Susie Ibarra

The City

Known for her innovative style and cultural dialogue as a composer, improviser, percussionist and humanitarian, Susie Ibarra is interested in the intersection of tradition and avant-garde and how this informs and inspires interdisciplinary art, education and public service. In recent years Ms. Ibarra has been developing composition and improvisation that blends traditions and crosses rhythms and tunings of Asia Pacific, Middle East, Americas, Europe and Africa. She remains active in her practice of Philippine indigenous music – electronic, experimental, jazz and improvisation. In 2009 Ms. Ibarra co-founded Song of the Bird King to foster multi-media art and humanitarian and environmental work that contributes to preservation and innovation in indigenous communities and children’s education. With Roberto Rodriguez she leads Mundo Niños, a children’s world music group, which teaches and performs music with children from elementary to high school. She performs, archives and teaches in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Among her recent works is the world premiere of Binalig Blues by Arun Ghosh Arkestra Makara (a new Pan-Asian Orchestra), at the BT River of Music Festival, which preceded the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She has recorded over 40 albums as a leader, collaborator and soloist and has worked with a variety of artists from diverse genres, such as Wadada Leo Smith, John Zorn, Pauline Oliveros, Ikue Mori, Sylvie Courvoisier, Juan Sanchez, Anthony Davis, Makoto Fujimura, Trisha Brown, Dave Douglas, Daniel Fish, Mark Dresser, William Parker, Min Xiao Fen, John Lindberg, Kathleen Supove, Jennifer Choi, Bridget Kibbey,  Dr. L Subramaniam, Miya Masaoka, George Lewis, Thurston Moore, Sean Lennon, Prefuse 73, Yo La Tengo.

Ms. Ibarra is a 2010 TED Fellow and Asia 21 Delegate, and recipient of a 2008 Asian Cultural Council /Rockefeller Fellowship, which has supported her work in Philippine indigenous music, ecology, and public service projects. This year Ms. Ibarra joined the faculty of Bennington College in the Music Department and Center for Advancement of Public Action CAPA.

About “The City”

World Premiere, April 19, 2013 at the Kaufmann Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, New York City

Music by Susie Ibarra
Lyrics by Yusef Komunyakaa

In The City, a place where so many things happen simultaneously, the world is dreaming itself back to its origins of stars and stardust.  There is room for all of this to happen at once.  Essentially in the city we are always nudging each other, but at the same time there is this incredible aloneness. The City is dreaming itself back through earth’s history to eternity.

Susie Ibarra composes a spiritual of celestial sounds in The City for Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Inspired by contemporary and folkloric traditions, Ms. Ibarra explores acoustic and electronic vocals and percussion with the chorus. A longtime collaborator with Ibarra, American Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa has written the lyric for The City.


Everything is dreaming towards the stars
We’re only made of mystery,
Venus and Mars,
Everything is dreaming,
Jasmine in the night breeze,
The leopard in the tall grass,
The tiger seeing in the dark,
Everything is dreaming,
First and last to enter the ark,
Night hawks looping the air,
Fish in their nocturnal world,
A boy and a girl,
At the edge of a dream,
Breathing to the sounds of traffic,
Streetlights drowning at the bottom of the sea,
I become you and you become me,
The hero and the antihero,
The wind in the leaves,
Everything is dreaming towards eternity.