Here’s an round-up of arts briefs around Southwest and Southside.

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Opera Roanoke presents recital with Lawrence Brownlee

Opera Roanoke is preparing to bring one of opera’s most in-demand performers to the Jefferson Center on May 1.  Tenor Lawrence Brownlee has been seen and heard on stages across the globe and is known not only for the way he uses his voice on stage, but also how he uses it to advocate for racial justice and equity throughout the industry. 

In his 2021-22 season alone, Brownlee will be heard at the Paris National Opera, the Zurich Opera House, Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, among others. He recently joined the Juilliard School as a distinguished visiting faculty member and is serving as an artistic advisor at Opera Philadelphia.

As an advocate for racial justice in the music industry, Brownlee has curated many discussions with industry leaders on these important issues and acts as an advisor to several opera companies across the United States, championing new works and expanding opera audiences in the process.

At his concert in Roanoke on May 1, Brownlee will present a work that he co-wrote in 2018 with composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrance Hayes (both MacArthur Genius Grant winners), entitled “Cycles of My Being.”  The focus of “Cycles” is to shine a spotlight on the Black man’s experience in America today. Brownlee says of the work, “The idea started with the injustices we see on a daily basis. We’ve summed it up as being about ‘Black male subjectivity.’”  He goes on to say, “The goal is to foster mutual respect, understanding, and communication across races and generations. History unfolds in cycles, and with this work, we hope to balance the stark challenges of our present reality with a resolute resilience, and an unwavering hope for a better future.” Since its premiere in 2018 at Opera Philadelphia, “Cycles of My Being” has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Kennedy Center.  Now, it’s coming to Roanoke. 

In November 2021, Opera Roanoke received a highly competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to present “Cycles of My Being.”  “Being able to bring an artist of this caliber to the region is, in and of itself, a testament to how important the arts are to our community but to be presenting this specific work at this moment in our nation’s history is even more important,” Brooke Tolley, Opera Roanoke’s general director, said in a statement

“Cycles of My Being” will be presented at 2:30 p.m. May 1 at the Jefferson Center in downtown Roanoke.  More information can be found at or by calling 540-982-2742.  

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Virginia Humanities awards grant to Amherst group

Virginia Humanities has announced six new grants totaling $52,000 for projects that highlight local stories from communities across Virginia. One of those is in Amherst County:

Amherst Glebe Arts Response Inc.: $5,000
Karenne Wood: Virginia poet, Mother, Monacan, Scholar and Historian
A panel discussion and production of two exhibits honoring the life and legacy of Karenne Wood (Monacan), an educator, poet, scholar, advocate and leader within the broader Native community of Virginia prior to her death in 2019.

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Pulaski fine arts center launches fundraising campaign

The Fine Arts Center in Pulaski County has launched a fundraising campaign to offset some of the cost of the renovation of its building. The fundraising goal is $15,000 to cover the flooring materials and installation, some repairs to the subfloor, and a new coat of paint throughout the gallery.

You can donate on the center’s website at or in person at the center when it reopens later this month. The Fine Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible.