Requiem for rice plantation slaves debuts tonight in Pittsburgh
Carnegie Mellon University will host the orchestral debut of “Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice,” a classical music piece focusing on Africans who were enslaved on Lowcountry South Carolina and Georgia rice plantations, at 7 p.m. today in the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland.
The requiem 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,” according to presenters, the Colour of Music Festival.
“We are taking history off the shelf and putting it on the stage,” says Edda L. Fields-Black, the project’s executive producer and librettist.
Fields-Black, also a Carnegie Mellon University associate professor, was joined on the artist team that created the project by three-time Emmy Award-winning composer John Wineglass; 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.
The Colour of Music Orchestra and Chorale, an elite group of top classical musicians and vocalists of African descent, based in Charleston, S.C., will present the work.
The original score was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Foundation, Benjamin Harris Memorial Fund and Nicky Horvitz Gordon Memorial Fund, the Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative and the Opportunity Fund.
There are plans to take “Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice” to other cities.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .