Latina Composers (May 14) and Songs of Protest (June 11) are curated and hosted by Artist in Residence Russell Thomas; Latina Composers is produced in collaboration with Opera San José

(Los Angeles) April 28, 2021 — The next two installments of LA Opera's newly revived After Hours recital series, hosted and curated by Artist in Residence Russell Thomas, will honor the invaluable contributions Latina composers have made to the world of classical music and showcase iconic music that galvanized social justice. Exploring thematic song programs in an intimate setting, After Hours recitals are presented online for now, but will return to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Founders Room in the fall.

After Hours: Latina Composers

LA Opera and Opera San José formed an exciting partnership to create the Latina Composers recital (Friday, May 14, at 5pm), filmed in Opera San José’s Heiman Digital Media Studio. The recital will include songs by Modesta Bor (1926-1998), María Luisa Escobar (1903-1985), Chabuca Granda (1920-1983), María Grever (1885-1951), Ernestina Lecuona (1882-1951), Ángela Peralta (1845-1883) and Consuelo Velázquez (1916-2005). Four living composers are also represented: Gabriela Lena Frank, Tania León, Mariela Rodríguez and Irma Urteaga.

"The songs I've programmed celebrate an incredibly rich and diverse range of musical works created by Latinas over the past two centuries throughout the Americas," said Thomas. "Their music will transport our audiences to Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and Peru, all while honoring the women who wrote each piece. It was fantastic to partner with our friends in Northern California, the incredible team at Opera San José, on this gorgeous new project. Their digital media studio was the perfect space to create this thrilling undertaking." 

The featured performers are soprano Vanessa Becerra and tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli (who are both alumni of LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program), baritones Luis Alejandro Orozco and Efraín Solís, pianists César Cancino and Bryndon Hassman, and guitarist Jose Chuy Hernandez. Three of the artists—Becerra, Santelli and Solís—are currently Resident Artists with Opera San José.

The collaboration between LA Opera and Opera San José creates a space where innovation and ingenuity are not only possible, but proved necessary in these current circumstances, allowing the two organizations to combine forces to create this concert celebrating the immense talent of the highlighted Latina composers and the artists who perform them.

The recital program was prepared with the assistance of Indiana University's Latin American Music Center.

After Hours: Songs of Protest

Songs of Protest (Friday, June 11, at 5pm) will celebrate music by Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Duke Ellington, Donny Hathaway, Fats Waller and Julia Perry, among others. The performers are soprano Brandie Sutton, baritone Justin Austin, pianist Damien Sneed, drummer Jonathan Barber and bass player Michael Olatuja. 

"We'll hear music from some of the most iconic songwriters in history, who harnessed the power of music to inspire and ignite social justice," said Thomas. "In the wake of recent racial unrest, the unapologetic spirit of these songs still rings true today as we continue a fervent pursuit towards justice and equity."

Songs of Protest was filmed at Dorothy Maynor Hall at Harlem School of the Arts.

How to Watch

Latina Composers and Songs of Protest will stream on LA Opera's Facebook and YouTube channels. Latina Composers will also stream simultaneously on Opera San José's Facebook and YouTube channels. For additional information, visit

After Hours performances are presented as part of the company's On Now platform of online programming. After Hours recitals will return for in-person audiences in the Founders Room once LA Opera's productions resume at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  

About LA Opera On Now 

LA Opera was the first major American opera company to create a platform for original new online programming to bring opera to audiences during the coronavirus crisis. As the company awaits its cue to return to the stage with world-class productions in theaters, it is offering a variety of digital content including newly commissioned performances, live recitals, opera broadcasts and learning opportunities via its On Now digital offerings, which have accumulated more than 880,000 views since launching on March 17, 2020. 

About LA Opera

Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, especially given the extraordinary challenges of the time. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period through the LA Opera Relief Fund. Those wanting to support LA Opera can go to

About Opera San José

Opera San José is a professional regional opera company that is unique in the United States. Maintaining a resident company of artists and supporting emerging talent in role debuts, Opera San José specializes in showcasing the finest young professional singers in the nation. In addition to mainstage performances, Opera San José maintains extensive educational programs in schools and in the community at large, and offers preview lectures and "Introduction to Opera" talks for all mainstage productions. Learn more at

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