Freedom First to Feature Student Composition

2 min read

On Friday, October 6, Schoenberg Hall will witness a special event. A concert for Keith LaMar will feature legendary jazz musicians Salim Washington and multi-Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill. The concert benefits LaMar, currently on death row in Ohio, having been falsely convicted of murder in the aftermath of the 1993 Lucasville Prison uprising. *

Keith LaMar in his cell at the Ohio State Penitentiary

The concert features the stirring sounds of the album LaMar himself recorded with Albert Marquès. LaMar recorded himself direct from his cell, where he has spent almost thirty years in solitary confinement. The concert will feature a composition by Ethnomusicology Ph.D. student Dexter Story.

“Professor O’Farrill reached out to me while I was in Eritrea, doing research for my Ph.D., and asked me to write a piece for Keith LaMar” said Story. “I was floored by Mr. LaMar’s challenges, his resilience, and his redemption. It was an honor, and I was grateful to accept.”

It was a challenging commission. Story learned that the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles had been invited to perform, and so he rewrote his composition as an orchestral performance. Story then spoke with LaMar, who delivered spoken words for orchestral accompaniment.

“I had to scrap a few of my early ideas,” Story admitted. “But I finally completed a fourth sketch, Sketch 4: Keith Lamar. It’s a work that encompasses multiple sonic possibilities around the theme of living life while overcoming systemic injustices. The human spirit triumphs in spite of it all. Keith LaMar has taught me what circumstantial transformation actually looks like. He’s an extraordinary human being.”

Freedom First will take place on Friday, October 6 at 7:00 p.m. at Schoenberg Hall at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

* Justice for Keith LaMar is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to repairing harm caused by wrongful conviction. 

“Sketch 4: Keith Lamar” by Dexter Story

Composed by Dexter Story
Featuring Keith Lamar – Spoken Word
Performed by Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles
Conducted by Chuck Dickerson
Assistant Conductor / Orchestra Coordinator: Dwayne Burrell
Piano: Albert Marques
Tenor Saxophone: Salim Washington
Event Coordinator: Kathleen Hood
Assistant to Keith Lamar: Amy Gordiejew
Commissioned by Arturo O’Farrill, Dean Eileen Strempel and The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music