Washington-area residents are in for a treat as Will Liverman returns to the area to perform during the Chamber Music at The Barns series at Wolf Trap on Friday, Nov. 12. The program, “Spanish Inspirations,” serves as a collaboration with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Liverman’s performance in “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 2021-22 season. It marked the first performance by a Black composer at the Met, showcasing Terence Blanchard’s adaptation from the autobiography of New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow.
“I’m still processing the whole experience. It’s put me on a platform. It was an incredible experience because for the first time, we, the front-facing artists, were able to work directly with the people on the other side of the table,” Liverman said, referring to working with Blanchard, filmmaker Kasi Lemmons, who wrote the libretto from Blow’s book and with co-directors James Robinson and Camille A. Brown.
Liverman, the 2020 recipient of the Washington National Opera and John F. Kennedy for the Performing Arts’ Marian Anderson Vocal Award, has remained busy in his short career and counts as an in-demand performer with dates confirmed across the U.S.
Earlier this year, he released “Dreams of a New Day,” a program of American art songs by Black composers on Cedille Records. The album showcases the works of composers such as Margaret Bonds and Harry Burleigh and marks the premier of Shawn Okpebholo’s “Two Black Churches” from poems about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 and the 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
In collaboration with DJ/recording artist K-Rico, Liverman created “Factotum,” an interpretation of Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” set in a present-day Black barbershop in Chicago. Liverman and K-Rico mix operatic singing with hip-hop, gospel, funk, neo-soul and R&B music. A short behind-the-scenes documentary, “Creating The Factotum,” explores the new work’s development process.
“It’s just a celebration of being Black,” Liverman said. “That’s the barbershop experience that we decided to let live in the opera world.”
After performances in several workshops, it will premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
In the meantime, see Liverman’s “Spanish Inspirations” at The Barns of Wolf Trap on Nov. 12. For ticket information, visit Wolf Trap at https://www.wolftrap.org.
Brenda C. Siler:
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Lyric Opera of Chicago:
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