It's a novel, a film, an opera, and now it's the recently announced One Book, One Philadelphia selection for 2016.
The Free Library and the City of Philadelphia officially kicked off the yearly collective read, which will be the National Book Award fiction winner, Cold Mountain.
In February, Cold Mountain-inspired book discussions, cooking classes, lectures, and more will coincide with Opera Philadelphia’s East Coast premiere of the opera, composed by Jennifer Higdon, set during the Civil War.
Opera will provide another inroad into author Charles Frazier’s story of war and love. This year, two books will provide historical context and help generate reflection about the past and the present: Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, and The Civil War, by Geoffrey Ward, with Ric Burns and Ken Burns.
Meridee Duddleston: A movie starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law, an award-winning soundtrack, an opera composed by Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer, and now the 2016 One Book, One Philadelphia selection. It’s Charles Frazier’s award-winning novel set during the Civil War: Cold Mountain.
Companion books, including children's selections and Solomon Northup's harrowing account in Twelve Years a Slave, have been chosen to engender a sense of perspective. And One Book will emphasize local links to slavery and emancipation.
Siobhan Reardon: There are a lot of connections between the Cold Mountain story and Twelve Years a Slave. Philadelphia's very progressive. It's the place where the abolitionists and the slaves were able to escape and be protected here in Philadelphia to some degree, because of the Quaker presence and their anti-slavery stance.
MD: Free Library President and Director Siobhan Reardon expects layers of literacy to unify One Book when it rolls out in February - visual, musical, cultural - a typical supper during the time. All that will overlap with Opera Philadelphia's East Coast premiere of the opera Cold Mountain.
Opera Philadelphia and the Free Library are collaborating, and Opera Philadelphia's community programs head Michael Bolton says that will add dimension.
Michael Bolton: Film screening, partnering with One Book, One Philadelphia for book talks. But also bringing the music into the community so that people can get a preview of what the opera sounds like.
MUSIC: From Cold Mountain the opera - Jarrett Ott, baritone; Grant Loehnig, piano
MD: The Free Library’s Reardon says she's elated by what she calls the multiple literacy aspects of this year’s selection.
SR: So now you have not only the literacy around reading, you have the whole cultural literacy piece of it bringing the opera into the process.
MD: In February a Cold Mountain network of literary, musical, visual, cultural, historical and even culinary intersections will open up. Until then, keep reading.
One Book, One Philadelphia is a project of the Free Library of Philadelphia that has the goal of promoting literacy and encouraging the Philadelphia community to come together through reading and discussing a single book. Each year, lectures, discussions, films, workshops, exhibitions, and performances illuminate both specific and universal themes within a featured selection. The 2016 program will run from February 2 to March 30.