Produced 2021-2022 by Orchestra Santa Monica (OSM), “We Gather” is a film based on the music of Los Angeles composer Derrick Skye. The music, broken up into three movements or themes, is inspired by stories and historic accounts Skye learned when taking a Black Santa Monica History tour with lifetime Santa Monica resident Robbie Jones. Special curated narratives and images accompany the filmed studio recording by OSM musicians led by Music Director Roger Kalia.

Viewers are invited to enter this musical and visual realm to experience a unique perspective celebrating Santa Monica Black life. A brief narrative on historic Santa Monica Black life is first presented, leading into the three themes described below.

I. Mending the Chasm (start 02:00)
The music of this movement represents displacement imposed by infrastructure change. A low rumbling electronic sound can be heard as the freeway or any other dividing force. The flute and oboe carry on a conversation, and various moods (e.g., melancholy, angst) are evoked together with the percussion and electronics, the latter instrument not typically included in music performed by orchestras. [Instrumentation: flute, oboe, percussion, electronics]

II. Front Porch View (start 08:17)
This music reflects a tradition in the Black community of people sitting on their front porches to socialize with community members and visitors as they pass through the neighborhood. Elements of blues style improvisation can be heard as well as groove-based electronic music. [Instrumentation: violin, cello, clarinets, percussion, electronics]

III. Bay Street Beach (start 14:22)
Years ago, Bay Street Beach was a place where Black people gathered to enjoy the oceanside without fear of harassment. The movement begins with Robbie Jones, Santa Monica native and community historian, describing her memories of approaching the beach as a young child. The music moves through different emotions, from playfulness mixed with anxiousness to joy, and finally to a quiet meditative state. [Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinets, bassoon, horn, percussion, electronics, and string instruments (violins, violas, cellos, bass)]

This project was made possible in part by Art of Recovery, an initiative of the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs, santamonica.gov/arts/artofrecovery. Additional funding was provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

“We Gather” music commission and film production by Orchestra Santa Monica (OSM).

OSM Music Director: Roger Kalia
Music Composer: Derrick Skye
Film Director: Philip Holahan
Film Cover Art: Kevin McCants
Release: Spring 2022