Opera Parallèle’s Harriet’s Spirit

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Music by Marcus Shelby, libretto by Roma Olvera, conducted by Lucik Aprahamian

DATES: January 18 at 6 p.m.; January 20 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

LOCATION: Buriel Clay Theater at the African American Art & Culture Complex
762 Fulton Street, San Francisco

CAST: Tiffany Austin as Harriet Tubman; Christabel Nunoo as Modesty; with Rooftop Alternative School’s 8th Grader Students

Each year, Opera Parallèle partners with school students to create and perform an original opera during an intensive eight-week residency. This year’s world premiere production features an original score by Bay Area jazz great Marcus Shelby and a libretto by Roma Olvera based on the story of a middle school girl who triumphs over the challenges of adolescence with Civil War-era legend Harriet Tubman as her role model and spirit guide. Students of Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco will share the stage with professional singers and Jazz Ensemble in creating the production. OP’s Hands-On-Opera production annually draws capacity crowds.

For tickets and information about Opera Parallèle’s Harriet’s Spirit, visit: https://operaparallele.org/harriets-spirit/

About Opera Parallele’s Harriet’s Spirit

Harriet’s Spirit is set in two different worlds — on the Combahee River during the Civil War and in a present day middle school. When asked about the opera’s themes, Marcus responded that Harriet’s Spirit is about family and friends, and the strength that they give you in challenging times. Harriet Tubman, first written in 2008 for Shelby’s original secular oratorio for 15 piece jazz orchestra and vocal ensemble, moves into the world of contemporary opera with “Harriet’s Spirit.”

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HARRIET’S SPIRIT CALENDAR DATES:

  • Family Art Night: Harriet’s Spirit with Marcus Shelby – Wednesday, November 1, 5:30pm-7:30pm, Burnett MPR. Families will create their own artwork inspired by Harriet’s Spirit and enjoy an evening of artistic call and response with composer/bassist Marcus Shelby and teaching artist Andi Wong.
  • “Harriet’s Spirit” Open Rehearsal Arts Night with Opera Parallèle – Thursday, November 16, 5pm-7pm, Mayeda Gym. Get an inside look at Opera Parallèle’s Harriet’s Spirit with composer Marcus Shelby, librettist Roma Olvera, conductor Lucik Aprahamian, director Erin Neff and Rooftop’s eighth grade student performers.
  • Open Dress Rehearsal @ the Mayeda Campus – Full Run Thru w Principals – Mon, 8 January, 9:44am-10:34am; Wed, 10 January, 9:44am-10:34am; Fri, 12 January, 9:44am-10:34am. In order to accommodate more classes, we have asked Opera Parallèle for permission to open up these three additional dates to small supportive audiences (approx. 30-40).
  • Final Dress Rehearsal: Harriet’s Spirit – Wednesday, January 17, 2018; 11:00-11:45am at the Buriel Clay Theater, African American Art & Culture Center. Field Trip for Elementary (grades K+) – 200 seat capacity
  • Opera Parallele’s Harriet’s Spirit (World Premiere) – Thursday, January 18, 6pm & Saturday, January 20, 1pm & 4pm; Community performances at the Buriel Clay Theater, African American Art & Culture Center.

HARRIET’S SPIRIT PRE-ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES

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Trim A Tree 2017: North Star Ornaments

Rooftop is invited to decorate one of the trees at Davies Symphony Hall during the holidays. Each student at Rooftop, grades K-8, makes an ornament that will be hung on the Rooftop tree. This year’s ornament is inspired by the North Star quilt block. This ornament-making activity is supported by Art Parent Coordinators Brooke Kerpelman, Whitney Couch and Eryn Kurin.

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Harriet’s Spirit Story Quilt Project 

Rooftop classrooms will have the opportunity to create art in support of the production design for Harriet’s Spirit. Rooftop classrooms can learn more about Harriet’s Spirit and help to create three fabric quilts, inspired by the art of quilt maker Harriet Powers (1937-1910), which are integral to the production design of Harriet’s Spirit. These story quilts share family stories recorded by Rooftop families during the November 1st Family Art Night. The Story quilt pre-engagement activities will be supported by teaching artists Andi Wong and Mary Ann Cruz at The Studios at Burnett & Mayeda.

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Harriet’s Spirit Daguerreotype Portraits

The production design of Harriet’s Spirit is also influenced by a newly discovered daguerreotype portrait of Harriet Tubman, found in a souvenir album in 2016. The Metropolitan Museum of Art noted that “…the medium’s success in America was built upon the patronage of the average worker who desired a simple likeness to keep for himself, or more likely, to send to a loved one as the era’s most enduring pledge of friendship. Among the many momentous social transformations generated by photography’s invention was the possibility of self-representation by a large variety of groups previously excluded from official portraiture.” Advances in the art of digital photography make it a snap to add your own selfie to the Rooftop family photo album of 2017-2018.

Harriet’s Spirit for Hamilton Families

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After the war Harriet Tubman returned to her home in Auburn, New York, and began what was to be her life-long work of caring for aged and indigent African Americans when she purchased 25 acres of land at auction for $1450 in 1896. In 2016, Rooftop began filling the rainbow-colored shelves of the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families in San Francisco as a recipient of a gift from youth philanthropist Blake Ansari who resides in Brooklyn, New York. Our 3rd annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive kicks off on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, when students of all ages are invited to help by writing notes of encouragement and donating a new or newly read children’s book to the children at Hamilton Families in the Tenderloin. Harriet’s Spirit is sharing our love of books about #MonumentalWomen with a special selection of children’s books such as Nikki Grimes & Michele Wood’s “Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony (Inspired by Historical Facts).”

20170816HarrietSpiritFANIMG_8525.jpg“I Will Not Stand Still” 

Classes can take a ten-minute hike to Kite Hill from Burnett & Tank Hill from Mayeda and explore the natural surrounds of Twin Peaks and contemplate the benefits of outdoor experiences.  In September of 2017, Atlanta artist Mashona Council became the first person to complete the 125-mile Freedom Walk across the Tubman byway alone. “To come across that line, it really was this bringing (Tubman’s) spirit with me. And we know that when she crossed there was no one here to welcome her.” The trek helped Council to gain a better perspective of Harriet Tubman’s considerable accomplishments, whether leading others to freedom on the Underground Railroad or planning the Combahee River Raid of 1863. Harriet Tubman has the unique distinction of being the only woman to have played a decisive role in planning and carrying out a military operation during the Civil War. Today, Bay Area organizations such as Girl Trek and Outdoor Afro are heading outside to reflect on Harriet Tubman’s relationship with the land and learning more about the benefits of active engagement with the natural world.

MSJO Harriet Tubman 2008

Harriet Tubman, Marcus Shelby’s musical oratorio, was the central work of Rooftop’s “Art Is Jazz” study in 2007-2008. The Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, featuring vocalist Faye Carole, performed for students at the Swedish American Hall on February 1, 2008.Marcus Shelby & Harriet Tubman at Rooftop

Rooftop School’s “Art Is… Jazz” (2007-2008) website  http://artsed4all.org/ArtIsJazz/Home.html

Marcus Shelby’s website https://www.marcusshelby.com

The Google Cultural Institute: SFJAZZ: Sounds of Freedom A celebration of the spirit of resistance in African American music.

Marcus speaks about his jazz oratorio “Harriet Tubman” for SFJAZZ https://youtu.be/lWZ3O6Ffub4

At The Center ~ Marcus Shelby’s ‘Harriet Tubman & The Blues’ https://youtu.be/lWZ3O6Ffub4

KQED Arts: Bassist Marcus Shelby Finds Freedom’s Message in the Music https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2014/04/24/bassist-marcus-shelby-finding-freedoms-message-in-the-music/

SFGate: What I Do: Marcus Shelby, Jazz Musician/Educator (2010) http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Marcus-Shelby-mixes-music-politics-history-3261035.php

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Did you know that Rooftop School is the source of inspiration for TWO musical compositions written by Marcus Shelby?

 

In 2008, Marcus wrote Peaceable Kingdom – a tone poem for 15-piece jazz orchestra and speaker, based on the 1847 painting by Edward Hicks. This work, which premiered at the De Young Museum on January 18, 2008. was an artistic call and response inspired by his time working with the students at Rooftop School. In turn, two Burnett murals were created during Rooftop’s 2007-2008 study of Marcus’ musical composition, Harriet Tubman.

The Peaceable Kingdom garden wall mural, created by Ms. Margot’s 4th grade class, was inspired by Harriet’s role as a conductor for The Underground Railroad. In Our Peaceable Kingdom, the entrance mural, created by Ms. Woo’s 4th class, features student poems about peaceThe now familiar Rooftop logo was designed by 4th graders Bobby McCollough, who designed the lettering, and Aida Irving, who drew the Raven and The Dove.

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Family Art Night: Harriet’s Spirit with Marcus Shelby

The community at Rooftop Alternative PreK-8 School will enjoy an evening of artistic call and response with composer Marcus Shelby and teaching artist Andi Wong on Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

At this very special Family Art Night, Marcus will discuss his newest musical composition: a brand new opera written for Rooftop School. Opera Parallèle’s Harriet’s Spirit tells the story of a middle school girl who triumphs over the challenges of adolescence with Civil War-era legend Harriet Tubman as her role model and spirit guide. Marcus will also introduce families to the opera’s musical themes. Families will work together create their own family story quilt artwork, art which will be incorporated into the opera’s production design.

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FAMILY ART NIGHTS & MAYEDA MEDIA NIGHTS were established to provide Rooftop students and their families with additional opportunities to further their learning, share educational resources, and build community through the arts.

Kindergarten Family Art Night 2017: “Listen to The Water”

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On Thursday, October 5, 2017 former Rooftop Kindergarten teacher Mary Ann Cruz and Kindergarten parent Laura Jean Ruppert sailed into the Burnett MPR, to lead Kindergarten Family Art Night, an art & music workshop for families at Rooftop School.

In addition to dancing the Lobster Quadrille and singing water songs, families made their own ocean-inspired shadow puppets. Ms. Cruz and Ms. Ruppert also spoke about their on-going work  exploring the theme of water with the kindergarteners in Ms. Lampear, Mr. Lane and Mr. Mayhew’s classrooms  This classroom introduction to opera was conceived as pre-engagement for this Fall’s work of art for study, Harriet’s Spirit, a children’s opera composed by Marcus Shelby, with a libretto written by Roma Olvera, for Opera Parallèle.

kinder-art-night-songs program_Page_1Download a copy of the kinder-art-night-songs

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To play is to engage. When we play, we pick up objects, ideas, or themes and turn them upside down, experiment with them, often arriving at something inspiring and amazing; yet we don’t play for the outcome, but for its own sake. For humans and some animals, play is a vital part of development. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Adults also play to break from conventions, to experiment, to shift from normality into a rich world of imagination or to push themselves in new ways.

Play in children can be generally divided into four broad types based on the developmental purposes each serves. These are: physical play, play with objects, symbolic play, pretence and socio-dramatic play, and games with rules. Beyond participating in children’s play, adults can support it by creating a supportive environment, providing a range of opportunities for play and thoughtfully providing structures that support play. 

— from the Lego Learning Institute’s “The Future of Play: Defining the role and value of play in the 21st Century (2016).

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Engaging play experiences offer a set of gifts, innate rewarding experiences that encourage individuals to continue their engagement. These are reflection and integration of what we have learned, the pleasure of Flow, self-expression, positive emotions, new ways of seeing, mastery, innovation, connecting with and learning from others, and lastly self-realisation.

— from the Lego Learning Institute’s “The Future of Play: Defining the role and value of play in the 21st Century (2016).

International Children’s Book Day 2017

Since 1967, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday on April 2nd, International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

Each year a different National Section of IBBY has the opportunity to be the international sponsor of International Children’s Book Day. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster.

Let Us Grow with The Book!

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What a joy to hold a new book in one’s hands! At first you don’t know what the book is about. You resist the temptation to open the last page. And how good it smells! It is impossible to divide this smell into components: printing ink, glue… no, it is not. There is a particular smell of a book, an exciting and unique one. The tips of some pages would stick together as if the book had not woken up yet. It wakes up when you start reading it…

This year’s ICBD message comes from poet/author Sergey Makhotin and illustrator Mikhail Fedorov of IBBY Russia.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.” — Hans Christian Andersen

While many readers may be familiar with Anderson’s Fairy Tales, they may be unaware that Anderson’s works have become more widespread than any other author ever (only the Bible has been translated into more languages). Anderson grew up poor in Odense, Denmark, the only son of Hans, a self-educated shoemaker and Anne Marie, an illiterate washerwoman. For most of his childhood he lived in poverty with his parents in their one-room home. Learn how Anderson’s vivid imagination and love of the theater helped him to escape the lowest ranks of society at Hans Christian Anderson Centre and the British Library’s Online Gallery.

https://archive.org/stream/FairyTalesByHansChristianAnderson?ui=embed

KPMG’s Family for Literacy partners with First Book

On Wednesday, March 22nd, KPMG, through its KPMG’s Family for Literacy (KFFL) program, partnered with First Book to bring 10,000 brand new, FREE books to young San Francisco readers.

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It was a great event, hosted by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Wonderfully organized, the KPMG’s Family for Literacy Book Fair was ably supported by a helpful team of volunteers. A big thank you to Chi and Thor, who helped with packing and loading eight boxes of children’s books for delivery.

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Did you know?

  • More than half of U.S. public school students live in low-income households.1
  • In some of the lowest income neighborhoods, there is just one book for every 300 children.2
  • Two-thirds of children from low-income families lack access to books.3
  • 79 percent of fourth graders from low-income households do not read proficiently – a key predictor of a child’s future educational and economic success.4
  • Poor educational outcomes are tied to poverty, unemployment, illness, dependence on welfare, social exclusion and crime.5

https://www.firstbook.org/about-first-book/understand-the-need

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Take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge

The Mannequin Challenge is a new trend in internet video where a group of people enact a single moment in time, remaining frozen in place while a camera pans around them and music plays.

This video tapping into the popular social media meme was created by the staff members of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Led by the 14th Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, the participants can be seen using a variety of reading material — magazines, books and phones and digital tablets — in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

“Books can be mirrors, and they can be windows.”

Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to serve as the Librarian of Congress, holds that her passion for reading came from her favorite childhood book, “Bright April,” a 1946 children’s story book written and illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli, who later won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature. The Nation’s Librarian knows that children need to see themselves reflected in the books that they read. “Books can be mirrors, and they can be windows,” says Hayden.

Rooftop Students Take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge

bml-a-whole-new-worldThe Library of Congress Mannequin Challenge and Emerging Traditions traces the historical antecedents of the Mannequin Challenge back to the advent of photography and the tableaux craze of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Library of Congress blog entry on the social media trend also notes that “A common theme seems to be an expression of group identity, of clubs, classes, groups of friends, athletic teams, organizations, musical groups, and others: “this is who we are” summed up in a short, shareable video.”

Rooftop fourth graders had a whole lot of fun creating their own Mannequin Challenge videos. These young librarians-in-training want to open up a whole new world of reading for all children to enjoy free access to books — 24/7.

Won’t you take the Blake Mini Library #MannequinChallenge too?

Valentine’s Day 2017 Blake Mini Library Book Drive

bml-hamilton-2016Give the gift of reading to a child in need.

On Valentine’s Day Blake Mini Library donates books to children and youth living in domestic violence, homeless, foster care and runaway youth shelters. The students at Rooftop Alternative PreK-8 School are currently joining Blake Ansari’s efforts to bring the joy of reading to homeless children. Students are helping to fill the rainbow-colored shelves of the Blake Mini Library at Hamilton Families in San Francisco.

Book donations will be received by The Studios at Rooftop School’s Burnett & Mayeda Campuses, starting from MLK, Jr. Day of Service through Valentine’s Day, when the books will be delivered to Hamilton Families in the Tenderloin.

Please consider donating your new and recently new books (no cloth books, please) to children from birth to age 21.

Remember that literacy plays an important role for children and families. Especially in times of crisis, it can provide a bridge for individuals to find refuge in stories of others’ experiences (MacGillivray, 2010b). — “Supporting the Literacy Development of Children Living in Homeless Shelters”  http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/education_articles/3/

 

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Include a Note of Encouragement

With the 2016 Valentine’s Day Blake Mini Library book drive, Rooftop School invited book donors to include a Note of Encouragement, a special surprise message hidden inside the book to be discovered by a future reader. The reading and writing of these notes helped create a special bond between two people who might never ever meet — the donor and the recipient. The Notes of Encouragement added an element of surprise and delight, while conveying positive thoughts of love, hope and gratitude.

“There’s a Whole New World in Your Book”

As a child who loves to read, Blake Ansari wanted to make sure that the homeless children had access to books. At the age of six, Blake began his youth philanthropy effort by donating 600 books to the PATH emergency family shelter in the Bronx in 2014.

On Valentine’s Day 2015, seven-year old Blake donated over 5,000 books along with a four ft. tall rainbow colored Blake Mini Library to children who are homeless living at Women In Need Glenwood Shelter in Brooklyn, New York. In 2016, Hamilton Families, San Francisco and Riverside Church Food Pantry, New York City were recipients of Blake Mini Library. This year, Leake & Watts Mother & Child Foster Care is the 2017 recipient of a Blake Mini LIbrary.

Blake’s mother, Dr. Starita Boyce Ansari, supports her son’s efforts to help underprivileged youth. Believing in the power of youth philanthrophy, Dr. Ansari offers us the model of giving circles, which meld responsiveness and altruism with community engagement, nurturing our students’ humanity. “Giving circles have shown the highest potential. A giving circle nurtures students appreciation and understanding of others’ needs, enabling them to come together to support charitable organizations or community initiatives for a set period of time. Their members become more aware of and engaged in the causes they fund, and learn how to make our world better, not just for them, but for all.”

To quote Blake: “When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self.”

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Ned Kahn’s Negev Wheel @ CJM

Rooftop Alternative School extends and enriches the learning opportunities in the classroom by connecting our students to the rich cultural life of the City. “Art Is @ The Center,” Rooftop’s art study theme for 2016-2017 reflects on Rooftop’s location at the geographic center of San Francisco. While the school began the year’s art study with a exploration of mindfulness through the form of the mandala, Kahn’s Negev Wheel invites viewers to take art and mindfulness for a spin through sculpture. To quote Janine Okmin, Associate Director of Education at Contemporary Jewish Museum, “In this gallery, art is literally at the center…” Using sand from the Negev Desert, “blown by the wind for centuries,” Negev Wheel invites a closer look at the invisible forces of rotation and gravity that are constantly at work in nature.

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“In his work Negev Wheel, Bay Area artist Ned Kahn explores these metaphors by reenacting the historical drama of tumbling desert sand, contained inside a circular spinning wheel. If a grain of sand is the vulnerable individual, a mountain of sand can have tremendous aggregate power. Thus in the context of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Kahn’s work raises essential Jewish questions about building a reality of meaning, community, and generation.”

— http://www.thecjm.org/on-view/currently/negev-wheel-ned-kahn/about

Download: CJM “Negev Wheel” PD Workshop Agenda cjm-pd-agenda-for-negev-wheel

CJM PD Agenda for Negev Wheel

A closer look at the movement of the sand mixture in the interactive sculpture that visitors set into motion. Kahn experimented with three variables to create Negev Wheel: tilt (of the wheel), speed (of the spinning), and viscosity (fluidity of the sand).

Contemporary Jewish Museum “Negev Wheel” Exhibition Resource: http://www.thecjm.org/storage/documents/education/2016/Ned_Kahn_Teacher_Resource.pdf

This resource uses quotes, artist interviews, discussion questions, and suggested activities to examine Ned Kahn: Negev Wheel through five thematic lenses: natural forces; tinkering, engineering, and the artistic process; mindfulness; Jewish content; and art as metaphor. This guide is useful for classroom teachers or anyone interested in a deeper exploration of Ned Kahn: Negev Wheel.

In Conversation With Ned Kahn from The Contemporary Jewish Museum on Vimeo.

 

Ned Kahn (b. 1960, Connecticut) is an environmental artist and sculptor who creates installation works that explore, mimic, and play with forces and phenomena found in nature. Kahn’s artworks, at the intersection of art and science, invite audiences to immerse themselves into natural elements such as tornadoes, fog, clouds, and wind currents—or turbulences, as he calls them. A Bay Area resident for over twenty years, his hybrid work, as a synthesis of nature, art, and technology, makes the invisible forces of nature suddenly visible to the viewers’ eyes. http://nedkahn.com/

 

Watch video artist Benjy Young’s video poem about the entire process of making the artwork; from the inspiration and research of the artist to the finished design of the “Negev Wheel” installed at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. Todd Barricklow and his Ned Kahn Studios crew along with Justin Limoges and the Museum’s crew assemble the artwork so Ned can coax the exact perpetual avalanche of Negev sand for his show.

Ned Kahn: Negev Wheel from Benjy Young on Vimeo.