Opera Roanoke To Present Recital of African American Art Song


As part of its commitment to diverse programming, Opera Roanoke will present Desire of the Soul: A Recital of African American Art Song on November 3, 2019 at Mill Mountain Theatre, sponsored by a grant from the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia.

Soprano and Metropolitan Opera soloist, Dr. Christine Jobson and pianist Dr. Gregory Thompson will guide audiences on an inspiring journey through the poignantly profound music and poetry that is the beautifully rich landscape of African American Art Song.  Dr. Jobson has received praise and critical acclaim for her research and interpretation of these important works including a special judges’ citation in the 2019 American Prize Competition and first place in the 2019 George Shirley vocal competition, a competition named after the first black tenor to have a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera.

The program will feature selected works by Florence Price, H.T. Burleigh, and Betty Jackson King, among others. Most of these songs do not get the attention they deserve among classical circles.  In an article written by the Miami University Alumni Association Jobson says, “It’s been my goal to bring them to light…until it’s no longer a separate genre in a corner, but something appreciated by all classical music educators and performers.”

“We’re working to make opera and classical music more relatable and accessible in our community”, offered Brooke Tolley, the company’s General Director.  “This music has an important, and uniquely American, story to tell with eye-opening and picturesque songs that are immediately appreciated by almost any listener.”

Opera Roanoke recently received a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia to partially underwrite the costs associated with this performance, including free tickets for students in afterschool programs like CAFÉ (Cultural Arts for Excellence) and the 9th Street Boys and Girls Club.

This one-afternoon-only performance is Sunday, November 3 at 2:30pm at Mill Mountain Theatre.  A reception following the performance will be at the Harrison Museum of African American Culture at Center in the Square where the public can meet with the artists and explore the museum.