About the Grant

$32,000 to support Legacy (MAP 2008), a new operatic work by composer Valerie Coleman and commissioned by Ritual Theatre Company, which is based on the life of Stanley Tookie Williams.  Williams was a co-founder of the Crips street gang who became an anti-gang activist during his twenty years on California’s death row. His life took many turns, from founding the Crips to fervent anti-gang activism, authoring a number of books condemning the life of street gangs and steering children and adults alike away from them. In recognition for his international activism, he became a multiple nominee for Nobel Prizes for Peace and in Literature. All of this was accomplished while on death row, having been convicted of multiple homicide and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

About the Project

This work is written for a 23-piece orchestra, utilizing both legitimate theatrical and operatic voice types, maintaining musical theatre accessibility, yet totally immersed in operatic traditions. Composer Valerie Coleman: "Although this work contains elements of popular culture (the work utilizes a full orchestra and DJ, alongside original samplings of crunk and West Coast hip-hop sounds-ghetto funk), it is still fully based within a contemporary idiom, featuring combinations of romantic and contemporary style melodies, modern jazz, African sounds/percussion, and even gospel music, within ostinato fashion. The goal was to create an operatic work that vividly portrays urban life, painting a picture of Mr. Williams' actions on the street, in prison, his spiritual change, and journey to Death Row."

The world premiere of Legacy, in concert form with three full-orchestra performances, is schedule for December 11, 12, & 13 of 2009 in New York.


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