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Our Monthly Newsletter - February 2024

What’s Ahead for Alliance for New Music-Theatre in 2024?

We are stepping up our activities this season in anticipation of celebrating in 2024-25 season our 30-Year Anniversary of our humble beginnings as a workshop for local artists to advance their collaborative capacities to experiment in the many art forms of music-theatre.

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DC Emancipation & The Right to Vote

On March 14, Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG) hosts Alliance for New Music-Theatre in a preview event of its work-in-development, which uses theatre to address and celebrate key figures and events in local African American history of the mid-19th century that led up to DC‘s early Emancipation, including the first votes cast by African American men in Georgetown’s Rose Park.

Join composer Ronald ‘Trey’ Walton, choreographer Dr. Anita Gonzalez, and cast members of DC Emancipation & The Vote as they share dance selections from the period and representative songs from Walton’s original score.

 

The free event will take place at Mount Zion United Methodist Church, the area’s oldest African American congregation and church at 1334 29th Street in Georgetown. Program begins at 7 p.m. and is followed immediately by a reception.

We certainly hope you will join us and enjoy being part of the first presentation of this work. The event is free, but please let us know if you plan to attend by emailing us at: info@newmusictheatre.org.

The Creative Team

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Leading the creative team is DC Composer Ronald 'Trey' Walton III. The new project marks Walton’s second commission by New Music-Theatre. The first in 2022 was Voices of Zion: The Black Georgetown Cemeteries Project, a work in partnership with Dumbarton Church and the then-named Mount Zion and Female Union Band Cemeteries Foundation. The company was inspired by the stories of the ancestors who lie buried in two adjacent African American cemeteries in the heart of Georgetown.

Music Director Evelyn Simpson Curenton, a nationally revered musician who has worked with opera superstars including Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman and who is steeped in the tradition of historic Black church music, will also lead piano/vocal score workshop readings and an open orchestral workshop. We are happy to announce our partnership with Dr. Anita Gonzalez, director, writer and choreographer, and professor and Head of the Arts Department at Georgetown University,

DC Emancipation & The Right to Vote builds onto that story with another important chapter of history about the African Americans who helped forge our city, built community, and leveraged their collective power to make DC the first in the nation to legalize city-wide emancipation. Several of our cast members and their characters have continued on this journey with New Music-Theatre, invested fully in sharing an important story through the transformative power of music-theatre.

We believe the current work will have even greater historic “place-making” significance for our entire city. The plan is to mount the fully orchestrated work with a cast of ten in April 2025 as part of the city-wide celebration of DC Emancipation.

Read more about the project HERE.

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Community Events & Partners

 

Alliance for New Music-Theatre is proud of its tri-partite mission of developing and producing original works, nurturing artists, and engaging community. Testament, especially to the last, has been the long relationships, cultivated over years, in communities we serve.

Together, we uncover more of the richly complex history of our city. Nowhere is this more true than Georgetown.

 

We recommend the following organizations for you to “dig deeper” into  the neighborhood and our city’s history.

Join us in "Changing the Conversation through the Arts.

 

 Tudor Place

From February 6 through April 21, Tudor Place will offer, Ancestral Spaces: People of African Descent at Tudor Place. Curated in collaboration with descendants, including Hannah Pope (nee Hannah Cole Williams,) featured in DC Emancipation & The Vote. The special installation and guided tour presents the multi-faceted individuals and families of African descent who lived and worked at Tudor Place.  Explore the historic house through their lives, learn how they impacted the world around them and discover their enduring legacy. Visit their Website for more information: Tudor Place – America's Story Lives Here

 

Black Georgetown Foundation

Mt Zion Church and Female Union Band Society Cemeteries are two of the oldest Black cemeteries in Georgetown and greater Washington, DC. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and designated as a UNESCO Slave Route Project site of memory. In addition to commemorative events such as Juneteenth, DC Emancipation Libation &Reading, and Presidents’ Day, guided tours by Executive Director Lisa Fager and others offer an ever-expanding understanding of the cemeteries and Georgetown’s Black history.

More information on their websiteHOME | Mount Zion FUBS Historic Georgetown Cemetery | Washington, DC (mtzion-fubs.org)

 

Dumbarton and Mount Zion United Methodist Churches

Both in the heart of Georgetown, the two churches have a long and complicated history going back to the latter part of the 18th century. Formerly united and known as the Old Methodist Church, black and white congregants shared both a sanctuary and cemetery, until in 1816, over one hundred African American members walked out, tired of being relegated to the balcony and other racist practices and formed their own church, Mount Zion, the oldest African American congregation in the area. For many years there has been an acknowledgement and reckoning work, not easy certainly for both sides, but members continue the hard, courageous work. Visit both churches. You can support their important missions by going to:  Mt. Zion UMC & Dumbarton UMC.

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Board Retreat to advance our Strategic Plan

On February 3 at the Quaker House in NW DC we held an all-day Board Retreat to advance our Strategic Plan.

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In line with our mission to develop new works, nurture local artists and engage audiences, we started the retreat with a "Mission Moment" - a

treat by three of our company members.

 

Composer Andrew E. Simpson, Mezzo-Soprano Cara Schaefer, and Baritone John Boulanger, performed two short selections from our work in development – Caesar and the Mannequin – based on a painting by Man Ray, 'Shakesperean Equations,' at the Phillips Collection.

Read more about the project HERE.

Our Strategic Planning Task Force, led by Board Member Kathy Dwyer Southern, was fully engaged in the planning for the retreat, which was co-facilitated by Board Member Eric Dupuis and consultant Lucretia Risoleo, who in 2023 had led a very successful mini consulting project by Compass. Their combined leadership made for a most productive retreat.

The focus of the day was to advance work accomplished during a comprehensive SWOT analysis, led by Eric Dupuis, that assembled inclusive information from many of our stakeholders, including company artists and board members. During the day we broke into smaller groups that covered many topics and establish priorities, which allowed us to draft strategic goals in line with our mission that will move us forward in future years.

There is still a lot of work ahead for our Board to consider how we will achieve these goals to advance our Strategic Goals.

We will keep you informed of our progress.

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Featured Artist - Djob Lyons - Singer, Actor, Dancer - - and true Collaborator

Djob Lyons is a third generation native of Washington DC. He received his earliest training at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts then went on to University of the District of Columbia and Howard University. He continued his professional development training with some of the best artists, choreographers, and directors in the ’biz’ in New York, Las Angeles, and Washington DC as well as abroad.

 

Djob made his Broadway debut as Raheem in the hit show Hot Feet and later stepped into the leading role of Anthony. Off Broadway, he helped develop and performed in the original production of Fela working with creator and choreographer, the great Bill T Jones. He performed in Princess and the Black Eyed Pea starring recording artist Stephanie Mills and worked with Maurice Hines in his show Yo Alice!. He got to travel abroad in the international Endomal production of the Broadway show Soul Jam in Amsterdam and toured Asia with the Harlem Singers; Broadway Inspirational Voices, and more besides.

 

In fact, what hasn’t this triple threat done?

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You may have caught him locally at Metro Stage in Bessie’s Blues and Uprising; at Ford’s Theatre in The Wiz; at the Atlas Theatre for Performing Arts in Ain’t Misbehavin’; and in the John F Kennedy Center’s production of Journey. He starred as Bingo Long in Howard University’s Ira Aldridge Theatre’s staged production of Bingo Long Travelin Allstars & Motor Kings. 

 

Djob came to the full attention of Alliance for New Music-Theatre when, through company artists Director Thomas W. Jones II and singer-actor Roz White, he stepped into the role of Alfred Pope in Voices of Zion: The Black Georgetown Cemeteries Project in May of 2022. The role of this important historic figure of Georgetown fit him like a glove.

 

Djob has been working as an independent freelance artist for over 25 years, and we are pleased he has accepted our invitation to become a full company member. We are building the show DC Emancipation & The Vote around his character of Alfred Pope and this performer’s prodigious talents and collaborative prowess.

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As a small not-for-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization, Alliance for New Music-Theatre’s mission is to:

  1. Nurture the creation, development and production of new works of music-theatre

  2. Foster the development of professional and young artists

  3. Engage audiences in the creative process to promote a deeper understanding and critical appreciation of the transformative power of music-theatre.

We need your support to continue to fulfill our mission. There are many opportunities to provide support at various levels by supporting an artist, a production, or general support.

 

The Donate page on our website has information about ways to contribute. Donate | New Music-Theatre (newmusictheatre.org)

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