INSIDE Composers & the Voice – December 16th

January 16, 2014
C&V composer banner FinbergComposers & the Voice 2013-2014, Composer Fellow, Avner Finberg

For us, the C&V composers, each night of performances is an exciting event. Not just because of the anticipation of hearing our own work, but because we know our fellow composers and performers will give us exciting performances that we can use to further understand the possibilities of writing for the voices. The workshop on December 16th was one of those nights, featuring six different arias, each with it’s own unique text, character and technical challenges.

The first aria was Bedroom, by Guy Barash. Baritone Jorell Williams performed the complex score admirably well, with a great deal of accuracy and virtuosity. The leaps into the very bottom of the vocal range, along with restless rhythm, present a restless image of a man who is brought to the brink of madness when he is locked out of his house.

AOP_0281

Bass-Baritone Matthew Burns sang my piece. The text for the aria “I don’t mind” is a personal view of a pedestrian of the gentrification of a neighbourhood in NYC, taken from the book Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. Matthew captured the irony of the text in his offbeat, informal performance.

The third piece of the evening was Jeremy Gill’s lyrical rendering of the poem Darest Thou O Soul by Walt Whitman. Jeremy’s neo-romantic score was sung by Soprano Deborah Lifton, who gave a splendid performance that brought out the beauty of the text with a clear and beautiful tone.

After a short break the evening continued with Andreia Pinto-Correia’s This Time. Andreia’s aria is a study of the character of Alia, one of the characters in her opera project. Mezzo-Soprano Rachel Calloway sang the aria with a beautiful, majestic tone. The next piece was Gity Razaz’s Kale Chips. This light-hearted piece utilizes text from a cooking blog, which comically praises the wonders of Kale Chips. Both Gity’s text and mine are in the category of “Found Text”, taken from everyday sources that are not poetic or dramatic, such as newspapers, interviews or assembly instructions. Bass-Baritone, Matthew Burns, sang this song as well.

The final aria of the evening was by our composer-librettist team, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim. Soprano Deborah Lifton sang the aria, A Letter to my Stepson in his Time of Grief. The text is adapted from Racine’s play Phedre, “A letter to my stepson in his time of grief”, in Jason’s words,  portrays a woman who confesses her love for her stepson after discovering that her husband has died. Joe’s music compliments the text with a virtuosic vocal line, and steady chords in the piano, that are well fitting for the text and it’s epic proportions.

The singers were accompanied by our wonderful pianists: Mila Henry for A Letter to my Stepson in his Time of Grief, Kelly Horsted for Bedroom, Darest Thou O Soul and Study on Alia, and Charity Wicks for I Don’t Mind and Kale Chips.

As always, we had an evening of exciting new vocal works in the C&V workshop, and I am already waiting in anticipation to hear the pieces in our next workshop on January 13th 2014.

-Avner Finberg

Advertisements

OPERAtion Brooklyn Takes a BEATing

August 24, 2012

This September, AOP (American Opera Projects) and Opera on Tap will present a new installment of their acclaimed series, “OPERAtion Brooklyn,” at the newly launched BEAT Festival. The festival, which aims to showcase Brooklyn’s most innovative and forward-thinking emerging artists in theater, dance and voice, will be held from September 12-23 with performances in venues throughout the borough. AOP and Opera on Tap will present progressive new works of opera in a casual setting on September 13th (Flatbush Reformed Church), 19th (Brooklyn Conservatory of Music), and 22nd (Irondale Center) at 7:30pm. “OPERAtion Brooklyn” will include the world premiere of Daniel Felsenfeld’s song cycle A Genuine Willingness to Help (Book 1), songs from One Ring Zero, and scenes from AOP’s series, Composers & the Voice. More information and tickets can be found at www.beatbrooklyn.com/opera/. The concerts will also be featured as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend Events.

Opera on Tap will present works for voice and chamber ensemble by resident Brooklyn composers Daniel Felsenfeld and the Brooklyn indie outfit One Ring Zero. The works will be conducted by Yoon Jae Lee, with Mila Henry on piano, and performances by sopranos Marcy Richardson, Delea Shand, and mezzo-soprano Kayleigh Butcher. The program will include a world premiere of Felsenfeld’s song cycle A Genuine Willingness to Help (Book I). Part of the composer’s “Author Project,” the work is comprised of songs set to varied and expressive texts by some of New York’s best young writers, including Jonathan Lethem, Fiona Maazel, and Rick Moody. Felsenfeld’s song cycle Raw Footage: Composer’s Cut (text from Robert Coover’s novel Lucky Pierre) will also be performed. In addition, the program will include four songs drawn from One Ring Zero’s album As Smart As We Are (The Author Project). These “mysterious pop songs,” arranged for piano and chamber ensemble by Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp, have been called “both haunting and entertaining” by The New Yorker and feature texts by Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and David Wondrich.

One Ring Zero

AOP will present two scenes rooted in contemporary conflicts – “Stop and Frisk” by composer Sidney Marquez Boquiren and librettist Daniel Neer and “Male Identity” by composer Zach Redler and librettist Sara Cooper – featuring performances by tenor Brandon Snook (Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Sarasota Opera) and baritone Jorell Williams (New York City Center Encores!, Caramoor International Music Festival, Ravinia Festival). Supporting on piano will be music directors Jeanne-Minette Cilliers and Mila Henry, with stage direction by Noah Himmelstein.

Image

Zach Redler and Sara Cooper at a Composers & the Voice workshop.

With their 30th birthdays on the horizon, three friends worry what kind of men they are becoming after three decades of pop culture consumption and father figure issues in the humorous “Male Identity.” In “Stop and Frisk, Joe and Sean, best friends and successful urban professionals, meet for an awkward lunch in the park and discuss the racial aftermath of Sean’s recent brush with police in a ‘Stop and Frisk’ search and investigation. “Stop and Frisk” is part of the opera-in-development Triptych in Grant Park.

The scenes were written as part of AOP’s free fellowship program Composers & the Voice (C&V) that provides composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with a group of singers on writing for the voice and the opera stage. In addition to the AOP training, distinguished composers Stephen Schwartz and Kaija Saariaho served as mentors to Zach & Sara and Sidney, respectively, in their official capacity as AOP Composer Chairs providing opportunities for discussion and one-on-one feedback.

Hailed as “a vital series” by TimeOut NY, “OPERAtion Brooklyn” is the partnership between Opera on Tap and American Opera Projects, two of Brooklyn’s most acclaimed producers of indie opera. The series aims to present the most daring of contemporary opera and song in a relaxed setting that encourages drinks and discussion as part of the new classical experience. Previously presented under the title Opera Grows in Brooklyn, the series premiered in March 2009 at Galapagos Art Space. The most recent collaboration, “Curioser & Curioser: An Opera-Burlesque Circus in Wonderland,” brought together the worlds of classical music and burlesque for a night of music and entertainment inspired by the tales of Alice in Wonderland. (www.operationbrooklyn.com)

The BEAT Festival aims to fill a void in Brooklyn’s performing arts community with a yearly fall festival showcasing the greatest works of Brooklyn’s finest performing artists. For its inaugural year, the BEAT festival has hand-picked the most innovative, forward-thinking of Brooklyn’s emerging artists including Lemon Andersen, Elevator Repair Service, Theater Group Dzieci, Creative Outlet Dance Theatre, Marshall Davis Jr., Ishmael “Ish” Islam, and many more all-star artists. “BEAT creates a platform to celebrate what is already here: extraordinary world-class performers who stand as the greatest innovators of the performing arts,” says festival artistic director Stephen Shelley. From September 12-23, artists will perform in venues throughout the borough.

For all BEAT performances, there will be general admission tickets available for $20, as well as tickets at the door that will be sold for a suggested donation of $20. For complete information and tickets visit www.beatbrooklyn.com .


Composers & the Voice – Session 4

October 28, 2011

Rob Paterson, Guest Blogger
Composers & the Voice composer, 2011-12

Last night we experienced another session of Composers & the Voice,  which consisted of an evening of improv with Terry Greiss from the Irondale Ensemble Project and acting with director Katherine Amshoff.

We spent the first two hours with Terry. He had all of us play games that encouraged us to open up and explore the space around us. I find the improv exercises very interesting and a lot of fun, but as Mikah mentioned in an earlier class, what I am most fascinated with is how this applies (or will eventually apply) to our craft as composers and librettists. Sometimes the benefits of these exercises are not explicit, but the more we explore, the more I understand how everything is somehow related. As a composer, I am used to being both a nerd and living a somewhat cloistered life, so these evenings can be a little scary for me, even though I am a pretty experienced performing musician. Acting and performing music are quite different from performing music on stage. However, I am gradually becoming more comfortable, and now looking forward to these workshops every few weeks.

C&V improv session

Zach, Mila, Daniel, Mikael, and Rob are gven a new improv exercise by Terry Greiss.

Many of Terry’s exercises explore quick interaction and reflexes. One particular exercise he had us do involved standing in a circle and quickly passing around words. There might be one word that you say to the person next to you, and another word that causes you to change direction. A third word might be reserved for saying to the person directly across from you in the circle. Each word triggers a different response. As a composer, what I find interesting is how this particular technique could be used for dramatic effect in a scene, and this whole experience demonstrated how quickly dialogue can move from one person to the next. This will be very useful to know when working with librettists.

Kathleen Amshoff’s assignment for the second half of the session was two-fold: first read a chapter from a book on action by Stanislavski, then develop our own three to five minute scene that demonstrated a common task. We witnessed Zach making tuna salad, Rachel folding laundry, Sidney riding the train, Sarah putting in her contacts, Mikah checking Facebook and drinking coffee and Ronnie making scrambled eggs for her child. Preparing food seemed like an easy way to demonstrate movement without much emotion, so my scene was making pancakes and being interrupted by a phone call.
As Steve Osgood mentioned earlier, It’s amazing how comfortable everyone seems, especially since we all have such diverse backgrounds. AOP did a great job bring together a wonderful group of people, and I am really looking forward to more improv and hearing everyone’s new work in future sessions.
Oct 25, 2011

in the mood for (MODEL) LOVE: a playlist

October 2, 2011

In honor of the MODEL LOVE premiere this evening, a playlist for your listening pleasure: eight songs that loosely line-up with their counterparts in our song cycle to help get you in the mood.  (Parental Advisory: Some songs contain explicit lyrics… but then again, so does MODEL LOVE.) Enjoy!

Andrew Bird “Imitosis

Sean Mullins “Light You Up

Tori Amos “Precious Things

Imelda May “Mayhem

Madeline Peyroux “Dance Me to the End of Love

Frightened Rabbit “The Twist

The Constellations “Perfect Day

Frightened Rabbit “Keep Yourself Warm

See you very soon,

Rose


hello, my name is Nora

September 30, 2011

If Nora Helmer were to write a personal ad, “Model Love” style, this is what we think it would sound like…

(with apologies to Henrik Ibsen and Will Eno)

hello, my name is Nora.  I need a moment plz…umm…I’m an orphn, &…I was a daughtr & a mothr…& a wife.  grr.  but I was NEVER  a philsopher.  I’m not very kind…or ladylike…hardly maternal, 2b honest.  I gues I’m not a warm person, but I hate the cold!  also hate pet names, like littl squirrel, littl turtldov…ugh.  not a fan of kittens & spaniels either (the pet names/ the pets).  but I could b ur littl animal…if u don’t mind a liar.  ::sigh:: I just wish we could talk.  if u don’t call me by the upcoming Sunday (10/2 at 4pm & 7:30pm), I’ll b frozen & dead.  xoxo, urs, Nora H.


Model Love

with
Nora, in the Great Outdoors

Sunday, October 2nd
4pm and 7:30pm
The Kaplan Penthouse, Lincoln Center
Click here for more info


Love by List: More on MODEL LOVE

September 23, 2011

This week, another round of changes on Facebook set that site’s social media community on edge. As FB members scramble to sort out how to turn off the ticker, the Model Lovelies have been forging ahead and I’m happy to say: we just keep getting better!

Sunday’s orchestra read-through went well. Up until now, we’ve had nothing but midi files from David to listen to in preparing these songs. While those files were helpful in getting an outline of the piece, they can’t capture the range of colors and textures that emerge when the full ensemble comes together: smoky, dirty, dreamy, tender, edgy, and just a bit quirky, MODEL LOVE has it all. I left the rehearsal room feeling much like you might after a good date: a smile on my face, my interest piqued, and my appetite whetted to know more.

Jeremy and Rose at staging rehearsal

Staging rehearsals continue to satisfy. As we map-out blocking and refine our gestures, themes begin to emerge: of frustrated desires and missed opportunities, of longing and the inability to connect. With this week’s infamous FB changes fresh in everyone’s minds, I can’t help but think how right MODEL LOVE is for this moment. Take these lines from Greg Gerbrandt‘s fantastic number “Love by List,” for example:

You’re new to my list of acquaintances

let us list the things we have in common.

I like your lists – here is a list of good points I’ve spotted

here is a list of things for us to say, and a list of other lists that

will come in handy.

I love you, see under list no. 14

for response. 

You are not responding correctly

have you read your lists? Here is a

list of things you are doing wrong.

To which I say: do something right.  Get off Facebook for an evening and come on out to MODEL LOVE on October 2nd!  I promise you won’t regret it…

more soon,

Rose


Behind the scenes photos from Model Love – Sep 21, 2011

September 22, 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


%d bloggers like this: