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Cycles of My Being: Student Guide

"The ideas, themes, and experiences that make up Cycles of My Being have been on my mind for quite some time. As I’ve watched men of color endure undeserved aggression, incarceration, brutality, and even death, I’ve been forced to consider my thoughts and questions around what it means to be a black man in America today, and how we as a people are viewed and treated.

Working with Terrance Hayes and Tyshawn Sorey – two extraordinarily insightful and talented black men at the pinnacle of their respective art forms – has allowed each of us to bring our different perspectives to this piece, and to find a common ground in both our shared cultural history and the unique individual paths that have brought us to this point. Together, we have tried to create something that speaks to the day-to-day life of a black man in the United States, and the thoughts and questions he experiences as he moves through the world.

These are divided times. But the goal of this piece is neither to widen those rifts, nor to re-open old wounds; the goal is 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."

~ Lawrence Brownlee (Program Note from 2018 World Premiere)


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Opera 101

Click this link to read a Spanish Translation.

The Creators

Lawrence Brownlee
Lawrence Brownleetenor & lyricist
Tyshawn Sorey
Tyshawn Soreycomposer
Terrence Hayes
Terrence Hayeslyricist

view the full creative team of Cycles of My Being here

Lessons & Activities

Inhale, Exhale
Inhale, Exhaleled by Cory O'Niell Walker
Discovering Hope
Discovering Hopelesson plan by Dr. Derrick Thompson
Dissonanceled by Jaylene Clark Owens
Whirlwindled by Greg Riley
Each Day I Rise, I Know
Each Day I Rise, I Knowreflection by D'quan Tyson
Teaching Cycles
Teaching Cyclesprofessional development by Anthony Martinez-Briggs

View the full text of Cycles of My Being here

Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning Dress Rehearsal Program has been provided by The William Penn Foundation, Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, Eugene Garfield Foundation, Wells Fargo, Universal Health Services, Hirsig Family Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, The McLean Contributionship, and Mr. William A. Loeb

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