Fort Greene Park to be commemorated in student operas in new AOP and NYU Tisch partnership

February 19, 2016

Randall Eng, composer and Assistant Arts Professor at Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program

By the end of this spring, one of New York City’s most historic and vibrant neighborhoods will be commemorated in song. And not just one song, but an entire series of new operas. This spring, students in the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program (GMTWP) at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts will learn the ins and outs of opera writing when Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects (AOP) partners with the esteemed arts school for a new “Opera Writing Workshop.”  Led by composer Randall Eng, the workshop is an advanced class for composers and librettists of GMTWP at Tisch who will collaborate with an ensemble of eight professional opera singers and two music directors to create short operas under the mentorship of AOP, an opera company in Fort Greene that has developed and premiered contemporary operas for over 25 years.

For the inaugural workshop, AOP and Eng have assigned the students to create operas inspired by the Brooklyn neighborhood Fort Greene and the historic Fort Greene Park, the latter of which has been home to a graveyard of Revolutionary War soldiers as well as a source of inspiration for writers Richard Wright and Marianne Moore and filmmaker Spike Lee. In addition to the musical team, AOP will provide the students with special access to staff from NYC Parks and Fort Greene Park Conservancy.  NYU associate professor and opera director Sam Helfrich will direct the AOP workshop singers in the site-specific scenes being created with the participation of his design students in Tisch’s Design for Stage and Film Department. The operas will be performed in conjunction with American Opera Projects at GMTWP’s Black Box Theatre on May 7, 2016 and in Fort Greene Park itself on May 8, 2016.

AOP General Director Charles Jarden stated, “In this partnership with NYU, AOP is broadening our mission to help mentor creators of opera and music theater work by attracting grad students at one of the best schools in the country.  This project is a great complement to one of our core programs, Composers & the Voice and Randall Eng is one of the alums of that program, which makes the partnership especially valuable and gratifying for us.  We are deeply grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for on-going generous support.”

As of February 1st there are twenty-five (25) students enrolled in the class.

Crowds gather in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn’s first park and subject for NYU’s Opera Writing Workshop composers.


THREE COMPOSERS & THE VOICE ALUMNI TO BE FEATURED IN FORT WORTH OPERA FRONTIERS SERIES

December 5, 2014

Conrad Cummings, Zachary Redler, and Clint Borzoni to Present Unpublished Operas

Fort Worth, TX—Three alumni of AOP’s long-running Composers & The Voice program – Conrad Cummings, Zachary Redler, and Clint Borzoni – will have their operas featured in Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers Series, May 7-8, 2015 at the Kimbell Art Museum. Approaching its third year as part of the Fort Worth Opera Festival, Frontiers will present music from Borzoni’s When Adonis Calls, Redler’s Susan Smith (with a libretto by As One’s Mark Campbell), and Cummings’ The Golden Gate, which received development in both C&V and AOP’s First Chance programs.

The purpose of Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers program is to give voice to unpublished 21st century operatic compositions. The showcase will be chaired by Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods and a jury of composers, directors, conductors, producers, opera administrators, and community leaders.

This follows performances in previous years of works by C&V alumni Robert Paterson, Ronnie Reshef, and Daniel Sonenberg, each with operas that they developed in the AOP training program.

Conrad CummingsCONRAD CUMMINGS has composed operas (productions include “Eros and Psyche,” libretto by the composer, Oberlin Opera Theater; “Positions 1956,” libretto by Michael Korie, P.S. 122; “Photo-Op,” libretto by James Siena, La Mama with Ridge Theater; and “Tonkin,” libretto by the composer with Thomas Bird, Opera Delaware) music for orchestra (including New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Louisville Symphonies and the Brooklyn Philharmonic) and amplified chamber ensemble (at the Knitting Factory and P.S. 122). He trained at Yale, Stony Brook, and Columbia, did post-doc work at IRCAM in Paris, taught at Oberlin Conservatory for ten years where he directed the music and media program, moved to New York to run a kids’ interactive media company, and since 2003 teaches composition in the evening division at Juilliard.

Co-produced by AOP and with a libretto adapted from Vikram Seth’s best-selling novel in verse The Golden Gate, five twenty-somethings experience love, life, and loss in the magical and innocent San Francisco of the early 1980’s. John, handsome and successful, will discover too late the price of  his emotional detachment. He has just met Liz through a personals ad placed by his former college girlfriend Jan, a sculptor and punk rock drummer. Meanwhile, John’s best friend from college Phil, reeling from a divorce which has left him the sole single parent of a six-year-old, begins a passionate relationship with the Ed, Liz’s younger brother. Ed is bright, gorgeous, in search of a lover and mentor, and a profoundly conflicted devout Catholic. Couples come apart; new couples form, families are created, friendships are severed. A tragic death leads John, always the outsider, to the promise of a deeper connection and a warmer life.

T0F-uXArZach Redler is an award winning composer, pianist and copyist. Zach’s music has been performed at Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, National Opera Center, Joe’s Pub and concert halls around the world and has been critically acclaimed by the New York Times, Variety and the Boston Globe. Ben Brantley of the New York Times said, Zach’s music “follows the patterns of minds grasping, often in vain, for clarity, conviction and lost time…it transcends the expected and achieves a haunting originality.” Zach spent 2011-13 in residence as a Van Lier fellow at American Opera Projects as part of their Composers and the Voice Program. For his work in music theatre with Sara Cooper, the American Theatre Wing awarded them with the 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant. In February, Zach’s Opera Memphis commission “Movin’ Up In The World” (libretto by Jerre Dye) as well as a set of his Walt Whitman Art Songs will be performed at the University of Missouri . Zach is on faculty at New York University teaching at Steinhardt and Tisch.  He is a member of ASCAP, Local 802 and a graduate of the Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.zachredler.com

With a libretto by Mark Campbell, Susan Smith is an opera in one act about the woman who drowned her two sons in South Carolina in 1994 and the nine days she perpetuated the lie that an African-American man had abducted them at gunpoint. Starting with the filicide and ending with the exposure of Ms. Smith’s guilt, the opera looks closely at the confluence of reasons that brought her to commit such a horrible act: the abuse she suffered as a child, the chaos in her marriage and recent rejection by a lover. By examining these reasons, Susan Smith does not endeavor to exonerate the eponymous woman who committed these crimes, but rather engender some sympathy for her.

photo-Clint_Borzoni1-241x300CLINT BORZONI’s music reflects his passion for lyricism and functional harmony. He has written over sixty pieces, including two full length operas, two one act operas, a piano concerto, percussion quartet, piece for orchestra, two string quartets, several works for chamber orchestra, and over forty art songs. He also wrote the music for the musical, My Life as a Bald Soprano which premiered in the June Havoc Theater during the 2008 Midtown International Theater Festival. Among Borzoni’s honors are the Morton Feldman Award, a Boston Metro Opera Festival Award, the Maurice Liberman music scholarship, operamission’s new cabaret song competition winner, and world premieres by the New York Youth Symphony and the Mannes School of Music’s Percussion Ensemble. He received a B.A. and M.A. in Music Composition from CUNY where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici.

When Adonis Calls is a new opera with music by Clint Borzoni. The libretto was constructed by John de los Santos from the poems of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard. It tells the story of an accomplished author, called the Poet, who is struggling with writer’s block and isolation. He is contacted by an eager young fan, known as the Muse, who is interested in both an artistic and personal correspondence. At first reluctant, the Poet joins the Muse in a sensual game of literary discovery that leads the two into unexpected realms of unbridled eroticism. Through their poems, they unleash one another’s pasts, demons, and secret longings. Their harmonized writings culminate with a final meeting in the flesh that transcends beyond what either of them ever believed was possible when they first put pen to paper. When Adonis Calls is a striking new work that blends an exciting score of romantic lyricism with dance and a fresh perspective of operatic storytelling. The music and poetry guide the characters through a surreal journey filled with wit, lust, rage, and ultimately, love. When Adonis Calls utilizes an ensemble of two baritones, string quartet, percussionist, and two dancers. whenadoniscalls.com

 


NEW OPERA TACKLES RACISM IN AMERICA IN CONCERT PERFORMANCES THIS NOVEMBER

October 30, 2014

Independence Eve, currently in development at AOP, to be presented at Adelphi University and Brooklyn’s South Oxford Space

NEW YORK, NYAOP (American Opera Projects) and Adelphi University present Independence Eve, a new chamber opera in three scenes that explores the troubled journey of race relations in America. The concert performances will take place on Thursday, November 13 at 7:30PM at the Concert Hall of the Performing Arts Center at Adelphi University (1 South Ave, Garden City, NY 11530), with a second performance on Saturday, November 15 at 8PM in the Great Room at AOP’s South Oxford Space (138 S Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217). Composed by Sidney Marquez Boquiren with a libretto by Daniel Neer, the opera will include performances by baritone Jorell Williams, and tenor Brandon Snook. Damian Norfleet will act as stage director, while Mila Henry will provide music direction and piano.

Tickets for the Nov. 13 Adelphi performance will be $20 with discounts suitable for seniors, alumni and students. Tickets are on sale now and are available at http://aupac.adelphi.edu/. Tickets for the Nov. 15 South Oxford Space performance will be $20 and $15 for students and seniors and are available at www.operaprojects.org.

Currently in development at AOP, Independence Eve is comprised of three unrelated scenes, each of which take place on July 3 on a park bench in an unspecified American city, in the years 1963, 2013, and 2063. Each story focuses on the relationship between two men, one white and one black, who struggle with identity and acceptance. Independence Eve is a study of black and white America, offering commentary on the intricacies of race relations and the insidious and persistent stain of racism that has remained consistent throughout American history. The first scene of the opera, “Stop and Frisk,” has already received numerous community performances throughout Brooklyn, including this year’s BEAT festival. It has garnered attention from the press, including a recent Talk of the Town profile in The New Yorker.

Independence Eve is currently in development as part of the Brooklyn organization’s First Chance program that gives composers and librettists a first chance to hear their work performed before an audience. Development of the opera began during Mr. Boquiren’s fellowship in the 2011-12 season of AOP’s composer training program Composers & the Voice with both Mr. Williams and Mr. Snook creating their roles. Development of the opera is made possible, in part, through generous funding by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New York Department of Cultural Affairs. AOP plans to present the world premiere of Independence Eve at park benches around New York City in June 2015.

ADDITIONAL PROJECT INFO AND PRESS MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT: www.operaprojects.org

Jorell Williams and Brandon Snook in Two Sides Sounding's 2014 presentation of the AOP-developed "Stop and Frisk"

Jorell Williams and Brandon Snook in Two Sides Sounding’s 2014 presentation of the AOP-developed “Stop and Frisk”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Sidney Marquez Boquiren is a composer-performer who grew up in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia but has spent most of his life in the United States. He collaborates with artists on various projects that include opera (Independence Eve with Daniel Neer); Biblical illumination (folia ligni for Spark and Echo Arts); and multi-media (The Gretel Project with Lauren K. Alleyne, Catherine Chung, and Tomiko Jones). As a pianist, he performs regularly with Rhymes With Opera and pulsoptional. -A MacDowell Fellow, Sidney is currently the Chair of the Department of Music at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he teaches music theory and composition. He is also a cantor and sings in the church choir of The Church of St. Francis Xavier in Manhattan.

Daniel Neer enjoys a diverse career as a singing actor and librettist. Recent projects include Bruce Bailey with Daniel Felsenfeld for the BEAT Festival, and BQE with Robinson McClellan for the Queens New Music Festival, (both commissioned by Two Sides Sounding). The opera Mercury Falling, with Chandler Carter, was presented at the Long Leaf Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, and song set HAIKU-NYC with Ellen Mandel recently premiered at the BEAT Festival. Daniel’s auspicious collaboration with Sidney Boquiren began with the workshop of Odes to Earth and Air, a partnership continuing with Independence Eve in collaboration with American Opera Projects. Other recent premieres include two chamber works: The Good Doctor Windhager with Ronnie Reshef, and Summer, 1976 by Kim Sherman, both premiered by the lyricist and the Qube String Quartet in Columbus, Ohio. Baritone

Jorell Williams is from Brentwood, Long Island, but he was born in Brooklyn at Kings County Hospital. He had the honor of performing with the Chorale Le Chateau of New York in “A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA” in the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on the occasion of the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Praised by Opera News as having a “Solid vocal core” and the ABC News & Entertainment as “smooth-voiced”, Jorell Williams is pursuing a versatile performing career. Highlights of Jorell’s work include: Off-Broadway debut as The Villager with the New York City Center Encores! production of Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars, Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore (2011) and Fiesque in Maria di Rohan (2010) with the Caramoor International Music Festival, “The Muir” with the Mark Morris Dance Group, recording “Mr. President/Americana” with the Essential Voices USA for NPR, Maximilian in Candide with Coópera: Project Opera Manhattan, and appearing with the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Opera Theatre’s collaborative workshop reading of Nico Muhly’s TWO BOYS (2011) and Michael Torke’s SENNA (2010). Mr. Williams is a graduate from the Manhattan School of Music, and earned his undergraduate degree at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Music. For more information, please visit: http://www.myspace.com/jorellwilliams

Tenor Brandon Snook has been praised by The New York Times for his “vocal freshness”, along with his “appealing and talented” nature, and has collaborated extensively with AOP, most notably being part of the 2011-12 Composers & the Voice Series. In addition to playing Little Bat in productions of Susannah in Tel Aviv, he premiered the role of Robert Johnson in Phil Kline and Jim Jarmusch’s opera Tesla in New York, Tony in the Off-Off Broadway production of Terrence McNally’s Master Class, and Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance in South Carolina. Additional mainstage credits include Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and solo concert credits at Lincoln Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music. A native of Dallas, Texas, Brandon has voice degrees from the University of Kansas and the University of Michigan.

Damian Norfleet is a singer, actor, and director from New York City. His past collaborations with the American Opera Project include Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed, The Summer King, Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, and We’ve Got Our Eye On You. Other past productions include Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Showboat, Cats, Henry V, The Festival of the Lion King, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Tommy, Equus, The Music Man, Kiss me, Kate; The Threepenny Opera, Makandal, Go West! (Village People Musical), Casanova, The Tenderland, Don Giovanni, Carmen, the new American opera Truth, the feature film Outliving Emily and the webseries Co-Operation.

Mila Henry is a New York-based pianist, coach, and music director who specializes in music theater projects and vocal chamber music, ranging from art song to cabaret, folk opera to indie musicals, standard repertoire to contemporary classics. She has collaborated with American Opera Projects, American Lyric Theater, Beth Morrison Projects, Center City Opera Theater, Gotham Chamber Opera, HERE, OPERA America, Opera on Tap, Ripe Time, VisionIntoArt, and Two Sides Sounding. Notable engagements include: The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival); Thumbprint and The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE); Smashed: The Carrie Nation Story (FringeNYC); The World is Round and As One (BAM Fisher); The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Beth Morrison Projects). milahenry.com

ABOUT THE PRESENTERS: AOP‘s mission is to identify, develop and present new and innovative works of music-theatre by emerging and established artists and to engage our audiences in an immersive, transformative theatrical experience. 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 30 world premieres, most recently Kaminsky/Reed/Campbell’s As One at BAM (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. AOP-developed operas that premiered with co-producers include Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at PROTOTYPE (2014), Stephen Schwartz’s Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera (2011), and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at London’s Royal Opera House (2011). www.operaprojects.org

About Adelphi University: Adelphi is a world-class, modern university with excellent and highly relevant programs where students prepare for lives of active citizenship and professional careers. Through its schools and programs—College of Arts and Sciences, Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Honors College, Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, University College, College of Nursing and Public Health and the School of Social Work—the coeducational university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional and educational programs for adults. Adelphi University currently enrolls nearly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries. With its main campus in Garden City and its centers in Manhattan, Suffolk County, and Poughkeepsie, the University, chartered in 1896, maintains a commitment to liberal studies, in tandem with rigorous professional preparation and active citizenship.


Composers and singers announced for Composers & the Voice 2007-2008

October 22, 2007

The latest group of composers and singers have been chosen to participate in the new season of Composers & the Voice! Scores of applications were culled through to find this year’s group of emerging artists who will study for a year at AOP to learn the ins and outs of writing for the operating voice.

2007-08 Composers & the Voice

Composers
Clint Borzoni
Kristin Kuster
Raymond J. Lustig
Jack Perla
Gregory Spears
Andrew Staniland

Singers
Matthew Curran
Abigail Fischer
Matthew Garrett
Donna Smith
Caroline Worra
Matthew Worth


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