Paula and Francesca and I hit the road today for Lake Placid. We are so excited about hearing the new Northern Lights Choir that Helen Demong has put together. They will be singing some spirituals and also premiering my “Voices of Timbuctoo.” Of all the new works in my Emancipation Again Series, this one is tied to a place more than the others. This piece tells the beginning of the story of courageous abolitionists and free black farmers to secure the vote. Prior to the Civil War, voting was often dependent upon land ownership, so wealthy abolitionist Gerrit Smith, John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman supported a project that would allow Black farmers to clear farms in the Adirondacks. It was one of the largely unknown stories of American abolition. The quotes used in “Voices of TImbuctoo” come from those that lived this experiment. The particular ones I chose are at the core of a traveling exhibit called “Dreams of Timbuctoo,” created in partnership with the civil rights organization “John Brown Lives” under the leadership of Martha Swan. I can’t wait to hear these words and the music I wrote for the first time with Helen’s choir and soloists Marsha Andrews and George Cordes.
The North Country media has really come out for this project. Multiple newspaper articles, radio and TV spots on the various Public Broadcasting channels here, a magazine article from a Vermont journal…so exciting.