Let My People Go!
Donald McCullough’s dramatic work celebrates two cultural treasures—the African-American spiritual and the Underground Railroad. It explores the ingenuity of America’s slaves who created “code songs” that inspired others to escape and instructed when, where, and how to journey to freedom. The SVC will be joined by four world-class African American soloists and a jazz trio.
According to composer Donald McCullough, the inspiration for his dramatic choral work, Let My People Go!, was a curious article in The Washington Post about “…a vacant burial vault.”
March 12 at 7:30 p.m.
March 13 at 3 p.m.
Stretansky Hall, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove – view google map
A University shuttle service will operate between the Weber Chapel/Degenstein Campus Center parking area and Cunningham Center, before and after performances.
Sponsor: Walnut Acres Foundation
Co-sponsor: Mifflinburg Bank & Trust Co.
Underwriters: Nancy & Sam Craig, Betty Lou McClure and Caryn & Francis Powers
Elisabeth Stevens, Soprano
In the US and abroad, soprano Elisabeth Stevens is hailed for her elegant artistry, majestic presence, and powerful voice. Stevens recently débuted the role of Elvira in Giuseppe Verdi’s Ernani in Italy and covered the role at The Metropolitan Opera. Her operatic repertoire spans the dramatic heroines of Verdi, Puccini, and Strauss, as well as the verismo genre, including the title roles in Aida, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Turandot to name a few. She has appeared on world stages in Italy, France, China, Austria, and across the US.
In concert, Stevens has performed Brahms’ Requiem, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and many other traditional works, and has also premiered new works by modern composers such as Jay Fluellen, Jeffrey Mumford, and Evan Solot. Her performances have been featured in Philadelphia on CBS News, NBC10, and New York’s WQXR, garnering invitations to sing at the Inaugural Celebration of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Her extensive list of international awards includes prizes from: Mario Lanza Competition; Marian Anderson Historical Society, Paul Robeson Competition, National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Society for Arts and Letters; Concorso Lirico Internazionale Trofeo La Fenice; Concorso Internazionale Magda Olivero; Concorso Internazionale per Giovani Cantanti Lirici Riccardo Zandonai; Concorso Internazionale Alfredo Giacomotti; Concorso Lirico Internazionale Iris Adami Corradetti; Concorso Lirico Giovanni Martinelli-Aureliano Pertile; Concorso Internazionale di Canto Lirico Rocca delle Macíe, China International Voice Competition.
Christyan Seay , Tenor
Christyan Seay is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and a resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Seay studied voice with Dr. Thomas Houser (New Holland, PA) and Dr. Anthony Leach (State College, PA) while coaching with various vocal coaches in the central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia areas. Active in recital, oratorio and opera, he has performed extensively throughout central Pennsylvania and abroad in venues such as Weill Recital Hall (New York City) and Smetena Hall (Prague, Czech Republic). His repertoire spans the oratorios/cantatas of Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Haydn, Vivaldi, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Telemann, and Saint Saens as well as the arts songs and lieder of Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Hahn, DeFalla, Mahler, Wolf, Burleigh, Hailstork and Lizst. He has also appeared with internationally acclaimed organist Diane Bish performing hymn arrangements of Ms. Bish [with Ms. Bish as accompanist on the organ]. Highlights of his recent seasons include performances of Handel’s Messiah, Amahl & the Night Visitors (King Kaspar), “Mad About Mazart” (Lancaster Opera Co), Haydn’s Creation (Lancaster Chorale), “LINK_UP” (Harrisburg Youth Symphony), “Steam Heat Broadway Cabaret” (Phantom Theater Co.), Mozart’s Requiem (Shippensburg Festival Chorus & Orchestra), Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 2 – Lobgesang (Germantown Concert Chorus & Orchestra), Bach’s Jesu Meine Freude, and Saint Saens Christmas Oratorio (Franconia Lancaster Chorale) as well as several concerts and recitals in the region. In Spring 2016 Seay will perform as tenor soloist in “Let My People Go!” at Susquehanna University and Haydn’s Mass in Time of War at Shippensburg University. Seay is a performing artist for The Wednesday Club of Harrisburg and currently serves as Artistic Director for the Capital Area Music Association (CAMA).
AnnMarie Sandy, Mezzo-soprano
Described as “excellent, musical” by Classical 91.7 Music Library Reviews, mezzo-soprano AnnMarie Sandy is garnering praise for her operatic and concert work. . Sandy was featured on the New World Records 2011 recording of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, which BBC Magazine called “a work of tremendous significance,” and is said to be “among the inspired cast’s stand-out performances” by Classics Today.
In 2003 Sandy performed the role of Eliza Brooks in the Central City Opera world premiere of Gabriel’s Daughter. She has sung the roles of Stephano with Opera North in Roméo et Juliette, Second Lady with Brevard Music Center in The Magic Flute, and Donna Curson with Morningside Opera in the multi-cultural Mozart adaptation ¡Figaro! (90210).
In 2007 Sandy made her Lincoln Center debut at Avery Fisher Hall, performing the alto solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2013 singing the role of Ursula, performing with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Collegiate Chorale, and the Manhattan Girls Chorus, in the Strauss opera Feuersnot.
In 2014 she returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and performed in the ensemble cast of Porgy and Bess. In 2015 Sandy reprised her role of Donna Curson in ¡Figaro! (90210) at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Upcoming performances in 2016 include the Ravel song cycle Chansons madécasses with the Off-Broadway understudy of the role Donna Curson in ¡Figaro! (90210).
Ulysses Thomas, Baritone
Hailed as “compelling to watch” (Tufts Daily) and praised for his “rich bass-baritone voice and eloquent projection” (Lawrence Budmen,
writer and music consultant), Ulysses Thomas made his professional debut with Opera Boston/Boston Baroque in Handel’s Semele as the High Priest, followed by his company debut with Boston Lyric Opera as Luther and Crespel in Les contes d’Hoffmann and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni. Most recently, Thomas appeared as Antinoo in Boston Baroque’s acclaimed production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, of which the audio recording received two Grammy nominations (Best Opera Recording and Best Engineered Album, Classical). Other stage highlights include Uberto in Pergolesi’s La serva padrona, Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Alcindoro in La bohème, Bustamente in Massenet’s La Navarraise, Rakitin in Lee Hoiby’s A Month in the Country, Simone in Gianni Schicchi, and Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.
Apart from the operatic stage, Thomas has appeared as a featured artist with a number of ensembles in and around the Boston area including The Spectrum Singers, Masterworks Chorale, Musica Sacra, Andover Choral Society, Exsultemus, Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, The Concord Chorus, Cambridge Concentus, Newburyport Choral Society, Boston Choral Ensemble, The Fifth Floor Collective, Marsh Chapel Choir and Collegium, and Emmanuel Music. Amongst his honors and awards, Thomas spent two summers as a vocal fellow at Tanglewood Music Center was a finalist in the 2001 Orpheus National Competition for Vocalists, where he received the Richard Strauss Award.
Tamieka Chavis, narrator
Tamieka Chavis is a performing artist who hails from Washington, DC and is honored to be a part of Let My People Go! She hopes this wonderful piece moves you as much as it does her! Chavis was last seen as Mary Swanson in NextStop Theatre’s Middletown. Other recent DC credits include Stay Awake (Atlas’ Theater for the Very Young), Bones In Whispers (Longacre Lea), The Word and The Wasteland (Source Festival), Sinbad: The Untold Story u/s (Imagination Stage), Love, Loss, and What I Wore (NextStop Theatre), Lions of Industry, Women of Invention (Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater), Mother Courage and Her Children (Dog & Pony DC), The Creation of the World and Other Business (Off The Quill). Up next Chavis will be playing Mother Earth in Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater’s Mother Earth & Me. She has appeared on television for HBO, Investigation Discovery, and DCTV, as well as in commercials, industrials, and independent films. Chavis is also a voiceover artist, teaching artist, as well as a proud graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. She is so ever grateful for the love, support, and guidance of her family, NCDA teachers, and friends!
Jaysen Wright, narrator
Jaysen Wright is an actor based in Washington, DC. Credits include Looking for Roberto Clemente (Imagination Stage), Sons of the Prophet (Theatre J), Now Comes the Night (Broadway World nomination: Best Supporting Actor in a Play) and Take Me Out (1stStage), Choir Boy (San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award Nomination: Principal Actor in a Play; Marin Theatre Company), Choir Boy (Studio Theatre), Love Godfrey/Love George (Blind Pug Arts Collective), Pinkalicious: The Musical and 12 Days of Christmas (Adventure Theatre), The Carolina Layaway Grail (The Welders), Measure for Measure, Wallenstein, and Coriolanus (The Shakespeare Theatre Company), and The Rocky Horror Show (Studio Theatre 2nd Stage). In addition to his work as an actor, Wright is a teaching artist with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the Young Playwrights Theatre. He has taught courses in acting, Shakespeare, movement, and Suzuki. He is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association. www.jaysenwright.com
Lee Cromwell, dramatic coach
Lee Cromwell is thrilled to be working with SVC on Let My People Go! as he has a long history with the chorale (he and his parents have both sung in the choir). Born in Lewisburg, Cromwell now resides in Washington DC where he is active in theatre, opera, and vocal music. Selected directing credits include: Guys and Dolls, The God of Carnage, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Doubt, and All My Sons. A champion of new works, Cromwell has collaborated with emerging artists in a variety of fields, most recently in his capacity as an Associate Producer for the Source Festival in DC. An accomplished musician, his work as a vocalist includes performances with major orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, appearances at the Spoleto Festival USA and he has been featured on both commercial and educational choral recordings. Cromwell is a proud magna cum laude graduate of Bucknell University with degrees in music and theatre. He holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing from Indiana University.