“To be able to tell an episode of the civil rights movement through dance and opera is an artistic dream come true for me,” said Alan Marshall, librettist & producer of THE MARCH: A Civil Rights Opera.
Following a cocktail reception, attendees will join the artists in the Industrial Ballroom to experience the inspiration and intensity of the civil rights movement through opera and dance. This performance is a preview of a larger work in development that Alan Marshall and Joel Hall plan to stage early next year. Humbled by the opportunity to craft a work of art from such an important period in American history, Joel and Alan’s approach to the work pays tribute to civil rights legacy with reverence and respect.
“It was an era I participated in and it was a very large part of my upbringing,”
The performance will begin with “The Birmingham Movement” which includes a series of dance selections choreographed by Joel Hall to Negro Spirituals, some of which will be sung that evening by opera singers. These spirituals will be accompanied by large scale video projections overlaid with excerpts of oratory by civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and outspoken segregationists. The “Birmingham Movement” reflects on the tumultuous
demonstrations that occurred in Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963. These events were the catalyst behind President Kennedy's decision to propose 1963 civil rights bill. It also provided needed momentum to the civil rights movement and its signature event: 1963 March on Washington.
Next, an opera scene from THE MARCH will be presented in the Oval Office where Senator Strom Thurmond implores President John F. Kennedy to abandon the pursuit of civil rights legislation. President Kennedy responds with the aria "How Will You Be Remembered?"
Scenes from the opera will also include the July 1963 meeting of civil rights leaders at New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel to discuss a potential March on Washington. Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, chides Martin Luther King about his lack of civil rights victories. Martin Luther King's jazz-inspired aria "Just a Few Hearts” is his inspiring response to Wilkins. Joel Hall has choreographed movement between and during these opera scenes to reveal and demonstrate the inner turmoil of these characters.
Marshall continues, “Composer Jonathan Stinson and I are honored to write arias for American icons like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, both of whom feature prominently in THE MARCH.”
The audience will be taken back to the “The Birmingham Movement” with a tribute to the four African American girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing in 1963. Tracey Valcy, a Joel Hall Dancer, will dance a solo to “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” sung by contralto Gwendolyn Brown from the cast of THE MARCH.
“I am looking for the audience to be able to connect with the period, the significance and the importance of civil rights,” Hall remarked.
The remaining dance and opera selections planned for the program include choreography to “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone. “Strange Fruit” is one of Hall's most powerful and haunting works and will be placed inside an opera scene from THE MARCH about Emmett Till.
Proceeds from this evening will help librettist Alan Marshall & composer Jonathan Stinson to continue to write and develop THE MARCH: A Civil Rights Opera. THE MARCH is an uplifting new American opera project exploring the personal and political circumstances surrounding the 1963 March on Washington. These funds will also help the Joel Hall Dancers & Center to continue to touch the lives of countless individuals by providing affordable and dynamic classes and performances to dancers of all skill levels and audience members of all ages.
More information about THE MARCH & Joel Hall Dancers can be found at:
What: Joel Hall & Alan Marshall present Civil Rights Movements
When: Saturday November 10th 2012 - 7:00 p.m. To 11:00 p.m.
Where: Ravenswood Event Center – 4011 N. Ravenswood Avenue
Cost: $125 includes cocktail reception, silent auction & performance
Tickets available at www.JoelHall.org or by calling 773.293.0900