AOP Receives Matching Kickstarter Donation For Abolitionist Music-Theater Festival

February 14, 2014

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February 13, 2014

(New York, NY) AOP has received a dollar-to-dollar matching contribution from an anonymous donor during the last week of its Kickstarter campaign for Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, in rep at the Irondale Center this spring as part of the Lines of Freedom Festival. With less than five days to go, the campaign is still accepting donations for the chamber version World Premiere of Nkeiru Okoye’s acclaimed folk opera. The campaign has already garnered attention from media sources including an article in the New Yorker. AOP has previously had successful Kickstarter campaigns for its premiere production of Phil Kline’s Out Cold at BAM and the Composers & the Voice (C&V) concert series.

Funds for the Lines of Freedom Kickstarter go “directly to our creators –  composer, Nkeiru Okoye, our hardworking casts of actors and singers, talented instrumentalists from the Harlem Chamber Orchestra, local chorus members, and technical artists” as well as to subsidize additional performances for local students.

To make a contribution, please go to

The Lines of Freedom Festival will take place at the Irondale Center from February 20 to March 1, 2014. Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom will be performed on February 21, 27, and March 1 at 7:30pm, and Feburary 22 at 3pm. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors and $15 for the matinee performance. For more information, please go to


February 11, 2014


Janinah Burnett

Janinah Burnett

New York, NY—Soprano Janinah Burnett (Metropolitan Opera, La Bohème on Broadway) will portray American icon Harriet Tubman in a new folk opera with music and lyrics by Nigerian-American composer Nkeiru Okoye. Produced by AOP (American Opera Projects), Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom will  premiere in a chamber version as one half of the Lines of Freedom festival running February 20 – March 1 at Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased at or by telephone at Ovationtix, 866 811-4111. Tickets are also available at the TKTS Booth.

Using a mixture of opera and vernacular folk music, featuring gospel spirituals, ragtime, early blues, minstrel songs, work songs, call and responses, and field hollers, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom tells this important chapter of American history in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family and the slavery threatening to tear them apart.

Clinton Ingram, Sequina DuBose, Damian Norfleet, and Nicole Mitchell in a December 2013 concert presentation of the opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

Clinton Ingram, Sequina DuBose, Damian Norfleet, and Nicole Mitchell in a December 2013 concert presentation of the folk opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

The folk opera will also include vocal performances by Marsha Thompson (New York City Opera), Nicole Mitchell (Lincoln Center Festival), Clinton Ingram (Metropolitan Opera), Briana Elyse Hunter, Damian Norfleet, Patrice P. Eaton, Ernest Jackson, Kyle Guglielmo, and Anthony P. McGlaun and feature members of The Harlem Chamber Players, conducted by Leslie B. Dunner, with stage direction by Lemuel Wade (L’Opera de Montreal).

Lines of Freedom brings two works of exciting musical theater and opera to the stage in celebration of the rich heritage of abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. The shows are presented during Black History Month by The Irondale Ensemble Project and AOP (American Opera Projects), two arts organizations based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In addition to AOP’s Tubman opera, The Irondale Ensemble Project will present Color Between the Lines: The Abolitionist Struggle in Brooklyn, a work created in collaboration with Brooklyn Historical Society and Weeksville Heritage Center as part of In Pursuit of Freedom, the first public history project to explore abolition and the anti-slavery movement in Brooklyn.

Presentations of Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works.

Complete production credits and bios available at

Soprano Sumayya Ali as Harriet Tubman in a December 2013 concert presentation of the opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

Soprano Sumayya Ali as Harriet Tubman in a December 2013 concert presentation of the folk opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.


Music and libretto by Nkeiru Okoye

Feb 20 – March 1, 2014

Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

General Admission $25; Senior/Students $15; Matinees $15
Freedom Package – See both shows for $40
Freedom Matinee Package – See both matinees for $25
For tix:, 866-811-4111

120 Minutes with intermission

Co-presented by AOP and the Irondale Ensemble Project

Composers & the Voice – Session 4

October 28, 2011

Rob Paterson, Guest Blogger
Composers & the Voice composer, 2011-12

Last night we experienced another session of Composers & the Voice,  which consisted of an evening of improv with Terry Greiss from the Irondale Ensemble Project and acting with director Katherine Amshoff.

We spent the first two hours with Terry. He had all of us play games that encouraged us to open up and explore the space around us. I find the improv exercises very interesting and a lot of fun, but as Mikah mentioned in an earlier class, what I am most fascinated with is how this applies (or will eventually apply) to our craft as composers and librettists. Sometimes the benefits of these exercises are not explicit, but the more we explore, the more I understand how everything is somehow related. As a composer, I am used to being both a nerd and living a somewhat cloistered life, so these evenings can be a little scary for me, even though I am a pretty experienced performing musician. Acting and performing music are quite different from performing music on stage. However, I am gradually becoming more comfortable, and now looking forward to these workshops every few weeks.

C&V improv session

Zach, Mila, Daniel, Mikael, and Rob are gven a new improv exercise by Terry Greiss.

Many of Terry’s exercises explore quick interaction and reflexes. One particular exercise he had us do involved standing in a circle and quickly passing around words. There might be one word that you say to the person next to you, and another word that causes you to change direction. A third word might be reserved for saying to the person directly across from you in the circle. Each word triggers a different response. As a composer, what I find interesting is how this particular technique could be used for dramatic effect in a scene, and this whole experience demonstrated how quickly dialogue can move from one person to the next. This will be very useful to know when working with librettists.

Kathleen Amshoff’s assignment for the second half of the session was two-fold: first read a chapter from a book on action by Stanislavski, then develop our own three to five minute scene that demonstrated a common task. We witnessed Zach making tuna salad, Rachel folding laundry, Sidney riding the train, Sarah putting in her contacts, Mikah checking Facebook and drinking coffee and Ronnie making scrambled eggs for her child. Preparing food seemed like an easy way to demonstrate movement without much emotion, so my scene was making pancakes and being interrupted by a phone call.
As Steve Osgood mentioned earlier, It’s amazing how comfortable everyone seems, especially since we all have such diverse backgrounds. AOP did a great job bring together a wonderful group of people, and I am really looking forward to more improv and hearing everyone’s new work in future sessions.
Oct 25, 2011

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