Composer and American Opera Projects founding board member Richard “Dick” Peaslee passed away on August 20 at his home in Seattle, WA at the age of 86, due to complications from MS. An award winning composer, Dick’s honors include The American Academy of Arts and Letters Marc Blitzstein Award, an Obie, a Villager Award, and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He earned degrees from Yale University and The Juilliard School, and his teachers included Nadia Boulanger and William Russo.
AOP premiered his opera Sir Gawain the Green Knight in October 2001 at TADA!, and has performed his songs on concert programs. Dick donated the piano AOP uses at its Fort Greene home base; because of his generosity thousands of people have enjoyed music at our South Oxford Space. On October 16th, there will be a celebration of his life in Seattle, and another in New York at a later date to be announced.
AOP General Director Charles Jarden writes, “Dick was a huge influence on me and others about the way AOP still operates, especially our workshopping process. Dick was an advocate for libretto development ahead of music being written and the work’s stage-worthiness being addressed by the creative team. I was lucky enough to visit Dick and Dixie in Seattle and was touched because of the enormous mutual respect and love, which lit up that couple’s life…two artists (Dixie is a painter) in an inspiring close relationship.”
AOP Photo Gallery: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2001 World Premiere: