The Washington Chorus Opens 2020-2021 Virtual Season With CANTATA FOR A MORE HOPEFUL TOMORROW Short Film

Cantata For A More Hopeful Tomorrow will be presented on November 14th.

By: Nov. 11, 2020
The Washington Chorus Opens 2020-2021 Virtual Season With CANTATA FOR A MORE HOPEFUL TOMORROW Short Film

Influenced by stories of hope and the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on the Black community, The Washington Chorus and Artistic Director Dr. Eugene Rogers commissioned composer Damien Geter and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Bob Berg to produce a short music film. Cantata For A More Hopeful Tomorrow is led by Dr. Rogers and features soprano Aundi Marie Moore, cellist Seth Parker Woods, and over 100 singers of The Washington Chorus. The film premieres via live stream on Saturday November 14 at 7.30pm, on the Vimeo platform via TicketSpice, and will thereafter be available via Vimeo+ on demand and other streaming services.

The 25-minute, heart-rending film portrays a love story of a couple separated by coronavirus. An elderly African American husband, Martin Rogers, has been diagnosed with severe COVID-19. His wife Michelle, fights to save his life by showing him how much he has to live for. The film features Michigan actors Kyle Greenlaw and Kim McKissack as well as Dr. Eugene Rogers along with almost forty members of TWC, whom also play a significant part in this man's journey within the film.

"Covid-19 has impacted people across the globe, but the catalyst for commissioning this work derives from witnessing the devastating effects this virus has had on our communities and seeing first-hand the racial and social injustices of recent months.," said TWC Artistic Director, Dr. Eugene Rogers. "It was important to me and the Chorus that we highlight the struggle of the pandemic for all; but especially connect with the BIPOC community with a message of hope."

In early conversations about this commission with composer Damien Geter, Dr. Rogers suggested several different Bach cantatas for Geter to consider as inspiration for his own work and, after a time of reflection, Geter settled on Bach's Cantata BWV 12 as his model. The five sections of Bach's work "Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen" complemented Geter's vision of the piece traveling from fear to hope. Throughout the first movement of Cantata For A More Hopeful Tomorrow, Geter intertwines Salomo Franck's original text with that of librettist Megan Levad, the music is centered around the main passacaglia in Bach's first movement. The second movement, "Prayer," is based on an arrangement of the spiritual "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me." In the piece's third movement, "Breathe," Geter turns to the text of a local Portland, Oregon writer and activist Aminata Sei.

'With effortless, simple repetitions,

No complex expectations shrouded by worry,

No disappointments imagined,

Just breathe...'

The fourth movement, "Resolve," offers an arrangement of the spiritual "There's a Balm in Gilead/By and By" which then leads us into the final movement, "Hope," featuring a setting of Walt Whitman's "Continuities."

'... To frozen clods ever the spring's

invisible law returns, / With grass and flowers and

summer fruits and corn.

The work is part of The Washington Chorus' mission to produce original programming, champion diverse and emerging composers and artists, and present work that connects with the world. Geter's stunning score not only acknowledges the Black community's pain and suffering, but also their cultural background and experiences. The film was shot during the pandemic in the safest conditions, with oversight and wisdom from TWC's singer health and safety advisory group. It was recorded remotely using cutting edge technology and a professional engineering and producing team. All audio recording for the work was completed remotely - including over 100 singers of the Chorus - and all live video filming for the work was completed under strict health and safety protocols in accordance with CDC standards and local health regulations.