Jazz Studies PhD Student Debuts New Opera

Barson in a yellow jacket with gray lapels

Benjamin Barson, who is working toward a PhD in jazz studies at Pitt, will present his new opera “Mirror Butterfly: the Migrant Liberation Movement Suite” on Dec. 14 and 15 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre. The event is part of the 2018 conference of the National Performance Network. It is open to the public but attendees must RSVP.

Barson, on baritone saxophone, will be joined by members of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, who represent a blend of funk, jazz, hip-hop, rap, African music and indigenous music of Northern Mexico, along with powerful political themes of liberation and community.

“Mirror Butterfly” focuses on the journey of three women and their engagement with a violent colonial oppression they are trying to flee. The piece is sung in multiple genres, and the title aria is sung in the Yaqui language of Yoeme, with translation into English provided by a narrator.

“This multi-genre and multi-ethnic approach is meant to communicate a diversity of migrant experiences and culture,” said Barson.