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Beauty in the Abyss

Feb 04

Delve deeper into our exploration of identity with this evening of performance and conversation curated by National Black Theatre, and conceived and directed by Dominique Rider. How do perceptions of beauty and desirability shape one’s existence? What does it mean to be beautiful? These questions and more are examined by playwright Nissy Aya, poets Mahogany L. Browne and Diane Exavier, vocalist and librettist Joshua Banbury, and performance artist Nia Farrell.

Please note: there will be no food or beverage service at this event.

Beauty in the Abyss


8:00 PM




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Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse


1 Hour
No Intermission


  • National Black Theatre


    National Black Theatre (NBT), the nation’s first revenue-generating Black arts complex, was founded in 1968 by the late visionary artist Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. NBT is the longest-running Black theater in New York City, and one of the oldest theaters founded and consistently operated by a woman of color.

    Learn more about National Black Theatre
  • Dominique Rider

    Director and Conceiver

    Dominique Rider is a Brooklyn-based director whose work seeks to answer the question “What is a world unmade by slavery?” while attempting to analyze the layers of anti-Blackness that maintain in today’s world. Deploying theater and performance as tools of Afropessimism, Rider has developed and staged work with Audible, The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, Atlantic Theater Company, Princeton University, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, BRIC Arts, Two River Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and more. Past fellowships / residencies include TheaterWorks Hartford, New York Stage andFilm, BRIC Arts, Roundabout, and National Alliance for Musical Theatre. Dominique Rider is a resident director at National Black Theatre and a producer with CLASSIX.

    Learn more about Dominique Rider
  • Anthony Roth Costanzo

    Artistic Partner

    Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo began performing professionally at age 11 and has since appeared in opera, concert, recital, and film, and on Broadway. He is the New York Philharmonic’s 2021–22 season Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. The centerpiece of his activities is Authentic Selves: The Beauty Within, two weeks of orchestral programs he co-curated to ex­plore questions of identity, plus other activities that build on community collaborations he and the Or­chestra forged last season when he was cre­ator and producer of NY Phil Bandwagon.

    Learn more about Anthony Roth Costanzo
  • Nissy Aya


    Nissy Aya is a Black girl from the Bronx. She and all her younger selves tell stories and tall tales — while helping others to do the same. As a facilitator and cultural worker, we believe in the transformative nature of storytelling, placing those most affected by oppressive systems in the center, and examining how we move forward through healing justice and Afrofuturist frameworks. Our creative work reflects those notions while exploring the lines between history and memory, detailing both the absence and presence of love, and giving all the life (and then some) to Black Femmes.

    Learn more about Nissy Aya
  • Joshua Banbury

    Vocalist and Librettist

    Joshua Banbury is a 26-year-old, Texas-born vocalist and librettist who is gaining international attention for his work in opera, folk music, and jazz. He is currently a librettist in residence at The American Lyric Theatre in New York City, and in residence with his jazz trio at Soho House Austin. His operas have been presented by The American Lyric Theatre, Washington National Opera, The Kennedy Center, Fort Worth Opera, Really Spicy Opera, and National Sawdust. In 2022 the Washington National Opera and The Kennedy Center will premiere his original opera The Burning Bush, written with Jasmine Barnes and the National Symphony Orchestra. Banbury has recently received writing and performance commissions from The New School, The National YoungArts Foundation, Google NYC, Savage Content, The Havre de Grace Jazz Festival, Soho House Austin, George Washington Carver Museum, and the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts. He continues to expand his career as a vocal artist, having worked with esteemed artists such as Aaron Diehl, Patrick Zimmerli, Roopa Mahadevan, Gabrielle Stravelli, Samara Joy, Michael McElroy, Hannibal Lokumbe, Marin Alsop, and J’Nai Bridges. He has been engaged as a soloist in performances at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, Glimmerglass Opera, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Minton’s Playhouse, George Washington Carver Museum, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, The Historic Victory Grill, and The Kennedy Center. Joshua Banbury is a proud graduate of The New School and the Austin School for Performing and Visual Arts.

    Learn more about Joshua Banbury
  • Mahogany L. Browne


    Mahogany L. Browne, selected as one of the Kennedy Center’s Next 50, is the executive director of JustMedia, artistic director of Urban Word, and a writer, playwright, organizer, and educator. She has received fellowships from Arts for Justice, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research, and Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works that include Vinyl Moon, Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic. Founder of the diverse lit initiative Woke Baby Book Fair, Browne’s latest poetry collection, Chrome Valley (Norton), due in the spring of 2023, is a promissory note to survival. A Brooklyn resident and Lincoln Center’s first-ever poet-in-residence, she collaborated on NY Phil Bandwagon and appeared on the Orchestra’s subscription series.

    Learn more about Mahogany L. Browne
  • Diane Exavier


    Dispatching from the Caribbean Diaspora, Diane Exavier is a writer, theatermaker, and educator working at the intersection of performance and poetry. Her work has been presented with The New Group, BRIC Arts, The Bushwick Starr, Sibiu’s International Theater Festival, Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, and others. Exavier concerns herself with what she recognizes as the 4 Ls: love, loss, legacy, and land. Her writing can be found in such places as Staatstheater Hannover Magazine, The Atlas Review, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. The Math of Saint Felix, her book-length lyric, was recently published by The 3rd Thing Press. A 2021 Jerome Foundation Finalist, Diane Exavier holds an MFA in Writing for Performance from Brown University. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

    Learn more about Diane Exavier
  • Nia Farrell

    Performance Artist

    Nia Farrell (she / they) is a creator, performer, and Mundane Afrofuturist who develops new work that celebrates the dreams, stories, and ancestry of Blk communities. Their ritual-based work is rooted in the abundance of radical imagination and the power of actualizing dreams. Since graduating from the Experimental Theatre Wing at NYU’s Tisch Drama, Farrell has collaborated with and presented work at Soho Rep (Writer / Director Lab; A Map to Nowhere Things Are), Theater Mitu (Hybrid Arts Lab; Will to the World), Ars Nova (ANT Fest; Dreams in Blk Major), Theatertreffen Stückemarkt (Dreams in Blk Major), and others. Alongside her artistic soulmate, Talia Paulette Oliveras, Nia Farrell also makes work as Ta-Nia, a theater-making duo dedicated to making Blk space in an anti-Blk society. When she’s not dreaming and scheming Afro-futures, they are the creative executive for Nine Muses Entertainment, founded by Bryce Dallas Howard. Learn more at

    Learn more about Nia Farrell
  • Robert Langevin


    With the start of the 2000–01 season, Robert Langevin joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Flute, in The Lila Acheson Wallace Chair. In May 2001, he made his solo debut with the Orchestra in the North American premiere of Siegfried Matthus’s Concerto for Flute and Harp with Philharmonic Principal Harp Nancy Allen and Music Director Kurt Masur. His October 2012 solo performance in Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert, was recorded for inclusion in The Nielsen Project, the Orchestra’s multi-season traversal of all of the Danish composer’s symphonies and concertos, to be released by Dacapo Records.

    Learn more about Robert Langevin
  • Frank Huang


    Frank Huang joined the New York Philharmonic as Concertmaster, The Charles E. Culpeper Chair, in September 2015. The First Prize Winner of the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s Violin Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition, he has established a major career as a violin virtuoso. Since performing with the Houston Symphony in a nationally broadcast concert at the age of 11 he has appeared with orchestras throughout the world including The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra of Hannover, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, and the Genoa Orchestra. He has also performed on NPR’s Performance Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn. He has performed at Wigmore Hall (in London), Salle Cortot (Paris), Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), and Herbst Theatre (San Francisco), as well as a second recital in Alice Tully Hall (New York), which featured the World Premiere of Donald Martino’s Sonata for Solo Violin. Following more than 25 additional solo appearances with the Orchestra, in May 2022 he performs Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, Turkish, conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden.

    Learn more about Frank Huang
  • Rebecca Young


    Rebecca Young joined the New York Philharmonic in 1986 as its youngest member. In 1991 she won the position of Associate Principal Viola. Two months later she was named principal viola of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After spending the 1992–93 season in Boston and two summers at Tanglewood, she ultimately decided to return to her family in New York, resuming her Associate Principal position with the Philharmonic in September 1994. She can currently be seen leading the viola section of the All-Star Orchestra, a popular televised educational series about classical music.

    Learn more about Rebecca Young
  • Carter Brey


    Carter Brey was appointed Principal Cello, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Chair, of the New York Philharmonic in 1996. He made his official subscription debut with the Orchestra in May 1997 performing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations under the direction of then Music Director Kurt Masur. He has since appeared as soloist almost every season, and was featured during The Bach Variations: A Philharmonic Festival, when he gave two performances of the cycle of all six of Bach’s cello suites. Most recently, he was the soloist in performances of Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major at David Geffen Hall in February 2020 and at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival in July 2021, with Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducting on both occasions.

    Learn more about Carter Brey
  • Lawrence Tarlow


    New York Philharmonic Principal Librarian Lawrence Tarlow got his start when, as a tubist in the Roslyn (Long Island) High School Band, he streamlined the system for handing out music at rehearsals. He attended The Juilliard School as a student of Joseph Novotny, former Principal Tuba of the New York Philharmonic, and graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was student orchestra librarian. Before joining the Philharmonic in 1985, he served as librarian of the Berkshire (now Tanglewood) Music Center Orchestra, worked for the music publishers C.F. Peters Corporation and G. Schirmer, Inc., and became the Oklahoma Symphony’s first full-time librarian in 1977. During his 1979–85 tenure as librarian of the Atlanta Symphony, he also played the occasional second tuba part, including a recording of the Berlioz Requiem under then-music director Robert Shaw. Tarlow, who cites a love of “esoterica and trivia” as one of the reasons he enjoys his job, is an active member and former three-term president of the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association. In August 2021, Lawrence Tarlow became the longest-tenured librarian in the history of the Philharmonic.

    Learn more about Lawrence Tarlow

Special Thanks

Anthony Roth Costanzo is The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence.


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