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Georgia history comes to life in A Scholar Under Siege

When A Scholar Under Siege makes its world-premiere debut Friday, April 20, at Georgia Southern University, audiences will welcome a new American opera that tells one of the nation’s”and Georgia’s”most colorful 20th century political stories.

Georgia’s populist governor of the 1930s and early 40s, Eugene Talmadge, listened to a handful of friends and supporters who believed in the sovereignty of ‘southern tradition,” and”through controlling the Board of Regents”fired Georgia Southern President Marvin Pittman in 1941. He charged Pittman with using college staff and equipment to improve his farm near the college”not mentioning that Pittman had assigned the profits of his farm to the college. He also criticized Pittman for entertaining faculty from the all-black Tuskegee Institute and circulating books in the library that advocated interracial cooperation. The fiery hearing that resulted provides the story for A Scholar Under Siege.

Although the conflict that unfolds in A Scholar Under Siege was sometimes overshadowed by America’s entrance into World War II, Talmadge’s effort to squelch academic freedom in Georgia eventually became national news.

‘Composer Michael Braz is highly respected both at Georgia Southern University and among his musical colleagues around the world,” said Jane Hudak, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Georgia Southern. ‘He’s a valued colleague at Georgia Southern and a much-loved member of the Statesboro community, too.”

Although music is his first love, Braz has always had a fascination with both philosophy and comparative religions. In 1996, as an extension of these interests, Braz first began trekking in the Nepal Himalaya. In addition to the Kathmandu Valley, he has traveled in the Annapurna/Pokhara area and, more recently, in the Mustang region bordering Tibet. A much of the of A Scholar Under Siege was conceived during his travels in this region.

The debut of A Scholar Under Siege takes place Friday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Georgia Southern University’s Performing Arts Center in Statesboro, Ga. Additional performances are Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults (including faculty) and $5 for Georgia Southern students with ID and children under 18.

Tickets for A Scholar Under Siege are on sale at the Performing Arts Center Box Office. To purchase tickets, call the 1-800-PAC-ARTS or go to http://ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/pac/pactickets.html.

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