LISTENING TO TOM-TOM
Scholar Lucy Caplan, in partnership with AMOC*, has offered a series of events entitled LISTENING TO TOM-TOM, a discussion of the 1932 opera by author, musicologist, and composer Shirley Graham Du Bois. Following an introduction of excerpts from the work, Caplan and fellow panelists discuss the opera’s complex representations of race, gender, and history, as well as the opportunities and challenges of presenting Tom-Tom today.
Before she married W.E.B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham was known as perhaps the first Black woman to have an opera performed, in 1932, for an audience of 25,000 at Cleveland Stadium. The score for that epic work, “Tom-Tom”—which traces the black experience from West Africa to the Harlem Renaissance—was long thought lost. (The full work was found in Ms. Graham Du Bois’s papers.) A performance at Harvard in 2018, organized by the scholar Lucy Caplan and the American Modern Opera Company, introduced tantalizing excerpts—some merging jazz harmony with European operatic influences. (excerpted from Operas by Black Composers Have Long Been Ignored. Explore 8. -The New York Times)
Performance and panel discussion at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA on February 26, 2018