NEW OPERA TACKLES RACISM IN AMERICA IN CONCERT PERFORMANCES THIS NOVEMBER

Independence Eve, currently in development at AOP, to be presented at Adelphi University and Brooklyn’s South Oxford Space

NEW YORK, NYAOP (American Opera Projects) and Adelphi University present Independence Eve, a new chamber opera in three scenes that explores the troubled journey of race relations in America. The concert performances will take place on Thursday, November 13 at 7:30PM at the Concert Hall of the Performing Arts Center at Adelphi University (1 South Ave, Garden City, NY 11530), with a second performance on Saturday, November 15 at 8PM in the Great Room at AOP’s South Oxford Space (138 S Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217). Composed by Sidney Marquez Boquiren with a libretto by Daniel Neer, the opera will include performances by baritone Jorell Williams, and tenor Brandon Snook. Damian Norfleet will act as stage director, while Mila Henry will provide music direction and piano.

Tickets for the Nov. 13 Adelphi performance will be $20 with discounts suitable for seniors, alumni and students. Tickets are on sale now and are available at http://aupac.adelphi.edu/. Tickets for the Nov. 15 South Oxford Space performance will be $20 and $15 for students and seniors and are available at www.operaprojects.org.

Currently in development at AOP, Independence Eve is comprised of three unrelated scenes, each of which take place on July 3 on a park bench in an unspecified American city, in the years 1963, 2013, and 2063. Each story focuses on the relationship between two men, one white and one black, who struggle with identity and acceptance. Independence Eve is a study of black and white America, offering commentary on the intricacies of race relations and the insidious and persistent stain of racism that has remained consistent throughout American history. The first scene of the opera, “Stop and Frisk,” has already received numerous community performances throughout Brooklyn, including this year’s BEAT festival. It has garnered attention from the press, including a recent Talk of the Town profile in The New Yorker.

Independence Eve is currently in development as part of the Brooklyn organization’s First Chance program that gives composers and librettists a first chance to hear their work performed before an audience. Development of the opera began during Mr. Boquiren’s fellowship in the 2011-12 season of AOP’s composer training program Composers & the Voice with both Mr. Williams and Mr. Snook creating their roles. Development of the opera is made possible, in part, through generous funding by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New York Department of Cultural Affairs. AOP plans to present the world premiere of Independence Eve at park benches around New York City in June 2015.

ADDITIONAL PROJECT INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT: www.operaprojects.org

Jorell Williams and Brandon Snook in Two Sides Sounding's 2014 presentation of the AOP-developed "Stop and Frisk"

Jorell Williams and Brandon Snook in Two Sides Sounding’s 2014 presentation of the AOP-developed “Stop and Frisk”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Sidney Marquez Boquiren is a composer-performer who grew up in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia but has spent most of his life in the United States. He collaborates with artists on various projects that include opera (Independence Eve with Daniel Neer); Biblical illumination (folia ligni for Spark and Echo Arts); and multi-media (The Gretel Project with Lauren K. Alleyne, Catherine Chung, and Tomiko Jones). As a pianist, he performs regularly with Rhymes With Opera and pulsoptional. -A MacDowell Fellow, Sidney is currently the Chair of the Department of Music at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he teaches music theory and composition. He is also a cantor and sings in the church choir of The Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan.

Daniel Neer enjoys a diverse career as a singing actor and librettist. Recent projects include Bruce Bailey with Daniel Felsenfeld for the BEAT Festival, and BQE with Robinson McClellan for the Queens New Music Festival, (both commissioned by Two Sides Sounding). The opera Mercury Falling, with Chandler Carter, was presented at the Long Leaf Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, and song set HAIKU-NYC with Ellen Mandel recently premiered at the BEAT Festival. Daniel’s auspicious collaboration with Sidney Boquiren began with the workshop of Odes to Earth and Air, a partnership continuing with Independence Eve in collaboration with American Opera Projects. Other recent premieres include two chamber works: The Good Doctor Windhager with Ronnie Reshef, and Summer, 1976 by Kim Sherman, both premiered by the lyricist and the Qube String Quartet in Columbus, Ohio. Baritone

Jorell Williams is from Brentwood, Long Island, but he was born in Brooklyn at Kings County Hospital. He had the honor of performing with the Chorale Le Chateau of New York in “A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA” in the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on the occasion of the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Praised by Opera News as having a “Solid vocal core” and the ABC News & Entertainment as “smooth-voiced”, Jorell Williams is pursuing a versatile performing career. Highlights of Jorell’s work include: Off-Broadway debut as The Villager with the New York City Center Encores! production of Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore (2011) and Fiesque in Maria di Rohan (2010) with the Caramoor International Music Festival, “The Muir” with the Mark Morris Dance Group, recording “Mr. President/Americana” with the Essential Voices USA for NPR, Maximilian in Candide with Coópera: Project Opera Manhattan, and appearing with the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Opera Theatre’s collaborative workshop reading of Nico Muhly’s TWO BOYS (2011) and Michael Torke’s SENNA (2010). Mr. Williams is a graduate from the Manhattan School of Music, and earned his undergraduate degree at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. For more information, please visit: http://www.myspace.com/jorellwilliams

Tenor Brandon Snook has been praised by The New York Times for his “vocal freshness”, along with his “appealing and talented” nature, and has collaborated extensively with AOP, most notably being part of the 2011-12 Composers & the Voice Series. In addition to playing Little Bat in productions of Susannah in Tel Aviv, he premiered the role of Robert Johnson in Phil Kline and Jim Jarmusch’s opera Tesla in New York, Tony in the Off-Off Broadway production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance in South Carolina. Additional mainstage credits include Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and solo concert credits at Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music. A native of Dallas, Texas, Brandon has voice degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan.

Damian Norfleet is a singer, actor, and director from New York City. His past collaborations with the American Opera Project include Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed, The Summer King, Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, and We’ve Got Our Eye On You. Other past productions include Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Showboat, Cats, Henry V, The Festival of the Lion King, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Tommy, Equus, The Music Man, Kiss me, Kate; The Threepenny Opera, Makandal, Go West! (Village People Musical), Casanova, The Tenderland, Don Giovanni, Carmen, the new American opera Truth, the feature film Outliving Emily and the webseries Co-Operation.

Mila Henry is a New York-based pianist, coach, and music director who specializes in music theater projects and vocal chamber music, ranging from art song to cabaret, folk opera to indie musicals, standard repertoire to contemporary classics. She has collaborated with American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theater, Beth Morrison Projects, Center City Opera Theater, Gotham Chamber Opera, HERE, OPERA America, Opera on Tap, Ripe Time, VisionIntoArt, and Two Sides Sounding. Notable engagements include: The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival); Thumbprint and The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE); Smashed: The Carrie Nation Story (FringeNYC); The World is Round and As One (BAM Fisher); The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Beth Morrison Projects). milahenry.com

ABOUT THE PRESENTERS: AOP‘s mission is to identify, develop and present new and innovative works of music-theatre by emerging and established artists and to engage our audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience. At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 30 world premieres, most recently Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One at BAM (2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (2013), a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival. AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers include Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at PROTOTYPE (2014), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011). www.operaprojects.org

About Adelphi University: Adelphi is a world-class, modern university with excellent and highly relevant programs where students prepare for lives of active citizenship and professional careers. Through its schools and programs—College of Arts and Sciences, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Honors College, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, College of Nursing and Public Health and the School of Social Work—the coeducational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls nearly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and its centers in Manhattan, Suffolk County, and Poughkeepsie, the University, chartered in 1896, maintains a commitment to liberal studies, in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.

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