Juneteenth, otherwise known as Emancipation Day, is an American holiday which celebrates the emancipation of enslaved individuals in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19, originating on June 19, 1865, following the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union General Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for all slaves in Texas.
While Juneteenth has been celebrated throughout our nation since 1866, Juneteenth did not receive official recognition until the 1970s, when the Texas Legislature declared Juneteenth a state holiday.
Without the musical contributions of African-Americans, the landscape of American music would be completely different from what we know today. The opera world is proud to celebrate Juneteenth along with all the other celebrations across the nation.
Check out this list of FREE Juneteenth celebration performances from a few American opera companies:
Kentucky Opera & Santa Fe Opera:
Saturday, June 19 at 3:00PM PST/4:00 PM MDT/6:00 PM EST
Kentucky Opera will present a free online workshop of This Little Light of Mine, a new, one-act opera commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera and co-presented in celebration of Juneteenth. The work, composed by Chandler Carter with a libretto by Diana Solomon-Glover, portrays key events in the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
The pre-recorded workshop will premiere on Kentucky Opera’s YouTube channel and remain available for on-demand viewing.
Tuesday, June 15 at 4:00 PM PST/6:00 PM CST
This program features a short journey through African American music as told through a combination of black living and black female composers performed by Huntsville local black artists.
To view the program, visit this link.
New York City Opera:
Recording available here.
New York City Opera celebrates Juneteenth with an excerpt from William Grant Still’s Troubled Island. It was the first opera written by a black composer to premiere at a major American opera house when New York City Opera presented it in 1949. Featuring bass Kevin Thompson and pianist Lawrence P. Schreiber.
Saturday, June 19 at 11 AM PST/2 PM EST
Opera Saratoga presents America Sings: A Juneteenth Celebration, a live-streamed concert featuring Opera Saratoga’s 2021 Festival Artists. The program was curated by bass-baritone Carl DuPont, a distinguished alumnus of Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program who is now on faculty at Peabody Conservatory where he teaches voice and a survey course on Art Song by African American Composers.
The concert will be available for viewing on Opera Saratoga’s Youtube channel on June 19.
Saturday, June 19 at 9:30 AM PST/12:30 PM EST
Through a variety of music from Black Composers across three centuries, NEMPAC will celebrate Juneteenth with the themes of freedom, triumph, and joy. These works will be performed by leading Black Musicians of the Greater Boston Arts scene and filmed at the African Meeting House on Boston’s Black Heritage Trail.
Streaming will be available until June 22 at this link.