Remembering 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre with Hailstork’s “Tulsa 1921,” with Harlem Chamber Players, J’Nai Bridges

Posted on: June 1, 2021

“It’s hard to see art in the smoldering aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when White Americans destroyed a wealthy Black community in 1921, killing dozens and leaving entire city blocks in ashes,” writes AJ Willingham in Sunday’s (5/30) CNN. “But composer Adolphus Hailstork … doesn’t want us to cover our ears…. In his latest work, ‘Tulsa 1921: Pity These Ashes, Pity This Dust’ with libretto by Herbert Woodward Martin, the story … is told by a young girl, picking through the destruction…. This emotional aria … will premiere on June 19 during an online musical event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, organized by the Harlem Chamber Players, Harlem Stage and Harlem School of the Arts. Along with Hailstork’s work, the event features other works from Black composers…. ‘Pity These Ashes’ is written for chamber orchestra and a single mezzo-soprano voice. At the piece’s premiere, that voice will belong to J’Nai Bridges.… Facing professional and creative barriers, musicians of color have long found fellowship, support and opportunities in groups created with them in mind…. ‘We need this space so we can make music together, the way we want to,’ says Liz Player, founder of the Harlem Chamber Players.”