Oct 12, 2019 @ 7:30 pm
What’s Known To Me Is Endless
A look at the African diaspora, and how experiences of Black identity differ in Canada and the United States. African American baritone Kenneth Overton is joined by Canadian pianist Rich Coburn to speak to how their understanding of Black identity was challenged while working on both sides of the Canadian-US border. Canadian American, Michael Mohammed, will direct the show.
Each evening will feature a lecture-recital followed by a talk-back panel with the artists and guest speakers, to give audience members a chance to further explore the themes discussed in each concert. Talk-back panels will be curated and hosted by Margaret Cormier. Audience Activation Points around the venue will be designed by Matthew Vaile, and will create a more interactive experience.
“The Amplified Opera Concert Series is bringing together a group of diverse, talented artists with interesting perspectives and unique voices.” Adds Teiya Kasahara, Amplified Opera Co-Founder, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to provide them with a platform, and launch this new initiative in Toronto - a city that prides itself on making space for many points of view.”
In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, AO has decided to create an online program for AMPLIFY: What’s Known To Me Is Endless.
Kenneth Overton’s symphonious baritone voice has sent him around the globe. He has performed with The New York City Opera in the role of Jake Wallace in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West. He recently performed with San Francisco Opera in the world premier of John Adams’ The Girls of the Golden West, as the cover for the role of Ned Peters. Additionally, Kenneth thrived in his Hungarian debut as Porgy in the Margaret Island Open Air Theatre’s production of Porgy and Bess where he was heralded as one of “America’s most renowned Opera singers”. Kenneth is widely recognized for his concert work, having performed as soloist with Phoenix Symphony, Norwalk Symphony, National Chorale, Harlem Chamber Players, Duluth Superior Symphony, and Bach Choir of Pittsburgh among others. Kenneth is also regularly featured with the American Spiritual Ensemble as a soloist for annual performances in the USA and abroad. Amidst performing, Kenneth serves as co-founder and artistic director of Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization created to empower African-American artists to reach their full creative potential in a creative supportive environment.
Rich Coburn is a freelance pianist, vocal coach, conductor, composer, organist and founding member of the vocal chamber ensemble Quintus 4. Known for his “subtle and nuanced playing,” Rich made his orchestral debut at 17 with the Youth Symphony of the Kootenays and has since appeared in concert throughout Canada, the United States, Italy, France, Austria, and China. Rich has worked as a coach at Virginia Opera, L’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal and Opera McGill, as well as Music Director for Jeunesses Musicales du Canada and Cowtown Opera. He is currently Music Director and Organist at the Anglican Parish of St. Lawrence. A graduate of McGill’s Artist Diploma program studying collaborative piano with Michael McMahon, Rich also holds a Masters and a Bachelors (from McGill and the University of Calgary), as well as an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto diplomas. He is an alumnus of the Tanglewood Music Centre, Music Academy of the West, as well as the Franz Schubert Institute.
Michael Mohammed is a stage director, choreographer, and performer. Highlights of his directing work include The Unsung Diva (New York Fringe Festival), The Full Monty (MFA program at the American Conservatory Theater), X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (Oakland Opera Theater), and Candide (Douglas Morrisson Theatre). His choreography for Min Kahng’s The Song of the Nightingale (Town Hall Theatre) garnered a Shellie Award nomination, and his production of Wilde Boys (New Conservatory Theater) won San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle awards for Best Production and Best Ensemble.
Michael is currently the Director of the Musical Theatre Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and works on the opera faculty. Recent SFCM productions include The Threepenny Opera, La bohème, Bernarda Alba, The Fantasticks, and A New Brain. An avid arts educator, he was part of the inaugural creative team of Handful Players and frequently collaborates with the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, most recently as choreographer on the world premiere of She Persisted, inspired by Chelsea Clinton’s book. He is also an Artist-in-Residence with the Theatre Department at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Michael is a doctoral student at Columbia University, Teacher’s College in Music and Music Education. His research is based on finding the intersections between opera and musical theatre and the role of diversity in performance practice. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
The Guest Panelists
Rodney Diverlus is a Haitian-Canadian movement artist, creator, and activist. Central to his work is the dissection of Blackness; specifically, Black bodies interacting with non-traditional performance spaces, and have reinterpreted his work for the stage, film, phone screen, art gallery, the street, container, and as protest. His works have been presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gardiner Museum, SummerWorks Festival, Irie Music Festival, Footsteps Across Canada Showcase, Annual Alberta Dance Festival and Tableau d’Hôte Theatre Rodney is the recipient of the 2019 Canadian Stage Award for Direction and a 2019 Montreal English Theatre Award nominee.
Beyond his artistic practice, he moonlights as a provocateur, community activator, and emerging writer. He is the co-founder of Black Lives-Matter – Toronto and co-leading the development of Black Lives Matter Canada. He is currently finishing publishing his first book: Until We're Free- Black Lives Matter in Canada, to be released by University of Regina Press in Feb 2020.