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Echoes From Carolina

October 16 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm


This production will be broadcast live from the Stevens Center of the UNCSA on October 16th and 18th.

Tickets on sale for $20. Click here.

American composer Carlisle Floyd’s Slow Dusk will be our first act.  Floyd, a South Carolina native, has written a story set in the Sandhills of North Carolina.  Sadie, whose family belongs to the Disciples, is in love with Micah, a member of the Truelights, and Sadie’s Aunt Sue is against their marriage.  Romeo and Juliet are reimagined in 1950’s North Carolina by Floyd, whose most popular opera, Susannah, would explore similar themes. Act Two will be a premiere. Composer Kenneth Frazelle and his music are no strangers to Winston-Salem audiences.  While Ken is from North Carolina and makes Winston-Salem his home, his music is known internationally.  Artists from Yo-Yo Ma to Bill T. Jones, Anthony Dean Griffey to Odetta have performed his music, and it has been heard from Carnegie Hall to the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.  In 2000, he began setting the folk songs he grew up hearing from his grandmother and uncle in Onslow County.  With Ken’s permission and help, I am putting some of these folksongs together to create a piece for singers and dancers called From Appalachia.  Gary Taylor and his Festival Ballet of Winston-Salem will join us as we explore the moving narrative of these songs born from our native soil. 

Synopsis for Act 1- Slow Dusk

Act I:  Carlisle Floyd’s Slow Dusk (1948-49)

A musical play in one act

Duration: 40 minutes

Libretto by the composer (E)


2.2(cor A).2(2 bcl).2-

World Premiere

Augustana College, Syracuse, New York
Ruth Ives, director
Company: Syracuse University










Time and Place

the present, a farmhouse in the sandhills of the Carolinas


Floyd’s first opera Slow Dusk is a simple, powerful story set in the sand hills of the Carolinas amidst poverty and low-keyed religious fanaticism.  The story unfolds around the tragedy of a May afternoon, which alters the course of a young girl’s life.

Aunt Sue, a rough-hewn woman of middle age, opposes the marriage of her niece Sadie to Micah Hatfield, who lives across the pond and who belongs to the Truelights, a different religious sect than the Disciples, to which Sue’s family subscribes.

Sue painfully and patiently gives her niece her reasons for opposing the marriage.  Music marks the passing of time from late afternoon until dusk, and in the evening, Sue reports to Sadie that Micah has drowned during the day while fishing.  Jess, Sadie’s brother, consoles his aunt who feels guilty from her sense of complicity.

Sadie vows fidelity to Micah’s memory, mourning the emptiness of her life without him.

Libretto - From Appalachia

Like a stage play or a movie, an opera starts with words — thousands of words. An opera’s words are called its libretto, whereas, in a stage play, the words are called the script, and in a movie they’re called the screenplay.

Libretto means “little book” in Italian, and that’s precisely what it is; your average libretto is scarcely thicker than a TV Guide. But because singing a sentence takes about three times longer than saying it, a “little book,” when set to music, becomes a full evening in the theater. (Dummies.com)

From Appalachia – Libretto

Synopsis for Act 2 - From Appalachia

Act II:  From Appalachia  by Kenneth Frazelle

 For over three decades, composer Kenneth Frazelle has explored the balladry of his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. Frazelle began by composing formal pieces based upon the Southern Appalachian folk music

he had heard throughout his life. The tunes he chose were entrenched in Scottish-Irish traditions of his family, which had resided in Onslow County, North Carolina for three centuries. Out of the desire to have audiences hear not only these compositions, but the original tunes as they were sung by his grandmother, grew the inspiration for a folksong books.

Frazelle’s settings display such a remarkable narrative arc, that it was only a matter of time before they leapt from the concert hall onto the stage.  With these performances, we can for the first time hear AND see the stories Frazelle collected come to physical life.  Appalachian Songbook as a piece for piano voice and dancers takes its premiere. 

The songs Groundhog and Bonnie Blue Eyes represent folksong traditions in the simplest sense, enhanced by inventive piano writing: Groundhog begins with a “slapstick” figure reminiscent of a banjo, and the hauntingly beautiful Bonnie Blue Eyes suggests a dulcimer or guitar. More challenging was the task of setting the legend of Naomi Wise, based on a true story.  In fact, her grave can be found in Randleman, North Carolina.  Frazelle dramatizes the 14-verse narrative with vivid text painting recounting the brutal tragedy of “poor Omie”. 


October 16
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm