In the winter of 2015, Pittsburgh Festival Opera commissioned a new opera as part of an ongoing series called "Music That Matters." Following in the footsteps of our previous "eco-opera," A New Kind of Fallout with music by Gilda Lyons to a libretto by Tammy Ryan, we seek to facilitate the creation of opera that speaks to the issues of the present. This is a part of our effort to keep opera relevant, and create stages where all communities can see their lives, their experiences, their hopes, and their joys reflected onstage. With this commission, we have created a new work on racial conflict in America, seen through the lens of police brutality. The piece is called A Gathering of Sons.

Another Black man is shot by a white police officer, and we ask what comes next? How do we heal? How do we protect our children?

A Gathering of Sons takes us on a journey through the lives of a young Black man, a white police officer, a pair of Black parents, and a collection of spirits who watch over the world. The words express an experience of both loss and gain, and an understanding of the beautiful life flowing within all of us. It is a confrontation with history, and the way it breathes through the present. It is a conversation on our biases, and how we heal after tragedy. It is an eye towards freedom, and the work we need to reach it. It is full of magic. It is full of fear. It is full of hope, of pain, and still, an even more powerful love.

At a series of developmental workshops, audiences got to see performances of selected scenes from the opera, and engage in a discussion about the work with panels comprised of community leaders, activists, and other artists. Workshop participants received a 40% discount off tickets for the world premiere production of A Gathering of Sons during our 2017 summer season.

Visit photo coverage of workshops and performance on our Facebook page at Pittsburgh Festival Opera, where you can browse video links, albums covering our events at partner venues, and the world premiere performances of our 28th commissioned work.


Learn More about A Gathering of Sons


Post-Performance Talkbacks


Post-performance talkbacks for A Gathering of Sons were supported by a grant from the Three Rivers Community Foundation.




Project Support

The series of community workshops that form the developmental process for A Gathering of Sons are made possible, in part, by generous support from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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Performances of A Gathering of Sons are made possible through the support of Marjorie and William Cadwallader.

The commissioning of A Gathering of Sons is made possible through the support of Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, a program of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

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Additional support for A Gathering of Sons is provided by:

  • The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • The Heinz Endowments
  • Opportunity Fund
  • W.I Patterson Charitable Fund


Audience engagement and outreach activities for A Gathering of Sons are supported by a grant from OPERA America's Opera Fund.

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The Opera Fund provides technical and financial support to OPERA America Professional Company Members and their partners as part of North American effort to enhance the quality, quantity and creativity of new opera and music theater.

The Opera Fund, launched by the National Endowment for the Arts, is funded by the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, Lee Day Gillespie, and Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach.