Concert to take Hudson Valley for A Ride on The Underground Railroad

Original work by Professor Nkeiru Okoye celebrates African American History Month and the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

NEW PALTZ – The Department of Music at the State University of New York at New Paltz celebrates African American History Month and the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with its production of A Ride on The Underground Railroad to be performed 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 in the Julien J. Studley Theatre on the New Paltz campus. The concert is presented by the SUNY New Paltz School of Fine & Performing Arts, the Department of Music, Poné Ensemble, American Opera Projects (Brooklyn), and sponsored in part by the Kenneth Davenport Residency Program.

A Ride on The Underground Railroad features the vocal talents of students from SUNY New Paltz and Newburgh Free Academy, as well as professional singers, the Poné Ensemble for New Music, and noted musicians. The performance features music from an original opera, HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom, by music professor Dr. Nkeiru Okoye, as well as regional premieres and familiar works also centered on themes of freedom and courage. Okoye will provide narration during the concert, which includes the SUNY New Paltz University Choir performing traditional spirituals; tenor David Hughey performing composer Wendell Logan’s Runagate, Runagate; mezzo soprano Patrice Eaton singing newly commissioned arrangements of Wade in the Water and Go Down Moses with the Newburgh Free Academy Choir; and members of the College Youth Symphony. New Paltz senior Nicholas Denizard will play the Maple Leaf Rag of Scott Joplin; and soprano Sumayya Ali will sing Okoye’s Songs of Harriet Tubman.

Fugitive slaves fleeing from the Maryland coast to an Underground Railroad depot in Delaware, 1850 (coloured engraving), American School, (19th century) / Private Collection

A photography exhibit in honor of African American History Month, organized by Susan Stessin-Cohn and Ashley Hurlburt of Historic Huguenot Street with assistance from photographer and SUNY New Paltz senior Shelley Weresnick will be on view in the lobby of the theatre during the performance.

Soprano Sumayya Ali and tenor David Hughey will give a master class to the vocal students from the studio of New Paltz professor Kent Smith at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the Nadia and Max Shepard Recital Hall. The master class is funded in part by the Kenneth Davenport Residency Program and is free and open to the public.

A native New Yorker of African American and Nigerian descent, Okoye holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Rutgers University. She is currently an assistant professor of music at New Paltz. Her work has been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Virginia Symphony, New Jersey Symphony and countless regional orchestras. Recently, she was commissioned by American Opera Projects to develop and present her opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed the Line to Freedom, and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in support of the project.

Concert tickets are $12, general admission; $8, senior citizens (62+) and SUNY faculty/ staff; $5, students with ID. Tickets will be available at the door one hour prior to performance. For advanced purchase, visit For additional information call 845-257-2700.