COOS, BMOP, and Odyssey Opera
As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage is a multi-year initiative to elevate opera by Black composers; with New England and world premiere performances of five operas in partnership with Odyssey Opera, along with commercial recordings released on BMOP/sound, and complementary education and engagement programs developed by Castle of our Skins.
Education programs for As Told By are underwritten by the Howard and Katherine Aibel Foundation.
For the second year of As Told By in the fall of 2022, COOS teaching artist Steph Davis lead Boston Children's Chorus student vocalists in activities around the subject of spirituals. Throughout this residency the students sang and became more familiar with the history and themes associated with spirituals, including the folks who sang them (such as Harriet Tubman) and wrote reflections on their learning.
The words, themes, and ideas that blossomed from these workshops served as a foundation for a musical work by Kennedy Taylor Dixon and commissioned by Castle of our Skins. Boston Childrens' Chorus premiered Kennedy's choral piece, "A Place For You", in May of 2023 at The Hope of Tomorrow concert in Dorchester, MA.
A Place For You premiere at The Hope of Tomorrow concert on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, MA.
I. to belong
II. open fields
open fields calling me calling me to come home
III. anywhere I dream
I’ve got wings that will take me anywhere I dream
IV. a place for you
I go to prepare a place for you a place for you, for me for us, to be free
From Kennedy Taylor Dixon: "The text for the second and third movements were inspired by the material provided, while the last movement highlights the final words of Harriet Tubman: “I go to prepare a place for you.”"
The Hope for Tomorrow Gallery
In conversation with our Spirituals Residency with Boston Childrens' Chorus, 10th grade students from the Boston Arts Academy, under the guidance of Visual Art Teacher Kathleen Marsh and COOS' Director of Education Taylor Lena McTootle, created works inspired by their own exploration of the concepts of hope, community, and courage in the Black historical context. After spending their spring semester learning about African American Spirituals, Harriet Tubman, and liberation in Black music and Black classical arts, they created pieces of art which showed a sense of deep reflection, careful consideration, and inspired imagination by brilliant young minds.
18 students displayed their work in The Hope for Tomorrow Gallery at the Strand Theatre during the concert and all 18 works sold by the end of the day.