Opera Saratoga Free Livestream Concert - America Sings: A Juneteenth Celebration
Opera Saratoga announced today that AMERICA SINGS, the company's free concert series that was created to amplify the voices of artists from racial groups historically underrepresented on the concert stage, will return to Caffè Lena this month on June 19th for A Juneteenth Celebration, celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. The program was curated by bass-baritone Carl DuPont, a distinguished alumnus of Opera Saratoga's Young Artist Program who is now on faculty at Peabody Conservatory where he teaches voice and a survey course on Art Song by African American Composers. AMERICA SINGS: A JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION is presented in partnership with Caffè Lena. The free concert will take place at 2pm ET, Saturday, June 19th, 2021. To access the concert, and for additional information please visit: www.operasaratoga.org/juneteenth.
Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19th annually, commemorates the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were freed. The arrival of troops came two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas—until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." Juneteenth honors that day - the end of slavery in the United States.
"In America we have de jure and de facto legal and government systems," explains concert curator Carl Dupont. "Juneteenth is the crystallization of that for me. Although The Emancipation Proclamation was issued two years prior to Juneteenth (de jure) the actual emancipation of those citizens in Texas (de facto) didn't happen until two years later. This holiday is a reminder of how stubborn structural racism can be, and how indomitable the persistence of the human spirit remains."
In putting together the concert program, DuPont has included prose and poetry – along with an extraordinary selection of music by African American composers - to create a more comprehensive texture of why we celebrate Juneteenth. Musical selections include songs by H. Leslie Adams, Tim Amukele, Margaret Bonds, Uzee Brown, Moses Hogan, Betty Jackson King, Rosephanye Powell, Florence Price, and Hale Smith. Spoken word selections include excerpts from The Declaration of Independence, The Emancipation Proclamation, and The General Orders which actually notified the enslaved people that they were free. The program will also include first-hand diary accounts and poetry from formerly enslaved people, as well as newspaper copy of the observation of the first Juneteenth celebrations.
The program will be performed by Festival Artists from Opera Saratoga's Young Artist Program, who include notable emerging Black singers alongside artists who come from a wide range of other racial backgrounds, many of whom are learning more about Juneteenth through the experience of putting together this program. "I am glad that the performers at this concert represent a wide variety of racial backgrounds," added DuPont "some of whom might be performing art songs by Black composers for the first time. Many of the members of the concert-going public will also be hearing these wonderful songs for the first time. That will be a special moment, and I hope the singers feel inspired to continue to advocate for Black composers as well as other marginalized composers, themes, or causes in their careers. And, I hope the audience gains a window into the faith, hope, joy, dreams, suffering, consolation, and frustration of the Black American experience and of our shared history as a nation."
ABOUT THE CURATOR OF THIS CONCERT - CARL DUPONT Highly accomplished bass-baritone, Carl DuPont, is a vocalist equally engaged in performing, teaching, and research. Major operatic credits include productions at Opera Columbus, The InSeries, The Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera, Opera Saratoga, Sarasota Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera, El Palacio de Bellas Artes, Opera Company of Brooklyn, and Leipzig Opera. His world premieres include the title character in Dennis Rodman in North Korea as well as Why Peace is Always a Good Idea at Carnegie Hall under the baton of composer Jacqueline Hairston. Dr. DuPont has performed with many of the world's leading orchestras in performances across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, under the batons of Riccardo Muti, Kurt Masur, and Zubin Mehta. His particular passion is sharing the wealth of songs by Black composers. His solo debut album of these works, entitled The Reaction was recently released on Albany Records. The American Record Guide called it "a special album that brings deserved attention to these fine composers. If you enjoy art song, this is not something to miss." He has presented recitals internationally in Rome and Salzburg, and at multiple universities across the United States. Dr. DuPont's scholarly interest focuses on Transformative Inclusion in higher music education, specifically the contributions of Black musicians, composers, and educators to the discipline. Most recently his article, "Make the Door Open: Groundbreaking African American Teachers of Singing" appeared in the Voice and Speech Review. He has presented original research at conferences in Edinburgh, Stockholm, Vancouver, Orlando, and Indianapolis. He also co-authored "The Economic Impact of Vocal Attrition in Public School Teachers in Miami-Dade County" for The Laryngoscope with colleagues from the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. He was recognized as one of Diverse Magazine's 2018 Emerging Scholars. As an Assistant Professor of Voice on the faculty of The Peabody Conservatory, he teaches voice and a survey course on Art Song by African American Composers. His own studies began at the prestigious Eastman School of Music, and Indiana University, where he earned the distinctive Performers' Certificate at both institutions coupled with his bachelor's and master's degrees respectively. He was then awarded the highly sought-after University of Miami Fellowship and completed a doctorate in Vocal Pedagogy and Performance at The Frost School of Music under the tutelage of bass Kevin Short.
ABOUT OPERA SARATOGA Opera Saratoga, formerly known as Lake George Opera, began with a production of Die Fledermaus at the Diamond Point Theatre on July 5, 1962, playing to an audience of 230. The Company now calls Saratoga Springs home and performs for more than 25,000 people annually. Opera Saratoga celebrates its 60th Anniversary this season. The company serves the communities of Saratoga Springs, the Lower Adirondack and New York State Capital areas by providing access to world-class opera through the production of an annual Summer Festival, as well as year-round activities including extensive educational programs, mentorship of emerging operatic artists, and unique opportunities for the public to experience opera in both our home theater and non-traditional venues that leverage and embrace the unique cultural, historic, and natural resources of the area. To date, the company has performed 104 different fully staged works by 65 different composers, including 42 works by American composers and 14 premiere productions. In 2014, the Board of Directors appointed Lawrence Edelson Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director. Edelson's leadership has marked a new chapter in the company's history, with increased emphasis on community partnerships throughout the year, diversification of the company's repertoire, and a reaffirmed commitment to both the presentation of American opera and the mentorship of emerging artists as core activities in the company's programs each season. For more information, visit www.operasaratoga.org
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