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Tulsa Opera to present 'Greenwood Overcomes' concert

Tulsa Opera to present 'Greenwood Overcomes' concert

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James D. Watts Jr.

Tickets are now on sale for “Greenwood Overcomes,” a concert created by Tulsa Opera that will feature songs and arias by living Black composers, some of which were commissioned specifically for this event.

Performers include some of the leading Black performers in the opera world, such as Oklahoma native and longtime star soprano of the Metropolitan Opera Leona Mitchell, along with Denyce Graves, Leah Hawkins, Taylor Raven, Issachah Savage, Noah Stewart, Kevin Thompson and Davóne Tines.

The concert is set to take place at 7:30 p.m. May 1 at the Tulsa PAC, 101 E. Third St. Tickets are $35 for orchestra seating, $25 for mezzanine seating and $10 for balcony seating and may be purchased by calling Tulsa Opera at 918-582-3133, or online at tulsapac.com. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, seating will be limited.

The concert has been curated by Tulsa Opera Artistic Director Tobias Picker and Metropolitan Opera Pianist and Assistant Conductor Howard Watkins, who will also perform as the piano accompanist.

Four of the works to be performed were commissioned for the concert, including “Fire across the tracks,” an aria by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis and librettist Thulani Davis, for their forthcoming opera, “Tulsa 21.” Other composers who will debut new work include Stewart Goodyear, Nkeiru Okoye and Daniel Bernard Roumain.

It will be performed in front of a back drop created by Tulsa graffiti artist Chris “Sker” Rogers, commissioned by Tulsa Opera. Sker created the Black Wall Street mural in the Greenwood District (painted by Donald “Scribe” Ross) that has become one of the city’s best-known cultural landmarks.

The concert is Tulsa Opera’s way of participating in the citywide centennial commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, an effort spearheaded by the concert’s co-producer, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission (Tulsa2021.org).

“The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre gouged an ugly and enduring scar into the heart of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and America,” Picker said in a statement. “The racism that hid the massacre from public memory for much of the last century can also be found in the opera and classical music realms, which have similarly obscured and omitted important contributions by Black composers.

“’Greenwood Overcomes’ is Tulsa Opera’s humble step towards rectifying this, by commissioning and performing works by living Black composers and celebrating the ever-growing presence of Black artists, including singers and designers, working in the world of opera,” Picker said. “We are honored to be part of the citywide commemoration events and to use the powerful voice of music to contribute to the remembrance of victims and survivors with a concert that could never have taken place a hundred years ago, but which I hope will be commonplace one, 10, 50 and 100 years from now.”


Watch now: Fire in Little Africa telling Tulsa’s story

Members of the hip hop collective, Fire in Little Africa, discuss about their experience creating an album about the 1921 Race Massacre. Ian Maule/Tulsa World

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Tulsa Race Massacre: This is what happened in Tulsa in 1921

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