Friday, December 16, 2011

Chattanooga Production of Scott Joplin's 'Treemonisha' on 40th Anniversary of First Modern Performance in 1972

[Scott Joplin's Treemonisha; Original Cast Recording; Houston Grand Opera; Polygram 435709 (1992)]

In January 2012 The Music Department of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga will honor the 40th Anniversary of the first modern production of Scott Joplin's Treemonisha in 1972, which composer T.J. Anderson orchestrated. Scott Joplin published Treemonisha in 1911. In 1972, 61 years later, it was finally staged in a concert performance in Atlanta, Georgia by the Afro-American Music Workshop of Morehouse College and the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Shaw, conductor.

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,, was present and recalls: “The Atlanta production ran for two consecutive nights to full (and mixed) houses in late January 1972. This was the original version via T.J. Anderson.” The choreographer and stage director was the famed African American dancer Katherine Dunham. Uzee Brown, Jr. made his operatic debut in the role of Parson Alltalk.
posted December 15, 2011
“The UTC Music Department in cooperation with the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song will present two evening performances of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha on Jan. 27 and 28, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee on Jan. 29 at 3 p.m.”

“Treemonisha, composed by that famous ragtime composer Scott Joplin, is a story of the triumph of education and enlightenment over superstition and ignorance among the African American population of the Texarkana region of Arkansas in the late 1800s.”

“The leading roles in this fully-staged costumed production will be played by UTC students and alumni with the title role sung by graduate student Varanda Bell. The production is being directed by UTC Theatre Professor Steve Ray and Maestro Jooyong Ahn will conduct the UTC Orchestra supplemented by members of the Chattanooga Symphony. The Chattanooga Choral Society supplemented by UTC choral students will provide the ensemble cast for the production.

“Joplin’s opera, originally composed in 1910 and published in piano-vocal score format in 1911 was never staged during his lifetime. Its sole performance was a concert read through with Joplin at the piano in 1915 at the Lincoln Center in Harlem, paid for by Joplin. The opera was forgotten until 1970 when the score was rediscovered and premiered on Jan. 27, 1972 in Atlanta as a joint performance by Morehouse College and the Atlanta Symphony. Note that the opening night will mark the 40th anniversary of the world premiere.

“For further information regarding the production contact The Chattanooga Choral Society for Preservation of African American Song or the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Music Department. For ticket information, contact the UTC Ticket Office, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or one hour prior to show times, or call 425-4269.” [Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917) is featured at]

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