About this commission
This live, online event took place on May 17, 2020. Learn more about the music-ritual and explore digital artifacts documenting the event below.
In PASSING NOTES, Troy Anthony and Jerome Ellis create a virtual sanctuary on Zoom and invite us to participate in a collaborative ritual loosely based on the seven stages of grief. Together, the two have composed original music and text, as if passing notes to each other at school, in order to make a space where we can honor the healers in our communities, address the racialized and gendered injustices exposed by the coronavirus, mourn those who have died during the COVID-19 crisis, and celebrate new habits, practices, and relationships that have been born during this time.
PASSING NOTES arose out of a conversation between the artists and The Shed’s program team shortly after Ellis’s grandfather passed on April 4, 2020. Like many families, Ellis’s relatives have not been able to hold a funeral due to restrictions on gatherings, and Anthony and Ellis began to ask themselves how they could intentionally use Zoom’s digital platform to bring grieving loved ones together. Inspired by sources including Assata Shakur’s poem “Affirmation,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler’s On Grief and Grieving, and the hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” PASSING NOTES is intended to be experienced as a live, participatory event, making space to share grief in real time while separated from each other.
Anthony and Ellis’s collaboration began when they wrote a song together while rehearsing for other programs at The Shed. They first performed the song at Anthony’s March 2020 Joe’s Pub concert, and they will perform the song again in PASSING NOTES. In early 2020, Ellis composed the music for Help, a new play by Claudia Rankine, whose full run was postponed after The Shed’s temporary closure. Anthony will present his choral music theater piece Antioch Mass as part of Open Call: Group 4 at The Shed.
- Running time: approximately 90 minutes
- Please reserve only one ticket per household; you will receive one link to join the Zoom conference
- Capacity is limited and first come, first served
- Please note: This is a public, live event that takes place on the Zoom video conference platform
The artists extend their gratitude to Solana Chehtman, Lily Wan, Nadine Goellner, and The Shed for the trust and opportunity, as well as to our healthcare workers.
The Shed is grateful to the Howard Gilman Foundation for providing access to Zoom for this commission.