The year 2019 marks the 400th anniversary since African captives were first brought to the United States when a Dutch ship carried the 20 shackled captives to the British colony of Jamestown, Va. In honor of this important anniversary, Carnegie Mellon University is showcasing a special Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, the Orchestral Debut of “Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice” presented by the Colour of Music Festival (COMF). “This expressive musical composition is a new approach to teaching slavery, one that takes the humanities into a new realm,” Edda L. Fields-Black, the project’s executive producer and librettist said in a release to the New Pittsburgh Courier about the classical. “We are taking history off the shelf and putting it on the stage.”
The classical symphonic work to premiere at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland is a tribute to slaves exploited and brutalized on those rice plantations who remain unburied, unmourned and unmarked.
A true marriage between West African and European classical traditions, “Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice” is a modern and African American inspired take on a classic requiem in the spirit of Verdi, Mozart, Faure, and Britten. It mourns the souls of the enslaved Africans who died on Lowcountry rice plantations in the U.S., their bodies unburied, their suffering unmourned, and their sacrifices unmarked for future generations.
Fields-Black, also a Carnegie Mellon University associate professor, assembled an impressive artist team for the project: three-time EMMY Award-winning composer John Wineglass, internationally renowned director and filmmaker Julia Dash, whose “Daughters of the Dust” was the first film by an African American woman to have a major studio release, and cinematographer David Claessen.
West African rice production technology—developed by farmers in the Upper Guinea Coast more than 500 hundred years before the trans-Atlantic slave trade—laid the foundation for South Carolina and Georgia’s commercial rice industry and made South Carolina’s rice planters the richest with the largest slave holdings in America’s Southern states.
Tickets are now available on www.requiemforrice.com and www.colourofmusic.org. Tickets are $30 for adults, and $20 for students and seniors (ages 60 plus). Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets at a discounted rate of $25 for adults and $15 for students and seniors.
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