Kenneth Overton

Opera On Site is currently presenting a very special project: The Road We Came, in which historian Eric K. Washington and baritone Kenneth Overton are exploring Black music history and the landmarks of New York City. It’s an app-based musical walking tour with a timeline that begins with NYC’s earliest Black inhabitants and ends with the 2021 debut of the first African American composer at the Metropolitan Opera.

Each of the three self-guided tours is approximately a 90-minute-long immersive musical experience that patrons can access through a walking tour app to experience tours in person or virtually from their mobile device. This means that one does not need to live in New York to enjoy the tours.

The project’s Lower Manhattan 3.2-mile tour begins at the solemn African Burial Ground National Monument, and will include several important locations in the city’s abolitionist history of the 19th century. Featuring music and texts by various composers, among them William Grant Still, the first African American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra and to have an opera performed by both a major opera company and on national television.

Carnegie Hall
(c) PR

The 2.5-mile Midtown Tour starts in Hell’s Kitchen and traces the African American musical experience through the early to the mid-20th century. From the old streets of San Juan Hill to Central Park and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the tour features the music and texts of many influential and groundbreaking artists. The music of both the city’s recital halls and the dance halls will be featured on this tour, with special focus placed on the important historical performances by African American artists at Carnegie Hall and looking toward the significance of Terence Blanchard’s 2021 Metropolitan Opera debut, where he will be the first African American composer to be presented by the world-renowned company.

The 2.5-mile Harlem Tour brings audiences uptown to explore the great Harlem Renaissance – a time when African American achievements in art, music and literature flourished. Beginning at the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture, this tour will feature music and texts by composers including the first African American female symphonic composer, Florence Price. The tour highlights the hallowed ground trod by the seminal figures of the mid-20th century Black arts and culture in America while keeping a keen eye on the neighborhood that remains the musical soul of New York City.

“The African American presence is inextricably woven into the fabric of New York City’s storied past,” explains Eric K. Washington, the project’s historian and narrator. “The Road We Came offers a novel way to interpolate many of the missing threads of the Black experience so long omitted”, he continues.

The excellent Baritone Kenneth Overton adds, “The project is quite a musical journey. With over 25 pieces we will be showcasing Negro spirituals, art songs and opera by some of the world’s greatest Black composers. I’ve been able to discover and rediscover some incredible composers both living and dead, men and women, contemporary and classic.” Overton’s vocally impressing singing is immediately appealing in this walking tour, which Pizzicato’s Remy Franck experienced from his mobile phone in Luxembourg. He says: « The idea of this production is extremely original and allows the visitor to explore New York City in a new way, providing a lot of valuable information and beautiful music. The musical performances by baritone Kenneth Overton and pianist Kevin J. Miller are very fine. Overtone has a rich and well articulating voice and becomes very characteristic in his sympathetic presence on the various sites of the tours. »

All tours will be available to purchase and experience at any time between May 1- July 31, 2021. Individual tours will be available for $60 each, or all three for $165 and available for purchase

  • Pizzicato

  • Archives