Artist’s Biographies

Meredith Drum, lead visual artist and project lead producer

Meredith Drum, a faculty member at Virginia Tech, is the instigator and producer; she is a white woman. Since the project interrogates the history of race in the U.S., Drum will include information about how each participant self-identifies in terms of race and/or ethnicity. She recognizes that these categories are not neutral and are rather fraught with problems but she still thinks it is useful to bring the participants’ identities to the forefront.

Drum is an interdisciplinary artist working with video, animation, installation, augmented reality, and various modes of public participation. Her projects center around the cultivation of care for living beings, both humans and non-humans. She is influenced by cinema history, climate justice, her family, friends, and cats, multispecies anthropology, swimming in the ocean, cultural studies, walking in the woods, intersectional feminism, science fiction, contemporary visual culture, and riding bikes with loved ones.

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, iLand (Interdisciplinary Lab for Art, Nature + Dance), the Wassaic Project, the Experimental Television Center, ChaNorth, ISSUE Project Room, the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, Wave Farm Transmission Arts with the New York State Council on the Arts, and others have supported Drum’s work with grants and residencies.

ANNIE STEVENS, lead musician and co-project producer

Annie Stevens, an active soloist in both orchestral and chamber music in the United States and internationally, is Associate Professor of percussion at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia. As a member of Escape Ten since 2012, the duo have performed and spoken at more than 35 US universities, at four international conferences, and appeared on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today with Fred Childs.” As an advocate for new percussion solos and chamber music, Annie has been involved in commissioning over 45 new works for percussion. She has appeared in presentations at the International Computer Music Conference, the Electroacoustic Music Society of America, Eastman School of Music, Steinmetz Hall in Orlando, and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. She has performed with the Naples (FL) Philharmonic Orchestra, was a guest member of the Banff Evolution Ensemble in Canada, and is currently principal timpanist with the Roanoke Symphony, recognized as “impeccably responsive” by the Roanoke Times. She can be heard on the albums Our Favorite Things (Ravello Records) and Colors of a Groove with Escape Ten, and Blue Earth County with the Kelly Rossum Quartet.

JOHN IRRERA, violin and project co-producer

Praised by the Santa Barbara Daily Sound for his “stirring” and “hypnotic” performances and by Fanfare magazine for his “impeccable precision,” violinist John Irrera is flourishing as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, and pedagogue. John’s Carnegie Hall debut was praised as a “fascinating and dynamic performance” by New York Concert Review, and Fanfare Magazine on his recent release on Centaur Records: “The Irreras are impressive. John delivers a singular, often demanding violin part with subtle finesse, without sacrificing a sense of musical line.” John’s performances have been heard on three continents and in concert halls including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Spivey Hall and the Eastman Theatre. John has performed with the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas and Thomas Adès, with the Grammy-nominated Metropolis Ensemble under composer Tan Dun, and with the Charleston Symphony. Currently, he regularly performs in principal positions with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. John is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his Ph.D., having studied with Zvi Zeitlin and Federico Agostini. He has presented lectures, performances, and presentations at numerous universities and national conferences throughout the United States, and has multiple recordings on the Centaur record label. He is currently an assistant professor of violin at Virginia Tech University and is on the Parker Artists Management list of artists.

Grisha Coleman, commissioned composer and musician

Artist and scholar Grisha Coleman works in movement, digital media, and performance that engage creative forms in choreography, music composition, and human-centered computer interaction. Coleman is the 2021- 2022 Radcliffe-Film Study Center Fellow/David and Roberta Logie Fellow at Harvard, where she will focus on research related to her ongoing project “The Movement Undercommons.” This artistic research reimagines the use of new mobile motion-capture technology to build a data repository of movement portraits that center on critical and often overlooked narratives. Coleman is a Black artist.

Coleman earned an MFA in music composition and integrated media from the California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been supported by Carnegie Mellon University’s STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Creative Capital, the Jerome Foundation, MacDowell, the MAP Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, Pioneer Works, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Stanford University’s Mohr Visiting Artist Program, and the Surdna Foundation.

Marcus Norris, commissioned composer and musician

Marcus Norris’ first foray into making music came in the form of producing rap beats on pirated software, installed on a Windows 98 computer that he Macgyvered together from spare parts while laying on the floor of his childhood bedroom. Though he came to composing concert music later, he transferred that same imagination and ingenuity to writing music of all kinds. Norris is a Black artist.
Marcus has been called a “New Musical Talent in our Midst” by Chicago’s N’digo Magazine, and has made a number of achievements, including being selected as an inaugural Composer-in-Residence for  the Chicago Philharmonic from 2021-24,  being  awarded  the prestigious Cota-Robles fellowship for pursuing his PhD in Music Composition at UCLA, and being chosen in 2020 for the LA Philharmonic’s National Composers Intensive. His violin concerto “GLORY” opened to three sold-out performances when  premiered by the Jackson Symphony Orchestra in 2019, and then was subsequently performed in Guangzhou, China later that year. His Dance Suite “I   Tried So Hard for You” premiered in Havana in 2018, closely following the Russian String Orchestra premiere of “My Idols Are Dead” in Moscow. In 2020 Marcus founded South Side Symphony, which recently recorded the original score for the feature  film  “Honk  for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” starring Regina Hall & Sterling K. Brown, written and directed by Adamma Ebo. South Side Symphony remains the only orchestra that would perform “Back That Thang Up” over Beethoven.

Rachel Rugh, Choreographer, Dancer, and Project Co-producer

Rachel is a dancer, teacher, mover and shaker currently based in Blacksburg, VA.  As a performer, she has collaborated with the DC-based Dance Exchange, as well as Seattle choreographers Pat Graney, Amy O’Neil, and Jurg Koch.  Her choreographic work has been featured at the Seattle International Dance Festival, Movement Research (NYC), and the Washington, D.C. Capital Fringe Festival.  In 2016, her graduate choreography was chosen to represent the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the gala performance of the American College Dance Association’s North-Central Conference.  Rachel is also a founding member of Mountain Empire Performance Collective, a long-distance dance collective dedicated to alternative processes of making work while separated by both time and space.