Adventist Composes Opera With Mission
“Oh My Son” to debut in New York’s Carnegie Hall
BY JILL WALKER GONZALEZ
ith the exception of great music, “Oh My Son,” an operatic tableau by Adventist composer Marcos Galvany, is an entirely different sort of opera: It tells the greatest story of our faith, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The work is due to premiere at New York’s Carnegie Hall on April 10, 2010. “Oh My Son” cast members are Valentina Fleer, soprano; Antonio Gandia, tenor; Javier Gonzalez, tenor; Meghan McCall, soprano; Matthew Osifchin, baritone; Karla Rivera, soprano; Adrian Rosas, bass-baritone; and Marie Te Hapuku, soprano. Accompanying the singers, under the baton of conductor Michael Rossi, will be a 100-voice choir and the New England Symphonic Ensemble.
Galvany, who is originally from Spain,
the United States to attend Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he studied music. During his college days he spent much of his time touring with the New England Youth Ensemble (NEYE) in the United States and abroad. Galvany has lived in the Washington, D.C., area since 1996 and has continued touring with NEYE and attends the Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist Church. Because of his music ministry, he visits and performs at many different Seventh-day Adventist churches in the United States.
OPERATIC TABLEAU: “Oh My Son,” an operatic tableau by Adventist composer Marcos Galvany, is due to premiere April 10, 2010, at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
With this work Galvany wishes to bring the humanity of the story to the forefront: “It’s not merely about telling the story again,” he says. “It’s about bringing the story to people, making it real and relatable. My vision is for individuals in the audience to see themselves as a mother; as a Jesus who is scared, but ready to be sacrificed; even as a Mary Magdalene.”
It is certainly Galvany’s hope that God will work through his craft, the craft of opera—the blending, as Galvany says, “of literature, art, music, and, in this case, the Message.” Galvany feels art is a powerful medium. “It breaks through culture, religion, and language.” That has been his goal in writing “Oh My Son”—to tell the story of the cross as it is in the Bible, bereft of religion and politics, so that it reaches the hearts of people who hunger for the truth.
As an operatic tableau, “Oh My Son” is essentially a series of scenes from the life of Christ, scenes inspired by the images paraded through Galvany’s childhood hometown of Crevillente every Easter as he was growing up in Spain. “During the parade my mother told me the Bible story behind each image,” he recalls. “This was my first spiritual meal.”
Born into a Roman Catholic home, Galvany became a Seventh-day Adventist as a child when his family was introduced to the Adventist message by a neighbor. Though the scenes of his operatic tableau were inspired by the works of art in the processionals of his hometown, it was the gospel story of the cross itself—as presented in the Bible and as told to him by his mother—that inspired him the most.
The story of Jesus Christ stayed with him from childhood to adulthood. In fact, the operatic work originated with a single song (“Oh My Son”) that Galvany composed when he was 17 years old. Since then the larger operatic tableau has been a labor of love; something he has been working at on and off for many years, the last two years almost exclusively.
How does Galvany feel to see his dream of years coming to fruition? “Anxious, scared, overwhelmed,” he says. “The only thing that calms me down is praying.” Galvany, after all, not only composed the work; he’s also been its producer, lyricist, fund-raiser, business manager, designer, and organizer.
Recently Galvany has been blessed with a team of volunteers who, along with the singers, have stepped in to support the work. Together they have tirelessly promoted “Oh My Son.” Performances of the work, or selections from it, have already taken place at the residence of the ambassador of Chile, the United States Department of State, and various churches in the Washington, D.C., area.
The premiere of “Oh My Son” on April 10 may seem like the culmination of many years of effort, but Galvany hopes that Carnegie Hall is only the beginning. His dreams for the work are bigger than that. “I want this work to be done in every country,” he says, “in every language. This, for me, is mission.”