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Terence Blanchard Becomes First Black Composer At Metropolitan Opera On Historic Night At Lincoln Center

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Grammy-winning musician Terence Blanchard became the first Black composer in the Metropolitan Opera's 138-year history Monday.

As CBS2's Cory James reported, audiences across Manhattan had a chance to see the performance for free.

People in long gowns and tuxedos gathered around the fountain outside Lincoln Center waiting to go inside to see "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" at the Met.

The performance, based on New York Times columnist Charles Blow's memoir, was canceled last September because of the pandemic.

Blanchard, a multiple Grammy-winning musician, is the first Black composer in Metropolitan Opera history to see his work come to life.

"This is incredible. The first day of rehearsal with the orchestra was kind of funny because everybody was so excited to play, they kept playing too loud. So everybody is ready to get back to some type of normal life," Blanchard said.

It's a normality that people from all over were excited to have back.

"This is opening night and all these people are here for us to sit there and watch and celebrate people of color. It's about time," said Dr. Nina Radcliff of Galloway Township, New Jersey.

"It's like history in the making. It's important to support Blacks in the arts. That's key," said Sharen McKinney-Austin from Brooklyn.

While nearly 4,000 people had tickets to watch the performance at Lincoln Center, hundreds were able to catch a free livestream of the event at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and Times Square.

"I think it's amazing. We live just up the block," said Kate Cunningham, a Harlem resident. "It's beautiful to see arts in the neighborhood."

"After today, I'm into opera now," said Carlos Soto.

"Today, history is being made, right here on Broadway, Times Square," said John Carter.

Blanchard said he hopes accessibility to these events will bring more people to the stage.

"These young, African American singers are here. They're just not being covered," Blanchard said.

About 1,700 people showed up to watch the livestream performance in Harlem. Organizers expected about 2,000 in Times Square.


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