John Holiday Headlines ‘Save the Boys’ for Opera Philadelphia

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Tyshawn Sorey is set to present “Save the Boys.”

The song cycle is inspired by an 1887 poem by abolitionist, writer, and Black women’s rights activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. The 20-minute piece was composed for renowned countertenor John Holiday and pianist Grant Loehnig who will perform the piece for the Opera Philadelphia Channel, launching a series of four digital commissions set to debut on the channel in 2021.

In a statement, Sorey noted, “‘Save the Boys’ was as relevant during the Reconstruction Era as it is during the present time. It reflects our daily life experiences as Black Americans and the day-to-day precarity in which we continue to live.”

Meanwhile, Holiday said, “There are experiences that I have had, as a young African-American boy and as an adult, which speak directly to this text and the importance of saving our boys…saving our girls…saving our children. Because of those experiences, I would like to think that helps me to bring this poignant text to life.”

“Save the Boys” premieres on Feb. 12, 2021.