Three AOP Composers Awarded Competitive Grant for Female Composers

April 3, 2014

OPERA America has announced the first round of recipients of its new program, Opera Grants for Female Composers. From among the 112 eligible applicants, an independent adjudication panel selected eight composers, including three AOP composers Laura Kaminsky, Sheila Silver, and Composers & the Voice alumna Kristin Kuster.

AOP-OPERA-America-Female-ComposersComposers Sheila Silver, Laura Kaminsky, and Kristin Kuster

The recipients have each been awarded $12,500 to support the development of their compositions which are listed below.

Anna Clyne: As Sudden Shut
Michelle DiBucci: Charlotte Salomon: Der Tod und die Malerin (Death and the Painter)
Laura Kaminsky: As One
Kristin Kuster: Old Presque Isle
Anne LeBaron: Psyche & Delia
Fang Man: Golden Lily
Sheila Silver: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Luna Pearl Woolf: THE PILLAR

AOP is currently developing Laura Kaminsky’s As One, scheduled to premiere at BAM in September 2014. Sheila Silver’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, based on the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, will begin development at AOP in the 2014-15 season.

OPERA America has awarded nearly $13 million over 25 years to Professional Company Members in support of new American operas, but fewer than 5 percent of the organization’s grants supporting repertoire development have been awarded to works by female composers. Opera Grants for Female Composers provide support for the development of new operas by women, both directly to individual composers and to opera companies producing their work, advancing the important objective to increase diversity across the field.

Opera Grants for Female Composers, made possible through the generosity of The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, is a two-year project. In this first year, Discovery Grants identify, support and help develop the work of female composers writing for the operatic medium, raising their visibility and promoting awareness of their compositions. In addition to financial assistance, grant recipients will be introduced to leaders in the field through a feature in Opera America Magazine, and at future New Works Forum meetings and annual conferences. Supported works will be considered for presentation as part of the New Works Forum in January 2015 and New Works Samplers at future annual conferences. The second year of the Opera Grants for Female Composers program will focus on Commissioning Grants. These awards will help support the commissioning and production of works by talented women. Details for this segment of the program will be announced later in 2014. The independent adjudication panelists for the Discovery Grant cycle included vocal coach-consultant Susan Ashbaker, composer Douglas Cuomo, director Robin Guarino, composer David T. Little, mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer, and composer/librettist Gene Scheer.

(from the press release)


Stephen Salters, Lori-Kaye Miller & More to Star in World Premiere of THE SUMMER KING at Merrill Auditorium, 5/8

April 3, 2014

Portland Ovations, in collaboration with the USM School of Music and American Opera Projects, Brooklyn, NY, presents the world premiere of The Summer King, an Opera on the Life of Josh Gibson, at Merrill Auditorium on Thursday, May 8th at 7:30 pm. The Summer King, composed by Portland resident Daniel Sonenberg, features a talented cast known for their performances around the world. The May 8th concert, an Ovations commission, is The Summer King‘s world premiere.

Daniel Sonenberg, associate professor and resident composer at USM, and a lifelong baseball fan, was drawn to the heartbreaking saga of Negro League ball and became especially interested in the great catcher Josh Gibson. The Summer King portrays the injustice Gibson suffered at the hands of baseball’s “Gentlemen’s Agreement” and also the thriving culture, characterized by black-owned teams, stadiums and taverns, nightlife and humor.

Sonenberg-5Composer Daniel Sonenberg

The cast – which includes singers and instrumentalists based in New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Maine, Brussels and Frankfurt – is led by maestro Steven Osgood, an assistant conductor at The Metropolitan Opera. Osgood also created and was artistic director for American Opera Project’s nationally recognized Composers & the Voice Workshop Series, where the first scene of The Summer King had its beginnings. Working closely with Osgood, Chicago native Lemuel Wade is directing the presentation. Wade brings an international, critically acclaimed career as a singer/dancer to his craft as a stage director.

gibsonpaintingStephen Salters, baritone, who has performed throughout Europe, the UK, Asia and the United States, will perform the role of Josh Gibson. Salters, who currently resides in Belgium, is well known to Boston audiences especially for his work in a variety of musical mediums including recital, oratorio, opera and orchestra soloist. Salters created the title role in Elena Ruehr’s Toussaint Before the Spirits for Opera Boston. He has also appeared at Tanglewood Opera National in Bordeaux.

Lori-Kaye Miller, mezzo-soprano, has performed with New York City Opera, and made her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist with the New England Symphony Ensemble. Miller will perform the roles of Grace – Gibson’s lover in later years – as well as the Elder Barber’s Wife. Miller currently lives in Germany and is coming to the US specifically for the premiere presentation.

Kenneth Kellogg, bass, who has performed with Washington National Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and San Francisco Opera, will perform the role of Sam Bankhead, Gibson’s friend and teammate.

Supporting cast includes Jorell Willams as Younger Barber and Cool Papa Bell; Larry D. Hylton as Elder Barber and Gus Greenlee; Rishi Rane as Wendell Smith; Patrick Miller as Radio Announcer, Clark Griffith and Branch Rickey; Christian Figueroa as Scribe and Alcalde; Candice Hoyes as Helen Gibson and Hattie; Kyle Guglielmo as Calvin Griffith; Martin Bakari as Trash Talking Player and Double Duty Radcliffe.

Maine-based singers include the revered Malcolm Smith as Commissioner Landis; Virgil Bozeman as Judy Johnson; and Matthew LaBarge, Aaren Rivard and Joshua Witham as Mariachi Singers.

The Orchestra musicians reside in Maine, with the exception of Greg Simonds, who lives in Massachusetts. Over half of the musicians are on faculty at the University of Southern Maine. The Orchestra includes: Krysia Tripp, flute and piccolo; Thomas Parchman, clarinet, eb and bass clarinet; Barry Saunders, soprano and tenor saxophone; Wren Saunders, Bassoon and Contra Bassoon; Sophie Flood, horn; Elizabeth Rines, trumpet; Mark Tipton, trumpet; Tom Michaud, bass trombone; Greg Simonds, percussion; John Mehrmann, percussion; Anastasia Antonacos, piano; Robert Lehmann, violin; Ferdinand Liva, violin; Kimberly Lehmann, viola; Benjamin Noyes, cello; George Calvert, bass; Don Pride, guitar.

Two Maine choirs, Vox Nova Chamber Choir and the Boy Singers of Maine, will also perform in The Summer King. Vox Nova Chamber Choir, conducted by Dr. Shannon M. Chase, is comprised of 36-40 mixed voices from the Midcoast and Southern Maine musical communities. The Boy Singers of Maine Concert Choir, directed by Jesse Wakeman, consists of boys from Southern Maine who range in age from 8 through 14.

Tickets for The Summer King range from $32 to $38 for Ovations’ Members and $35 to $42 for the general public. A limited number of student tickets are available for $10. To purchase tickets visit www.portlandovations.org, call PortTIX at 207.842.0800 or go to the box office window at Merrill Auditorium.

Support for The Summer King is generously provided by the Center for Cultural Exchange Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Maine Arts Commission, Fund for Performing Arts in Maine of the Maine Community Foundation, the Composer Assistance Program of New Music USA, and Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust. The Summer King is commissioned by Portland Ovations.


AOP C&V Alums: Proving that “music career” is not an oxymoron

March 27, 2014

Perla. Vrebalov. Redler & Cooper. Karlsson.

What do these five names all have in common? (Well, besides making great names for law firms, super-spies, or swanky bars.)

Answer: They all participated in AOP’s Composers & the Voice! Our C&V artists are everywhere, utilizing the irreplaceable skills they learned during C&V’s one-year intensive in how to write for the operatic voice.

To name a few (or rather, several):

Jack Perla’s (C&V ‘07-08) new opera Jonah and the Whale premiered at LA Opera this past weekend, and this Friday Alexandra Vrebalov (C&V ’02-03) kicks off Kronos Quartet’s 40th Anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall.

C&V alums Mikael Karlsson, Sara Cooper, and Zach Redler failed to win any medals at Sochi this year and will have to be satisfied with their music prizes.

C&V alums Mikael Karlsson, Sara Cooper, and Zach Redler failed to win any medals at Sochi this year and will have to be satisfied with their music prizes.

Zach Redler and Sara Cooper were awarded the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant while their fellow C&V ‘11-12 alum Mikael Karlsson picked up the Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Rounding out C&V ’11-12 is Ronnie Reshef, who won the Yardena Alotin Composition Competition for her 2010 piece Suicide (after Grosz), and Robert Paterson, whose robot-opera The Companion is debuting at Roulette this April…not to be confused with Rachel Peters’ baguette-opera Companionship, which just finished at the Manhattan School of Music, and has a reading at the John Duffy Composers Institute this May. Ronnie and Rob also turn up at Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers festival with two C&V-developed works, also in May.

An early AOP workshop of The Summer King, held on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. Daniel Sonenberg's opera has its concert premiere in May.

An early AOP workshop of The Summer King, held on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. Daniel Sonenberg’s opera has its concert premiere in May. Indoors, even! Progress!

And in case your May isn’t busy enough, Daniel Sonenberg’s (C&V ’02-03) The Summer King gets its world premiere at Portland Ovations. In late April, Hannah Lash’s (C&V ’05-06) This Ease premieres with the LA Chamber Orchestra.

Last month, Andrew Staniland (C&V ’07-08) won the 2014 Harry Freedman Recording Award. In the past year, Gregory Spears’s (C&V ’07-08) opera Paul’s Case has had three different runs (Pittsburgh Opera, PROTOTYPE, and Urban Arias). Stefan Weisman’s (C&V ’03-04) family opera The Scarlet Ibis is slated for PROTOTYPE 2015.

The latest group of composers who will be filling up your concert calendar. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky.

The latest group of composers who will be filling up your concert calendar. Photo by Ted Gorodetzky.

From this year’s class of super-composers, Gity Razaz was awarded the 2013 Jerome Fund Prize for her concert length vocal piece Abraham in Flames/Elegies of the Earth, which will be presented by VisionIntoArt at The Stone this May. Guy Barash released his debut album Facts About Water on innova recordings. Joseph Rubinstein will have select choral pieces available through See-A-Dot Music Publishing in the coming months.

Not to mention that Jason Kim (C&V ’13-14 librettist) was hired to write for HBO’s Girls, and Daniel Felsenfeld (C&V ’06-07) has worked with everyone from writers Robert Coover, Will Eno, and Wesley Stace to hip-hoppers Jay-Z and The Roots…with those trail-blazing ladies Nora and Alice thrown in there for good measure.

This is just a fraction of our alums’ successes. And that’s not even counting the dozens of operas and concerts that our Resident Singers appear in every month! (Trust us, that would be one crazy calendar.)

This is the future of new music. You heard it here first, and here’s where you can hear it next.


Virgin Mothers and Sex Robots Perform Operas at Brooklyn’s Roulette

March 20, 2014

AME.AOP.EHM-Two-Operas-700X300-dpi

American Opera Projects (AOP) in partnership with American Modern Ensemble (AME) and presented by Ear Heart Music (EHM), performs “The Wanton Sublime & The Companion”, a pair of one-act chamber operas, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 8:00 PM, at Roulette (509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY). Tickets: $20 general; $15 members/seniors. Roulette.org

The Wanton Sublime, from composer Tarik O’Regan, librettist Anna Rabinowitz and commissioned by AOP,  explores the human and mythic aspects of the Virgin Mary. In this one-act monodrama for mezzo-soprano and amplified chamber ensemble, Mary struggles to retain her flesh and blood identity in the face of external forces intent on symbolizing her as the ideal woman. Featuring mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn under the direction of Mallory Catlett. This 30 minute monodrama is being developed through the AOP First Chance program and was last seen at Opera New Jersey in 2012.

Says Anna Rabinowitz, “The Virgin Mary comes down to us through western cultural history as the eternal feminine, exemplar of woman as gentle and compliant. The vehicle through which she has been known may be theology, but, as the dominant female in our culture, many of the characteristics of her womanhood are today in conflict with powerful social and political issues of gender. In The Wanton Sublime, Mary is a woman who, in the face of the destiny presented to her, occupies an interior world rife with questions rather than received answers. She is troubled, anxious, ambiguous, aware of her rights or lack thereof.”

In The Companion, a futuristic one-act opera by composer Robert Paterson and librettist David Cote, people live with biomorphic androids that cook, clean, and make love on demand. Maya is not completely satisfied with her model so she calls in tech-support worker Dax. But can Maya handle Joe 2.0? Featuring soprano Nancy Allen Lundy, tenor Brandon Snook, and baritone Kyle Guglielmo under the direction of Walker Lewis. The 35 minute opera is the second act of an Il trittico-style evening called Three Way. Both The Companion and its preceding act Safe Word were developed during Robert Paterson’s 2011-12 fellowship in AOP’s Composers & the Voice program.

Brandon Snook performs an aria from The Companion. Composers & the Voice 2012.

Says David Cote, “The Companion is the second act of an opera triptych about sexuality and power called Three Way. Clearly The Companion is science fiction, but who doubts that society is headed this way? In the piece, I wanted to tell a funny yet strange story about obsession, detachment and projection. Technology enables Maya’s quest for perfect love, even as it reflects the absurdity of that quest back at her. Dax knows how robots work, but people are a dark mystery. Joe has amazing perceptual and cognitive powers, but he lacks emotional integration. Whether that makes him more human or less is an open question.”

These semi-staged premieres, featuring the American Modern Ensemble with Tyson Deaton, conductor, will be presented with an intermission. The author A.M. Homes, best known for her novel The End of Alice and her memoir, The Mistress’s Daughter, moderates a mid-concert discussion with fellow Yaddo artists Mallory Catlett, Walker Lewis, Tarik O’Regan, Robert Paterson, and Anna Rabinowitz, as well as David Cote.

READ THE COMPLETE PRESS RELEASE

For press inquiries: Sarah Baird Knight | sarah@dotdotdotmusic.net | t. 718/344-3690 | www.dotdotdotmusic.net


AOP First Chance previews new opera “COMPANIONSHIP” at Manhattan School of Music and Cornelia Street Café

March 5, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, 718-398-4024, mgray@operaprojects.org

Peters Rachel2Composer Rachel Peters; photo by Luke Redmond

EXCERPTS BY COMPOSER RACHEL PETERS FEATURES STUDENT CAST, ARTIST DISCUSSION

BROOKLYN, NY, 3/5/2014 – On March 16 at 2:30PM, American Opera Projects (AOP) First Chance, public presentations of operas-in-progress, returns to the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) for their annual Opera Index series “New American Opera Previews, From Page to Stage” with scenes from Companionship, a new opera by composer Rachel Peters. Tickets for the MSM performance at Greenfield Hall (120 Claremont Ave., NYC 10027) are $20 ($15 advance, $10 Student/senior) and available by calling 212-706-9550. On March 24 at 8:30PM, an encore concert presentation will be held at Cornelia Street Café (29 Cornelia Street, New York, NYC 10014) as part of the “Otherwise Unsung” series featuring creators of new music-theatre joining forces to deliver contemporary arias and scenes. Tickets for the Cornelia Street Café performance are $10.00 cover plus $10.00 minimum and available by calling 212-989-9319.

Adapted from the short story by Arthur Phillips, Companionship is a dark comedy about a troubled baker on an “all-consuming” quest to create the perfect baguette when the 207,345th loaf comes to life. Directed by Lemuel Wade (AOP’s recent Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom), the excerpts will feature performances by MSM student singers Noragh Devlin, Lesley Dolman, Stephanie Jabre, Matilyn Obregón, and Xiaoming Tian, with Scott Rednour on piano. A talkback with the artists, hosted by former WQXR host Midge Woolsey, will follow the March 16 performance.

Companionship was developed by Ms. Peters in AOP’s Composers & the Voice (C&V) composer training program in 2011-2012 and will be AOP’s 10th collaboration with MSM’s Opera Studies department (Gordon Ostrowski, Asst. Dean) and New American Opera Previews, From Page to Stage. Previous C&V works at MSM have included Jack Perla’s Love/Hate (2012 premiere, ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera), Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case (world premiere, UrbanArias (2013) and PROTOtype Festival (Jan 2014)), and Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King (concert premiere, PortlandOvations, May 2014).

In September C&V fellows will present an operatic concert of “Six Scenes” at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. One of these C&V-developed opera scenes will be selected to be performed at MSM for the March 2015 “Page to Stage” series. C&V Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Victor Herbert Foundation in Memory of Lois C. Schwartz.

Rachel Peters’ operas include The Wild Beast of the Bungalow (Hartford Opera Theater, upcoming workshop with Center for Contemporary Opera), and Monkey Do (Rhymes With Opera). Musicals include Only Children (NYU Tisch Mainstage, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Dixon Place), Tiny Feats of Cowardice (Adirondack Theatre Festival, HERE), Write Left (Playwrights Horizons Theatre School), Tomato Red (UC Irvine), Octopus Heart (NYU Steinhardt), f2m, and Public Domain. More info at www.racheljpeters.com.

About American Opera Projects (AOP)

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has produced over 20 world premieres including most recently Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013 and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed premieres include Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), This Is the Rill Speaking at Opera Memphis (2013). Upcoming: AOP-commissioned The Wanton Sublime and The Companion at Roulette (April 2014) and As One at BAM, September 2014. http://www.operaprojects.org

© Copyright 2014 American Opera Projects, Inc. All rights reserved.


AOP Receives Matching Kickstarter Donation For Abolitionist Music-Theater Festival

February 14, 2014

LoF banner

February 13, 2014

(New York, NY) AOP has received a dollar-to-dollar matching contribution from an anonymous donor during the last week of its Kickstarter campaign for Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, in rep at the Irondale Center this spring as part of the Lines of Freedom Festival. With less than five days to go, the campaign is still accepting donations for the chamber version World Premiere of Nkeiru Okoye’s acclaimed folk opera. The campaign has already garnered attention from media sources including an article in the New Yorker. AOP has previously had successful Kickstarter campaigns for its premiere production of Phil Kline’s Out Cold at BAM and the Composers & the Voice (C&V) concert series.

Funds for the Lines of Freedom Kickstarter go “directly to our creators -  composer, Nkeiru Okoye, our hardworking casts of actors and singers, talented instrumentalists from the Harlem Chamber Orchestra, local chorus members, and technical artists” as well as to subsidize additional performances for local students.

To make a contribution, please go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1518219023/lines-of-freedom/posts/744952

The Lines of Freedom Festival will take place at the Irondale Center from February 20 to March 1, 2014. Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom will be performed on February 21, 27, and March 1 at 7:30pm, and Feburary 22 at 3pm. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors and $15 for the matinee performance. For more information, please go to http://irondale.org/LinesOfFreedom.html


INSIDE Composers & the Voice – January 13th, Part II

February 14, 2014
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Composers & the Voice 2013-2014, Rachel Calloway

This week I was most struck by how perceptions about ourselves as artists – whether performing, creative, or both, led to differing reactions to music.

We began Monday’s session by hearing Deborah Lifton sing a new work by Guy Barash – and she did a fantastic job with Guy’s microtones! Having been nervous about this new challenge, it was amazing to hear how beautifully Deborah incorporated these pitches into the line, and how as listeners, we simply perceive these challenging pitches as part of the melodic line. Since I sing a fair amount of music in varying tuning systems both as a soloist and with my ensemble Ekmeles, I am constantly aware of how listeners are comfortable with, and open to, various tonalities and tuning systems… fascinating, particularly considering how hard we performers work to make this type of intonation as accurate as possible.

C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood

C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood

An intriguing conversation ensued about balance- particularly how composers translate what will be an orchestral or chamber piece to the piano. Some composers discussed how the balance of what we hear in the C & V sessions is not what they have in mind for the final piece, which may be scored for singer and orchestra or chamber ensemble. [C&V Artistic Director] Steve Osgood also raised the point of how we must ensure that the audience perceives big orchestral moments in which the singer is intentionally covered as purposeful, rather than an oversight in the balance. As singers it is difficult to know at times whether we’re being covered by the ensemble or riding above it, and we rely completely on the ears of others to make this distinction. Our entire sense of our voices in regard to balance is difficult to gauge.

Another interesting dialogue arose in regard to text, and our impression of both comprehension and diction.  Some in our group are foreign-born or non-native English speakers. Andreia Pinto-Correira raised a question about a particular word which she thought may be difficult to pronounce, but Dominic Armstrong clarified, saying that the word was not an issue for him. Kelly Horsted raised the point of syllabification in Jeremy Gill’s piece. A word which perhaps seemed strangely notated in the score, upon first glance, was actually more comprehensible due to Jeremy’s setting. During Matt Burn’s performance of Joseph Rubinstein’s piece, we again discussed the particular setting of a word and how it might be perceived as another word altogether.

This idea of how things seem continues to intrigue me, in new music most of all. We are constantly engrossed by our sense of self, of who we are as singers, musicians, people. When we perform, our perception of our strengths and weaknesses plays out in all kinds of curious combinations, all of which make our work what it is. And in a premiere, this self awareness contributes to what will be the very first hearing of a new piece of music. On Monday night I was yet again moved by the talents, openness and support in our C & V group. When our personal perceptions lead us to doubt our abilities and performances, this positive and warm environment helps us find our footing and create the best of which we are capable.

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” ―C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

-Rachel Calloway


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