MinterTom  Apr.05.2015 0 Comments is a privilege at any time to be asked to create original program content – but especially exciting when it is programming that not only has opportunity to be utilized for education enrichment, but to reach to new audiences. This past November Carmen Boston, Children’s Programs and Partnerships Coordinator, MLK Memorial Library, DC Public Library reached out to wonder if I would be available to create an enrichment program, of original content, that had the elasticity to be utilized during Black History Month, as well as Women’s History month – and in this case, be resonant with a book DCPL were highlighting, entitled When Marian Sang, by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Brian Selznick. I was excited to do so, and determined that the opportunity was present to identify Marian Anderson as the individual to create a narrative around who would facilitate the full parameter of the DCPL request. Youth Collections Coordinator Wendy Lukehart was also at an initial meeting, to further identify the reading materials, and exhibition opportunities for branch librarians’ use. For my part in creating this original program content, I wanted to be certain it could also establish a ‘portal entry’ that might remain available to link in with further enrichment programming, and so identified a ‘platform’ for DCPL use that became identified as: Inspiring The Me I Want To Be: Marian Anderson! The many experiences of this consummate recitalist, and extraordinary African American opera singer, are ones that speak not only to the endeavor to reach a dream, but also how to address challenges of culture and racism through education, while maintaining an impregnable dignity with fortitude, and a deep commitment to the journey. Sculpting this was a rich opportunity to weave a narrative through styles of music - from spirituals -

Marian Anderson sings "Roll, Jord'n Roll" German lieder, and opera -as well as detail the many key moments of Ms Anderson’s career, while being aware that this presentation had to be accessible for a wide range of ages, and school grades. During February the presentation was given at the Benning Road branch of DCPL, to an audience of 95 school children, grades 2 – 4; while at the Rosedale branch, it was presented to an audience of young adults.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"219","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-810 size-medium","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"225","alt":""}}]] Portion of exhibition reading material displayed at Benning Road branch presentation/DCPL, FEB. 2015

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"218","attributes":{"class":"media-image wp-image-809 size-medium","typeof":"foaf:Image","style":"","width":"300","height":"225","alt":""}}]] Carmen Boston at Benning Road branch presentation/DCPL, FEB. 2015


In March, the final presentation was given in the main hall of the MLK Memorial Library, and was attended by families and adults. But for this presentation I was able to enhance the experience, working with one of my colleagues, Anamer Castrello, who is not only a wonderful Teaching Artist but also an opera singer of warmth and exciting musicianship. For this program Anamer and I identified a roster of song to include lieder, spirituals, and presentation of “Re dell'abisso, affrettati..”, an aria from Verdi’s opera un ballo in maschera, that the character Ulrica sings, which was the role identified for Marian Anderson’s debut at the Metropolitan Opera, in 1955.   With the MLK event Anamer was also able to have her mother in the audience; never underestimate how precious it is to be able to share your talent to an audience, knowing that your family is present, and beaming with pride! The event was a very special opportunity, and was enjoyed by all who were able to attend. I will hope that DCPL will continue with programming engagement, through this portal of Inspiring The Me I Want To Be! theatre godmother Billie Allen-Henderson, speaks of Marian Anderson ..and context..

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