OperaArts will honor the life of Barbara Smith Conrad with "When I Rise...Let Your Voice Be Heard" - a weekend featuring two special events, February 9 and 10, in Palm Springs. In 1957, MS. Conrad was a gifted black opera student at the University of Texas who was thrust into a civil rights storm that changed her life forever. After being expelled from the cast of an opera because of her race, the incident escalated to national news, prompting unexpected support from Harry Belafonte and Eleanor Roosevelt.
On Saturday, February 9th from 6 - 7:15 p.m., the "When I Rise" committee, along with OperaArts and Temple Isaiah, will host a showing of the video of the Barbara Smith Conrad story. AT&T, PBS, and the Dolph Briscoe Center produced the video for American History in Austin, Texas. Ms. Conrad will appear following the showing for a Q & A session with the audience. The showing will take place at Temple Isaiah located at 332 West Alejo Road in Palm Springs. A donation of $10 will help underwrite a scholarship for the Negro American Academic Fund. For more information, call 760-323-8353.
On Sunday, February 10th, an elegant evening occasion will take place honoring Conrad from 6:30-9 p.m. in the Renaissance Esmeralda Hotel and Spa's Crystal Ballroom. A pre-dinner cocktail reception will take place followed by dinner with keynote speaker RAndy Lowe, Board Chair of the LGBT Center of the Desert, presenting a talk on diversity. Then guests will be entertained by original classical musical pieces by local composer Joe Giarusso, written to the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, performed by a selected choir from the California Desert Chorale featuring Bass-Baritone Cedric Berry, and accompanied by Chorale Director Tim Bruneau. Proclamations from Coachella Valley mayors will be presented to Ms. Conrad. A final musical program will top off the evening featuring OperaArts performers Cedric Berry and Shana Blake Hill, with pianist and OperaArts Musical Director Victoria Kirsch, singing operatic arias and selected spirituals. Tickets to this event cost $125 per person, or $1,250 for tables of ten and can be purchased by calling 760-325-8353 or online at www.operaartspalmsprings.org.
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