Massachusetts
Profile Type: Artist
NEFA Grant Recipient
Artist
Castle of our Skins

Born out of the desire to foster cultural curiosity, Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins (COOS) invites exploration into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of past and present. Castle of our Skins is deeply aware of the lack of equity in composer representation on concert stages and the omission of important stories and figures in Black history. It is this lack of equity that the group seeks to change. Through carefully designed educational workshops and creative concert programs, COOS aims to highlight the achievements of Black artists and historical figures. The collective’s intergenerational and interdisciplinary concerts range in themes from

Black love, African American quilting, and Black Feminism to freedom, civil rights, visual arts, and Black excellence. Through workshops, residencies, masterclasses, lectures, panel discussions, and educational concert programs, COOS works to illustrate the breadth and depth of Black culture. The name Castle of our Skins comes from the celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni’s poem for nina. The poem beautifully

captures the sense of adoration and celebration for the very fabric that makes us who we are: our skin.

I Have Worked With

  • January 2021

    Since December 2017, Castle of our Skins has been a proud Neighborhood Artist with Celebrity Series of Boston. We have led the Dorchester, Roxbury, South End and Boston Stringfests collaborating with elementary and middle school string students from the Conservatory Lab Charter School (Dorchester), Boston City-Wide String Orchestra (Roxbury), City String United (Roxbury), Boston String Academy (South End) and Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program (South End). Our most recent collaboration will air virtually on MLK Day (January 18, 2021). Each collaboration has involved the creation of new music for professional string quartet and student strings ranging on themes of resistance and resilience to folk songs from African American, Dominican and Haitian cultures. 

    In addition to our educational work, we have also performed community concerts in Mattpan, various Boston public libraries and venues such as Futura Recording Studios in Roslindale (for our upcoming February 4, 2021 livestream performance). 

  • January 2021

    The Phillips Collection in Washington DC is America's first museum of modern art. It has a robust concert series, established in 1941, that continues to present leading soloists and ensembles from around the world. In April 2020, Castle of our Skins was scheduled to make its debut in its intimate, art-filled Music Room. Due to COVID-19, the performance has been rescheduled for January 15, 2021 and will be live-streamed in partnership with the Boston Center for the Arts (taking place socially distanced and safely from Boston). 

  • January 2021

    Since October 2016, Castle of our Skins has performed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in a variety of capacities. In October 2019, we performed to a sold out audience a program entitled “Secret Desire to Be Black” inspired by Alvin Singleton’s string quartet of the same name. The program included Chicago-based soloist and chamber musician Seth Parker Woods and NYC-based dance ensemble Kyle Marshall Choreography. Due to the pandemic, 2020-2021 public programming is not possible. As a result, we are performing/recording a number of chamber works in their elaborately decorated gallery to be aired later this season. 

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  • NEFA Grantee
  • Artist

Contact Information

First Name: 
Ashleigh
Job Title/Position: 
Artistic/Executive Director & Violist
Mailing Address: 
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Studio 206
Boston, MA 02116
Physical Address: 
Boston Center for the Arts 539 Tremont Street, Studio 206
Boston, MA 02116
Last Name: 
Gordon
Phone: 
4436301638

About

Profile Type: 
Artist
Primary Discipline: 
Music - Chamber
Additional Disciplines: 
Literary Arts - Poetry
Literary Arts - Spoken Word
Music - Chamber
Music - Composition
Music - Ethnic / World
Music - Traditional
Theater - Storytelling
Year Founded: 
2014
Populations Served: 
Adults
Elders
Families
General Public
School Groups
Teens
Institution/Business Type: 
Performing Groups
Activities and Services: 
Arts for Social Change / Creative Activism
Creation of a Work of Art (Including Commissions)
Performance / Concert / Reading
Residency - In School
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
15
Seasons Active: 
Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter
Geographic Reach: 
Town / City
State
National
International

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Awards: 
Boston Cultural Council grant recipient
Music Drives Us grant recipient
Center for Black Music Research Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson Travel to the Collection grant recipient
Creative City Grantee/Alum Network
The Boston Foundation Grant recipient
National Endowment for the Arts Grant recipient
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient

I am a Touring Artist

I am NEST eligible
Technical Requirements: 
N/A
Fee Range Minimum: 
$1,000
Fee Range Maximum: 
$25,000
State of Residence: 
Massachusetts
Minimum Number of Performers: 
2
Maximum Number of Performers: 
10

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
Afterschool Program
Arts and Cultural Center / Venue
Community Site / Center
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Arts Integration - History and Social Science
Music
Ages Served: 
Elementary School-age
Middle School-age
High School-age
College-Age
Fee Range Minimum: 
$1,000
Fee Range Maximum: 
$10,000