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A Polished and Meaningful Premiere for "Two Corners"

The creative team of composer B.E. Boykin and librettist Jarrod Lee's had a triumphant world premiere of their latest work Two Corners at Finger Lakes Opera this past weekend. Exploring the friendship between Florine, a Black woman, and her childhood friend Sarah, a white woman in rural Alabama during the civil rights movement, Two Corners tells a poignant yet simple story with a much more layered and complicated meaning.

"Boykin’s score is tender and nostalgic, but not so driven by the past that it skirts the emotional honesty demanded in the present by librettist Jarrod Lee’s direct language in the text. Lee’s distillation of this story — based on the real-life experiences of the composer’s grandmother, Florine, who grew up Black alongside her white friend Sarah in 1950s Alabama — bears the implicit message that true unity is only possible when we share in one other’s pain and even accept culpability for how our actions or inactions contributed to that pain."

"...Boykin’s harmonic language is straightforward and easily understood — a big plus in a storytelling medium where convoluted layers of meaning are more often than not the norm. Throughout, the music has an enduring lyrical sensibility. In key moments in the drama, Boykin turns to bits of vintage pop sounds and even gospel textures."

Baritone Joshua Conyers (center right) as Hollis and mezzo-soprano Rheanna Thelwell (far right) as Julia |


Baritone Joshua Conyers and mezzo-soprano Rehanna Thelwell were stand outs as Florine's husband Hollis and Florine's mother Julia, respectively.

"As Florine’s husband Hollis, baritone Joshua Conyers is warm and endearing. His climactic performance of the classic hymn “How Great Thou Art,” in a beautiful arrangement by the composer, was transcendent."

"Mezzo-soprano Rehanna Thelwell is mesmerizing as Florine’s mother, Julia, singing with a rich, unpretentious tone. Her exhortation to a young Florine to “Be careful” comes across as a kind of stirring lullaby."

Also notable was the skillful directing of Kimille Howard.

"The story is simple, the meaning complicated — and  under the fluid musical direction of FLO Artistic Director Gerard Floriano from the podium and Kimille Howard’s clear stage direction, the opera flies by at a brisk pace."

Composer B.E. Boykin, Librettist Jarrod Lee, and Director Kimille Howard


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