Encompass New Theatre to Present AN IMMIGRANT'S DREAM at Greene Space

The concert will take place on Sunday, June 9 at 3pm.

By: May. 29, 2024
Encompass New Theatre to Present AN IMMIGRANT'S DREAM at Greene Space
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Manhattan’s leading activist opera company Encompass New Opera Theatre will present Unheard Voices: An Immigrant’s Dream—a matinee concert on Sunday, June 9, 2024, 3:00 p.m., at downtown Manhattan’s The Greene Space. Approaching its landmark 50th anniversary in 2026, ENOT continues to tell compelling stories through rare musical theater-opera productions. In Unheard Voices: An Immigrant’s Dream, ENOT brings a wide variety of perspectives on the immigrant experience while reflecting the ambition of ENOT to integrate opera with social activism.

Curated by artistic/stage director Nancy Rhodes and led by music director/composer/pianist Richard Pearson Thomas, this season-ending concert comprising ancestral rhythms, folkloric songs, and new music by artists from El Salvador, Argentina, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine, is performed by ENOT’s singers and instrumentalists as well as special guests Ukrainian-Russian duo Sky Caravan honoring the unwavering spirit of the people of Ukraine.

“Encompass is dedicated to creating a new musical language to talk about today’s relevant issues such as immigration. We are thrilled to celebrate the rich cultural tapestry that is the very fabric of not only New York, but of America too. Now is the time to give voice to the extraordinary diversity that is New York City. Through this live musical performance, we hope to ignite a conversation off the stage about immigration as well as redefine opera’s role in society.”   - Nancy Rhodes, Artistic Director, Encompass New Opera Theatre

With ancestral voices from his indigenous roots, Salvadoran tenor Oswaldo Iraheta (pictured above) guides audiences to the heart of Central and South America with several passionate songs sung in both Spanish and English: the American premiere of Poemas Norteños, a folk song by Argentine composer Angel E. Lasala (1914-2000); El nido by contemporary Salvadoran composer Juan Guerra Gonzalez (b.1980); a musical journey crossing the Rio Grande with By the River by Maury Yeston (b.1945); I Stand Alone also by Yeston from the film Goya; and Polo by Spanish-Argentine composer Manuel De Falla (1876-1946), revealing the challenges of life in a new country. 

A champion of new works and singers for over four decades, ENOT will premiere two pieces by composer Richard Pearson Thomas (b.1957) who is known for his robust catalog of American song settings. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (2004) is set to “Sympathy,” an 1899 poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), one of the most prominent African-American writers of his time. Dunbar wrote “Sympathy,” at least in part, because he was feeling “like he was trapped in a cage,” while working at the Library of Congress. Maya Angelou titled her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from a line in the poem. Featuring Thomas on the piano, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will showcase emerging soprano MaKayla McDonald (pictured above), who will also perform the powerful aria “To This We’ve Come” from Menotti’s opera, The Consul.

Celebrating its world premiere is Thomas’s Alma Swansson’s Prayers (2024) for piano and cello. The composer reflects on his great grandmother as a young girl sent to America from Sweden in 1899 with only a note pinned to her jacket never to see her family again. This tribute expresses the courage, longing, and hope that transcends time and bridges all generations.

Completing the program are performances by Sky Caravan—a duo known for performing Roma music from Eastern Europe. Ukrainian violinist Milena Dawidowicz and Russian pianist Elena Panova pay tribute to the Ukrainian community with John Williams’s Theme from Schindler’s List, and Melody by the Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk (b.1938), a piece frequently described as a spiritual hymn of Ukraine, and has been used in commemorations of the Holodomor and the Revolution of Dignity.


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