Purchase of Manhattan was featured in New Music World on October 27, 2014. Check it out!
The 2014 "Purchase of Manhattan" is set to premiere, November 20, at the Marble Collegiate Church, of the Collegiate Church of NY (founded 1628) in Manhattan.
Four-hundred and five years ago, Hendrik Hudson sailed into the harbor of the Muhheconnituck, the river that now bears his name. Three Hundred and eighty eight years ago, a brief mention of a so-called "purchase" of Manahatta was delivered by ship in a sailor's letter (1626). So begins the written history of the island, a place populated by Lenapes, Mohicans, Munsees and other indigenous inhabitants for perhaps 13,000 years before Hudson.
The word "Manhattan" comes from a Munsee description of the 'place where we get bows' for the collection of hickory trees on the south end of the island prized throughout the region for making bows (Ives Goddard, 2010). Soon the island became "New Netherland," "New Amsterdam" and "New York" following the path of supposed ownership transfer. During this time a Lenape diaspora began as the longtime resident citizenry was systematically driven out. The cultural swap was so complete that even the original meaning of the island has been lost to most modern Manhattan dwellers.
Where did the original people go? It was an overwhelming and traumatizing diaspora. By the 1800s, my indigenous nation, the Mohicans, found ourselves on a reservation in Wisconsin. Munsees ended up in Canada and other places. Lenapes now reside in Oklahoma, as do other Delawares (Lenni Lenape) in Pennsylvania and other northeastern states. The hearts and minds of the collective indigenous people, however, have never strayed from Manhattan.
We are still here.
The newly formed Lenape Center in New York is figuratively “singing for their supper” with the new concert opera “Purchase of Manhattan.” Their mission is “to continue the Lenape cultural presence by promoting Lenape language and the creation, development, distribution and exhibition of Lenape arts and culture.” I am honored and proud to be chosen to create this concert opera (with Joseph Bruchac) in the hope of advancing the important work of Lenape Center. Please join me on Thursday, November 20, 2014, for the premiere of “Purchase of Manhattan” — in Manhattan — the bow making place!
Please check out the one-sheet advertisement HERE, listen to the recent 1010 WINS radio spot HERE, and get your tickets today!
Photos of the "Purchase of Manhattan" premiere are now up in the photo gallery HERE. Check them out! The premiere was exciting, and for me personally as the composer, it was a culmination of a two year wait to hear the work! Enjoy the photos!
Our premiere performance of the concert opera "Purchase of Manhattan" was a rousing success! More photos and audio are forthcoming, plus a broadcast on Neva Pilgrim's Fresh Ink radio program (thank you Neva!). Till then, please read the concert review HERE. The performers were incredible and the work was so well received!
An article by Arts Report Melinda Johnson of The Post-Standard (Syracuse) newspaper just came out, featuring the "Purchase of Manhattan" concert opera. Check it out HERE!
Our first full rehearsal of "Purchase of Manhattan" was a great success. We managed to read through the entire 40-minute work, plus lots of "spot" rehearsing that in itself amounted to another full run-through. The chorus is sounding great, the traditional American Indian singers were wonderful! the soloists are awesome! and the instrumentalists are as professional as you can get. So everyone is doing a fantastic job on this new composition. Only a few days left till showtime on Sunday afternoon! There are some snap shots taken of the rehearsal in the "photos" tab, so check them out HERE.
I’m excited to announce the world premiere of my concert opera “Purchase of Manhattan!” The work was composed a couple years ago, with the generous assistance of many organizations and individuals. It was a fascinating pilgrimage, putting the nature of New York City’s founding into a concert opera, with so much history to consider about the actual events *and* the mythology surrounding NY’s beginnings. However, with master talent Joe Bruchac as librettist, the work found a solid foundation, and it came together over the course of many months. Special thanks go out to the Lenape Center's Hadrien Coumans, Joe Baker, and Curtis Zunigha for commissioning the work, and of course to the Society of New Music and it’s sponsors, especially the industrious and brilliant Neva Pilgrim! Here’s to a great premiere on November 10th in Syracuse NY! Break a leg, merdi and all those crazy sayings!