Mary D. Watkins, composer + librettist
Tianhui Ng, music director
Brianna J. Robinson, Fannie Lou Hamer
Janice Hamlet, speaker
Synthia Pullum, soprano
Emily Harmon, mezzo
Aaron Reeder, tenor
Miguel Angel Vazquez, bass
Colin Britt, piano
Antonio Oliart, recording engineer
Kathy Wittman, video editor
In association with WomenArts, the West Village Chorale and the Pioneer Valley Symphony, Tianhui Ng has developed this selection of music to offer choruses an alternative to the canonic masterworks that are the staples of community sings around the world.
Using Mary D. Watkins's captivating opera, Dark River (2009) as its foundation, this summer singalong affords choruses an entry point into the rich world of music by African-American composers. Based on the life of the civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, it creates opportunities for communities to reflect on this moment in our history, the legacy of the civil rights movement and the work that awaits us.
Along with the catchy choruses from the opera, these selections include some of the heart-wrenching arias that are the artful transformations of Hamer's historic televised speeches.
To aid singers in learning this music, we have prepared learning tools that include midi tracks of the chorus lines section by section, with the piano accompaniment, and with minus-ones for singers to practice their parts independently.
In addition, we have developed video materials that include performances of Fannie Lou Hamer’s arias, fully realized choral singalong movements complete with synced scores for ease of use, and short but illuminating talks by the composer, and by Janice D. Hamlet, on Fannie Lou Hamer’s extraordinary journey.
We invite you to join us for the Dark River Singalong which promises a rewarding look at a difficult past and cautious optimism for the future.