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String quartets perform as part of Bias Inside Us series

Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Two student string quartets coached by Dr. Tulio Rondón, the Eileen Phillips Cohen Quartet and the Blugold Quartet, will perform the music of Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), as well as offer a short lecture. The lecture-recital (45-minutes), which is in Jamf Theatre at Pablo Center on February 25, 7:30 p.m, is free and open to the public, though it is necessary to reserve tickets through Pablo Center. The composer, who was from the Caribbean Island of Guadaloupe, was the son of an enslaved woman of Senegalese descent and a wealthy French plantation owner, Georges Bologne de Saint Georges. Joseph, along with his mother, were relocated to France by Georges in 1753. Due to his exceptional fencing skills, Joseph received the title of “chevalier” and became a Gendarme de la Garde du Roi. While details concerning his musical education are not known, he was both a virtuoso violinist and an admired composer. His output includes string quartets, violin concertos, and symphonies concertantes, and later in his life he devoted himself to opera. Based on historical accounts, opportunities were denied to Bologne specifically on account of his race, but opportunities available to him included serving the wife of the Duke of Orléans as music director of her private theatre, as well as performing and providing instruction for Marie Antoinette.

This performance is a part of a semester long series of programming that explores the issue of bias. The Bias Inside Us is a community engagement project featuring a Smithsonian traveling exhibition and activities that raise awareness about the science and history of bias and what people can do about it. The Smithsonian exhibition is on display at the Pablo Center from February 26-March 27. Other events in this series includes a keynote presentation by Dr. Calvin Lai, Director of research for Project Implicit, a performance of the play Silent Sky about female astronomer Henrietta Leavitt, a community read of the book Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do, by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, and numerous other events.