Trap and Release

JoVia Armstrong and Stephan Moore with Chicago’s Austin Community

Watch Trap and Release on Experimental Sound Studio’s TQC on YouTube

Sunday, May 22, 2022, 1-3pm
Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church
5700 West Midway Park, Chicago, IL 60644
Live Stream: YouTube: Experimental Sound Studio

Trap and Release

a collaborative community effort to release the tension built during the pandemic

As people are adjusting to a new way of living with Covid, we also could use a way to reflect on the last year and a half of being trapped in our homes.

Trap and Release is a collaborative community effort to release the tension built during the pandemic. During the pandemic, Black people had to deal with multiple losses. In addition to losing loved ones to Covid, the violent protests in response to police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor led to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a sense of being trapped and not heard. Created by JoVia Armstrong and Stephan Moore with members of Chicago’s Austin community, who responded to prompts about their pandemic experiences, Trap and Release creates a safe space for community members to speak their truths about their Covid-19 experiences and violence against Black Americans. Their responses—privately recorded within the community—are edited, processed, and combined with other musical materials Armstrong. The meditative soundscape will be played back through a multi-channel speaker system designed by Moore at Austin’s Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church. Participants and the rest of the community will be able to come to listen, relax, meditate, or just enjoy the sounds of their voices put to music.

“Trap” is a significant word to this project for several multifaceted reasons, but the main one connects to how African Americans sometimes refer to a neighborhood or house as “the trap” or a “trap house.” Without much detail, systemic discrimination and unconscious bias can create feelings of hopelessness, making a person feel trapped within their situation. I think the whole world, in a sense, felt trapped. Trap and Release offers an opportunity for release and relief to people in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.

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About the Artists

photo credit: Michael Jackson

JoVia Armstrong is a well-traveled percussionist, sound artist, composer, and educator. She is an endorsed artist with four notable companies, including QSC, Sabian, Icon Pro Audio, and Gon Bops. In 2014, she won the Best Black Female Percussionist of the Year through the Black Women in Jazz Awards. JoVia received the 3Arts Siragusa Foundation Artist Award in 2011 for her work as an educator and is a member of Chicago’s AACM. JoVia produced an EP for popular Chicago soul group JC Brooks Band in 2017 and is a member and composer behind Detroit-based World /Jazz group Musique Noire. Their 2008 debut CD, Good Hair, was nominated for three Detroit Music Awards. They won “Best Black Female Jazz Group” through Black Women in Jazz Awards in 2015 and have a 2017 release entitled “Reflections: We Breathe.” She released her debut album, “Fuzzy Blue Robe Chronicles” in 2009. She has performed with El DeBarge, Rahsaan Patterson, Maysa, EricRoberson, Frank McComb, Res, Omar, The Impressions, Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble, Malian musicians Ballaké Sissoko & Babani Kone, Joe Vasconcellos, Martha And Reeves.

Currently, she is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Irvine, in the music department’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program. While working on her dissertation, she has been a collaborating composer for various projects such as The Black Index Art Exhibit, curated by Dr. Bridget Cooks, and Your Ocean, My Ocean, curated by John Crawford for Eco ArtLab. She is also composing the film score and sound design for an adaptation of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” being released in 2022 as a short film.

photo credit: Diana Pozzi

Stephan Moore is a sound artist, designer, composer, improviser, programmer, engineer, teacher, and curator based in Chicago. His creative work manifests as electronic studio compositions, improvisational outbursts, sound installations, scores for collaborative performances, algorithmic compositions, interactive art, and sound designs for unusual circumstances. Much of his work has been realized in collaborative projects, most notably with sound artist Scott Smallwood in their duo Evidence and with choreographer Yanira Castro in the collective a canary torsi. He is the curator of sound art for the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, organizing annual exhibitions since 2014. He is also the president of Isobel Audio LLC, which builds and sells his Hemisphere loudspeakers. He was the music coordinator and touring sound engineer of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (2004-10), and has worked with Pauline Oliveros, Anthony McCall, and Animal Collective, among many others. In 2019, he co-founded the Chicago Laboratory for Electro-Acoustic Theater to promote and encourage the creation of multichannel audio works. He is a Distinguished Associate Professor of Instruction in the Sound Arts and Industries program at Northwestern University.

ACCESSIBILITY: Saint Martin’s Episcopal Church is wheelchair accessible with a ramp and a lift. Wheelchair accessible/gender-neutral restrooms are available. Please refrain from wearing scented products. For other accommodation requests, please contact Theresa Pacione at

Viral Silence is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency
and a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.