PRESS RELEASE: The Lydians Perform ‘Hiawatha’

The Lydians present, Scenes from the Song of Hiawatha
From 2nd to 4th October 2008, the stage of Queen’s Hall will be transformed into a Native American Village as the Lydians, with Steel, present “Scenes from the Song of Hiawatha” a trilogy composed by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Directed by Pat Bishop, the Lydians will joyously tell the story of Hiawatha’s wedding to Minnehaha, who left her tribe, the Dakotas, to marry Hiawatha, an Iroquois. Then will follow the heartbreaking tale of Minnehaha’s death, as famine and disease ravage the tribe; and finally Hiawatha’s prophecy of the future devastation of his people, and his departure “to the Land of the Hereafter”.

There are few, if any, operas set in the New World that speak of the people of the First Nations and this is really the story of a great leader.

The music is colorful and conjures up great imagery associated with feasting, landscape, and climate. It features strong rhythms throughout the saga and will recall to audiences their childhood images of North American Indians. It is a demanding work for the Choir, as it features mainly choral performance and provides a great setting to display a range of wonderful solo performances. Audiences can look forward to hearing both the better-known and the newer Lydian voices.

The complete trilogy “The Wedding Feast of Hiawatha”, “The Death of Minnehaha”, and “Hiawatha’s Departure” was first conducted in 1900, and comes from the epic twenty-two canto poem of the famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, based on the legends of the Ojibway Indians. It was published in 1855.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was the first major black English musical composer and conductor. He was celebrated in Victorian England for Hiawatha, and also received rave reviews for Hiawatha in the US, where he was a guest at the White House during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt.
He died at the age of 37.

Hiawatha is the Lydians’ latest opera and follows the group’s previous works: Orpheus and Eurydice (2005), Turandot (1999), L’Elisir D’Amore (1996), and Koanga (1995).

The Lydians
Author: CL August 2008