Composers and the Voice 2011/12 – Workshop Day 1

And they’re off!  Monday, September 12 was the first day of the Composers & the Voice 2011/12 Workshop Series, and it was a long invigorating day.  More on that below.  This blog post, and the ones that will follow more or less every 2 weeks, are intended to serve two purposes.  First, they will provide an ongoing forum for discussion and reflection by the 8 Composer and Librettist Fellows, as well as the Artistic Team— a place where ideas and questions that came up during the workshop session can be investigated further.  Second, these blog postings will provide the greater AOP family, and new opera enthusiasts everywhere, a glimpse into our workshop room.

The workshop day began at 3:00 with a quick orientation session, but then dove right into the fray with the first of our 9 Improvisation and Theater Games sessions, led by Terry Greiss of the Irondale Ensemble.  I first met Terry 23 years ago (yikes!) when I began a semester-long internship with Irondale– the final part of my undergrad degree at Drew University.  I ended up working with Irondale for close to 5 years, and so much of what I learned through my immersion in the company’s use of improv and theater games as tools for generating theatrical material, as well as building strong cooperative teams, continues to have a profound influence on my day to day work today.

In Monday’s 2-hour session Terry led us through the following games:

Terry Greiss

Instructor Terry Greiss leads an improv session while composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood listen.

Zip Zap Zop

Mind Twist

Chair Tumble

One Word Story

One Word Fairy Tale

String of Pearls

Upside Down Drawing

One Word Letters/Scenes

Tell Me about the Time

My advice to the Composer/Librettist Fellows going into this course of Improv study was to dive in, play the games, and not to worry about how this all relates to the writing process.  It was great fun to sink into the high-energy full body challenge of Zip Zap Zop, and Mind Twist.  I found Chair Tumble to be an intriguing look at how difficult it is to TRULY risk falling down.  One Word Story, One Word Fairy Tales, and String of Pearls had our group of 10, who had just met an hour earlier, building stories together with the freedom to respond intuitively.  I think I was messing with the CD player when Terry was giving instructions to Upside Down Drawing.  While everyone else copied surprisingly skilled portraits of Igor Stravinsky, I was having a blast more or less coloring mine in.  Ah well….  One Word Letters/Scenes and Tell Me about the Time got us all out of our heads, and investigating a greater freedom of telling a story.

Soprano Andrea Arias-Martin sings

Soprano Andrea Arias-Martin sings for the 2011-12 composers & librettists.

After the dinner break we were joined by the Music Directors and Singers who we will be working with throughout the season.  Each of the singers had about 25 minutes to sing and dissect three arias that they feel are perfectly suited to their particular voice.  I love this session, and the look it gives into how each singer approaches singing, how difficult it can be to express in words this most elusive of physical acts, and how wonderfully these particular singers can articulate the process.  It is the crash-course part of Composers & the Voice, after which things relax a little as each composer gets to write for the singers one by one.  Once 10:00 rolled around, it was time for a glass or two of Riesling.

Next Session– September 26.  Just composers and librettists.  Improv 2, and Acting 1.

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5 Responses to Composers and the Voice 2011/12 – Workshop Day 1

  1. I had a great time with all of you. Ethiopian dinner, improv games, 15 arias performed by killer singers and a room full of lovely strangers and future friends… I like those kinds of days. More please. Can’t wait to hear the music that will come out of this.

  2. Robert Paterson says:

    It was so wonderful to meet all of you, and I really look forward to experiencing everyone’s work!

  3. Ronnie Reshef says:

    And I thought it’s the girls power!

  4. Rachel Peters says:

    I must confess that I was Zip Zap Zop champion of my acting class for an entire year in college. Clearly it’s carried me far!

  5. Ronnie Reshef says:

    Hello all!

    I would just like to say that it was wonderful to meet all this season’s C&V participants! Was great to loosen up and do the impro games with Terry. Listening to the singers was a pleasure and a very educating experience – thank you all for all these goodies!

    The day after I met my wonderful fun and kind co-composers, I was curious to learn the “real thing” about them – and went online to their websites, to listen to their music. How glad I was to find out that I really-truly-honestly love the music each of them does. I’m not always so easy to satisfy, and I found the listening both fun and inspiring. You’re really good, guys, and I’m glad and honored to share this exciting program with you.

    Okay – that’s about it for now.

    Steve – let me know if I wrote anything inappropriate for this forum – I did my best to be as polite as I can 🙂

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