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Performance to feature music by D.D. Jackson, Libretto by George Elliot Clarke
Bethlehem, Pa., February 4, 2009— Québécité, a jazz opera that depicts a multicultural romance set in modern-day Quebec, will be presented in concert form at Moravian College on Wednesday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Foy Hall. The opera is based on the poetic rendering of a libretto [text of work] by George Elliott Clarke, with music composed by Juno award-winning pianist D.D. Jackson, that tells the story of two interracial couples whose relationships cross racial and cultural lines. The work was originally commissioned by Ajay Heble, founder and artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival in Canada. The work debuted during the Festival’s 10th anniversary in 2004.
Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for senior citizens, students, children 12 and under. The performance is sponsored by the Moravian College Music Institute in partnership with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, and Moravian College Arts and Lectures.
The cast is comprised of Yoon Choi in the role of Colette, Dean Bowman who plays Malcolm, Martin Sola as Ovide, and Meetu Chilana as Laxmi. Musicians include Shane Endsley on trumpet, Dana Leong on cello, Reggie Nicholson on drums, Thomas Morgan on acoustic bass, and composer D.D. Jackson who will serve as conductor and play the piano.
“This work is particularly unique in that it attempts to bridge two often disparate worlds—that of jazz and opera, into a compelling, unified whole,” said Jackson. “Each of the four lead singers have been chosen precisely because they each offer something unique and different to the mix, from Dean Bowman's background in blues/spirituals and hard rock, to Yoon Choi's background as an avant-garde jazz vocalist, to singers specializing in Indian singing and soul music.”
“In addition, the instrumentation consists of musicians (cello/trumpet/piano/bass and percussion) well-versed in both the worlds of jazz and classical music, and they are called upon over the course of the performance to improvise in a variety of ways, as well as read pre-set musical materials. My background as the works pianist and composer is perhaps also uniquely suited to such a setting,” Jackson noted.
As Clarke writes in the prelude of his book Québécité: “This libretto is for connoisseurs. Its stanzas were sculpted of the aggravated gravitas of Miles Davis's trumpet, the scalacious solace of James Brown's howls, the fearless laissez-faire of Oscar Peterson's piano, and the oceanic négritude of Portia White's contralto. I confess: it is also a callaloo confection – or gumbo concoction – of Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess (1953) and films by Marcel Camus, Jacques Demy and Mira Nair. Given these traditions, plus my own tendencies, eccentricities, affinities – lugubrious, lubricious, lubricated – this production accepts that History is a slaughterhouse, Poetry is an opera house, and that only Love allows us to distinguish Beauty from its extinguishing.”
In addition to being a poet, playwright, and literary critic, Clarke is the E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, Clarke won the Governor General Literary Award for poetry in 2001 for Execution Poems, published by Gaspereau Press. In 1998, Clarke won the prestigious Portia White Prize.
Jackson is an award-winning jazz pianist/composer whose work spans 12 CD’s as leader or co-leader (including two for the major label RCA Victor/BMG), featuring almost entirely original material. An alumnus of the prestigious Lehman Engel BMI Advanced Musical Theatre Workshop, Jackson's theatre work includes the opera Trudeau: Long March/Shining Path on the former Canadian Prime Minister and the musical-comedy “Depressed, Depressed” written with Chicago City Limits veteran Carl Kissin. For more on D.D., visit www.ddjackson.com
Foy Hall is located on Moravian Hurd Campus in historic downtown Bethlehem. Advance tickets are available online at http://www.lvartsboxoffice.org/. For more information, contact the Music Department at Moravian by calling 610 861-1650 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America’s sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.