Fort Worth Opera is excited to announce further details of the reimagined fall virtual season under the company’s new online initiative FWO Green Room. On Tuesday, September 15, 2020,FWO will present the digital debut of the Fort Worth Opera Chorus, with a stunning performance of 20th-century choral icon Moses Hogan’s epic work His Light Still Shines.
Set during the Great Depression in the town of Blessing, FWO Artistic Director Joe Illick and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s Stone Soup takes the popular European fable of yore and gives it a Texas twist. Filmed entirely on green screens with full costumes, set, and props, Stone Soup is FWO’s first foray into the world of cinema, and will be streamed on the company’s website in October. Fort Worth Opera is also pleased to reveal the 2020-2021 Lesley Resident Artists, soprano Megan Koch and tenor Darius Thomas, both of whom will be featured in Stone Soup, and Festival Artists Online, the company’s new platform for thrilling concerts and fascinating discussions.
Commissioned by the Choral Arts Society of Washington in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Moses Hogan’s His Light Still Shines premiered in 2002 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In the wake of the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, coupled with fierce discussions on racial injustice, police brutality, and the ever-expanding wave of Black Lives Matter protests, this moving, fifteen-minute choral medley is now more resonant than ever before. Under the baton of FWO’s brilliant Chorus Master Alfrelynn Roberts, 39 singers and eight speakers will bring Hogan’s vision to life, as three spirituals (“Done Made My Vow,” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Hold Out Your Light”) are interwoven with his original music (“His Light Still Shines,” “A Song of Reflection”), and inspiring spoken word passages.
“Singing with Moses Hogan was truly a highlight of my career,” says Roberts. “When I first performed His Light Still Shines with the Moses Hogan Singers, I was gripped by a text that challenged the decency of a just America…concepts poignant then and definitely now. Moses reminded us about the tenets of a decent society through his glorious work. In our new digital world, the Fort Worth Opera Chorus ably lends their talent to this amazing project…‘singing’ life into this changing world!”
In times of unrest, musicians and poets have played a catalytic role in illuminating truths and sparking debate throughout history. While cultivating creativity and innovation, they have also highlighted inequity and given the voiceless a voice through the power of artistic expression. Moses Hogan knew that well, and Fort Worth Opera is taking this moment to raise our collective voices to demand accountability, transparency, equality, and inclusion. “His Light Still Shines” is just the beginning. FWO will continue to dedicate our creative resources to doing what the arts do best – break down barriers, foster open dialogue, and celebrate our shared humanity.
Following the success of our 2019 world premiere, Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World, composerJoe Illick and librettist Mark Campbell have teamed up once again for Stone Soup, a new family opera with an enduring message of kindness. Led by a resourceful young hero named Sally, this timely tale teaches the value of sharing and collaboration. Initially set to take the stage this fall, the opera’s live performances were hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. FWO Manager of Education Sheran Goodspeed Keyton (Virtual Project Producer),Producer Charles W. Bush of Appointed Productions (Film Producer), and FWO Head of Music Charlene Lotz (Music Producer) have teamed up to create something infinitely more imaginative for the inaugural production of FWO’s 75th anniversary season.
Under the direction of Theatre Arlington’s Executive Producer Steven D. Morris, five talented singers were filmed individually, then seamlessly edited together to bring Illick and Campbell’s charming opera to life. Starring 2020 District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, soprano Flora Wall as Sally, Australian bass-baritone Christopher Curcuruto as Max, and mezzo-soprano Kayla Nanto as Edna, this Texas-themed work also features FWO Lesley Residents artists Darius Thomas and Megan Koch as Stan and Delia. Stone Soup will be available for booking to view after October 1, 2020. As with all of Fort Worth Opera’s Arts in Place educational programming, a detailed study guide will accompany the performance piece. Virtual story time and Stone Soup book distribution are also available for title I kindergartners within Fort Worth.
Official Stone Soup Page
Official His Light Still Shines Page