Opera Philadelphia to Present Karen Slack In TO SIT AND DREAM Celebrating Black Composers

The program will be presented at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at 3:00pm.

By: Feb. 22, 2024
Opera Philadelphia to Present Karen Slack In TO SIT AND DREAM Celebrating Black Composers
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Karen Slack will be the featured soloist in To Sit and Dream, presented by Opera Philadelphia as part of its Sounds of America series, on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at 3:00pm at Philadelphia's Tindley Temple United Methodist Church. A recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, Slack is known for her fiery charisma and ground-breaking approach to engagement as she continues to amass a body of work that reflects her dedication to premiering works by living composers. Appearing in this program alongside the Philadelphia Opera Chorus in partnership with Wharton-Wesley Faith Ensemble, Slack is featured in a program of music by Black composers centered on four choral settings of the poetry of Harlem Renaissance icon Langston Hughes. She performs on Undine Smith Moore's Dream Variations, Florence Price's Interim (string quartet transcription by Joe Williams) and H. Leslie Adams' Sense You Went Away.

A Philadelphia native and graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Slack returns to her home town for this 90-minute program conducted by Opera Philadelphia's Elizabeth Braden and Theodore Thomas, Jr., Director of the Wharton-Wesley Faith Ensemble. Works selected for this program have been curated into five themed sections, each named for a famous line or title by Hughes and reflecting, in their different ways, on the power of dreams and hope for peace and triumph in the face of struggle. In addition to Moore, Price and Adams, the program includes works by Charles Albert Tindley, Rosephanye Powell, Michael Reid, Nolan J. Williams, Jr., Christopher H. Harris, André J. Thomas, Carol Cymbala, Bradley Knight, Trey McLaughlin, Thomas Whitfield, Victor C. Johnson and Roland Carter.

Program Details

To Sit and Dream
Sunday, March 17, 2024 at 3:00PM
Tindley Temple United Methodist Church | Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: "Pay what you decide"
Link: https://www.operaphila.org/whats-on/events/sound-of-america/to-sit-and-dream/


A Medley of Hymns - Charles Albert Tindley

Theordore Thomas, Jr., Organ

I. To You
To Sit and Dream - Rosephanye Powell
Resignation - Florence Price
We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace - Undine Smith Moore
Even Me - Michael Reid
Take it to the Lord in Prayer - Nolan J. Williams, Jr.

II. The Dream Keeper
Bring Me All Your Dreams - Christopher H. Harris
Poems of Praise - Florence Price
Weathers - Florence Price
I Am Loved - Christopher H. Harris

III. Dream Variations
Interim (Florence Price/arr. Joe Williams)
Sense You Went Away (H. Leslie Adams/arr. Joe Williams)
Dream Variations (Undine Smith Moore)

Karen Slack, soprano
Donna Grantham, violin
Tess Varley, violin
Elizabeth Jaffe, viola
Jasmine Pai, cello

IV. I Dream a World
I Dream a World - André J. Thomas
Jesus Brought Me Out - Carol Cymbala and Bradley Knight
I Shall Wear a Crown - Trey McLaughlin and Thomas Whitfield

V. Hold Fast to Dreams
When the Storms of Life Are Raging - Victor C. Johnson
Hold Fast to Dreams - Roland Carter
I Wanna Be Ready - Powell

Veronica Chapman-Smith, soprano

About Karen Slack

Karen Slac is a recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, Slack is an Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera, serves on the board of the American Composers Orchestra and Astral Artists, and holds a faculty position at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Highlights of Slack's 2023-2024 season include her solo debut with the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall, and her debut as a guest artist with Chamber Music Detroit, where she will give masterclasses and perform two programs: her acclaimed solo recital Of Thee I Sing and a program alongside the Pacifica Quartet. She performs in two productions of Shawn Okpebholo's Songs in Flight, returns to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, returns to Colombia for the Festival Internacional de Música Sacra Bogotá, and continues her collaboration with the Pacifica Quartet at the Denver Friends of Chamber Music. Slack also embarks upon an ambitious new recording project in collaboration with ONEComposer and pianist Michelle Cann, to be released later this season on Azica Records.

Slack has amassed a body of work reflecting her dedication to premiering works by living composers, with particular focus on using her platform to elevate works by Black artists. In recent seasons, she premiered Songs in Flight at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, appeared in two separate world premieres by Hannibal Lokumbe with the Nashville Symphony and Oklahoma City Philharmonic; debuted Jasmine Barnes' Songs of Paul with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; premiered Damien Geter's Justice Symphony with the Fresno Symphony and The Washington Chorus; and made her Houston Grand Opera debut in the premiere of Joel Thompson and Andrea Davis Pinkney's A Snowy Day.

When the pandemic limited live performances, Slack was featured in digital performances with Houston Grand Opera, Madison Opera, and Minnesota Opera; starred in a new production of Driving While Black, presented by UrbanArias; and launched a digital talk show, #kikikonversations. She co-created and performed in #saytheirnames - Women of the Movement, a film recital and production in partnership with Philadelphia's Lyric Fest, performed in recital for Opera Philadelphia. Appearing alongside actor/narrator Liev Schreiber, she was the featured vocalist in Orpheus Chamber Orchestra's Speaking Truth to Power, hosted on Idagio.

She has performed on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Scottish Opera, San Francisco Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Austin Opera, New Orleans Opera, Minnesota Opera, Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, Sacramento Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Madison Opera, and Arizona Opera, among others. She has appeared with the Melbourne Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestras, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Slack made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe's Healing Tones with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

A native Philadelphian, Slack is a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, as well as the Adler Fellowship and the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera. For more information, please visit www.sopranokarenslack.com

Photo Credit: Kia Caldwell