2013 VocalEssence “WITNESS: Marian Anderson” concert celebrates Black History Month with Music, Theater
Contact: Becky Bailey or Katrina Vander Kooi
612-309-7149 or 612-547-1472
MN (Nov. 21, 2012) — VocalEssence is proudly
continuing its rich 23-year tradition of celebrating diversity and honoring
African American artists with its popular WITNESS
program. This year VocalEssence
celebrates the inspiring story of musical legend Marian Anderson, who was the first black artist to sing with
the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Actress Greta Oglesby and acclaimed singer Marlissa Hudson will portray Marian Anderson in Marian Anderson: A Musical Memoir, a play written and
directed by Jon Cranney. The first
half of the concert will feature the VocalEssence
Chorus conducted by Philip Brunelle
inspired by the poetry of great African American writers.
The WITNESS concert will be performed on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 at 4 pm
at the Ordway. Tickets for WITNESS
are $10-$40 (Service charges apply. Student tickets are half-price and group
discounts are available.) For tickets and information, call 651-224-4222 or visit www.vocalessence.org/witness2013.
This year’s WITNESS Concert is a
thrilling theatrical and musical production.
The first half of the performance will feature VocalEssence Artistic
Director Philip Brunelle conducting the VocalEssence Chorus in music inspired
by the poetry of great African American writers including Langston Hughes, Mari
Evans, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rita Dove.
Set on the eve of Marian Anderson’s performance at Dr. King’s March on
Washington, Marian Anderson: A Musical Memoir will feature the powerful soprano Marlissa Hudson as the singing Marian
Anderson, actress Greta Oglesby as
the speaking Marian Anderson, and Andrea
Ivy as the young girl learning about Marian’s legacy. Anderson, who was an
African American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th
century, came into the spotlight when she was refused permission in 1939 to
sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. With the aid of Eleanor Roosevelt,
Anderson performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial instead. A crowd of
over 75,000 jammed the Washington Mall and millions more listened to the radio
Anderson also had a local Minnesota connection, performing in the Twin
Cities several times with the Minneapolis Symphony and her friend Dmitri Metropolous from the 1920s to the 1950s, and was
refused permission to stay at the Dyckman Hotel in downtown Minneapolis because
she was black.
Marlissa Hudson has been
described as a “superb lyric coloratura” (St.
Louis Post Dispatch) and is at home on both the operatic and concert
stage. She has performed with such
esteemed organizations as the Boston Symphony Pops Orchestra and the National
Philharmonic Orchestra. Acclaimed actress Greta Oglesby is well-known to Twin Cities’ audiences for
her performances at the Guthrie and Penumbra Theaters.
Called “one of the
irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the
National Endowment for the Arts, VocalEssence was founded in 1969 by Artistic
Director Philip Brunelle. Recognized internationally for its innovative
exploration of music for voices and instruments, the organization presents an
engaging collection of concerts featuring the 130-voice VocalEssence Chorus,
the 32-voice Ensemble Singers (well known for their appearances on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison
Keillor), guest soloists and instrumentalists. In addition to championing
lesser-known works of the past, VocalEssence has an unwavering commitment to
today’s composers resulting in more than 145 commissions and world premieres to
date. VocalEssence has released thirteen commercial recordings, including four
WITNESS CDs of music by African American composers and artists available on the
Clarion label. 2011 saw the release of a new CD, From the Land of Sky Blue Waters, featuring music from the North Star Tour, a six-stop tour of
Minnesota’s Hwy 23.