Davóne Tines Upholds ‘Provocative Titles’ by Julius Eastman Despite Protests From Rockport Music

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: Opéra National de Paris official website)

Bass-baritone Davóne Tines refused to obscure the titles in the video that he created for the Rockport Music despite the company refusing to stream the creation without changes.

Per the Boston Globe, Tines was hired by the company to craft a video for the annual Rockport Chamber Music Festival. The video spotlighted Tines singing a song by the late Julius Eastman, a gay Black composer.

During the regular 30-second intervals, the video displayed text that was meant to explain Eastman’s life story along with his musical background.

“It spoke to the moment,” said Tines in the report. “And it was an extension of my body of work at large.”

The late composer used to name his works using various homophobic and racial slurs, in an effort to bring the potentially disturbing topics to the audiences.

Rockport Music found the choices made in the video troublesome. As a result, the Rockport Chamber Music Festival’s Barry Shiffman sent an e-mail to Tines, pushing back and stating that it would not present the video.

“While it is absolutely clear that the screenshots with the provocative titles are to describe Eastman’s own choice of title, and it is also clear how you have contextualized these titles, the concern is that the video will not be seen in its entirety, and will be misunderstood,” he wrote to Tines. “As such, Rockport will not show the video as is.”

The Rockport Music then asked Tines to alter the video in order to obscure the titles, which Tines refused to do. The singer decided to openly stand for Eastman, who fought for racial justice.

Talks between the bass-baritone and the Rockport Music have since resumed, addressing where the organization went wrong and driving change for the future, per Tines.