Voices of the Underground Railroad

Soprano Kathleen Battle performs tonight at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

“Underground Railroad: An Evening with Kathleen Battle” comes to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this evening, and those who purchase two tickets will receive a pair of free tickets to an upcoming performances in the San Francisco Opera Grand Opera Cinema Series while supplies last.

PBS describes the Underground Railroad as “a vast network of people who helped fugitive slaves escape” (c. 1780-1862). Both PBS and National Geographic offer online resources to help parents and teachers learn more about this important piece of American history.

Battle is a five-time Grammy winner who gives voice to the struggles and triumphs of the Underground Railroad as she celebrates the roots of African-American music and freedom in a concert featuring majestic spirituals and hymns. The lyric soprano will be accompanied by renowned pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

“Sister Moses: The Story of Harriet Tubman,” which premiered in 1993 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, is being performed Fri, Feb. 17 at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts.

The work was developed by Desert Dance Theatre artistic directors Marion Kirk Jones, Renee Davis and Lisa R. Chow — along with music director John D. Anthony.

The concept and much of the work was researched collaboratively with Susan Smith, director of the String Sounds quartet. Music featured in the work includes “traditional spirituals, slave songs and other music” from the Civil War era.

Desert Dance Theatre performs "Sister Moses" at Chandler Center for the Arts next month

The “dance drama” features Desert Dance Theatre with Renee Davis as Harriet Tubman, dramatic narration by Renee Morgan Brooks, African drumming and music direction by Step Raptis (accompanied by String Sounds) and vocal performance by a choral ensemble featuring baritone soloist Greg Dansby.

“Sister Moses: The Story of Harriet Tubman” has been performed for more than 60,000 students and other audience members in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

The 45-minute piece highlights important episodes in Tubman’s life. Listen carefully to song lyrics when you attend, remembering that lyrics were used at the time to convey vital escape details.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about the special ticket offer for “Underground Railroad: An Evening With Kathleen Battle” (please note that the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts box office is open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm).

Coming up: Teens turn table into art, Spending time with my favorite actress, Fun with high school musicals

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