Selections from Emmett Till
In collaboration with Trilogy: An Opera Company | NJSO Virtual 20–21
Event & Performance Information
Panel & Performance
After Emmett Till was murdered, his mother, Mamie Till, insisted on an open-casket funeral because she “wanted the world to see what they did to my baby.” This program uses historical images that are graphic in nature and may be upsetting to some audiences. Viewer discretion advised.
KEVIN MAYNOR host
REV. DR. TIMOTHY LEVI ADKINS-JONES Senior Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church
CANDACE WILDY Retired Director of Human Resources, East Orange, Newark and Milburn Public Schools
DELORES TYSON Former President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey
KEITH HARVEST Municipal Judge, Township of Irvington; Former Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Essex County
FRANTZ MASSÉ Assistant Deputy Public Defender, State of New Jersey
REV. DOUGLAS WILLIAMS Senior Pastor, Zion Hill Baptist Church
GABRIEL VAN AALST President & CEO, NJSO
KEVIN MAYNOR archangel
CHANTEL GRANT Mamie Till (mother of Emmett)
DANIEL GUNWA, DAVID GUNWA, KORDELL TATE ROBERTS Emmett
NEWARK BOYS CHORUS | Donald Morris, director
NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA STRINGS
The NJSO joins forces with Newark-based opera company Trilogy for a special video presentation of selections from Michael Raphael’s Emmett Till oratorio. Join community leaders and Trilogy Artistic Director Kevin Maynor for an evening of conversation about the impact of Till’s murder and the way that art and music help tell important stories, followed by an exclusive premiere of the project.
Kevin Maynor: Notes on the Project
The question that some very powerful investment bankers asked me was, “Where is the opera on George Floyd?”
My answer to them and you who would ask the same is, “Floyd reminds us of what has been going in this country for years.”
You see, Emmett is an early “start” that changed the attitude of Black Americans on all levels. The murder was cruel beyond measure and slowly revealed, in fear of aggressive reaction. The answer to why we have so much social unrest is because of so many previous crimes against Black people and people are sick and tired of it. One new work on George Floyd does not point to the problem that does not change with those who are not Black. There is apathy and a lack of knowledge of what blacks have had to endure to make a difference in the United States of America. Code names, such as ‘underserved neighborhoods,’ prove to me that today we are afraid to call the names of the so-called underserved. George Floyd is a starting point for white and Black Americans alike!! Hence the social unrest. Our grandparents have told us the stories, which are hard to believe when you are exposed and educated in America.
“I don’t want to learn from experience, teach me ahead of time.”
This is what I live on, and I am eager to teach all ahead of time, before we learn from experience. The work from Michael Raphael uses beautiful music to get right to it. He touches our heart and draws musical correlations that pull us closer. We have a chance to hear from composers that are not writing for themselves but are listening to the sounds around them and choosing the words of our neighbors. Our orchestras and opera houses have the new responsibility that Hollywood years ago embraced. We “serious” artists must be relevant. So many of our elders know so little of the struggle of so much of America. Black companies will continue to show a path. Collaboration is still important as long as it does not dilute, the message. Beautiful music must never be left out and we must do as my Grandmother would say: “listening on hearing.”
She was waiting for truth.
The panel chosen will provide very few answers but lots of truth.
– Kevin Maynor, Trilogy Artistic Director
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