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International Contemporary Ensemble Hosts Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum

The event will feature George Lewis, Julia Bullock, Courtney Bryan, Tyshawn Sorey and more.

International Contemporary Ensemble Hosts Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum

The International Contemporary Ensemble, in partnership with Opera Omaha and FringeArts, will present the Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum online from May 26-28, 2021. The Forum is a free, three-day series of online events produced by colleagues and collaborators of the International Contemporary Ensemble in order to celebrate, share, and reflect on four operas that have had a major impact on the organization and collaborators. They include: George Lewis' Afterword (2015), Tyshawn Sorey's Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine Baker (2016), Pauline Oliveros and IONE's The Nubian Word for Flowers: A Phantom Opera (2017), and a new work-in-development, Awakening (to be premiered in 2022), by Courtney Bryan with Charlotte Brathwaite, Sharan Strange, Cauleen Smith, and Helga Davis.

In order to cultivate awareness among presenters, producers, ensembles, and audiences, the Ensemble will bring these works into conversation with one another and with leading scholars in the field. Renowned musicologist Dr. Naomi André is the lead scholar and conversation partner for this three-day series featuring presenters and panelists such as Julia Bullock, IONE, George Lewis, Tyshawn Sorey, and many others.

Throughout this Forum, attendees, presenters, and panelists are guided by the following questions:

- What impact do these works have for opera today?
- What is the role of composer, librettist, and performer?
- How do these operas give us new ways to reimagine and expand what the genre is and meant to be?

More details about the schedule of events will be announced at the beginning of May at To receive updates and news, please register here.

Artists, Presenters, Panelists

Dr. Naomi André
Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies
Department of Women's and Gender Studies
The Residential College
University of Michigan,
Author: Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (University of Illinois Press)
George Lewis, composer and scholar, Afterword (2015)
Tyshawn Sorey, composer, scholar, and instrumentalist, Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine (2016)
Julia Bullock, classical singer, Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine (2016)
IONE, author, performer, director, The Nubian Word for Flowers: A Phantom Opera (2017), Author: Pride of Family (Publisher: Harlem Moon Classics - Penguin Random House)
Courtney Bryan, composer and instrumentalist, Awakening (2022)
Helga Davis, lead vocalist, Awakening (2022)
Charlotte Brathwaite, director, Awakening (2022)
Dr. Matthew D. Morrison, dramaturg, Awakening (2022)
Sharan Strange, librettist, Awakening (2022)
Melanie Bacaling, co-curator & associate producing director, Opera Omaha's Amplifying the Black Experience series
Dr. Fredara Hadley, ethnomusicologist, recent research focus: Shirley Graham Du Bois' Tom Tom
Dr. Dr. Daniele Daude, scholar & dramaturg
Lisa E. Harris, vocalist, composer, interdisciplinary artist
Derrell Acon, activist, performer, & arts leader

The Afro-Diasporic Opera Forum is produced and hosted by the International Contemporary Ensemble with financial and organizational support from Opera Omaha, FringeArts, and Arlene and Larry Dunn.

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