Madeleine Mellini, Marketing Director
The Colorado Springs Conservatory
Kelly Nelson, Publicist
Colorado Springs/Denver, CO (July 10, 2014) – Central City Opera, The Colorado Springs Conservatory, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and Syracuse Pops Chorus, have joined in a unique partnership to present the world premiere of a new music-theatre piece, How Green Was My Valley, this August in Colorado Springs.
Mining brings unwelcome changes to a small community in Wales – both to their lives and to their once beloved green valley. Main character Huw Morgan finds his own way as he grows into manhood amidst family crisis.
Based on the 1939 award-winning novel by Richard Llewellyn (which subsequently inspired John Ford’s Academy Award-winning film), this story of Welsh miners at the turn of the 20th century is brought to life with music by composer Roger Ames and book/lyrics by Elizabeth Bassine. Performances are scheduled for Thursday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. and Friday, August 15 at 8:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs.
General Admission tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and active military. Tickets are on sale now at csconservatory.org, centralcityopera.org, and chamberorchestraofthesprings.org. Phone reservations can be made at 719.577.4556.
“We wish to emphasize the depth of our performing arts culture as we proudly welcome the production of How Green Was My Valley right here in our own magnificent Pikes Peak region,” comments Amy Lathen, Vice Chair – El Paso County Commissioners, District 2. “We are honored to be recognized by world class performers and producers for the quality of our resources, and we are excited to share this new opportunity with our community and region,”
The semi-staged production will showcase singer-actors from Central City Opera and The Colorado Springs Conservatory, along with key performers from the New York musical theatre community, accompanied by Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and Syracuse Pops Chorus. Nationally acclaimed director/actor Billie McBride will direct. This production is designed to introduce the work to the theatrical community for future full-scale production.
The consortium of presenting organizations is proud to partner with the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau on this project.
“We are thrilled that New York-quality talent and theatre is coming to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Region this summer,” says Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Doug Price. “We want to make sure that the professionals producing and performing in How Green Was My Valley love the time that they spend here. Our hope is that this collaboration becomes an annual offering that will bring out of town visitors to the area to enjoy these types
Content and Relevance
With the original score featuring tunes derived from hymns and folk songs of the Welsh valleys, How Green Was My Valley invites the audience to inhabit the world of a passionate people facing the extinction of their culture. Told through the eyes of one family, the story asks the question, ‘how do we balance the preservation of our earth, allow a forward movement of industry, and look ahead with care to a world that must support new generations?’ “Change is a force of nature and we can only hope to move forward with thoughtfulness and respect for our world, and mindfulness of how we change it,” says librettist Elizabeth Bassine.
“I was attracted to Valley because the novel is so rich in both drama and lyricism. The Welsh language emerges in a way that would appeal to any composer,” comments composer Roger Ames, who chose to use both original and existing regional tunes to give voice to the story. “And we were inclined to put a lens on sociopolitical issues. During the time we’ve been writing this piece, hundreds of men have died in mining accidents, and untold damage to the environment has taken place,” he concludes.
“Central City’s history was largely shaped by Welsh and Cornish miners who brought their expertise in hard rock mining to the area after surface minerals played out. They formed singing societies and demanded musical entertainment, and were ultimately responsible for the building of Central City Opera’s home – the 1878 Opera House. So this homage to the lives and struggles of Welsh miners is a perfect fit for us. In addition, Central City Opera has made a habit of partnering with cultural organizations around Colorado and has enjoyed a rewarding and enduring collaboration with The Colorado Springs Conservatory. We are delighted to add Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and Syracuse Pops Chorus to our circle of friends” says Director of Education and Community Engagement, Deborah Morrow.
Colorado Springs Conservatory’s Founding Executive Director, Linda Weise, notes, “We are proud to take part in creating and allowing new works of the highest caliber to be showcased in our region. It’s is an opportunity for our students to be exposed to the process and for the community to engage.”
About Roger Ames
Roger Ames, Pulitzer Prize nominated composer, has written music theater works for the Hartford Stage, Roundhouse Theater, Washington, Berkshire Ensemble for Theater Arts, the London Fringe, Off-Broadway, and has been commissioned to compose works for Central City Opera, Colorado, Utah Opera, Boston Lyric Opera Company, Lake George Opera, Equity Fights Aids, and numerous schools and universities. He has won a number of awards, including first prize in Boston Metro Opera’s Contempo Festival, 2010, First Prize, The International Clarinet Society, First Prize, New York City Children’s Aid Society Composition contest, numerous ASCAP classical music awards, and several National Endowment for the Arts and Meet The Composer grants. Ames has studied with Samuel Barber, John Kander, Lukas Foss, and Robert Washburn. He holds degrees in music education from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, and in music composition from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. He is currently Resident Composer for Central City Opera, (Community Outreach), Great Neck North High School, and is Artist in Residence at New Dramatists, New York City and at El Paso Opera, Texas.
About Elizabeth Bassine
Elizabeth and Roger have a happy working partnership. They have collaborated on songs for NYC’s Off-Broadway children’s theater, Pantomonium. They have teamed up on Roger’s choral works, including those commissioned for the Williamson Singers at Westminster Choir College, and recently won first prize in the NYC Children’s Aid Society annual composition contest. They have recently finished writing No Parking, a poignant, new music theater piece. They have had a commissioned piece, Take Joy! premiere at the Strathmore Performing Arts Center, and presently await the staged concert of How Green Was My Valley. How Green Was My Valley received its first workshop at the Nautilus Music-Theater in Minneapolis, funded by Meet the Composer, was a recent finalist for the O’Neill National Music Center, and had a second complete Equity Showcase reading at the Actors Studio in NYC. In addition to having enjoyed a writing career in the publishing industry, Elizabeth is an award-winning painter.
About Central City Opera
www.CentralCityOpera.org • 303.292.6500
In a lush Rocky Mountain setting less than one hour from Denver, Central City Opera is among the nation’s elite summer music festivals. The second oldest annual professional opera festival in the country (and the fifth-oldest opera company), the company continues to make history, offering a professional summer opera festival annually, an acclaimed artist-training program, year round touring educational programs, and historic preservation. The 2014 Central City Opera Festival features The Marriage of Figaro, Dead Man Walking and Trouble in Tahiti in Central City, plus The Sound of Music in Denver.
About The Colorado Springs Conservatory
www.csconservtory.org • 719.577.4556
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, The Colorado Springs Conservatory offers top tier instruction in all of the performing arts for students ages three through 19 seeking enrichment experiences, or rigorous preparatory studies for higher education and careers in the arts. Programming and performance opportunities include all genres of instrumental music, recording arts, vocals, theater and dance/movement in an environment that promotes mutual respect and positive peer interaction.
Our distinguished faculty and guest mentors serve students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in after-school programs and daytime partnerships with local school districts. Adhering to the highest pedagogical standards, The Conservatory has received international recognition as a Royal Conservatory Founding School, and Arts Schools Network Exemplary School.
In addition to arts education, students learn valuable life skills such as collaboration, interpersonal communication and civic responsibility by performing at more than 300 community outreach events each year. From the boardroom to the operating room to the green room, Conservatory alumni excel because they have been trained to strive for excellence.
About the Chamber Orchestra of Colorado Springs
www.chamberorchestraofthesprings.org • 719.633.3649
The Chamber Orchestra programs blend well-known classics with more adventuresome works including those by past and contemporary composers completely new to Colorado Springs. Its performances feature guest soloists of national renown, as well as, the region’s finest artists and composers.
Under the Baton of Maestro Thomas Wilson, the orchestra has become a center of collaboration—partnering frequently, among others, with The Colorado Springs Conservatory, Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble, Gospel Music Workshop of America, Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, Ormao Dance Company, UCCS Music Program, Amateur Pianists International, Shivers Foundation Artists, and local School Districts. These collaborations range from a Gospel/Chamber concert the 2010 Art-Creates-Community Award winner by public vote, to a most recent Hip-Hop Opera co-production with Mitchell High School.
The orchestra celebrated its 30th Anniversary Season with an International Composition Competition that attracted 170 submissions, and inauguration of KCME delay-broadcasts of its concerts to all Front Range audiences. A Colorado Springs Gazette review of its recent Ode to Joy concert stated, “It’s impossible not to be excited about what the future holds for us all from this now-mature orchestra”.
About the Syracuse Pops Chorus
The Syracuse Pops Chorus, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has been singing under the direction of Lou Lemos since 2004, and is made up of about 100 voices, divided into 8 voice parts. The Pops Chorus is particularly proud to have had their signature piece of music, “God Bless America the Beau-tiful,” arranged for them by Roger Ames in 2009. The group performs often with Symphoria (formerly the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra) at the 2100 seat Crouse-Hinds Theatre in the Onondaga County Civic Center, the New York State Fairgrounds on July 4th, and regional concerts throughout Central New York. The Chorus is also regularly asked to perform concerts at a variety of venues in the Syracuse, NY area.