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Seattle Composer Wayne Horvitz: 'Smokestack Arias'

Dave Beck

A violent confrontation in 1916 between striking workers and labor union activists in Everett, Washington is the inspiration behind a new piece of musical theatre called "Smokestack Arias." The production, on stage now through February 12 at ACT Theatre in Seattle, explores a group of women caught up in the rising tensions of the American labor movement in the early 20th Century.

Though the characters are fictional creations of Seattle musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz, the situations they describe are based on historical accounts of what came to be known as the Everett Massacre. Death tolls vary, but at least five people lost their lives and more than a dozen were injured in the standoff between local deputies and representatives of the labor union known as the International Workers of the World, or Wobblies.

Soprano Maria Mannisto and Pianist Cristina Valdes present selections from "Smokestack Arias" in the KUOW performance studio. Composer Wayne Horvitz tells KUOW's Dave Beck that his attraction to the story of the 1916 Everett Massacre comes in part from Wayne's family background. Wayne Horvitz' father and grandfather were active labor negotiators and arbitrators.

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