Castle of our Skins at BMC

Event weaves music, spoken word, and African American quilts to honor ancestral stories

BRATTLEBORO — Castle of our Skins continues its ninth season theme, stitching together stories, history, and art with “Sound & Appliqué,” an in-person concert complete with two world premieres, seven original quilts, and original poetry created by Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative in Residence Marlanda Dekine.

The event will include a 1 p.m. virtual lecture by Boston-based textile artist L'Merchie Frazier on Saturday, Jan. 22, followed by a 7 p.m. concert performance at the Brattleboro Music Center.

“African American quilting traditions are synonymous with making beautiful things out of scraps,” Ashleigh Gordon, Artistic/Executive Director and violist of Castle of our Skins, said in a news release. “That history is a direct metaphor for our existence and resilience as Black people and serves as the inspiration for this program.”

Premiering will be works by composers Lauren McCall and Elizabeth A. Brown, who were selected internationally. For their chamber pieces, they respectively drew inspiration from coded messages used during the escape from slavery and the words and work of Gee's Bend quilter Louisiana P. Bendolph.

Dekine's poetry exploring the significance of ancestral land, water, and memory will accompany a triptych of commissioned quilts by Frazier. Four quilts created by Chicago-based artist Alpha M. Bruton will be paired with select movements from Florence B. Price's Five Folksongs in Counterpoint for string quartet.

Sound & Appliqué includes flutist Orlando Cela, violinists Gabriela Díaz and Mina Lavcheva, violist Ashleigh Gordon, cellist Leo Eguchi, pianist Sarah Bob, and narrator Brianna J. Robinson.

Born out of the desire to foster cultural curiosity, Castle of our Skins is a Black arts institution that centers Black music, culture, and history through people, programming, and partnerships. In classrooms, concert halls, and beyond, Castle of our Skins spotlights both unsung and celebrated figures of past and present. For more information, visit

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