Message from Concert Co-curators

Tobias Picker & Howard Watkins

Welcome to Greenwood Overcomes. 

Today we come together to commemorate the Centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre. We honor the resilience of Black Tulsans and Black America and celebrate the works of living Black composers sung by Black artists.

The concert joins a citywide commemoration spearheaded by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, who co-produced the concert.

Tulsa Opera is proud to present this once-in-a-lifetime concert, featuring eight world premiere performances by world-class artists, including mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, and Grammy Award-winning Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inductee, soprano Leona Mitchell.

To create the program, we studied the work of over 300 living Black composers ranging in age from 24 to 88.

Curating this concert was revelatory. Every day we discovered more and more extraordinary music. We anticipate the work will also be a revelation to the audience, the performers, and the wider opera community.

Tulsa Opera also commissioned four new pieces specifically for this concert — the first commissions given to any composer in Tulsa Opera’s 73-year history. By commissioning and performing new works by living Black composers, Greenwood Overcomes takes a step towards celebrating Black artists, singers, and designers, working in the world of opera.

Greenwood Overcomes will be performed against a vibrant mural backdrop commissioned by Tulsa Opera, created by Tulsa graffiti artist Chris “Sker” Rogers, and painted by Donald “Scribe” Ross. The Black Wall Street mural in the Greenwood district has become one of the city’s best-known cultural landmarks.

We are dedicated to producing and promoting projects that further the remembrance, and honor the legacy of, Black Wall Street.

We are honored to use the powerful voice of music to contribute to the remembrance of victims and survivors with a concert that could never have taken place a hundred years ago. But we hope events like this will be commonplace one, ten, fifty, and one hundred years from now.

Tobias Picker
Composer & Tulsa Opera Artistic Director
Howard Watkins
Metropolitan Opera Pianist
& Assistant Conductor