Leaves of Greens

 a Southern oratorio in 3 parts

for soloists, chorus, piano, and percussion. 25′

Commissioned by the Southern Foodways Alliance for their 2011 National Symposium.

dedicated with great love and respect to my grandparents

When the Southern Foodways Alliance approached me with the idea of a “collard green opera,” my first instinct was to immediately run the other way. However, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed to me. The Southern tradition is full of things that are grandiose and larger-than-life; why not apply that notion to such a peculiar and beloved vegetable?

The bulk of the text comes from a collection of poems entitled Leaves of Greens: the Collard Poems, published in 1984 by the annual Ayden Collard Green Festival in North Carolina, supplemented by a few more poems and traditional hymns. The structure of the piece is in 3 main parts, each dealing with a different aspect of Southern life: relationships with parents, Southern mythology, and relationships with grandparents.

Leaves of Greens is scored for soloists, choir, piano and percussion and lasts approximately 25 minutes.

Premiere by the University of Mississippi Opera Theatre. Oct. 30, 2011. The Lyric Theatre. Oxford, MS.