Project

HARRIET TUBMAN: WHEN I CROSSED THAT LINE TO FREEDOM
Music and libretto by Nkeiru Okoye
About the Work Creators Video/Audio Gallery Press Performances

ABOUT THE WORK

“Okoye’s [Harriet Tubman] is an ensemble of achingly beautiful arias, duets, trios and choruses that recount the major episodes in Tubman’s career...” - The Baltimore Sun

Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom is a two act theatrical work that tells of how a young girl born in slavery, becomes Harriet Tubman, the legendary Underground Railroad conductor. Based on recent Tubman biographies, the story is narrated and told in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family of lively characters. Harriet Tubman carries the universal themes of sisterhood, courage, sacrifice and doing what is necessary to keep a family together. Moreover it is a heartwarming tale of two sisters vowing that nothing but death will separate them, despite the slavery threatening to tear them apart.

The opera is written for 5 lead roles (soprano, soubrette, contralto, tenor, bass-baritone) and will include 5-10 chorus/supporting roles, depending on how the work develops. The work is also being simultaneously conceived and orchestrated in a reduced touring version ideal for performances in a variety of educational and municipal venues.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works. www.arts.gov

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ABOUT THE CREATORS

NKEIRU OKOYE
(composer/librettist)
A native New Yorker of African American and Nigerian descent, Nkeiru Okoye has had her music performed on four continents. Okoye’s penchant for infusing popular and non-Western influences in a ‘classical’ framework shows in her most performed works, SONGS OF HARRIET TUBMAN (2007), PHILLIS WHEATLEY (2005, commissioned by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and recorded by the Moscow Symphony), VOICES SHOUTING OUT (2002); RUTH: an Orchestral Choreopoem, (1998); THE GENESIS (1997) and AFRICAN SKETCHES. Okoye’s orchestral works have been performed by the Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Mississippi, Richmond, New Jersey Chamber, Cambridge Symphony, Western Piedmont, Rutgers University, Central Jersey, Hopkins, and New Horizons Symphony orchestras, amongst others. Okoye has gotten awards, commissions and commendations from MEET THE COMPOSER, MetLife Creative Connections, John Duffy Composer Institute, Composer’s Collaborative, Inc., Yvar Mikhashov Trust for New Music (1999); and numerous awards by the NAACP. Okoye is a frequent guest lecturer and panelist. In 2005, Okoye was a composer mentor at the University of Ghana for the International Society of Contemporary Music’s World New Music Days. In 2006, she was named a British American Project Fellow. In 2007, Okoye was honored at Nigeria’s 40under40 ceremony, in Lagos. Nkeiru Okoye (in KEAR roo oh KOY yeh) has BM in composition from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and an MA and a Ph.D. in theory and composition from Rutgers University. In addition to being a composer, Dr. Okoye is a soft sculpture artist/creator of the “Canbie Collection” of multicultural dolls, which may be found in museums and galleries nationwide, most notably the Smithsonian. www.nkeiruokoye.com

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VIDEO/AUDIO

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PHOTO GALLERY

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PRESS

March 3, 2014 - SOUNDWORDSIGHT
Opera review: Chamber opera premiere

February 19, 2014 - BK LIVE
Opera profile: "The Irondale Ensemble Project Segment"

February 17, 2014 - BROOKLYN DAILY
Opera profile: "That's edutainment! Two Fort Greene musicals celebrate Black History Month"

February 11, 2014 - THE NEW YORKER
Opera profile: "Can Crowdfunding Replace Artists' Jobs?"

February 1, 2014 - CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
Opera profile: "Harriet Tubman: Conductor, spy, and Civil War military mind (+video)"

January 4, 2014 - VOICE OF AMERICA
Opera profile: "Nigerian-American Turns Story of Harriet Tubman into Opera"

February 7, 2013 - NEW PALTZ ORACLE
Opera profile: "Rediscovering the Underground Railroad"

January 27, 2013 - ALMANAC WEEKLY
Opera profile: "SUNY New Paltz Professor to Premiere New Opera About Harriet Tubman"

January 17, 2013 - MARYLAND.NEWSZAP.COM
Opera profile: "The year of Harriet Tubman has begun"

December 27, 2012 - CHRONOGRAM
Opera profile: "SUNY New Paltz Professor Gets Grant for Harriet Tubman Opera"

January 27, 2012 - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Opera profile: "Songs, Some Coded, of Liberation"

February 3, 2008 - THE BALTIMORE SUN
Opera profile: "Tubman's Story of Bravery Set to Music"

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AOP PERFORMANCES

February 21-March 1, 2014
WORLD PREMIERE Chamber Version of the opera by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by AOP First Chance and Irondale Ensemble Theatre as part of "Lines of Freedom"
Irondale Center, 85 S Oxford St Brooklyn, NY 11217
Performances by: Janinah Burnett, Briana Hunter, Nicole Mitchell, Clinton Ingram, Damian Norfleet, Marsha Thompson, Ernest Jackson, Patrice P. Eaton, Kyle Guglielmo, Anthony P. McGlaun.
Chorus: Brandie Sutton, Hannah Fuerst, Tesia Kwarteng, Christiana Little, Kevin Tucker, Leslie Tay, Ras Dia, Charles D. Carter
Featuring a string quintet from The Harlem Chamber Players
Conductor: Leslie B. Dunner
Stage Director: Lemuel Wade

Assistant Conductor: Mila Henry
COMPLETE INFO

December 9, 2013
Excerpts from the opera by Nkeiru Okoye with Artist Q&A moderated by Terrence McKnight
Presented by The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and AOP First Chance
Langston Hughes Auditorium, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037-1801
Performances by Sumayya Ali, Sequina DuBose, Clinton Ingram, Damian Norfleet, Nicole Mitchell
Stage Direction: Beth Greenberg; Music Director: Mila Henry

November 3, 2013
Aria premiere from the opera by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by AOP and the New York Opera Alliance
Le Poisson Rouge, New York, NY
Performances by Nicole Mitchell; Mila Henry, Piano

June 21, 2013
Excerpts from the opera by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by AOP and Make Music NY as part of "Make Music NY 2013"
Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY
Performances by Sumayya Ali (Harriet Tubman), Sequina Dubose (Rachel), Clinton Ingram (Ben), Damian Norfleet (John)
Mila Henry, Piano

June 19, 2013
Excerpts from the opera by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by AOP, the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance, and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership as part of "Performing The Streets"
Willoughby Square, Brooklyn, NY
Performances by Sumayya Ali (Harriet Tubman), Sequina Dubose (Rachel), Clinton Ingram (Ben), Damian Norfleet (John); Mila Henry, Piano

June 19, 2013
Excerpts from the opera by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by AOP and The Brooklyn Public Library
Stevan Dweck Auditorium, Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Performances by Sequina Dubose; Mila Henry, Piano

March 8, 2013
Abridged version of the opera by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by SUNY Albany's Department of Women's Studies and AOP First Chance
Harriet Tubman: A Legacy of Resistance: 100th Anniversary Symposium and Celebration
Performance Arts Center Recital Hall, University at Albany, SUNY
Performances by Sumayya Ali (Harriet Tubman), Sequina Dubose (Rachel), Clinton Ingram (Ben), Damian Norfleet (John)
Stage Direction: Beth Greenberg
Conductor: Damien Sneed
Mila Henry Piano / Hilary Cumming Violin I / Hikaru Inuzuka Violin II / Natalie Wallace Viola / Olga Neroni Cello / Christopher Neubert Bass

Dec. 28, 2012
Scenes from the opera HARRIET TUBMAN by Nkeiru Okoye
Rosetta Gaston Senior Center, Brooklyn, NY
Performances by Sumayya Ali and Briana Hunter
Piano: Mila Henry
Stage Direction: Beth Greenberg

Dec. 27, 2012
Scenes from the opera HARRIET TUBMAN by Nkeiru Okoye
Part of the Brooklyn Public Library's Annual Free Kwanzaa program
Stevan Dweck Auditorium, Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Performances by Sumayya Ali and Briana Hunter
Piano: Mila Henry
Stage Direction: Beth Greenberg

March 22, 2012
Songs of Harriet Tubman (Excerpts) by Nkeiru Okoye
Reception for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio
Home of Martin and Ruth Goldstein - Brooklyn, NY
Performance by Jasmine Muhammad
Piano: Mila Henry

March 8, 2012
Songs of Harriet Tubman (Excerpts) by Nkeiru Okoye
AOP Board Meeting, Home of Martin and Ruth Goldstein - Brooklyn, NY
Performance by Jasmine Muhammad
Piano: Mila Henry

March 7, 2012
Songs of Harriet Tubman (Excerpts) by Nkeiru Okoye
Ingersoll Community Center - 177 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Performance by Jasmine Muhammad
Piano: Mila Henry

Monday, June 21, 2011
Song cycle from the opera HARRIET TUBMAN by Nkeiru Okoye
Part of Make Music New York 2011 – “The Voice of Brooklyn”
Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY
PERFORMANCES BY: Jasmine Muhammad (Harriet Tubman), Jennifer Axelson (violin 1), Molly Fletcher (violin 2), Brian Thompson (viola), Alice Hamlet (cello), Morton Cahn (contrabass), Mila Henry (piano)
MUSIC DIRECTION: Eli Spindel
STAGE DIRECTION: Beth Greenberg

Sunday, June 20, 2011
Song cycle from the opera HARRIET TUBMAN by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by American Opera Projects and Angeli Rasbury
Juneteenth Celebration
Dweck Center, Brooklyn Public Library
Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY
Harriet Tubman: Jasmine Muhammed
Conductor: Eli Spindel
violin: Jennifer Axelson / violin II: Molly Fletcher
viola: Brian Thompson / cello: Alice Hamlet
contrabass: Morton Cahn / piano: Mila Henry
Directed by Beth Greenberg

Sunday, June 12, 2011
Song cycle from the opera HARRIET TUBMAN by Nkeiru Okoye
Presented by American Opera Projects
Opera Grows In Brooklyn: Opera of Color
Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn, NY
Harriet Tubman: Jasmine Muhammed
Conductor: Eli Spindel
violin: Jennifer Axelson / violin II: Molly Fletcher
viola: Brian Thompson / cello: Alice Hamlet
contrabass: Morton Cahn / piano: Mila Henry
Directed by Beth Greenberg

OTHER PERFORMANCES
January 15, 2012
Concert Staged Reading of Act I of HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom
Presented by Downtown Music Productions
St. Mark’s in the Bowery, 131 E. 10th St., New York, NY 10003
Performances by Diana Solomon Glover (Harriet Tubman), Linda Thompson Williams (Rittia), Karla Simmons (Rachel), Damian Norfleet (John Tubman), Charles Samuel Brown (Ben), Kyra Hairston (Young Harriet), David Gordon (Edward Brodess), Yolanda Johnson, Patrice Eaton, Lumumba Seegars, Kenneth Alston, Jorell Williams
MUSIC DIRECTION: Mimi Stern-Wolfe
STAGE DIRECTION: Beth Greenberg
PIANO: Mila Henry
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