To the Editor:
At 5 pm on August 31, Union Chapel was filled with fine Vineyarders eager to see and hear what “1854 Folk Opera” was all about. They knew Jim Thomas’s Spiritual Choir was an important part of it. Close to 50 public-spirited Islanders had spent numerous hours rehearsing spoken parts or slave songs, with significant musical assistance by generous organist and musical participant Phil Dietterich.
Before his death in 2015, Jack Schimmelman wrote the first act about a proclamation Edgartown leaders in 1854 wanted to send state legislators opposing slavery, Susannah Sturgis ably wrote the needed second act, and enthusiastic choir members rounded up friends from all Island towns who gave countless hours in August heat to present the “reading with music” to be enjoyed.
In the present climate of our nation, this interracial presentation was especially heartwarming, to say the least. Audience reaction surely persuaded participants that a full-fledged production of “1854 Folk Opera” must take place next summer. Everyone on hand August 31 will look forward to it.