Requiem for Frankie Silver – Orpheus Music Project
Requiem for Frankie Silver is a new musical dramatization of the true story of Frances Stewart Silver, (1815-33) an eighteen-year-old mother, who was the first woman convicted and hanged by the state of North Carolina for the murder and mutilation of her abusive husband.
This unique musical drama was commissioned in 2018 by ORPHEUS Music Project co-founder and producer Kirk Hoaglund for MacPhail’s SONOMENTO choral ensemble. Adapted from Sharyn McCrumb’s 1998 award-winning book, Ballad of Frankie Silver, by writer Craig Fields and composer Craig Carnahan, the semi-staged work incorporates storytelling, folksong, ballad, aria, traditional hymns and a new setting of the Latin requiem mass and is performed by storyteller, twelve soloists, sixty choristers and full orchestra.
Frankie Silver’s tragic story sheds relevant light on current social problems – intolerance, abuse of women, family dysfunction, capital punishment and inequities within our criminal justice system. It is a story of one brave young woman’s crime and punishment in the face of community prejudice and hatred. Nearly 190 years later, this musical memorial also pays final tribute to the life of an unjustly condemned young girl, posing the question: “Is injustice against one, injustice by all?”
More About the Frankie Silver Story:
On December 21, 1831, Frankie Silver killed her drunken husband Charlie with an axe to the skull to save their infant child, Nancy, and herself from his violent, inebriated rage. In a desperate attempt to protect Frankie, the Stewart family carried out a gruesome dismemberment of Charlie’s body to cover-up the killing, of which Frankie was told never to speak. She held onto this horrific secret through her trial and until the end to protect her family. Tragically, the rules of the court prevented her from taking the stand, so she could not explain what had happened that cold winter night, nor how she had only tried to stop her violent husband from killing their crying baby. Eventually, after many months, the whole town came to realize that this poor mountain girl was not a cold-blooded axe murderer, nor did she carry out the bloody mutilation of Charlie’s body. The women of the town and half of the all-male jury that convicted her signed petitions to the new Governor David L. Swain for clemency, but to no avail.
Bradley Greenwald, as the Storyteller
Lauren Senden, as Frankie Silver
Riley Cardona, as the Merciful Spirit
Lauren Thrift, as Balladeer
Matthew Vickers, as Charlie Silver
Brian Haase, as Sheriff Boone
Natalie Rose Havens, as Mary Erwin
Chris Fast, Brian Frutiger, Rebecca Luttio, Miranda Kettlewell and Dana Skoglund
MacPhail’s SONOMENTO Chorus and The ORPHEUS Orchestra
staged and conducted by Craig Fields
Craig Fields is currently conductor and artist-in-residence at the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis where he leads MacPhail’s premier adult choir, Sonomento. He began his fifteen year professional singing career as an operatic baritone, performing leading roles in opera houses around the world, including the Los Angeles Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Hawaii, Portland, Seattle, Zürich, Geneva, Mannheim, Freiburg, Kassel, Düsseldorf and Berlin, to name a few. He has performed as a soloist under conductors Nello Santi, Helmut Rilling, Rudolf Baumgartner, Ivan Fisher, Lawrence Smith, Ferdinand Leitner, Gerd Albrecht and performed leading opera roles alongside José Carreras, Margaret Price, Agnes Baltsa, Cesare Siepi, Simon Estes, Francisco Araiza, and Hildegard Behrens.
In 1990, he changed career directions and began stage directing for opera and musical theatre. This led to producing and directing over sixty professional productions all over the US. For over 24 combined years he served as General/Artistic Director for Opera Roanoke, Opera on the James, both in Virginia, and later for the Duluth Festival Opera, which he founded in 2005.
He was also head of an opera and vocal/choral studies at Virginia Tech’s School of the Arts in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was the founder of the Blacksburg Master Chorale and music director for the Roanoke Valley Choral Society. His choirs have concertized in England, Ireland, Wales, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland. He has commissioned and recorded many new works, including a 1995 commercial recording of “Requiem: For those we Love” by Jon Polifrone; on the BMC label, and available on Amazon.com.
He received his musical training in California from Chapman University under Dr. William Hall and an MFA degree from California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He then completed post-graduate studies at Mannes College of Music in NYC, Dartmouth College, the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Opera Merola Training Program and Zürich Opera’s International Opera Studio in Switzerland. He was awarded the prestigious Walt Disney Arts Scholarship, a George London Foundation award, and two Martha B. Rockefeller grants for post-graduate vocal studies.
In 2015, he led MacPhail’s Sonomento on a European tour where they competed with choirs from all over the world at the International Brahms Choral Festival in Germany, garnering two silver medals for excellence. He was music director for Minnesota Concert Opera from 2013-15 and is currently an artistic consultant, conductor, and voice teacher.
In the past 35 years, Craig Carnahan has received over 75 commissions for original compositions. His music has been heard in performances by the Dale Warland Singers (St. Paul, MN), Conspirare (Austin, TX), the Los Angeles Master Chorale (Los Angeles, CA), The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists (Minneapolis, MN), Chor Leoni (Vancouver, B.C.), Choral Arts Initiative (Irvine, CA), Master Chorale of Tampa Bay (Tampa Bay, FL), Kantorei and St. Martin’s Chamber Choir (Denver, CO), Sonomento (Minneapolis, MN), Ensemble for These Times (Berkeley, CA), Milwaukee Choral Artists (Milwaukee, WI), The Dream Songs Project (Minneapolis, MN), Chorus Austin (Austin, TX), and over thirty of the GALA choruses in North America.
Recent commissions and premieres include I am here for Luther College’s Nordic Choir (Decorah, IA), A Home is More for the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Promises and Interludes for The Dream Songs Project, and Refuge for a consortium of seven high school choirs in Illinois.
Carnahan received his B.A. from Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) and did graduate studies in composition with Dominick Argento and Paul Fetler at the University of Minnesota. In 1993 he received a McKnight Composition Fellowship to collaborate with the acclaimed poet, playwright and filmmaker James Broughton on several projects. In 1998 he was Composer-in-Residence for the American Composers Forum’s Faith Partners Residency Project. And, in 2008, 2012, and 2019, he received Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The Borealis Chorale (Grand Marais, MN) will premiere The Lingering Light of Day – his 2019 MSAB project – in December, 2019.
A member of the American Composers Forum and ASCAP, his music is published by Walton Music, E.C. Shcirmer, MorningStar, and his own company, Craig Carnahan Music. His music has been described as “absorbing, richly textured and emotionally stirring” (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
Kirk Hoaglund found his calling as an entrepreneur after a successful ten-year career in software engineering with Control Data Corporation. He founded Clientek, a successful IT consulting company, in 1992. He has enjoyed 28 years of success in building, managing, and leading Clientek and his other ventures.
His life-long interest in music developed in high school and he began his studies at the Univeristy of Minnesota in music composition. He later graduated with a degree in Computer Science.
He has been a life long choral singer and immersed himself in audio technology and development. As Clientek CEO, he is proud to lead a socially responsible, honest, and hard-working group. Clientek donates 5% of its net income to local charities and further supports them through pro-bono efforts in IT and management assistance. Kirk has also been a generous donor to the music programs at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis as well as many other charitable organizations.
Sharyn McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, including the New York Times Best Sellers: The Ballad of Tom Dooley, She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket. Her books have been named New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable Books, and her current novel The Unquiet Grave is a well-researched history of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost. The Unquiet Grave was selected by the Georgia Library System as the 2017 selection for North Georgia Reads; the All Conference Read for the West Virginia State Library Conference; the West Virginia Featured Book at the West Virginia Book Festival; and a featured alternate by the Literary Guild.
In 2014, Sharyn McCrumb was awarded the Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Southern Literature by North Carolina’s Chowan University. Named a “Virginia Woman of History” in 2008 for Achievement in Literature, she was a guest author at the National Festival of the Book in Washington, D.C. in 2006. In April 2017, the national DAR named her a “Woman in the Arts” for literary achievement. In November 2017, the West Virginia Library Association presented Sharyn McCrumb with their Award of Merit for Contributions to Appalachian Literature.
King’s Mountain (2013 St. Martin’s Press), the story of the 1780 Revolutionary War battle and the Overmountain Men, received a DAR Award from the Edward Buncombe Chapter (NC)., and in June 2015 the Patricia Winn Award for Southern Fiction from the Montgomery County Arts & Heritage Council of Clarksville TN. King’s Mountain is taught in schools and featured at historical museums in four states. Sharyn McCrumb’s other best-selling novels include The Ballad of Frankie Silver, the story of the first woman hanged for murder in the state of North Carolina. Ghost Riders, an account of the Civil War in the mountains of western North Carolina, which won the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature given by the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Audie Award for Best Recorded Book. The Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville NC staged theatrical versions of Ghost Riders and The Ballad of Frankie Silver in 2014 and 2016.
McCrumb’s other honors include: AWA Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award; the Chafin Award for Southern Literature; the Plattner Award for Short Story; and AWA’s Best Appalachian Novel. She was named “Best Mountain Writer 2013” by Blue Ridge Country Magazine. A graduate of UNC- Chapel Hill, with an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech, McCrumb was the first writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee. In 2005 she honored as the Writer of the Year at Emory & Henry College.
Her novels, studied in universities throughout the world, have been translated into eleven languages, including French, German, Dutch, Japanese, Arabic, and Italian. She has lectured on her work at universities and museums throughout the US, as well as at Oxford University, the University of Bonn-Germany, and at the Smithsonian Institution. Ms. McCrumb taught a writers workshop in Paris, and has served as writer in residence at King College in Tennessee and at the Chautauqua Institute in western New York.
About the ORPHEUS Music Project
Orpheus, the famous singer of Greek mythology, sang songs of stirring power that “touched all creatures great and small, and moved even the rocks to weep at the sound of his singing”. We at ORPHEUS Music Project believe in that uncanny power of song and music-storytelling to touch hearts, to persuade minds and to deliver positive messages for social justice in our world. ORPHEUS Music Project was founded in January 2019 by IT entrepreneur Kirk Hoaglund and musician/conductor Craig Fields to facilitate and assemble diverse groups of singers, musicians, writers, composers, and like-minded organizations to create ‘music for social good’.