In 1939, Black jazz electric guitarist Charlie Christian joined Benny Goodman’s band for a landmark concert at Carnegie Hall that was a radical artistic and social statement for both men. Backstage at Carnegie Hall, a new chamber opera from composer Tim Brady and librettist Audrey Dwyer, uses this historic event to examine the impact of generations of racial and class-based trauma, and the role of music in evolving discussions about racism.
Jumping back and forth through time, Charlie engages with a variety of historical figures, including Rufus Rockhead, Montreal’s legendary Black club owner, guitar innovator Orville Gibson, and American opera singer Marian Anderson. These interactions underscore the ongoing struggle of being a Black person – even a famous one – in a white society.
Bradyworks was originally created in 1989 to perform the music of Tim Brady, whose work as a composer combines elements of contemporary chamber music, jazz, rock and electroacoustic music. The group's instrumentation - combining electric guitar and saxophone with traditional chamber music forces and live electronics - creates a unique sound world with a vast array of timbres and performance traditions. The group also has a strong interest in contemporary vocal chamber repertoire. Since 1997 the group has expanded its repertoire to include works by other composers which partake of a similar artistic vision, often with a focus on electroacoustic elements such as tape and live electronics.
Black Theatre Workshop is Canada’s longest-running Black theatre company. Its mission is to encourage and promote the development of a Black and Canadian Theatre, rooted in literature that reflects the creative will of Black Canadian writers and artists, and the creative collaborations between Black and other artists. Black Theatre Workshop aims to promote and produce Black theatre that educates, entertains and delights its audiences. The company strives to create a greater cross-cultural understanding by its presence and the intrinsic value of its work.
The National Creation Fund’s investment of $150,000 will support an extended development period, including an additional workshop, extensive testing of the video and production design, and new artistic collaborations.
Co-produced by Bradyworks and Black Theatre Workshop.
Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec, Conseil des arts de Montréal, the SOCAN Foundation and Placement Culture.
Developed with support from the NAC’s National Creation Fund.
Premiering in fall 2022.