Concerts

Nu Deco Ensemble Announces 2021-2022 Season: Robert Glasper, Anthony Hamilton, Radiohead Suite, and More

Cimafunk performing with Nu Deco Ensemble
Cimafunk performing with Nu Deco Ensemble Photo by Alex Markow Photography
After a year relegated to livestreams, Nu Deco Ensemble has announced its return to in-person performances for its 2021-2022 season. The slate from the Miami-based organization that puts a modern spin on the chamber orchestra includes five performances at the North Beach Bandshell and the Adrienne Arsht Center.

Nu Deco cofounders Sam Hyken and Jacomo Bairos were excited to share with New Times what audiences can expect at the upcoming concerts.

"One of the unique things about this orchestra is our shared leadership role," Bairos explains. "Sam and I have similar interests but different ideas which we bounce off each other. We look together for styles and genres and living composers that we can complement."

The season's first show will take place at the North Beach Bandshell on Friday, November 5. It will begin with a performance of "Tessellations,"a Gabriella Smith composition Bairos describes as "going back to our roots of intimate chamber-music pieces. It will have five to seven players with no conductor."


The guest collaboration for the evening will be R&B and soul singer Anthony Hamilton.

On December 10 at the Arsht Center, the orchestra will put its spin on the Nutcracker Suite. Additionally, Nu Deco will be joined by saxophonist Masego for a newly commissioned piece that will be accompanied by images from National Geographic. Perhaps closest to Hyken's heart, the program also includes a set of songs by Ray Charles.

"When we were in Los Angeles, Jacomo and I got to tour Ray Charles' office," Hyken recounts. "To see his piano and the braille he worked off of was very inspiring."

The new year will see Nu Deco return to the bandshell for a pair of shows. January 22, 2022, will feature the Radiohead 2 Symphonic Suite and "Much Ado About Nothing," a composition by Korngold. The night will be bookended by a strange juxtaposition between Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, who died in 1945, and 28-year-old guest musician JP Saxe.


"JP Saxe is an amazing singer-songwriter. His grandfather was a famous cellist who was a contemporary of Bartók," Bairos says of the link between the two. "We're playing Bartók's piece that night to celebrate the connection."

On March 12, 2022, singer-songwriter Madison Cunningham will be the featured guest, and Nu Deco will put its spin on Pink Floyd.

"Pink Floyd is one of my favorites and much of the chamber's favorites," Hyken says. "We make sure to play some hits that everyone knows, but we also look for the songs that an orchestra can bring something new to."

The season wraps at the Arsht on April 30, 2022, with guest pianist Robert Glasper taking things full circle to the pre-pandemic era.

"We were with Robert rehearsing the night the world found out the NBA was shutting down and there would be no public performances. We had to vacate the Arsht the next day after having a life-changing rehearsal with him," Hyken says. "Bringing him back to finally play felt like something we needed to do."

And because we're still not post-pandemic, we asked Hyken to give us a rundown of the COVID protocols for the season.

"We're in collaboration with the venues. At the Arsht, audiences need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. We're still developing protocols for the bandshell, but since it's outside, there's some more leeway."

Before the season kicks off, Nu Deco will release a new Beach Boys suite, Still Cruisin’ — An Orchestral Tribute to the Beach Boys, on October 29. The suite will include symphonic reimaginings of the band's album Pet Sounds, the unfinished Smile project, and more.

Below is the full schedule of Nu Deco Ensemble's 2021-2022 season:

November 5 at the North Beach Bandshell
  • Tessellations by Gabriella Smith
  • Portrait of a Queen by Carlos Simon
  • Isley Brothers Symphonic Suite
  • Guest collaboration with Anthony Hamilton

December 10 at the Adrienne Arsht Center
  • Nu Nutcracker Selections
  • New Work by Chris Rogerson feature J'Nai Bridges and projections by Keith Ladzinski
  • Ray Charles Symphonic Suite
  • Guest collaboration Masego

January 22, 2022, at the North Beach Bandshell
  • Dance Suite Mvmt. III by Bartok
  • Much Ado About Nothing by Korngold
  • Radiohead 2 Symphonic Suite
  • Guest collaboration JP Saxe

March 12, 2022, at the North Beach Bandshell
  • Symphony No. 10, Mvmt. II by Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Past Tundra by Valgeir Sigurðsson
  • Nu Deco Original Work
  • Pink Floyd Symphonic Suite
  • Guest collaboration Madison Cunningham

April 30, 2022, at the Adrienne Arsht Center
  • Lyric for Strings by George Walker
  • New Work by Robert Glasper
  • Afro-Cuban Concerto by Valerie Coleman
  • James Brown Symphonic Suite
  • Guest collaboration Robert Glasper

Tickets are available for purchase via nu-deco.org.
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland