to New York City highlighting musicians who are Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color in genres ranging from classical to jazz to musical theatre.
The Omnipresent Music Festival will showcase the talents of BBIPOC composers and musicians through concerts, lectures, and seminars. The free 5 day series runs from August 9 to 14 at the Morris Jumel Mansion (Manhattan’s oldest surviving residence). No tickets are required.
The event is the vision of founder Edward W. Hardy, a celebrated violinist and composer who has worked with the likes of Itzhak Perlman, Kygo, André De Shields, Damien Sneed, Regina Carter, Norm Lewis, Joshua Bell, John Blake Jr., Mark O’Connor, and Radmila Lolly.
The historic setting in Upper Manhattan will finally bring together several of the talented artists in NYC who were forced into a 17 month long hiatus from doing what they love best: sharing their music with live audiences.
Hardy conceived the idea for the fest at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions in the U.S. in spring 2020. As he watched his colleagues withdraw from the pursuit of their passion due to shuttered venues and stay at home orders, he was deeply saddened.
He began hosting a series of virtual performances with musician friends and posting them online. Naturally, the goal of taking those same performances to a broader in-person audience was met with plenty of excitement and enthusiasm, and as NYC began welcoming back live indoor music for the summer, the time was at hand.
A graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and SUNY Purchase, Hardy is currently a doctoral student at the University of Northern Colorado studying under Jubal Fulks. He is Puerto Rican and Black, born and raised in Harlem, and was educated as a youth through preparatory youth music programs in the city. He’s also spent time busking as a street performer in the NYC subways, and very often would try out some of his newest compositions in this lower stakes environment.
The Omnipresent Music Festival has a goal to one day book performances in Carnegie Hall. There is also interest in bringing the festival to Colorado in the near future. But the organization’s primary goal at the moment is to inform audiences of the contributions and representation of non-white classical musicians, and those “who look like me”, Hardy says.
The organization also offers educational outreach to schools and community organizations, with themed programs about women composers and BBIPOC composers and musicians.
A schedule of performances, and more information about the Omnipresent Music Festival is available on its website.