Omar Musa & Mariel Roberts

Omar Musa & Mariel Roberts Interview

We catch up with poet, rapper and novelist Omar Musa, and cellist Mariel Roberts, ahead of their ACO Up Close 2024 performance at ACO Pier 2/3.

In August, award-winning poet, rapper and novelist Omar Musa and cellist Maria Roberts will bring their show, The Offering, to ACO Pier 2/3 as part of our ACO Up Close series. We catch up with the artists ahead of their performance.


You first performed at ACO Pier 2/3 when we opened the venue with a festival in 2022: what’s this place like from the point of view of performers?

Omar: I’m excited to come back and perform in ACO Pier 2/3’s beautiful space because I know it sounds and feels great, and the audience will be open to something that pushes at the edges. I had a blast last time. I’m excited to share new work that has sprung out of living in Brooklyn and Borneo for the last couple of years, and bring saltwater and green dreamings, along with family mythology and flights of fancy, into the space.

Tell us about your ACO Up Close program, The Offering.

Mariel: The Offering is so much about place, and integrates recordings, transcriptions, and personal inspiration from the oceans and jungles of Borneo into the fabric of the music. Engaging with the idea that the sensation of another place can be a powerful way to forge connections across space, time, and cultures, we hope that by amplifying an environment outside of the audience's experience into the concert hall we can create a work which fully transports them and makes the world outside fall away. The pairing of sound and storytelling has the ability to create a unique intimacy within the concert space, and we want to highlight that special feeling with every performance.

What inspires you?

Omar: Off the top of my head, right now, at 12:24pm on the 15th of April, 2024 when you asked me this questions, some things that are inspiring my practice right now are… grief, friendship, rivers, 1000-year-old trees, reefs that grow back, addicts that recover, laksa, the waterfront markets of Kota Kinabalu, community, the writing of Pascale Petit and Hiroko Oyama and Nam Le, the art of Yee I-Lann and and Rinaldo Hartanto and Miguel A. Aragón.

I'm always inspired by being quiet: listening, watching, observing. By being given proof daily that there is more incredible music and literature and art in this world already than could ever be experienced in a lifetime. By the fact that one never has to take sides between harsh noise music, Beethoven string quartets, Motown, maqam, or birdsong.


Click here to buy tickets for ACO Up Close: Omar Musa and Mariel Roberts.