Chautauqua Opera Company and AOP announce Gity Razaz as 2017 Composer-in-Residence

February 6, 2017

The Chautauqua Opera Company continues a multi-year collaboration with American Opera Projects’ prestigious Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program

Gity Razaz joins the company as the 2017 Composer-in-Residence, writing three commissions that will receive world premieres during the summer season

Composer Gity Razaz. Photo by Rahima Nasa.

Composer Gity Razaz. Photo by Rahima Nasa.

2017 marks the second year of a multi-year collaboration between the Chautauqua Opera Company and Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects (AOP). Each year the Chautauqua Opera Company will invite one alumnus of AOP’s prestigious Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program to join the company for the 8-week summer season.

“The operatic voice is probably the most complicated and multi-faceted instrument a composer can tackle, and throughout history the most successful operatic composers have been continually immersed in writing for and working with singers. It is with this model that Composers & the Voice was designed, offering a select few composers the chance to work hands-on with the same singers and music directors over a 12-month period. I am tremendously proud of the composers who have come through the program, and am delighted to now be able to bring them into the Chautauqua community as they build their operatic careers,” says Steven Osgood, General and Artistic director of the Chautauqua Opera Company. Osgood is also Artistic Director for the Composers & the Voice Fellowship program, which he created in 2003.

The Chautauqua Opera Company has named Gity Razaz as the 2017 Composer-in-Residence. Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Ms. Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to large symphonic works. With an ear for intense melodies and expanding harmonic language, Ms. Razaz’s compositions are often dramatically charged; as described by John Corigliano: “…her Middle-Eastern roots have merged with her Western sensibilities to produce music that is both original and startling.“ Ms. Razaz’ upcoming projects include a 60-minute ballet score for Moscow Theatre Ballet, which is scheduled for a world premiere in Moscow in June 2017, as well as a work for classical guitar duo commissioned by Duo Noir(e). Born in Tehran, Ms. Razaz started her musical studies in piano at a young age and began composing intuitively at age nine.

“As a full-time composer accustomed to working in solitude hours on end, I have always yearned for creative opportunities that gather and nurture a community of artists,” says Ms. Razaz. “I believe that my music finds more strength, depth and intensity when I live within a vibrant ecosystem of artists with diverse creative backgrounds. I am thrilled to add my voice to Chautauqua’s musical community this summer.”

American Opera Projects will commission three new pieces from Ms. Razaz, each of which will be premiered as part of Chautauqua Opera’s 2017 season, by members of its Young Artist Program, and then be presented in AOP’s subsequent New York City season. With texts drawn from and inspired by lecturers and speakers at the Chautauqua Institution, these new works will first appear on Chautauqua Opera’s “Afternoon of Song” recital series and their Opera Highlights concert with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

Chautauqua Opera’s first Composer-in-Residence, Jeremy Gill, describes his experience at Chautauqua during the 2016 season: “Spending the summer on the beautiful grounds, working closely every day with the wonderful coaching staff and Young Artists there, helping with and observing the creation of multiple productions from the first rehearsal to final performance: these all offered me a complete picture of the loving labors that go into each performance. Naturally, writing for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and Young Artists under Steve Osgood’s baton was a highlight of the summer, but even more was the warm reception my work received from the community that, by then, I had become a member of.”

For more information about Gity Razaz, please visit her website, GityRazaz.com
For more information about Jeremy Gill, please visit his website, JeremyTGill.com
For more information about Chautauqua Opera’s Composer-in-Residence program, please visit ciweb.org/composer-in-residence

More about The Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program:
The Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program is a two-year fellowship for composers and librettists that provides experience writing for the voice and opera stage, created and led by Artistic Director Steven Osgood. The fellowship 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. Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists.

Recent and upcoming world premieres that began development in Composers & the Voice include Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (2013) and PROTOTYPE Festival and Pittsburgh Opera (2014), Jack Perla’s Love/Hate at ODC Theater with San Francisco Opera (2012), Rob Paterson’s Three Way (Nashville Opera/BAM, 2017), Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera, 2017), and Sidney Boquiren’s Independence Eve (Urban Arias, 2017).

The Composers & the Voice program is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

More about American Opera Projects:
At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter-century, American Opera Projects creates, develops and presents opera and music theatre projects collaborating with young, rising and established artists in the field. AOP has been a lead producer on over 30 world premieres; recent highlights include Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One (2014), Lera Auerbach’s The Blind (2013), and the dance opera Hagoromo at BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival. www.aopopera.org


AMERICAN OPERA PROJECTS APPOINTS LAURA KAMINSKY AS ITS COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE

September 8, 2014

Brooklyn, NY, August 21, 2014 – American Opera Projects Inc. (AOP) announces the appointment of Laura Kaminsky as its composer-in-residence commencing September 1, 2014, three days before her opera “As One” premieres at BAM in an AOP production (performances September 4, 6, and 7). In this role, Kaminsky will bring broad expertise to AOP enabling the Brooklyn-based company to expand its mission of identifying, developing, and presenting new and innovative works of music theater by emerging and established artists and to engage audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience.

kaminsky, laura 2

Laura Kaminsky

Recently celebrating its 25th anniversary season, AOP creates, develops and presents opera and music theater projects collaborating with the young, rising, and established artists in the field. General Director Charles Jarden and the board of directors invited Kaminsky to take on this position for a two-year cycle because she is an active and engaged composer who is also renowned as an innovative presenter and producer, and an arbiter of contemporary music trends with a broad and open-minded aesthetic. Jarden states, “Having first worked with Laura when we collaborated on an historic presentation of two of Lee Hoiby’s operas (one a premiere) in 2008, I was eager to further develop our working relationship. When she expressed interest in composing As One, AOP commissioned it and during development, with the addition of Laura’s co-creators Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, we quickly found we had a fantastic work on our hands. Our working relationship during As One has been vibrant and creative, and led, naturally, to AOP’s desire to continue working with Laura. We are delighted that she has come on board to help us further our mission. ”

As Composer-in-Residence at AOP, Kaminsky will serve as both a public face for AOP as well as a strategic partner, collaborating with the staff and board to articulate and implement a series of events and activities that will allow AOP to better serve the field while making AOP a more robust organization at this critical time when traditionally structured opera companies are increasingly vulnerable and yet there is an efflorescence of new opera activity. She will work with the General Director to identify projects that will be considered for development, and will plan a series of artistic events that will be of interest both to professionals within the opera world as well as to the general opera-loving public. Having just composed her first opera As One, Kaminsky will bring fresh insights and expertise from her experience of conceiving, collaborating, composing, developing and producing a new opera to the programs she will develop for AOP.

Kaminsky notes, “the time I spent working with AOP to develop As One has been personally and professionally transformative to me in so many extraordinary ways, and it is my intention now to bring all that I have learned to this new position of composer-in-residence so that I can help AOP to better support other composers who also have the desire to make an opera, and to help AOP expand its reach so that more people both can understand the exhilarating collaborative creative process of opera, and can experience the best of what is being created today. I am thrilled to be named composer-in-residence at AOP and look forward, as soon as As One closes, to dedicate myself to the tasks at hand.”

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for 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 20 world premieres including Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, Lera Auerbach’s The Blind, a co-production with Lincoln Center Festival 2013. Other notable premieres include Kimper/Persons’ Patience & Sarah (1998), Stefan Weisman’s Darkling (2006), Lee Hoiby’s This is the Rill Speaking (2008), and Phil Kline’s Out Cold (2012) at BAM. AOP-developed projects with premiere with collaborating companies: Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at Urban Arias (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), Jorge Martín’s Before Night Falls at Fort Worth Opera (2010), Lee Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking at Opera Memphis (2013) and Purchase College (2008). Upcoming: As One at BAM and Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes, September 2014.

Laura Kaminsky is a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting” (New York Times) whose music is “full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection.” (American Record Guide)

As both composer and presenter/producer, Kaminsky has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Opera America, New York State Council on the Arts, Aaron Copland Fund, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev Foundation, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Meet the Composer, and others. She has received six ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventurous Programming and the Polish Ministry of Culture National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. Kaminsky serves on the national advisory council of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and on the board of directors of the Hermitage Artist Retreat Center in Florida. She is a professor in the School of the Arts at Purchase College/SUNY.

“AOP is very excited about Laura, both as a creative force and an administrator,” said Jarden.  “We believe we are lucky to bring her on board at this critical juncture, in our 26th season, to help with both long range artistic aims and advancing institutional goals. Laura has a dedicated following in NYC. AOP has been fortunate to have been working along side her since 2008, and now she has been bitten by the opera bug.  Be on the lookout for a schedule of Laura’s special events.”


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