‘A Gathering of Sons’ expands notions of Black music

THE CAST OF “A GATHERING OF SONS” (Photo Courtesy Pittsburgh Festival Opera)

This opera is not elitist or stuffy; it’s come as you are.
It will not be performed Downtown or on a college campus; it will be performed where it may have taken place—Oakland, Larimer and the Hill District.
This is not a centuries-old war horse with a pale female hitting hi-Cs in a foreign language while wearing a Viking helmet with horns (and much more than “Porgy and Bess”).
This opera, “A Gathering of Sons,” is likely being fine-tuned as you read this. This opera is very contemporary and created by Black Pittsburghers. It is the second new work in a series of commissions by the Pittsburgh Festival Opera (formerly Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh) known as “Music that Matters.”
Tagged as a social justice/gospel-Jazz opera, “A Gathering of Sons” explores the impact of a police shooting on a community, spirits and the shooter. With music by Dwayne Fulton (director of music at Mt. Ararat Missionary Baptist Church) and libretto (words) by Tameka Cage Conley, “A Gathering of Sons” is a chronology of good versus evil, biases and healing after tragedy. It’s also a story of hope. And it’s the culmination of a creative process begun in the winter of 2015.
The community was part of the creation during the workshop phase from December 2016 through June 2, 2017. The workshops were a glimpse into the creative process of opera as well as an opportunity for the audience to provide feedback to the creative team during panel discussions that concluded each workshop. Panels included community artists and activists who shared their perspectives on community police relations as input from the attendees.


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