A Discussion Exploring What Lies Beneath
Past Program | Virtual
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In advance of On Site Opera’s upcoming production of What Lies Beneath specifically designed for the 1885 tall ship Wavertree, the Seaport Museum will host an online conversation with artists and members of the creative team about what it takes to create an opera on the main deck of a historic ship. How do composers choose which stories they tell? What is it like to produce live performances in today’s climate? The discussion will be presented virtually, broadcast from onboard Wavertree, with panelists joining from various locations. A brief Q&A will follow. This event is free and open to all, regardless of whether or not you plan on going to see the opera.
This online program has already taken place, but you can still enjoy the video. Click below to watch.
About What Lies Beneath
Combining song, story, history and movement as we return to live performance, What Lies Beneath is a site-specific and immersive experience aboard the historical Wavertree, built in 1885, and used as a cargo ship before being acquired by the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968. This immersive musical experience invites small groups to travel around the ship’s main deck to hear and see vignettes intended to connect audiences to the complex and tragic stories surrounding American maritime history, both through the enslavement of African people and through novelist Herman Melville’s tragic heroes. Click below to visit On Site Opera’s website, learn more about the production, and book tickets to the show.
What Lies Beneath consists of a set of choral works related to the performance’s maritime setting, including works from the opera Amistad, from Ahab, from 1619: A Song Cycle, from the opera Billy Budd, from Sea Fever, and from the opera Riders to the Sea.
About the Participants
Winston A. Benons Jr
Winston A. Benons Jr. is a researcher, choreographer, vocalist, educator, and the Artistic Director of The Ground Provision Movement (GP), which is a dance theater company founded in 2003. His work is informed by socio-cultural studies and uses dance vocabulary, theatre and text as communicative tools.
Winston has had the opportunity to supplement his dance training with socio-cultural studies of Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Venezuela and Haiti. Recently he presented research and was the panel chair of the Music, Arts and Memory through Integration in Educational Practice panel that was part of the Caribbean Studies Association annual conference in partnership with Universidad de la Habana. He also was chosen to facilitate his workshop Sonata, Sonnet & Social Justice as part of the Teaching Social Activism Conference at the Museum of the City of New York. Winston is this year’s Vocal Artistic Mentor as part of the Breaking Walls Virtual Program. Breaking Walls is an international youth empowerment movement that uses creative writing and theatrical performance to build global peace and acceptance. Winston is also the Founder and Director of tRúe Culture & Arts an organization that produces cultural exchanges, and develops and facilitates academic & cultural workshops/lectures/residencies. www.the-culturalist.com
Winston has trained with Baba Richard Gonzales, Roseangela Silvestre, Ron Brown, Nia Love and Ned Williams. He attended classes at the Alvin Ailey school, intensive professional dance workshops at Peridance and is a Jacob’s Pillow alum. He is versed in Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian, Afro-Brazilian and Modern dance techniques. He has danced with Roots of Brazil at Symphony Space, Sita Frederick and Laura Bennett at Judson Church, Jocelyn Soulet and Art For Change with Patricia Gutierrez. He has performed as a company member of Ground Floor Dance Collaborative and Blackfeet Dance Co. Winston has performed in Venezuela at the Teatro de la Opera de Maracay and at Aaron Davis Hall with the Mezclado Movement Group. He also performed in theatrical works like The Beauty Part, which was co-produced by the Dodger Productions and Peccadillo Theater Co, King Gilgamesh with the Gilgamesh Theater Co., and La Fille du Regiment and La Boheme operas with the Martina Arroyo Foundation. Winston has been a member of PAKA Dance Company since 2012 and is currently the rehearsal director. He also performed as part of the 2019 Dance Africa production at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). In addition, he was the choreographer for On Site Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors.
James Davis Jr.
Well versed in classical, jazz, musical theater and contemporary music, James Davis Jr. (he/him) has supervised musical productions at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Sony Music Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Arena Stage in Washington, DC.; The New World Center in Miami, FL; Charleston Music Hall in South Carolina and Yale University in New Haven, CT.
He is founder & president of JDJ Music Inc., through which he curated The Lagos Jazz Festival in Nigeria in 2013 and held workshops on Negro spirituals and gospel in Germany since 2014. From 2007-2017, Davis served as Director of Music Ministries & Fine Arts at Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York. The four years prior, he served as Director of Music/Church Organist at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, the oldest black congregation on the West Coast. He has also produced and arranged music for both film and television including Spike Lee’s film Red Hook Summer and commercials for State Farm Insurance and Microsoft. Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, James has earned degrees from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and Yale School of Music in New Haven, CT.
Damien Geter (he/him) is an acclaimed composer and diverse artist whose credits include performances ranging from the operatic stage to the television screen. As a composer, Damien infuses classical music with various styles from the black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice.
Damien’s growing body of work includes chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Some recent highlights include commissions for Washington National Opera (American Apollo), Resonance Ensemble (An African American Requiem), The Washington Chorus (Cantata for a Hopeful Tomorrow), Opera Theater Oregon (Invisible), the University of Michigan (The Justice Symphony), and All Classical Portland (Neo-Soul), and On-Site Opera. His large work, “An African American Requiem,” will premiere in 2022 in partnership with Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony.
Also a professionally trained classical singer (bass), Damien has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, among other regional companies across the nation.
Damien currently serves as the Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera and Resonance Ensemble.
Tesia Kwarteng (she/her) is a Ghanaian-American multi-faceted artist equally at home on the operatic stage, on screen and in the studio. She recently made her Austin Opera debut featured in recital as a part of their Live from Indy Terrace Broadcast.
Tesia was also a featured soloist in the ensemble of the Grammy Award winning production of Porgy and Bess at The Metropolitan Opera. She will make her Off Broadway debut at Lincoln Center Theater in Ricky Ian Gordon’s new opera Intimate Apparel understudying the role of Mayme and performing in the ensemble. She has participated in the Young Artist Programs at the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Tri-Cities Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera. For more information visit her website at www.tesiakwarteng.com
Eric Einhorn (he/him) is the co-founding General & Artistic Director of On Site Opera, the country’s only opera company dedicated to site-specific productions. His immersive, site-specific productions have performed to sold-out houses and critical acclaim since the company’s founding.
Mr. Einhorn has created partnerships with venues and institutions throughout New York City that range from community gardens, historic homes, restaurants, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has also forged partnerships with social service and educational organizations to further involve the community in the creation and impact of On Site’s productions. Mr. Einhorn has become an industry-recognized leader in site-specific opera, often speaking at conferences and teaching masterclasses. He has also spearheaded a technology initiative with the company that has led to the world’s first use of Google Glass for supertitles, as well as the implementation of a mobile app for supertitles and digital programs.As a stage director, Mr. Einhorn has directed at many of the country’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Florentine Opera, Austin Opera, Utah Opera, and Michigan Opera Theater.