Thursday, November 2
Enlow Recital Hall
A concert of chamber music arrangements of scenes from the opera “Kenyatta” by composer Trent Johnson, including a panel discussion with the composer and librettist Richard Wesley.
Patrick Blackwell, bass-baritone (as Jomo Kenyatta)
Sam McKelton, tenor (as Oginga Odinga)
George Johnson III, tenor (as Kenyan man)
Trent Johnson, piano
James Musto, djembe
Manuel Carro, djembe
Stephen Myers, timpani
Kean University Chorale, Rachel Carlson, director
From left to right:
George Johnson III
Ars Vitalis is an arts initiative at Kean University that showcases the works of prominent New Jersey area composers. In addition to providing a concert forum for the presentation of vital new works of music, Ars Vitalis features a post-concert meet-and-greet reception with the invited composers offering the audience an opportunity to meet the people behind the music. Under the artistic direction of Dr. Matthew Halper, Ars Vitalis introduces audiences to the allure, the drama and impact of the living art of contemporary music composition.
Trent Johnson’s opera “Kenyatta” received its premiere on November 19, 2017, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. Commissioned by Trilogy: an Opera Company, the opera takes us on a captivating journey through the life of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and the gripping political conflict with Vice President Oginga Odinga.
Critics and audiences alike were spellbound by the opera’s powerful narrative and the orchestral score that brought the story to life. Music critic Paul Somers of Classical New Jersey aptly described “Kenyatta” as an “effective presentation of history,” noting that Johnson’s use of operatic techniques, such as scena, orchestrally supported recitative, and grand arias, brilliantly supported the unfolding drama.
Trent Johnson’s “Kenyatta” is a testament to the power of music and storytelling, weaving together history, drama, and the rich cultural heritage of Kenya in a way that leaves a lasting impact on all.
To learn more about the opera “Kenyatta” or other works by Trent Johnson, please visit africlassical.blogspot.com and trentxjohnson.com.
Enlow Recital Hall is located in Kean University’s East Campus, in Hillside, NJ, very close to the Main Campus and Morris Avenue.
Enlow Recital Hall
215 North Avenue
Hillside, NJ 07205