AOP Awards Fellowships to Ten Composers And Librettists For Free Training In Opera Composition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director, 718-398-4024, mgray@operaprojects.org
Press material is available at: www.operaprojects.org/press

July 21, 2015

BROOKLYN’S AOP AWARDS FELLOWSHIPS TO TEN COMPOSERS AND LIBRETTISTS FOR FREE TRAINING IN OPERA COMPOSITION

FELLOWS WILL STUDY FOR NINE MONTHS WITH PROFESSIONAL OPERA SINGERS, INSTRUCTORS, MENTORS

EIGHTH SEASON OF TRAINING PROGRAM “COMPOSERS & THE VOICE” TO BEGIN IN SEPTEMBER

BROOKLYN, NY – AOP (American Opera Projects) and Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood have selected six composers and four librettists to receive fellowships for its upcoming eighth cycle of Composers & the Voice. The 2015-2017 season will include composers Matthew Barnson, Carlos R. Carrillo, Nell Shaw Cohen, Marc LeMay, Cecilia Livingston, and Sky Macklay and librettists Edward Einhorn, Duncan McFarlane, Emily Roller, and Mark Sonnenblick. The primary focus of Composers & the Voice is to give emerging composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage.

The two-year fellowships, made possible through a generous grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, include a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships.

Comprised of one each of the basic operatic/vocal categories, the singers for the upcoming C&V season will be coloratura soprano Tookah Sapper, lyric soprano Jennifer Goode Cooper, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, tenor Blake Friedman, baritone Michael Weyandt and bass-baritone Jonathan Woody. The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, Kelly Horsted, and Charity Wicks to collaborate on creating new material by the composer and librettist fellows.

YEAR ONE FELLOWSHIP

The Composers & the Voice workshop sessions between September 2015 and April 2016, include composition of solo works for the six voice types. 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.

YEAR TWO FELLOWSHIP

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.

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).

HISTORY OF COMPOSERS & THE VOICE

“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.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 44 composers & librettists including Stefan Weisman (The Scarlet Ibis, PROTOTYPE Festival, 2015), Hannah Lash (Aspen Music Festival), Aleksandra Vrebalov (Mileva, Serbian National Theater), and Vivian Fung (2013 Juno Award “Classical Composition of the Year”). Alumni works that went through AOP’s opera development program and continued to a world premiere include Paul’s Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), and Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla). A complete list of alumni can be found at www.aopopera.org/composers_voice.

“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.

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.

SUPPORT

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its support of AOP’s Composers & the Voice program through 2016 as part of a multi-year grant award, which also covers artistic personnel and other program activities. The Victor Herbert Foundation will sponsor one fellow’s expenses for travel and costs of preparing and producing scenes with The Victor Herbert Foundation Composers & the Voice Chair, created in memory of longtime opera supporter and former AOP board member, Lois C. Schwartz.

COMPOSER AND LIBRETTIST FELLOW BIOS

Composers

Matthew Barnson is the composer of numerous works for orchestras, choirs, string quartets, voices, chamber ensembles, dancers, and computers.  An assistant professor of composition at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he has received fellowships, commissions, and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center, the Aldeburgh Festival, the Royal Academy of Music, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, ISCM World Music Days, MATA, Wigmore Hall, Aspen, the San Francisco War Memorial and other venues throughout the United States and Europe. His album of string quartets, Sibyl Tones, was released on Tzadik in 2014. He lives in New York.

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, composer Carlos R. Carrillo is the recipient of numerous awards including the Bearns Prize, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI and ASCAP awards. He has been commissioned by Music and the Anthology for the Da Capo Chamber Players, the New York Youth Symphony, Concert Artists Guild and the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association. Dr. Carrillo holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM), Yale University (MM) and the University of Pennsylvania (PhD). He is Assistant Professor of Composition-Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. www.music.illinois.edu/faculty/carlos-carrillo

Nell Shaw Cohen’s lyrically expressive, visually evocative music has been performed by The JACK Quartet, WordSong, and members of The Chelsea Symphony and A Far Cry. In 2014, Cohen served as NYU Symphony Composer-in-Residence and her monodrama The Coming of Spring received a workshop staging at Provincetown Playhouse in NYC. A multidisciplinary artist, she frequently integrates her music with video and installations for web & mobile. Cohen has collaborated with The Peabody Essex Museum and Parrish Art Museum to present her music inspired by art. As founder of composers’ network and publication LandscapeMusic.org, she advocates for music that engages with nature and place. Cohen (b. 1988), M.M. New York University, B.M. New England Conservatory, has studied with Herschel Garfein, Michael Gandolfi, Missy Mazzoli, and Julia Wolfe. www.nellshawcohen.com

Marc LeMay is a composer based in Philadelphia, where he is a Doctoral Fellow in Composition at the University of Pennsylvania. Marc’s career as a composer has spanned a variety of media, from works for solo instruments and chamber ensembles to pieces for singers, choir, orchestra, and electroacoustic forces. A frequent collaborator, he has also written extensively for dance, theatre, film, art installations, and interactive media. His wide-ranging interests include philosophy, pop culture, words, maps, ritual, spirituality, and social issues; these interests continue to inform and influence his music. Upcoming projects will focus on works for the opera stage. http://www.marclemaymusic.com

Cecilia Livingston is known across Canada and the US for intensely dramatic chamber and vocal music, Cecilia Livingston explores memory, place, childhood, and solitude in a lush yet spare musical language that reveals the strange made familiar and the familiar made strange. A 2014 Composition Fellow at Bang On a Can’s Summer Music Festival, her music has been heard at the 21C Music Festival, World Choral Games (Latvia), Eastman’s Women In Music Festival, Vancouver International Song Institute, Scotia Festival of Music, ACDA’s Summer Choral Composers Forum, Tapestry Opera’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory, Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop, and on tour in Canada with The Bicycle Opera Project. She lives in Toronto.  www.cecilialivingston.com

Sky Macklay is a composer, oboist, and multimedia artist originally from Minnesota and now based in NYC. Her recent projects include a piece for Spektral Quartet’s Comic Cadences album (Many Many Cadences), a sonic and kinetic installation of harmonica-playing inflatable sculptures (Harmonibots), and new works for ICE and the New York Virtuoso Singers. Her orchestral piece, Dissolving Bands, was commissioned by the Lexington (MA) Symphony and was the winner of the 2013 Leo Kaplan award from ASCAP. Sky is pursuing her DMA in composition at Columbia University and is on the faculty of The Walden School Young Musicians Program.

Librettists

Edward Einhorn is a director, playwright, librettist, and novelist. Among his work: plays about neurology; adaptations of sci-fi novels; translations of plays written in French, Czech, and ancient Greek; puppet theater; modern Oz novels; explorations of economic theory; autobiographical found text explorations; midrashim on Jewish cultural icons; and picture books about math. Recently, he has worked at HERE, La MaMa, 3LD Art & Technology Center, The New Ohio, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Walter Bruno Theater at Lincoln Center, The Brick, and the Czech Embassy. The New York Times has called his work “exquisitely ingenious”, “dramatically shrewd,” and “almost unbearably funny”.

Duncan McFarlane studies and teaches satire, writes lyrics and libretti as asked, and denies that brevity’s wit’s soul.

Emily Roller is the librettist for Esther and Teach for A While, which received readings in the 2015 Thesis Reading Series at NYU. She is also the author of The Alloway Files (New Stein Publishing House),Hookers, Flankers, and Locks (Bare Knuckles Press), and many short pieces for the page and the stage. She is a graduate of Yale, the MA in Writing program at Johns Hopkins, and the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU Tisch. She lives in Brooklyn and blogs at www.ejroller.com.

Mark Sonnenblick writes words and music. As playwright, lyricist, and/or composer: Independents (“Best Production” FringeNYC, NYTimes “Critics’ Pick”), Ship Show (Yale Institute for Music Theatre), Stompcat in Lawndale (Ars Nova), Wheel of Misfortune (Denver Center for the Performing Arts), Rodman in North Korea (Houghton Lyric Theater), and Bunkerville (Yale DRAMAT). Mark has been a composer fellow at the John Duffy Institute (Virginia Arts Festival), a member of the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project, and a finalist for the Kleban Prize. Currently, Mark is a Dramatists Guild fellow and a librettist for the Kennedy Center’s American Opera Initiative. www.marksonnenblick.com

Bios of C&V singers and music directors available at http://bit.ly/1JeFmE5

ABOUT THE PRODUCER

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for over 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 25 world premieres, most recently Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (2014), Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (2014), and Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (2013), a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Weisman/Rabinowitz’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers:  Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at UrbanArias (2013) and PROTOtype Festival (Jan 2014), Kamran Ince’s Judgment of Midas at Milwaukee Opera Theatre (2013), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera (2012), 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) and Opera Parallèle (2015, San Francisco), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), Huang Ruo’s Paradise Interrupted at Spoleto Festival USA (2015). http://www.aopopera.org

UPCOMING in 2015: Hagoromo at BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival, As One at West Edge Opera (Berkeley, CA) and UrbanArias (Arlington, VA).

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One Response to AOP Awards Fellowships to Ten Composers And Librettists For Free Training In Opera Composition

  1. […] out AOP’s official announcement to learn more about C&V and the accomplished group of artists I’ll have the […]

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