Connecticut’s Waterbury Symphony Orchestra is set to perform the world premiere of Ysaye Barnwell’s Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem, on May 9 at the Palace Theater in Waterbury. Barnwell’s work—about Fortune, a slave who lived and died in Waterbury during the 1700s—is based on the book of the same name by Marilyn Nelson, Connecticut state poet laureate and recipient of a Newbery Honor Award and Coretta Scott King Honor Award. Barnwell is best known as a composer for and member of the African American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. The premiere will be preceded on April 15 by an evening of events at Waterbury’s Mattatuck Museum, which will include opportunities to meet the author and composer, a book signing, discussion/lecture, and reception. Fortune’s Bones is also the centerpiece of an exhibit at the museum, which has done a forensic study of the Fortune’s skeleton as part of its telling of the slave’s life story. 

Posted April 7, 2009