Help The Adirondack Folk Opera!

The Adirondack Folk Opera

Composer Glenn McClure
Artistic Director Helen Demong

The Adirondack Folk Opera website is now live!

We are seeking funds to complete the libretto and musical score. Please help us bring this important story to the stage.

The Project

The Adirondack Folk Opera uses story and song to explore the unique abolition history of Northern New York State. We seek to celebrate the ways that the Adirondack landscape contributed to our ongoing national struggle for racial equality and voting rights.

Mountain Lake Journal broadcast a story about the Adirondack Folk Opera concert version performed May 13, 2016.

Jack Laduke does a great job telling some of the history behind Glenn McClure’s music, performed by Northern Lights Choir. http://mountainlake.org/programs/mountain-lake-journal/adirondack-folk-rising/

Historical Background

Sojourner Truth

Timbuctoo 1846-1853

Prior to the Civil War, blacks in New York State needed to own 40 acres of land in order to vote. Gerrit Smith donated approximately 120,000 to 3,000 to free blacks for the purpose of fulfilling the property requirement to vote.

Gerrit Smith on Timbuctoo

“Since the State has again determined that although white men may vote, nonetheless black men because they are black shall be obliged to buy the right to vote- since they must become landowners that they be entitled to vote, they will become land owners. Vote they will, cost what it will…”

Frederick Douglass on Timbuctoo

“Advantage should at once be taken of this generous and magnificent donation…The Sharpe Axe of the sable-armed pioneer should at once be uplifted over the soil of Franklin and Essex counties and the noise of falling trees proclaim the glorious dawn of civilization within their borders!

Come, Brethren, let it NOT be said that a people under the lash could level the forests of…the whole Southern states that their oppressors might reap the reward, lack the energy and manly ambition to clear land for themselves!”

–The North Star, Feb 18, 1848

Timbuctoo Farmers

Lyman Epps was born to a Black mother and a Native American father in 1815 in Connecticut. He came to the Adirondacks in 1849 with his wife and two children. He took over Great Lot #84 in North Elba. He still had relatives living in Lake Placid in the 1950’s. He lives through and participates in profound events that shaped the nation.

History of the Project

Glenn and Helen
Glenn and Helen Demong

In 2013 the Northern Lights Choir, under the direction of Helen Demong premiered 5 songs using historical texts from Timbuctoo. These songs were part of a national music project by composer Glenn McClure the celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The success of the first concert compelled us to expand it into a fully staged opera. The May 2016 concert version of the opera was a  stepping stone toward the ultimate goal.  The Adirondack Folk Opera has attracted numerous partners including Paul Smith’s college that have added new dimensions to the project.

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