On Feb. 4 and 5, please join Wagner College voice instructor and international performing artist Anthony Turner for the New York premiere of “Who Am I?”, a song cycle composed by Mary Carol Warwick and inspired by “The Gathering,” an anthology of poems, prayers and meditations edited by Jeannine Otis. Performances are scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 4 and Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at The Club at La MaMa, 74-A E. 4th St. (between Bowery and Second Avenue), Manhattan.
“The Gathering” contains work written by young prison inmates and gathered by Otis, outreach and education coordinator for the Staten Island Museum. Otis is an NAACP Pioneer in Arts and Education Award recipient with over 25 years of social work experience with “at risk” communities and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Staten Island Arts.
“In the ‘The Gathering,’ young people speak from prison cells,” Turner says. “Some are spending a short time behind bars for a misdemeanor, others are serving long sentences, and one is on death row. Their poems are stumbling, heartfelt, eloquent in their simplicity; others nuanced, sophisticated and complex. They reflect the inner life of a young man or woman facing a turning point, confronting the future with a poignant mix of fear, faith and doubt, hope and humor.”
Moved by the raw, authentic power of the poems, Turner brought the poems and his idea for a song cycle to composer Mary Carol Warwick and Houston’s Foundation for Modern Music. Though better known through her commissions for Houston Grand Opera, Warwick has a particular interest in compositions that give a voice to ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges.
The ensemble performing “Who Am I?” includes baritone Anthony Turner, Luke Hubley (percussion), Elise Wagner (bassoon) and Paul Boyd (piano), executive director of the Foundation for Modern Music.
Tickets are $18/$13 students and seniors — and, as a special promotion, La MaMa offers 10 tickets for each show for $10 a piece. You can purchase tickets online for the Tuesday, Feb. 4 performance and the Wednesday, Feb. 5 performance. For further information, call the La MaMa box office at (212) 475-7710 or visit the La MaMa website.