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How Davin Tines uses fashion to explore race and identity in his new opera Anthem

“As a cross-identity performer, considering my How to be in space has always been part of my life, and therefore part of my job,” opera singer and performer Davón Tines told me via Zoom.

Tines describes his journey as one unlike most opera singers. Growing up in Virginia, he played the violin and, encouraged by his grandfather to sing more, began to learn vocal music. Although later encouraged by his family to “seem broader,” he studied sociology at Harvard and worked in arts administration after graduation. This made him curious about “why performance art exists as a cultural artifact,” he explained, a prelude to the way he sees his work as a singer and artist.

Unlike many classical performers, Tines uses fashion and visual aesthetic devices as tools to enhance his storytelling skills. “How you show up in space, how you think about things in terms of product design, that’s a hint to the audience that they’re working on it,” he said.

Before becoming a performer, Tine S’ jumping between different arts programs and production divisions gave him an understanding of the commercial purpose of art. A few years later, in 2011, he eventually decided to pursue his passion for acting, which brought him to Julia. During his time there as a student, he often had difficulty connecting with the material he was asked to sing about. “I sing mostly the music of dead white men, and my personal self-expression is secondary, or less important.” This is where his love and interest in contemporary work grows.

Davóne Tines and Brandon Murphy  Photo Raven Daniels Courtesy of Davóne Tines

Davóne Tines and Brandon Murphy / Photo: Raven Daniels Courtesy of Davóne Tines

with the famous The collaboration between the American composer and music conductor John Adams eventually led him to compose his own works. “I wanted to do things that I felt I needed, and I was drawn to things that I felt I needed to solve in person,” he told me of the work he’s developed since then, which includes

Black Clown

, a work he co-created with friend Zack Winokur, commissioned by the American Repertory Theatre and now heading to Broadway; and the solo and concerto series he played last night.

A sketch by Brandon Murphy  Photo Raven Daniels Courtesy of Davóne Tines

“Using aesthetic presentation as a way to complete a narrative is something like this Not really I think, had contact with the classical music world damage to oneself,” he explained. In his case, Tines not only uses fashion as a tool for self-expression, but also claims that agency is a minority in the main white space he regularly touches. “I just think minorities will instinctively say, What am I implying?

He added, “If I’m a black man dressed in a very preppy New England style, or if I’m a black gay man who has decided to lean towards a certain sexual aspect of self-presentation, what does that mean?”

As a performer, Tines often chooses clothes that have a deeper meaning to him than the audience perceives. For example, when he performed a piece about Brenna Taylor, he wore a Welsh Bonner. “I was introduced to her work by Julio Cesar Delgado, a stylist I’ve worked with,” he said, adding that he found not only the spirit behind the designer’s work meaningful, but also worn by a black woman To honor a black woman.

Sketch by Brandon Murphy / Photo: Raven Daniels Courtesy of Davóne Tines

Last night he performed a song commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl work.

Concerto No. 2. “National Anthem”

invites people to reflect on our American symbols, such as the National Anthem. “The ‘stars and stripes’ represent problematic and harmful and unsustainable aspects of the country,” explained Tines. “What else can we expect as a nation, or come together?” The outfits he chose for the show might have been surprising under normal circumstances. A crisp white tuxedo jacket tailored by luxury tailoring designer Brandon Murphy.

Considering the subject matter, he decided this time “straightforward”, as his brother put it, would actually end up being the most subversive presentation. He teamed up with stylist Joshua Mills, which led to the collaboration with Murphy. “We’re all black people trying to survive in a white-dominated world,” he explained, “so it’s like two black people talking about how to implement the social discourse of white clothing in a way that has soul and purpose. “

Towards the end of our call, Tines asked a question: “Is my self-expression a function I want or need?” Protect yourself or enter certain spaces?” The tuxedo jacket he wears is classic in itself, part of the uniform of white space and practice, a white canvas that serves the wearer and his story. But that’s why his intuition was correct. Wearing something luxurious, edgy or “making a statement” would have been an obvious choice, but by leaning towards the classics, Tines keeps his audience focused on his message. How do you develop classic symbols that often feel out of place? By questioning and repositioning them, like Tines did to Anthem





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