The group calls itself OperaCreole, a name that pays tribute not only to the free people of color who inhabited Louisiana before the Civil War but to composers who emerged from this culture.
They wrote classical compositions, as well as operatic pieces. OperaCreole is on a mission to keep this music in the forefront.
The group will do just that on Friday, Sept. 23, when it performs a concert in the DeBose Recital Hall at Southern University. The performance is the first in the Department of Music’s 2011-2012 concert series “The Black Composer Speaks: The African American Classical Music Tradition.”
“It’s a series where we highlight classical music by black composers,” Charles Lloyd said.
Lloyd is director of the Southern University Concert Choir and coordinator of this series.
“We have several performances planned throughout the year,” he continued. “This will be the first time OperaCreole will perform at Southern, and this concert will focus on the Creole composers.”
Making up OperaCreole are singers Givonna Joseph, Aria Mason, Vickie Thomas, Tyrone Chambers, Crystal Morris and Romel Brumley-Kerr. All are professional artists who live in or are from the group’s home base of New Orleans.
The group is accompanied by pianist Wilfrid Delphin.
Some members are international soloists, others are regional. Many also are members of the professional New Orleans Opera Chorus and have performed roles in New Orleans Opera productions.
OperaCreole performed its inaugural concert on May 21 in St. Mary’s Church in the Old Ursulines Convent on Chartres Street in New Orleans.
“The Creoles of New Orleans have made contributions to the music and culture of New Orleans,” the group said in its official statement. “It is their participation in opera, as well as the music of Africa, Spain and Haiti that contributed to the birth of jazz. This is true for many people of African descent around the world.”
OperaCreole’s statement can be found on its website, http://www.operacreole.com.
“We are dedicated to educating students and sharing with the community the contributions of our people to this musical art form,” the statement continues.
“The concert will consist of standard operatic repertoire, musical works by composers of color and New Orleans 19th century free Creoles of color,” Lloyd said.
Included in this lineup are art songs of the Harlem Renaissance.
“We’re looking forward to their visit,” Lloyd said. “And this is a great way to start the series.”
Perhaps those attending not only will be introduced to new music, but new composers, as well. If that happens, OperaCreole will succeed in its educational mission.