“Harbored” premiered at the Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place a month ago, and I got to hear my score in the incredible voices of two choirs, six actors, and a dancing ensemble of thirty. Two choirs, Downtown Voices of Trinity church on Wall street and Wednesday Sings choir at the Mama Foundation in Harlem were brought on board and together to create a diverse ensemble of varying backgrounds and musical styles to interpret the Harbored score, which, surprisingly– (to me! and to director Jimmy Maize) ended up being an adaptation of Walt Whitman’s “On Brooklyn Ferry Crossing”. If you’ve never read this poem, please do so. It says so much about space and time and the universality of our singular American relationship with uprooting and re-rooting. It truly paints New York City as a safe harbor for those far flung, both emotionally and locationally. Jimmy had used the poem as a touchstone for how the play should “feel”, and I became so moved by it that I threw it into the mouth of the score.
The finale of the piece featured a fugue I wrote with overlapping melodic strains of names of immigrants on the Ellis Island Registry in addition to names of immigrant relatives brought in by the cast and choir. I felt this showed Whitman after telling Whitman for so long.
We had a beautiful four performance brief run at Brookfield. Despite technical challenges, we played to close to three hundred delighted people a night, half of whom intentionally brought themselves to the room, half of whom stumbled on the show by accident. This is part of the real beauty of site specific work, and something En Gaarde Arts does so very well.
“Harbored”‘s premiere has happened, but we are far from done! I have plans to record these brilliant choirs early next year and release the score. I am making arrangements now to re-rehearse these choirs and find an appropriate space to house so many brilliant individuals, and cannot wait to share our progress.