Castle of our Skins

3 humanoid shaped chess castle pieces with crenellations

Castle of our Skins is a concert and educational series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. From classrooms to concert halls, Castle of our Skins invites explorations into Black heritage and culture, spotlighting both unsung and celebrated figures of past and present. The series has been hailed in the New York Times and Boston Globe as a beacon for diversity in the arts. Ashleigh Gordon is the co-founder, Artistic/Executive Director, and violist of Castle of our Skins.

"Safika" (meaning "we arrived" in Xhosa and Zulu) is an educational series that delves into the geographies of Blackness and the musical vehicles in which they have been memorialised. In this collaboration between musicologist-pianist Dr. Samantha Ege and the Boston-based Castle of our Skins, "Safika” presents chamber music by the South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen (b. 1975) and African American composers Florence B. Price (1887-1953), Undine Smith Moore (1904-1989), and Frederick C. Tillis (1930-2020). It gives the UK premieres of Ndodana-Breen's Safika: Three Tales on African Migration (2011), which reflects narratives of dispossession, migration, and translocation in the history of Black South Africans; Moore's Soweto (1986) that she wrote in remembrance of the 1976 Soweto uprising; and Price's second Piano Quintet (ca. 1936) and Tillis' Spiritual Fantasy (1995), which both draw upon the Black folkloric sound world of the Antebellum South. "Safika'' entwines performance, scholarship, public engagement, and cross-disciplinary connections. It illuminates classical music’s hidden histories for new audiences.

Castle of our Skins Quartet


Quartet wearing black stand in a circle performing in a red room

Photo credit: Bearwalk

Castle of our Skins

Gabriela Diaz (violin) 

Matthew Vera (violin) 

Ashleigh Gordon (viola) 

Francesca McNeeley (cello)



woman in black dress sits at a piano smiling at the camera

Principal Investigator:

Dr Samantha Ege

Lord Crewe Junior Research Fellow in Music

Lincoln College