From Development server
30 November 2017

Opera Philadelphia to Present World Premiere of Song Cycle by MacArthur Genius Grant-Winning Composer Tyshawn Sorey, Featuring Tenor Lawrence Brownlee

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OPERA PHILADELPHIA announced today that next February it will present the world premiere of a new song cycle by multi-instrumentalist/composer Tyshawn Sorey, which will explore the realities of life as a black man in America, and will be performed by tenor Lawrence Brownlee.

Titled Cycles of My Being, the work by Sorey, featuring lyrics by poet Terrance Hayes, will take the stage of the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center to coincide with Black History Month. Following Brownlee's February 8 performance in Philadelphia, the work will travel to Chicago for a February 22 performance at the DuSable Museum of African American History, as part of Lyric Opera of Chicago's Lyric Unlimited initiative. On April 24, Brownlee again performs the work in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall as part of that venue's 125 Commissions Project

“I’m honored to be working with the extraordinary talents of Tyshawn and Terrance on this new song cycle, and I’m grateful to Opera Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Lyric Unlimited for making it possible,” Brownlee said in a statement issued today. “In these divided times, we hope to create something that brings people together with mutual respect, understanding, and communication across races and generations.”

Sorey, 37, an improvisational jazz percussionist/composer, was named last month as the recipient of a 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant. His work genres-blurring works feature influences of African diasporic, avant-garde and Western classical music traditions. In addition to numerous recordings, Sorey is the composer of Perle Noire: Meditations on Joséphine, which played at the 2016 Ojai and Mostly Mozart festivals. 

Hayes is an author, poet, poetry editor at New York Times magazine and a University of Pittsburgh Professor. In 2010, Hayes was the recipient of a National Book Award for Lighthead, a collection of poetry, and he has also been recognized with a Whiting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. His 2015 collection of Poetry, How to Be Drawn, was  named as a finalist for the National Book Award and the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award; the volume also received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry.

Brownlee, who first performed at Opera Philadelphia in 2006, became an artistic advisor to the company last spring in an effort to help expand its repertoire, diversity efforts, and community initiatives. In June 2015, Brownlee portrayed saxophonist Charlie Parker in the world premiere of Daniel Schnyder's opera, Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, at Opera Philadelphia, which marked the first world premiere by the company in in forty years. One of the most stylish American exponents of the bel canto repertoire, Brownlee was named as the male singer of the year in 2017 by both the International Opera Awards and Bachtrack. spacer 

More information can be found at Opera Philadelphia.


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