Directed by Emmy nominee dream hampton, the new film features music by composer Tamar-kali

(Los Angeles) February 17, 2022 — LA Opera's Digital Shorts series, which pairs today's most exciting composers with acclaimed filmmakers, continues with We Hold These Truths, a new film directed by dream hampton featuring newly commissioned music by composer Tamar-kali, premiering online at 11am on March 4, 2022.

We Hold These Truths is a three-movement piece featuring seminal poetic works from three influential Black poets from the turn of the 20th century through the Harlem Renaissance: Paul Laurence Dunbar ("We Wear the Mask"), Langston Hughes ("I, Too"), Claude McKay ("If We Must Die"). The filmmaker is dream hampton, director of the Peabody-winning and Emmy-nominated film Surviving R. Kelly.

"This piece is written at a moment in the 21st century where a segment of our nation bristles at the thought of progress and there continues to be a debate about how far we have come and whether or not change is being pushed upon the populace too hastily," said composer Tamar-kali. "The first wave of the Civil Rights Movement in America dates back to the late 1800s. The thought that, more than a century later, 'these truths' are still unattainable for a portion of our population seems unconscionable."

In the film, director dream hampton combines newly filmed segments with archival footage of early 20th-century Black life. "We Hold These Truths is a direct reference to a continuum," she said, "and I want the continuum to be one of wonder and joy and the exploring one does while living and turning away from the death and oppression that is often part of American life for Black folks. Even as these poets were bearing witness to what America was doing to Black people, they were also very much living in their own eras, being fed enough in their personal lives, on both a spiritual and an intellectual level, to create this art."

The vocal performers include tenor Ashley Faatoalia, baritone Cedric Berry, violinist Curtis Stewart, spoken word artist Samuel Getachew and the Selah Gospel Choir. The conductor is Anthony Parnther, leading a 34-piece ensemble of members of the LA Opera Orchestra.

Click here to learn more.

Click here to download images for We Hold These Truths.

About the CreatorsBrooklyn born and bred artist Tamar-kali is a second-generation musician with roots in the coastal Sea Islands of South Carolina. Her work in film has garnered her the World Soundtrack Awards Discovery of the Year for her original score for Dee Rees’ Oscar-nominated film Mudbound as well as Guardian’s contemporary album of the month for her original score soundtrack for Josephine Decker’s Shirley. Tamar-kali’s current artistic landscape includes a range of projects from film scores and orchestral commissions to solo performance and recording works. 

The director of We Hold These Truths, dream hampton, is an award-winning filmmaker and writer from Detroit. Her most recent works include the Frameline feature documentary Treasure (2015), the BET docu-series Finding Justice (2019) and Lifetime's Emmy nominated Surviving R. Kelly (2019), which broke ratings records and earned a Peabody Award. In 2019, she was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world.

About Digital ShortsPresented through LA Opera's On Now digital platform, the Digital Shorts series brings cutting-edge opera to audiences worldwide. The series, which launched last season, has showcased nine wildly diverse new films to date. Films in the series have subsequently won awards at international film festivals and have been televised on TCM.

This season's Digital Shorts tackle themes relevant to our times: social justice (We Hold These Truths), imprisonment (The First Bluebird of the Morning, released in September) and isolation (the upcoming Between the Rooms).

About LA OperaLos Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be. Through imaginative new productions, world premiere commissions, and inventive productions that preserve foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling, LA Opera has become one of America’s most exciting and ambitious opera companies.

In addition to its mainstage performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company explores unusual repertoire each season through the LA Opera Off Grand initiative, featuring performances in a variety of venues throughout Los Angeles. The company also offers a multitude of online content via its LA Opera At Home digital offerings, which launched on March 17, 2020.

The LA Opera Connects initiative, which offers a robust variety of educational programming and community engagement offerings, is as integral to the company's artistic identity as mainstage productions and Off Grand performances. These broad-based engagement programs reflect the vibrancy and diversity of Los Angeles, reaching people throughout every corner of Los Angeles County.

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This project is generously supported by a consortium of donors to LA Opera's Contemporary Opera Initiative, chaired by Nancy and Barry Sanders.

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