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2015 Alumni Highlights: "Wading Home"

As 2016 presses forward, we would like to take a minute to reflect on the various artistic involvements of 2015 ACMAF Faculty and Vocal Alumni.

Long-time ACMAF faculty member Barbara Hill Moore recently served as producer and music director of the dramatic new opera "Wading Home," composed by Mary Alice Rich. Based on the fictional novel by Dallas-based violinist and writer Rosalyn Story, this expansive collaborative effort expresses the harsh realities and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the lives of those who experienced it's devastation first-hand. Workshopped in Dallas in April 2015, the work premiered on September 12th, 2015 at Loyola University and September 15th, 2015 at Dallas City Performance Hall.

Performance artists included ACMAF alumni Lauren Pinzas, Maya Jones, Nathan Meyers, Coretta Smith, and Moretta Irchirl. We had the privilege of interviewing the latter, SMU senior Moretta Irchirl about her cast member experience:

What personally drew you in the most to this production?

I was personally drawn in by the relevance of the opera. Although Hurricane Katrina happened ten years ago, many of us remember the impact it had on many of our family members, friends and neighbors. Most of my family is from Louisiana and I’ve personally experienced the aftermath of hurricanes in my hometown of Houston, Texas, so this opera really hit home for me.

What was your experience like workshopping a new production, and then having the opportunity to take it on tour?

Well, I’ve never had the chance to work one on one with the composer and librettist of any of the pieces that I’ve done before, so I felt honored to have that opportunity. They respected all of the singers and musicians as artists and they gave us the freedom to interpret and express the score in our own way. I loved having them there to always give us feedback! When I heard that we would actually be bringing the show to New Orleans, I was ecstatic. I was also very nervous. One thing about performing a new production for the first time ever is that the show is a work in progress. Within the span of a few months, the composer added many “corrections” to the score and we had to learn those at a very fast pace. What challenges (if any) did you discover in working on this project, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge of doing this project was the amount of changes that occurred in such a short span of time. Not only did the music itself change, but for the tour of the show we had a brand new orchestra, new chorus members, and a few new artists singing lead roles. I was double cast (with an artist from New Orleans) in the role of Sylvia. With the way the rehearsals and the performance schedules were set up, I did not get a chance to sing the role with the orchestra until the evening Dallas performance. I had been warned by our musical director to be prepared to not have any run-throughs with the orchestra or conductor until the actual show, so whenever the other Sylvia would rehearse I would hum the music from my place in the chorus.

How did you feel like this project allowed you to interact with your musical and social community?

The composer and librettist of this show were both musicians in the Dallas area, and the orchestra/chorus were made up of SMU students. One thing that I really loved about this experience was getting the chance to work so closely with the musicians in our program. We rarely get the chance to collaborate with them on projects such as this. I was blown away by the level of professionalism and musicianship displayed by my fellow colleagues.

Read more about "Wading Home"at:

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