Finger Lakes Opera celebrating Black History Month: ‘It’s about taking the month into the year…’

Black History Month

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — Monday marked the start of Black History Month – one of the many ways it’s celebrated is through the arts. Finger Lakes Opera is planning virtual productions featuring Baritone Jorell Williams and Soprano Kearstin Piper Brown.

The company is kicking off their month celebration with the first episode of a historical video-podcast series, that includes selections from a 1963 Porgy and Bess recording. Later in the month, Williams and Piper Brown will be offering solo recitals.

The two say productions will be pre-recorded in the performance venue – socially distanced on the stage. While they’re super grateful to do what they love every day – they miss audience presence and feedback.

“When you look at all the months, as a Black performer we are Black History Month every single month, it just so happens it falls in February so we are curating these programs, giving a full spectrum of what black artists can bring to the table,” said Williams.

Williams says he hopes the dialogue around race and the Black Lives Matter movement continues into the new year, and he has seen more inclusivity in the performance industry. “We are pushing through we are finally starting to make headway with that, it allows us to kind of be heard in a way that we haven’t been before,” he said.

Piper Brown will be exploring some diva characters in Opera this year. Much like Williams, she says the month is a great opportunity to educate and inspire others to look deeper into Black history as it connects to today, but also encourage ways to bring that same inspiration into the rest of the year.

“I want people to just experience new, perhaps something they haven’t heard before, a new piece of music, new composer, learn something about a diva that they didn’t know before. Take that into the next month and the next month, going to what we talked about, the month is about taking the month and taking it into the year,” she said.

Performances will be pre-recorded and streamed on the company’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Click here for dates and more info on Piper Brown and Williams.

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