Cycles of My Being
Cycles of My Being is a song cycle that centers on what it means to be an African American man living in America today. The cycle was composed by pianist-percussionist Tyshawn Sorey, with lyrics by the award-winning poet Terrance Hayes, both of whom are MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Winners, and was co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited.
Of the creation of the cycle, Brownlee said “The idea started with the injustices we see on a daily basis. We’ve summed it up as being about ‘black male subjectivity.'” Brownlee went on, “It was important for me to do this. I’ve been 20 years as an artist, establishing a career. This was an opportunity to do more of a passion project."
Cycles of My Being had its world premiere on February 20 in Philadelphia with tenor Lawrence Brownlee, Randall Mitsuo Goosby (violin), Khari Joyner (cello), Alexander Laing (clarinet) Kevin J. Miller (piano), conducted by the composer, Tyshawn Sorey. A piano reduction version premiered in Chicago on February 22 with tenor Lawrence Brownlee and pianist Myra Huang. Brownlee then went on to tour the cycle at various venues across the United States with Huang, culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall on April 24 with the original instrumentalists from the world premiere.