Lawrence Brownlee: Rising
Kevin J. Miller, piano

GBH - Calderwood - Calderwood Studio at GBH

A captivating and charismatic tenor, Lawrence Brownlee is a leading force in opera, wielding his voice in the industry to promote activism and diversity. “One of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today,” according to NPR, Brownlee returns to Celebrity Series with a program based on texts by poets and authors of the Harlem Renaissance. Joined by pianist Kevin Miller, Brownlee will perform brand-new music that he has commissioned from acclaimed Black composers.

Of the project, Brownlee says:

These past years have been a trial, both for humanity as a whole, and the African-American population here in the United States. But through all these many challenges we have faced, I have also seen moments of strength, inspiration, hope, and great beauty. It is those themes of uplift, elevation, and rebirth that we have tried to focus on with this new project Rising, taking poems from the giants of the Harlem Renaissance, and working with some of today’s most talented African-American composers, to create something that speaks not just to our struggles, but to our triumphs.

For Brownlee, dazzling classical music audiences and advocating for diversity within the field of classical music go hand in hand.  “As an artist, I think it is important that we are actively advocating for this beautiful art form we love so much,” he says, “ensuring that it will be alive and well for many years to come.” 

Join Lawrence Brownlee as he shares his bold and inspiring vision: he reflects on the past as he looks ahead to a more inclusive vocal repertoire.

Performance Program

Explore the twentieth-century selections and new works in Lawrence Brownlee's program

Robert Lee Owens III (1925-2017); Texts: Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
Desire, Op. 13

Jeremiah Evans (b. 1978)
April Rain Song (Langston Hughes)
Lost Illusions (Georgia Douglas Johnson)
Southern Mansion (Arna Bontemps)

Robert Lee Owens III; Texts: Langston Hughes
Silver Rain, Op. 11
   In Time of Silver Rain
   Night Song
   Carolina Cabin

Margaret Bonds (1913-1972); Texts: Langston Hughes
Songs of the Seasons 
   Poeme d’ Automne
   Winter Moon
   Young Love in Spring
   Summer Storm

Carlos Simon (b. 1986)
Vocalise I

Jasmine Barnes
Peace (Georgia Douglas Johnson)
Invocation (Claude McKay as Eli Edwards)

Brandon Spencer (b. 1992)
I Know My Soul (Claude McKay) 
The Dance of Love (Countee Cullen)

Carlos Simon
Vocalise II

Damien L. Sneed; Texts: James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)
Beauty That is Never Old
The Gift to Sing  
To America

Shawn E. Okpebholo (b. 1981)
Text: Claude McKay

Carlos Simon
Vocalise III

Joel Thompson (b. 1998)
Supplication (Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr. (1895-1919))
Compensation (Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)) 
My People (Langston Hughes)

“The US-born tenor has gone from singing in church to the International Opera Awards. Now he’s tackling something personal: the issue of race in America.”

The Guardian

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Calderwood Studio at GBH Boston Information

This performance is made possible in part by support from Celebrity Series' LIVE PERFORMANCE! Arts for All Innovation Funds.