KUHF to Broadcast Live Performance of HGO's World Premiere "The Refuge"
Thursday, November 8, 2007
by: Paul Pendergraft
When the curtain goes up on Houston Grand Opera’s 36th world premiere, The Refuge, on November 10, 2007, the audience will be larger than that gathered in the Wortham Theater Center’s Brown Theater, as KUHF presents a live radio broadcast of the HGO world premiere.
|Photo by Janice Rubin|
At 7:00 pm KUHF will broadcast a pre-show special, featuring an in depth look at the creation of The Refuge, hosted by John Proffitt.
The local features KUHF is airing:
The concept for "The Refuge" came about during a conversation between Houston Grand Opera's general director and CEO Anthony Freud, a native of Britain, and an opera patron. The two were discussing how the city of Houston is a product of immigration and essentially a city that has never ceased welcoming new residents. The thought of the HGO doing something to reflect that was explored and the idea for "The Refuge" was born. The resulting musical work would tell Houston's story. To that end, local author and poet Leah Lax was commissioned to interview local immigrants from six of Houston's immigrant communities -- African, Central American, Indian and Pakistani, Mexican, Soviet-era Jewish and Vietnamese. Lax gathered words and phrases that would provide the basis for the lyrics. Composer Christopher Theofanidis was commissioned to write the music. Their collaboration is a unique oratorio that reflects Houston's vibrant and growing immigrant community.
Monday, 11/05/07 Bang Nguyen is an immigrant from Viet Nam. When Bang was a young boy, he and his mother lived in a small home and barely had enough to live. They sold cigarettes and with the money they made, bought rice and vegetables. They lived in constant fear of the Communist Chinese soldiers who monitored their every move. One day, Bang was persuaded by friends to jump on a small fishing boat that was leaving the dock near his home. He thought it was going to be a short ride in the bay, but it was much more than that. It was an escape and Bang was among the tens of thousands of "boat people" who would risk their lives in hopes for a better life.
Tuesday, 11/06/07 Mikhail Gurevitch is a Jewish immigrant from Russia. Mikhail was born in June of 1925 in Novogrudok City, Byelorussia. By the time Mikhail was a young teenager, the Nazi regime was taking hold and the threats to the local Jews were increasing. He was eventually separated from his family and forced to work in labor camps. Among the many jobs he performed was clearing icy and muddy roads by hand and with shovels so troop transport trucks could drive through. One day, while working on a road crew, he heard a woman calling his name. It was his mother, who was in the back of a truck. She saw him and he saw her. It was the last they’d see of each other. That night, he heard hundreds of gun shots and he knew each gun shot meant another dead Jew, including his own mother. Mikhail was the only member of his family to survive.
Wednesday, 11/07/07 Fazil Malik is an immigrant from Pakistan. As Fazil grew up, he was often daydreaming beyond his own culture. He had an entrepreneurial spirit that his native country did not encourage and he knew opportunities waited in the United States. He studied U. S. history, with a particular interest in the founders and the U. S. Constitution. The prospect of individual freedom was too tempting and he came to the states to pursue his dream.
Thursday, 11/08/07 Precious Brownell is an immigrant from Liberia in Africa. Precious' move to Houston reads like a Hollywood romance/adventure movie. Her story began in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, when rebels stormed the city and overthrew the government. Bands of thugs and henchmen were terrorizing the citizenry and those not killed in the initial surge, fled into refugee camps seeking protection. Virtually anyone connected to the government was killed. Precious’ family found safety, but her boyfriend/future husband's family was not so fortunate. Most of his family was killed. The two young lovers were separated during all the confusion. After risking their lives searching for one another in several cities across the countryside, the two were reunited. They persuaded embassy officials to provide visas and they found a new life in Houston.