Juilliard Night: Samora Pinderhughes’ The Transformations Suite

The acclaimed project The Transformations Suite comes to Cooper Hewitt! Join us for an evening of music, theater, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within the communities of the African Diaspora.

Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt

Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt is the outdoor summer performance series at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Join us Thursdays, 6:00–9:00 p.m. for dance, music, and design in the iconic Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. See the full season lineup here.

Cocktails and light bites are available for purchase from Cooper Hewitt’s Tarallucci e Vino Cafe. Valid I.D. required for cocktails.

Tickets for Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt are $14 online and $16 at the door, per each evening. For children ages 5–17, $7 tickets may be purchased at the garden entrance or museum admissions desk. Children under 5 are free. No refunds. Held rain or shine.

Cocktails at Cooper Hewitt ticket holders may enter the museum starting at 5 p.m.


Find out about Cooper Hewitt’s accessibility services.


Elena Pinderhughes, flute/vocals
Vuyo Sotashe, vocals
Jules Latimer, spoken word
Dayna Stephens, saxophone
Godwin Louis, saxophone
Riley Mulherkar, trumpet
Clovis Nicolas, bass
Mark Whitfield Jr., drums
Carvens Lissaint, narration/poetry

The Transformations Suite is an acclaimed project combining music, theatre, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within the communities of the African Diaspora. Continuing in the tradition of artists such as Bob Marley, Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday and Tupac Shakur, the suite paints a musical picture of the current state of social inequality and injustice in the United States and beyond.

The Transformations Suite has been performed throughout Brazil and the U.S., at venues including the American Museum of Natural History, the Harlem Arts Festival, Juilliard, NYU, Joe’s Pub, the Jazz Gallery, and Columbia University. Most recently, the project was featured as part of Blackout’s #MLKNow event, which was viewed by over 500,000 people and trended #1 on Twitter.

Centered in the belief that there is a soundtrack to every revolution, the vision for this piece is that it will foster dialogue on social justice issues throughout the world, show how art can create social change, contribute to the powerful growing movement on behalf of black lives around the country, and empower all people – especially youth – to make their voices heard.


Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes is a composer/pianist/vocalist known for large multidisciplinary projects and for his use of music to examine sociopolitical issues. Samora has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall, MoMA, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Kennedy Center, and toured internationally with artists including Branford Marsalis, Christian Scott, Common, and Emily King.

Samora is the first-ever Art for Justice + Soros Justice Fellow, given to him in support of his upcoming project “The Healing Project”. He recently received a Chamber Music of America New Jazz Works grant, and is a 2019 Creative Capital grantee.

Samora was raised in the Bay Area and moved to New York to study jazz at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Kenny Barron and Kendall Briggs. It was in NYC that he met his artistic mentor, acclaimed playwright Anna Deavere Smith. Samora is director/creator of The Transformations Suite, an acclaimed project combining music, theatre, and poetry to examine the radical history of resistance within the communities of the African Diaspora.

Samora’s other projects include: The James Baldwin Essays: Examining the American Dream Narrative, commissioned by Harlem Stage; The Migration of Protest: Meditations on Jacob Lawrence, for the Museum of Modern Art; and Billy Strayhorn: the Sutherland Period, for Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. He was a 2018 artist-in-residence at Joe’s Pub/The Public Theater.

Samora collaborates with artists including Herbie Hancock, Glenn Ligon, Sara Bareilles, Daveed Diggs, and Lalah Hathaway. He works frequently with Common on compositions for music & film, and is featured on the new album August Greene by Common, Robert Glasper, and Karriem Riggins.

Samora is a member of Blackout for Human Rights, the arts & social justice collective founded by Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, and was musical director for their #MLKNow and #JusticeForFlint events.

A Sundance Composers Lab fellow, Samora recently scored the award-winning documentary “Whose Streets?”, and wrote songs for the HBO film The Tale, the Netflix film Burning Sands and the PBS film The Talk.