Shallaway celebrates legacy of Ann Harvey
The talented young artists of Shallaway are hard at work these days, rehearsing for their upcoming folk opera Ann and Seamus, to be premiered at the Reid Theatre on Memorial’s St. John’s campus June 1-4. For months, enthusiasm has been building around the opportunity to present the story of Ann Harvey of Isle aux Morts, a 17 year old who was instrumental in saving 168 lives from the wreck of the brig Despatch in 1828.
“The opera is very inspirational; we are creating this huge production right here, with our people, about our history, our place and about such an amazing person … and we’ll be showing that to the world,” said Kathleen Allan, Shallaway chorister.
Ann’s accomplishment and that of her family was recognized by Governor Cochrane in 1830 with a gold medal from the Royal Humane Society. But, except for local recognition, her heroism was otherwise unheralded for 175 years until, in 2002, Kevin Major, who was Memorial’s alumni of the year in 1997, was inspired to write the award-winning narrative poem Ann and Seamus.
In turn, in 2003, Shallaway’s Artistic Director Susan Knight, a former Alumna of the Year (2000) who was also awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Memorial in 2004, commissioned Stephen Hatfield to compose a folk opera to further celebrate Ann’s legacy. As opera producer, she was delighted when Jillian Keiley of Artistic Fraud agreed to direct the production. Finally, everyone was excited when world opera star Ben Heppner, also an honorary graduate, agreed to be Honorary Patron.
On Thursday, May 25, Shallaway will perform at a seminar hosted by the Newfoundland Historical Society exploring the significance of shipwrecks in the cultural heritage of this province. The event will be held at the Inco Innovation Centre at Memorial University, starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Tickets for the June 1-4 premiere performances are on sale now for $25 (adults) and $20 (seniors and students) at Belbins, Living Rooms at Terrace in the Square, West End Electronics and Lane Gallery. Tickets can also be purchased at the Shallaway office, call 738-6792. For further information about the opera, visit www.annandseamus.com.
Shallaway - Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus (previously Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir) is a community-based cultural organization made up of 220 young artists between the ages of eight and 18.