2016-18 — Music-Theatrical Work for Bass-Baritone, Chorus, and Orchestra (~75-80′)


3 Reeds (flutes, clarinets, saxophones); 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones; Tuba/Bass; Piano, Banjo, Drum Set/Percussion; Violin; Solo Bass-Baritone; SATB Chorus


Some years ago, my good friend Davone Tines (a truly earth-shattering bass-baritone) and I bonded over our mutual love of Langston Hughes’ poetry. After poring through his works, we settled on transforming his interesting narrative work “The Black Clown” into a song cycle. “The Black Clown” is striking both for its subject matter (a redemptive tale of a black minstrel discarding his clown costume and asserting his basic humanity) and its natural inclination towards performance (Hughes intended the poem to be read as a dramatic monologue accompanied by piano or ensemble, and he even accompanies the poem’s main text with a sidebar full of suggestions for stage directions and musical cues). Since its initial conception, the project has grown into a full-fledged musical production, commissioned by the American Repertory Theater to open their 2018-19 season. The musical language dwells in the nexus between early-20th-century jazz and ragtime, African-American spirituals, and opera/art song, all refracted through my own idiosyncratic compositional voice.



Full Production: August-September 2018
Loeb Mainstage, Cambridge, MA
American Repertory Theater
Zack Winokur, director
Davóne Tines, bass-baritone

Vocal score in concert: September 15, 2017
Stamps Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI
University of Michigan Opera
Kathy Kelly, music director
Davóne Tines, bass-baritone

Lecture-Recital: March 2, 2017
Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Davóne Tines, bass-baritone
Michael Schachter, piano

Copyright 2013-17 by Michael Schachter. michael.schachter [at] gmail.com