Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem

FOrtune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem

February 25 & 26, 2012
Principal People: 

Heritage Signature Chorale

WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel Choir

Music Director Dr. Stanley Thurston

Music Dr. Ysaye Barnwell

Poet and Narrator Marilyn Nelson

Event Attributes

Presented By

Presented By: 

Who was Fortune? In life, he was an African American slave who served a doctor in post-Colonial Waterbury, Connecticut. In death, he became a medical specimen and later a walk-by exhibit at the Mattatuck Museum, a skeleton known only as "Larry." But Fortune was also a husband, father and human being.

In 2004, Connecticut poet-laureate Marilyn Nelson published Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem, a book-length poem commissioned by the African American History Project Committee in Waterbury. Subsequently, the Waterbury Symphony commissioned Dr. Ysaye Barnwell to set the text to music.

Her Fortune's Bones cantata, performed by a full symphony, two choirs, seven soloists and a chorus of african bells, is the centerpiece of a performance that celebrates the fullness of African American life. The program will also include spirituals.

Together, the artists will metaphorically set Fortune's bones to rest. As Dr. Barnwell notes, "God's Blessings on Fortune…da bell done rung."

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.