American Opera Projects (AOP) announces the return of its popular Composers & the Voice program for its 2015-17 seasons. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, composers, librettists, and composer/librettist teams will be selected for a two-year fellowship that includes a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. All sessions will be at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Applications and complete information will be available beginning March 16 at www.operaprojects.org/composers_voice. The deadline for applications is May 15 with fellowships announced by July 1.
The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and opera stage. The workshop sessions between September 2015 and April 2016, include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and bass). In addition, over 45 hours of “Skill-Building Sessions” for composers and librettists will provide an in-depth and firsthand knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes and sing text. These will include acting courses by director Pat Diamond (Wolf Trap, The Aspen Music Festival), theatrical improvisation led by Terry Greiss (co-founder and Executive Director, Irondale Ensemble Project), and a new extended course in libretto development designed by librettist Mark Campbell (Silent Night, The Manchurian Candidate, As One).
“I can think of no better forum for a composer with a passion for learning the traditions of so-called progressive American opera theater than AOP’s program,” said opera composer and guest C&V instructor Daron Hagen.
Past “Composer Chairs,” sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice, have included composers John Corigliano, Daron Hagen, Jake Heggie, Lee Hoiby, Libby Larsen, John Musto, Tobias Picker, Kaija Saariaho, Tan Dun and composer-librettist Stephen Schwartz.
At the end of the workshop sessions, AOP will present the results of the participants’ work in public performances – First Glimpse, a concert of songs in Spring 2016, and Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes in Fall 2016.
Following the Six Scenes performances, Composers & the Voice enters its second year of its two-year cycle and focuses on the development and further promotion of the Fellows’ C&V-created works. This includes potential workshops and presentations in AOP “First Chance” opera development program as well as concert series that have included partnerships with Opera Memphis, Phoenix Concerts, Opera on Tap, and Two Sides Sounding, to name a few.
Select C&V operas-in-progress will receive staged readings in 2017 through a twelve-year AOP partnership with The Manhattan School of Music (www.msmnyc.edu) and a new affiliation with The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music (www.schoolofmusic.ucla.edu). These readings using student performers provide continued development of C&V projects while serving to introduce contemporary opera to students. 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).
The second year of the cycle will also include a new partnership with The Hermitage Artist Retreat (http://hermitageartistretreat.org) that nurtures creativity in mid-career writers, painters, poets, playwrights, composers, translators, sculptors, and artists. A C&V Fellow (or Fellowship team) will be selected to receive a 6-week residency to continue opera development at the Hermitage’s Florida estate. AOP artists who have been in residence at The Hermitage include Laura Kaminsky (As One), Mark Campbell (As One), Phil Kline (Out Cold), Lera Auerbach (The Blind), and Huang Ruo (Paradise interrupted).
Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 44 composers & librettists. Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), and The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE 2015, Stefan Weisman).
Past AOP Composers & the Voice Fellows have received grants and honors from the following organizations: Aaron Copland Fund for Music, ASCAP, BMI, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum, OPERA America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, the Fulbright Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Douglas Moore Fellowship, Tapestry New Opera Works, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, New Dramatists, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its support of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program through 2016 as part of a two hundred thousand ($200,000) multi-year grant award, which also covers artistic personnel and other program activities.
During his tenure as Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008), Steven Osgood created Composers & the Voice, and conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper and Wende Persons’ Patience & Sarah at the Lincoln Center Festival, and Janice Hamer and Mary Azrael’s Lost Childhood at the International Vocal Arts Institute (Tel Aviv). He has also conducted premieres by Laura Kaminsky (As One), Stefan Weisman (The Scarlet Ibis), Kamala Sankaram (Thumbprint), Jonathan Sheffer (Blood on the Dining Room Floor), Tan Dun (Peony Pavilion), Xenakis (Oresteia), Missy Mazzoli (Song from the Uproar), Mohammed Fairouz (Sumeida’s Song), and Daron Hagen (Little Nemo in Slumberland). He has served on the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006. Upcoming productions include Glory Denied (Opera Memphis), Three Decembers (Atlanta Opera), and The Long Walk (world premiere, Opera Saratoga).