Oratorio Society of New York To Present Two World Premieres By Paul Moravec & Behzad Ranjbaran

By Francisco Salazar

The Oratorio Society of New York will present world premieres of an oratorio about the Underground Railroad that sets narratives of slaves running for freedom and their lives, and a work that sets poems calling for peace in Farsi, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

The two works that will be presented include “Sanctuary Road,” by Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell based on writings of William Still, a conductor for the Underground Railroad, and “We Are One” for chorus and orchestra by Behzad Ranjbaran. Both were completed within the last year. Music Director Kent Tritle will conduct the program, culminating the OSNY’s 145th season on Monday, May 7, 2018, at Carnegie Hall. 

The soloists for “Sanctuary Road” will be soprano Laquita Mitchell, mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, who just won a 2018 George London Award, tenor Joshua Blue, who won the 2017 OSNY Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition, baritone Malcolm J. Merriweather, the music director of The Dessoff Choirs, and bass-baritone Dashon Burton, who won the 2012 Woodside competition.

In a press release Paul Moravec noted, “The power of an oratorio to combine the personal and universal make it an ideal genre to lend resonance to the epic stories of William Still and those involved in the Underground Railroad. Mark’s compelling libretto faithfully projects the luminous spirit of Mr. Still’s own words describing and recording ‘the death struggles of slaves in their efforts of freedom.’ Throughout the creative process of imagining the music, I was guided by their ennobling courage and strength. The saga of the Underground Railroad is always timely, and perhaps especially so now, in this era of historical amnesia driven in part by persistent political and cultural forces.”