(Artwork | Courtesy of Central Oregon Mastersingers)
An amazing story from the Japanese community in Yakima Valley, an award-winning composer from Bend and the talented choral voices of Central Oregon Mastersingers will team together for the Central Oregon premiere of Heart Mountain Suite, Sunday, October 9 at 3pm. The free concert, which puts poetry to music, will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon.
Heart Mountain Suite, a 40-minute choral suite for mezzo-soprano, choir, violin and piano, excerpts portions of the full-length opera by the same name — Heart Mountain. Sarah Mattox, a Bend native and accomplished mezzo-soprano, composed the full-length opera which won the 2014 John Duffy Composers Institute Fellow Award.
The story behind Heart Mountain starts shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Executive Order 9066 was signed, commanding that all Japanese and Japanese-Americans be relocated away from the West Coast and resettled in inland camps. Members of the Japanese community in the Yakima Valley, Washington, were initially moved to the Livestock Exhibition Building at the Portland Assembly Center in Oregon. There, they lived — one family to each stall — for several months before their eventual removal to the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming.
Kara Kondo, born in 1916 in the Yakima Valley, was among them. Her poems and scenes, written about her journey being incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Camp during WWII, is the basis of the text for the Heart Mountain Opera.
Composer Mattox has performed principal roles with Seattle Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Amarillo Opera, Eugene Opera, Tacoma Opera and many others. In addition to the Duffy award, she won the 2013 Boston Metro Opera International Composers’ Competition OPERA PUPPETS Mainstage Award for her song Rumpelstiltskin and the Falcon King.
Mastersingers Director Christian Clark quoted others about Mattox’s work as “entertaining, exuberant, and just incredible.” He shared that Mattox’s compositions have been praised for their “natural sense of phrasing and flow” and “the just plain beauty of the music.”
Another October 9 performer with a story connection is mezzo-soprano Kimberly Sogioka of New York City, whose grandparents were interned at Heart Mountain. She, too, will sing in this Central Oregon premiere, along with local musicians Leah Beshore, violin, and Diane Thielen, piano.
Additional music will be offered by the Mastersingers, and members of the Japanese American Society of Central Oregon (JASCO) will join in to share stories and information about their local community. More about JASCO is available at jascentralor.org.
While the concert is free, tickets must be reserved in advance. Donations are welcome and appreciated. For more information and to reserve your tickets, please visit: centraloregonmastersingers.org.