Tulsa Opera to Commemorate Centennial of Tulsa Race Masscare With Concert Featuring World Premieres by Black Composers

By David Salazar

Tulsa Opera is set to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre on May 1, 2021.

The showcase, which is entitled “Greenwood Overcomes,” will feature songs and arias by living Black composers, performed by Black opera artists.

The concert will feature four Tulsa Opera-commissioned world premieres by such composers as David Bontemps, Anthony Davis, Stewart Goodyear, Nkeiru Okoye, and Daniel Bernard Roumain. Among the pieces to be premiered are “Fire across the tracks” from Davis’ opera “Tulsa 21.”

There will also be much by such composers as H. Leslie Adams, Eleanor Alberga, Peter Ashbourne, Terence Blanchard, Kathryn Bostic, B.E. Boykin, Valerie Capers, Marques L. A. Garrett, Adolphus Hailstork, Tania León, Quinn Mason, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Andre Myers, Carlos Simon, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, and Damien Sneed, among others.

Featured vocalists in the concert include Denyce Graves, Leah Hawkins, Leona Mitchell, Taylor Raven, Issachah Savage, Noah Stewart, Kevin Thompson, and Davóne Tines.

The concert was curated by Tulsa Opera Artistic Director Tobias Picker alongside Met Opera pianist and Assistant Conductor Howard Watkins, who will perform as piano accompanist.

“Curating this concert with Howard Watkins, who has expansive knowledge about Black composers, has been revelatory for me personally. It feels like every day we discover more and more extraordinary music,” said Picker. “Currently the composers we have programmed range in age from 24 to 88 and I anticipate that, if their work has been a revelation to me, it will also be a revelation to the audience, the performers, and the wider opera community,”