AOP Brings Brooklyn Voices to 5×10 Talks

May 21, 2014

On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, AOP was asked to be a part of the inaugural 5×10 Talks, an event organized by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to showcase innovation in the neighborhood.

The event- which raised funds to support the DBP’s year-round public programming and was held at the brand-new BRIC Arts | Media House– highlighted five leaders from Downtown Brooklyn to answer the question, “What’s next?”

Under their I HEAR AMERICA SINGING program, AOP featured two of composer Gilda Lyons’ songs, rapid transit and “I am From the Ghetto ‘Brooklyn'” (the latter from her cycle Songs from the F Train), and three of their regular performers, soprano Adrienne Danrich, contralto Nicole Mitchell, and pianist Mila Henry. In addition, young poet Najaya Royale read her original text for “I Am From the Ghetto ‘Brooklyn'”, which she wrote when she was only 12 years old.

Wanna find out what else is “next”? Watch clips from the entire event here, and check out photos here.

And thanks to a partnership with Brooklyn Independent Media, you can watch a SPECIAL BROADCAST of the 5×10 Talks from 6-7:30pm on May 24th, May 25th, May 31st, and June 1st. Tune in on Brooklyn’s Time Warner Cable 756, Verizon FiOS 46 (all five boroughs), and online at BRIC Brooklyn Indie Media.

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MET OPERA SOPRANO JANINAH BURNETT LEADS CAST TO FREEDOM IN HARRIET TUBMAN FOLK OPERA PREMIERE

February 11, 2014

PART OF ‘LINES OF FREEDOM’ FEST CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH AT IRONDALE CENTER IN BROOKLYN

Janinah Burnett

Janinah Burnett

New York, NY—Soprano Janinah Burnett (Metropolitan Opera, La Bohème on Broadway) will portray American icon Harriet Tubman in a new folk opera with music and lyrics by Nigerian-American composer Nkeiru Okoye. Produced by AOP (American Opera Projects), Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom will  premiere in a chamber version as one half of the Lines of Freedom festival running February 20 – March 1 at Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased at www.irondale.org or by telephone at Ovationtix, 866 811-4111. Tickets are also available at the TKTS Booth.

Using a mixture of opera and vernacular folk music, featuring gospel spirituals, ragtime, early blues, minstrel songs, work songs, call and responses, and field hollers, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom tells this important chapter of American history in the context of Tubman’s tight-knit family and the slavery threatening to tear them apart.

Clinton Ingram, Sequina DuBose, Damian Norfleet, and Nicole Mitchell in a December 2013 concert presentation of the opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

Clinton Ingram, Sequina DuBose, Damian Norfleet, and Nicole Mitchell in a December 2013 concert presentation of the folk opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

The folk opera will also include vocal performances by Marsha Thompson (New York City Opera), Nicole Mitchell (Lincoln Center Festival), Clinton Ingram (Metropolitan Opera), Briana Elyse Hunter, Damian Norfleet, Patrice P. Eaton, Ernest Jackson, Kyle Guglielmo, and Anthony P. McGlaun and feature members of The Harlem Chamber Players, conducted by Leslie B. Dunner, with stage direction by Lemuel Wade (L’Opera de Montreal).

Lines of Freedom brings two works of exciting musical theater and opera to the stage in celebration of the rich heritage of abolitionism and the Underground Railroad. The shows are presented during Black History Month by The Irondale Ensemble Project and AOP (American Opera Projects), two arts organizations based in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. In addition to AOP’s Tubman opera, The Irondale Ensemble Project will present Color Between the Lines: The Abolitionist Struggle in Brooklyn, a work created in collaboration with Brooklyn Historical Society and Weeksville Heritage Center as part of In Pursuit of Freedom, the first public history project to explore abolition and the anti-slavery movement in Brooklyn.

Presentations of Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works.

Complete production credits and bios available at
http://operaprojects.org/events/TubmanIrondale2014

Soprano Sumayya Ali as Harriet Tubman in a December 2013 concert presentation of the opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

Soprano Sumayya Ali as Harriet Tubman in a December 2013 concert presentation of the folk opera at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, NY.

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HARRIET TUBMAN: WHEN I CROSSED THAT LINE TO FREEDOM
Music and libretto by Nkeiru Okoye

LINES OF FREEDOM Festival
Feb 20 – March 1, 2014

Irondale Center, 85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

TICKET PRICE:
General Admission $25; Senior/Students $15; Matinees $15
Freedom Package – See both shows for $40
Freedom Matinee Package – See both matinees for $25
For tix: www.irondale.org, 866-811-4111

RUNNING TIME:
120 Minutes with intermission

Co-presented by AOP and the Irondale Ensemble Project


The Phoenix Concerts Celebrates AOP’s 25th Anniversary With Composers & the Voice Concert

September 13, 2013

AOP25: Celebrating Composers & the Voice

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New York, NY– AOP (American Opera Projects) and The Phoenix Concerts will co-produce a concert featuring the work of composers and librettists from AOP’s C&V (Composers & the Voice) program, an annual fellowship that trains composers to write for the operatic voice. The concert will take place Friday, October 11 at 8PM at the Church of Saint Matthew and Saint Timothy: 26 West 84th Street, New York City. Tickets are $10 at the door or free with a student ID. A complete list of artists will be available through The Phoenix Concerts website www.thephoenixconcerts.org. Phoenix Concerts Artistic Director and C&V alumna (2005-06)  Gilda Lyons will be one of the highlighted composers, along with Sidney BoquirenConrad Cummings, Daniel Felsenfeld, Vivian Fung, Kristin Kuster, Hannah Lash, Ray Lustig, Jack Perla, Rachel Peters, Daniel Sonenberg, and Stefan Weisman. “AOP25: Celebrating Composers & the Voice,” coincides with the seventh iteration of C&V and the twenty-fifth anniversary of AOP. Featured singers include soprano Adrienne Danrich (San Francisco Opera, Cincinnati Opera), contralto Nicole Mitchell (New York Philharmonic, Sarasota Opera), and lyric baritone Kyle Guglielmo (Piedmont Opera, Westfield Symphony), with Mila Henry on piano.

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. Previous fellows in the Composers & the Voice program have gone on to receive numerous awards, commissions, and premieres, including Jack Perla (Love/Hate, San Francisco Opera, 2012), Gregory Spears (Paul’s Case, UrbanArias, 2013, and Pittsburgh Opera, 2014), Stefan Weisman (Darkling, AOP commission, NYC, 2006), Hannah Lash (Aspen Music Festival), Daniel Felsenfeld (Nora, In the Great Outdoors, AOP commission, NYC, 2011), Daniel Sonenberg (The Summer King, Fort Worth Opera Frontiers, 2013), and Vivian Fung (2013 Juno Award “Classical Composition of the Year”). A complete list of alumni can be found at AOP’s website, www.operaprojects.org/composers_voice.htm.

 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of Brooklyn’s AOP, a progenitor of new opera and music theatre. In addition to The Phoenix Concerts, the anniversary season will include partnerships with Irondale Ensemble Project, UrbanArias, Opera on Tap, the Manhattan School of Music and more to present both new works and music from its catalogue of the past quarter century. The season began with AOP’s sold-out world premiere run of Lera Auerbach’s The Blind at Lincoln Center Festival and will conclude with another world premiere in April 2014 at Roulette, The Wanton Sublime (music by Tarik O’Regan, libretto by Anna Rabinowitz), in partnership with Ear Heart Music.

ARTIST BIOS 

Gilda LyonsGilda Lyons (C&V 2005-06), composer, vocalist, and visual artist, combines elements of renaissance, neo-baroque, spectral, folk, agitprop Music Theater, and extended vocalism to create works of uncompromising emotional honesty and melodic beauty. Tom Strini of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel descrbies her Nahuatl Hymn for treble choir (Clarion CLCD-936) as “hair-raising, yet elegant [with] slides, dips, yips and yelps amid ceremonial intensity.” Recent premieres in Beijing, Tokyo, Seattle, New York, and Pittsburgh include walk, run, fly (voice/pre-recorded sound; The Flea, NYC), Lady Beetle (koto solo; Yumi Kurosawa, Torifony Hall, Tokyo), Moonlight Suite (chamber opera; Opera Theater of Pittsburgh), Hold On (voice/piano; Adrienne Danrich, Thomas Bagwell; AIDS Quilt Song Book at Twenty), Invocations (voice and shakuhachi; Kyo-Shin-An Arts) and La Novia de Tola (piano trio; Beijing New Music Ensemble, Beijing; Finisterra Trio, Seattle). Currently writing an opera for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh on the life of Rachel Carson with a libretto by Tammy Ryan, she is also completing large-scale commissions for Mirror Visions Ensemble and IonSound. Composer-in-Residencies include Vermont’s New Music on the Point (2013); Seasons Music Festival (2009-present); and Hartford Women Composers Festival (2011). An active vocalist and fierce advocate of contemporary music, Dr. Lyons has commissioned, premiered, and workshopped new vocal works by dozens of composers. Of her performance in Daron Hagen’s Shining Bow (Buffalo Philharmonic/Falletta) (Naxos) David Shengold of Opera, UK writes “Gilda Lyons’ clear soprano compels admiration.” www.gildalyons.com

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Sidney Marquez Boquiren (C&V 2011-12) grew up in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia but has spent most of his life in the United States. As a Composer Fellow for American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice Series (2011 – 2012) and in collaboration with librettist Daniel Neer, he has written representative arias for several different opera treatments as well as a full scene which was premiered in September 2012 with subsequent performances at the BEAT Festival in Brooklyn, NY. Recent commissions include a signature piece for the singers of RWO (July 2013), a duo for violinists Sarah Plum and Hal Grossman (October 2013), and a quintet for AnyWhen Ensemble (November 2013).  Sidney is an Associate Professor and the Chair of the Department of Music at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, where he teaches music theory and composition.

Conrad Cummings

Conrad Cummings (C&V 2005-06) composes opera, symphonic music, chamber music, and music for his ensemble of amplified instruments and voices. His works have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and numerous clubs and alternative performance spaces. Groups performing his music including Brandywine Baroque, Avian Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Louisville, New Jersey, and Indianapolis Symphonies, and the San Francisco Opera Center. Recent commissions include Shakespeare in Loves, settings of sonnets for Brandywine Baroque, In Memoriam, Marge Laszlo, a tribute to the Roller Derby star for Avian Orchestra’s All-Sports event, The Passing Months, for French soprano saxophonist Daniel Gremelle, premiered in Taiwan, and Reunion for P and J for pianist James Baker and clarinetist Paul Green. Since the early 1990’s, Cummings has worked as a freelance composer, director, and interactive media producer in New York City. He’s particularly proud of the award-winning games for kids he has produced at Hyperspace Cowgirls. Conrad Cummings serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School where he teaches composition in the Evening Division. Among his many honors are MacDowell, Djerassi, and Tanglewood Fellowships and grants from the Ditson Fund, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation, Opera America, and the National Endowment for the Arts. CRI’s Emergency Music label has released four recordings of Cummings’ music. www.conradcummings.com

Daniel FelsenfeldComposer Daniel Felsenfeld (C&V 2006-07) has been commissioned and performed by Simone Dinnerstein, Two Sense, Metropolis Ensemble, American Opera Projects, Opera on Tap, Great Noise Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, ACME, ETHEL, REDSHIFT, Two Sides Sounding, Momenta Quartet, Friction Quartet, Blair McMillen, Stephanie Mortimore, Jennifer Choi, Caroline Widmann, Cornelius Duffallo, Jody Redhage, Nadia Sirota, Caroline Worra, Elanor Taylor, Kathleen Supové, Jenny Lin, Ensemble 212, New Gallery Concert Series and Transit, at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM, Kennedy Center, ATLAS, Le Poisson Rouge, City Winery, Galapagos Art Space, The Stone, The Kitchen, BAM, Jordan Hall, Duke University, The Southern Theatre, Stanford University and Harvard University, as part of  21c Liederabend, Opera Grows in Brooklyn, Ecstatic Music Festival, MATA, Keys to the Future, and Make Music New York. He has also worked with Jay-Z, The Roots, Keren Ann, Rick Moody, Stew, Mark Z. Danielewski, and is the court composer for John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders.  Commercially available on the Sony, Def Jam, Black Box, and Naxos labels. Raised in the outlying suburbs of Los Angeles, he lives in Brooklyn. She, After, a pairing of two of Daniel’s AOP-developed monodramas – Alice in the Time of the Jabberwock and Nora, In the Great Outdoors, will be premiered by UrbanArias (Arlington, VA) this fall.

Vivian FungJuno Award-winning Canadian composer Vivian Fung (C&V 2003-04) has distinguished herself as a composer with a powerful compositional voice, whose music often merges Western forms with non-Western influences such as Balinese and Javanese gamelan and folk songs from minority regions of China. In 2012, Naxos Canadian Classics released the world premiere recording of Ms. Fung’s Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto Dreamscapes, and Glimpses for prepared piano, with Metropolis Ensemble conducted by Andrew Cyr, featuring violinist Kristin Lee and pianist Conor Hanick. The Violin Concerto earned Ms. Fung a 2013 Juno Award for “Classical Composition of the Year”. Several of Ms. Fung’s works have also been released commercially on the Telarc, Cedille, and Signpost labels. Ms. Fung has received numerous awards and grants, including the 2012 Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts’ Gregory Millard Fellowship, ASCAP, BMI, American Music Center, MAP Fund, Music Alive!, and the League of American Orchestras, American Composers’ Forum, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She has been composer-in-residence of the Delaware Chamber Music Festival, Music in the Loft chamber music series in Chicago, the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, and the Billings Symphony. Vivian Fung also completed residencies at the MacDowell, Yaddo, and Banff arts colonies, as well as residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Ms. Fung is also an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre. www.vivianfung.ca

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Composer Kristin Kuster served as a Composer Fellow during the 2007-08 American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice season. She “writes commandingly for the orchestra,” and her music “has an invitingly tart edge” (The New York Times). Ms. Kuster’s music takes inspiration from architectural space, the weather, and mythology. Coming and recent performances of her work include pieces written for the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Lisbon Summer Fest Chamber Choir, the 6ixWire Project, and the multi-percussionist Joseph Gramley. Recent CD releases include Two Jades with violinist Xiang Gao and the UM Symphony Band, and Breath Beneath on the PRISM Saxophone Quartet’s New Dynamic Records CD “Breath Beneath.” Ms. Kuster’s music has received support from such organizations as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Sons of Norway, American Composers Orchestra, the League of American Orchestras, Meet The Composer, the Jerome Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the National Flute Association, and the Argosy Foundation. Born in 1973, Ms. Kuster grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Michigan, where she now serves as Assistant Professor of Composition. Follow her on Twitter: @KristinKuster, or visit kristinkuster.com 

Hannah LashHannah Lash (C&V 2005-06) has emerged as a leading voice of her generation. A prize-winning composer, she has received the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fromm Foundation Commission, a fellowship from Yaddo Artist Colony, the Naumburg Prize, the Barnard Rogers Prize, the Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize, and numerous academic awards. She has received commissions from The Fromm Foundation, The Naumburg Foundation, The Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, The Orpheus Duo, The Howard Hanson Foundation, Case Western Reserve’s University Circle Wind Ensemble, MAYA, Great Noise Ensemble, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Her orchestral music has been singled out by the American Composers Orchestra for the 2010 Underwood New Music Readings with Furthermore, and by the Minnesota Orchestra, which selected her work God Music Bug Music for performance in January 2012 as part of the Minnesota Composers Institute. Her chamber opera, Blood Rose, was presented by NYC Opera’s VOX in the spring of 2011. Lash’s music has also been performed at Carnegie Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, the Chelsea Art Museum, Harvard University, Tanglewood Music Center, the Times Center, and the Chicago Art Institute. Lash obtained a bachelor’s degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music, her PHD from Harvard University, a performance degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and an Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music. Her primary teachers include Martin Bresnick, Bernard Rands, Julian Anderson, and Robert Morris. Her music is published by Schott. Lash serves on the composition faculty at Yale School of Music.  www.hannahlash.com

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Raymond J. Lustig and librettist partner Matt Gray are currently developing Semmelweis, based on the true story of the tragic life of a troubled medical visionary, with American Opera Projects.  Lustig’s music has been hailed as “entrancing…surreally beautiful…ecstatic… [and] rapturous” by the New York Times.  He has received commissions from American Composers Orchestra, The Academy (A Program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute), the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Metropolis Ensemble, the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, and the American Music Center’s Live Music for Dance Project.  He has also had performances by the Juilliard Symphony, the Bowling Green Philharmonia, tenor Nicholas Phan, TENET vocal ensemble, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Duo Noire, and Blind Ear, and his music has been recorded on Albany Records and Avian Music.  Also a published researcher in molecular biology, Lustig is deeply inspired by science, nature, and the mind.

Perla 2013San Francisco-based composer Jack Perla (C&V 2007-08) has forged a reputation for writing engaging, sophisticated, and accessible works using a palette that includes symphonic, operatic and chamber music, as well as multiple jazz and popular idioms. He was recently commissioned by Opera Theater St. Louis to create a new opera for 2015, based on Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, with acclaimed director James Robinson. In 2010 Jack was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera for a one-act opera with playwright Eugenie Chan, for “Song of Houston”, a multi-year series of new operas that share the stories of Houstonians who define the unique character of that city. The new work, Courtside, received its premiere run in early 2011, and was part of the “East + West” component of “Song of Houston”, which celebrates the city as a meeting place for Eastern and Western cultures. Courtside was the first in that series, and its successs led to a second commission for the final opera of the series, with author Chitra Banerjee Divarakuni. Jack’s first full-length chamber opera, Love/Hate, with writer Rob Bailis, premiered in 2012 in a co-production with the Opera Center of San Francisco Opera and ODC Theater. Co-commissioned by ODC Theater (San Francisco) and American Opera Projects (New York). www.jackperla.com

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AOP has presented scenes from Rachel Peters’ (C&V 2011-12) operas Companionship and Prairie Dogs (Galapagos Art Space) as well as her song cycle, Jack’s Vocabulary (Make Music NY). Other operas: Mermaid in the Jar (Hartford Opera Theater, Metropolis Opera Project), Monkey Do (Rhymes with Opera). Musicals: Only Children  (NYU Mainstage, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Dixon Place), Tiny Feats of Cowardice (NYC Fringe Festival, Adirondack Theatre Festival), Write Left (Playwrights Horizons Theatre School),  Tomato Red (UC Irvine, Playroom Theater) f2m, and Public Domain. Concert works: I Live Here (Galapagos Art Space), Canon I (Two Sides Sounding),And Then (BayPath College). Art songs and cabaret songs at Lincoln Center, Second Stage, National Opera Center, Cincinnati CCM, NYMF, Ars Nova, Laurie Beechman Theatre, and Cornelia Street Café. Other fellowships: New Dramatists, John Duffy Composers Institute. Upcoming: Fronds (Walt Whitman Project). Double B.A., Brandeis University; MFA, NYU Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program. www.racheljpeters.com

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Daniel Sonenberg (C&V 2002-03) participated in the first iteration of Composers and the Voice in 2003, and went on to form the composers collective South Oxford Six with the other composers in that group. His opera, The Summer King, has been developed with AOP in workshop performances in Brooklyn, at the Manhattan School of Music, and at the University of Southern Maine (USM), where Dan is currently Associate Professor and Resident Composer. The opera will receive its world premiere in concert form in Portland, Maine in May 2014, in a production sponsored by Portland Ovations, USM and American Opera Projects. Other recent compositions include Delve (2013), premiered by the Da Capo Chamber Players, Takes One to Know One (2012), for percussion, bass clarinet, cello and double bass, Grab That! (2012) for oboe, violin, cello and piano, and Seven Jarring Dances for Clarinets and Steel-String Guitar (2011). Read more at his website, www.danielsonenberg.org.

Stefan Weisman

Stefan Weisman participated in Composers & the Voice in 2003-04, which led to AOP’s commissioning of Darkling, an operawith a libretto by Anna Rabinowitz. Darkling was included in the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, premiered to great acclaim at the East 13th Street Theater and toured Europe in 2007. It was released by Albany Records in 2011. His one-act opera Fade, commissioned by Second Movement, premiered in London in 2008. He is currently developing an evening length opera, The Scarlet Ibis, which will premiere at PROTOTYPE in 2015, and will be produced by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE. In 2012, Inside Jersey Magazine selected him as one of twenty-one artists from New Jersey who are “breaking big.” When his song “Twinkie” was featured on the nationally syndicated program The Wendy Williams Show, the host said, “Very unique…You’re not going to hear opera like this anywhere else…Fabulous!”

Adrienne DanrichThe voice of EMMY award winning soprano Adrienne Danrich has been described as “fresh liquid-silver”, “radiant”, and “meltingly tender in its high, floating vulnerability” by Opera News. She has had several songs written for her by various AOP composers.  She has performed leading roles with San Francisco, Pacific, Cincinnati, Sarasota, Dayton, Kentucky, Skylight, San Antonio and Fort Worth opera companies. She performed with Kenya Opera throughout Nairobi and Mombasa. Ms. Danrich made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and her Alice Tully Hall debut with The Little Orchestra of New York. Ms. Danrich recently debuted two operatic title roles- Aida with Annapolis and Tulsa operas and Madama Butterfly with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra. On the concert stage, Ms. Danrich has performed with the San Francisco, Philadelphia, St. Luke’s, Cape Cod, Lexington, Bryan, Dayton, Northern Kentucky, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Cincinnati, Laredo, Hartt, Hamilton Farfield and St. George’s Choral Society orchestras. Ms. Danrich performs her self-described ‘live documentary’ and one-woman show, This Little Light of Mine: The Stories of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price, which she wrote under a commission from Cincinnati Opera. Ms. Danrich recently won an EMMY for her performance in This Little Light of Mine, which was filmed by Milwaukee Public Television (MPTV). Cincinnati Public Television (WCET) filmed a different and original version of This Little Light of Mine, which aired in 2012. In February 2011, Ms. Danrich performed the premiere of her new live documentary, An Evening in the Harlem Renaissance, which she wrote under a commission from the Lively Arts Concert Series at Indiana University Pennsylvania and has since performed the show with Cincinnati Opera, Taft Museum, and The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Nicole MitchellNicole Mitchell (contralto) is a proud native of Brooklyn, New York. She has performed regularly with American Opera Projects and The Walt Whitman Project extensively promoting the works of New York composers. Most notably was the song cycle Songs from the F Train composed by Gilda Lyons and joint-commissioned by American Opera Projects and The Walt Whitman Project. These songs were performed at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. This past summer Nicole performed in the New York premiere of Lera Auerbach’s opera The Blind in an AOP & Lincoln Center Summer Festival production. Ms. Mitchell has performed at Avery Fisher Hall and with New York City Opera and Sarasota Opera where she sang the role of Tituba in Robert Ward’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning opera The Crucible, later reprising the role with Piedmont Opera (2012) at the request of the composer. As a Tanglewood Vocal Fellow (2008) she sang for Maestro James Levine and performed as one of the Six Ladies while covering the role of Leocadja Begbick in Kurt Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. In February 2013, Nicole gave a recital at Brooklyn Navy Yard Center’s BLDG 92 Museum. She was officially the second operatic voice heard at the Navy Yard since Eugenia Farrar’s 1907 radio broadcast. Next year Nicole will appear in David Lang’s work The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Beth Morrison Projects 2014). In addition to contemporary compositions, Ms. Mitchell’s concert work as alto soloist includes Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony & Choral Fantasy, Handel’s Messiah, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Mozart’s Requiem to be performed later this month with at The Colour of Music Festival in Charleston, SC.

Kyle GuglielmoLyric baritone Kyle Guglielmo‘s most recent performances include Le Dancaïre in the Westfield Symphony’s concert version of Carmen and Dr. Pill in Sarasota Opera’s world premiere production of Little Nemo in Slumberland. Engagements during the 2011-2012 season included Marco (Gianni Schicchi) with The Princeton Festival and an apprenticeship with Sarasota Opera, where he covered Le Dancaïre and performed Lillas Pastia (Carmen).  In the spring of 2011 Kyle starred as Curly in the UNC School of the Arts presentation of Oklahoma! which was filmed in HD and broadcast on North Carolina Public Television.  In 2008 Kyle performed Giuseppe Naccarelli in the opera house premiere of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza with Piedmont Opera. Roles performed while at UNCSA include Belcore (L’elisir d’amore), Sid (Albert Herring), Harry Easter (Street Scene), Giorgio Talbot (Maria Stuarda), and Ernesto (Il mondo della luna). Kyle is currently an acting student at the William Esper Studio in Manhattan.

Mila HenryMila Henry is a New York-based pianist who specializes in contemporary opera, musical theater, and chamber music. She is Resident Music Director with American Opera Projects (AOP), where she recently served as Assistant Conductor for The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival 2013) and music directs for their Composers & the Voice workshop series with conductor Steven Osgood. Frequent collaborators include OPERA America, Beth Morrison Projects (BMP), HERE, Gotham Chamber Opera, American Lyric Theater, Opera on Tap, and Center City Opera Theater. Current projects include Kamala Sankaram’s contemporary opera-theatre work Thumbprint (PROTOTYPE 2014); the chamber music series Atmospheric Shift: Music of the Elements with Two Sides Sounding; Stefan Weisman’s The Scarlet Ibis with BMP and HERE, in association with AOP; and Nkeiru Okoye’s folk opera HARRIET TUBMAN: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom with AOP. Mila holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and Elizabethtown College.  She lives in Brooklyn.  http://milahenry.com

Since 2005, THE PHOENIX CONCERTS, New York’s “plucky Upper West Side new-music series” (The New Yorker), has commissioned, premiered, and presented over one hundred contemporary composers’ works on nearly fifty concerts in Manhattan, Beijing, Saratoga Springs, and Seattle. Thousands of additional listeners have been reached through streaming videos, visuals, and program notes on its comprehensive website (www.thephoenixconcerts.org) as well as rebroadcasts on WUOL 90.5 FM, Louisville, Kentucky’s Fine Arts Station.  THE PHOENIX CONCERTS’ unwavering commitment to presenting the broadest possible spectrum of new music draws enthusiastically supportive audiences comprised largely of first-time concertgoers. Catered post-concert receptions offer an informal setting where audiences interact with performers and composers. Building from a core season of four concerts presented at Manhattan’s Church of St. Matthew & St. Timothy, the calendar includes collaborative events hosted in partnership with: Beijing New Music Ensemble; Chamber Music America; Hudson Opera House; Lotte Lehmann Foundation; Beth Morrison Projects; Salon Harlem; Seasons Music Festival; “Composers Now” Festival at Symphony Space; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; and the Corporation of Yaddo.

At the forefront of the contemporary opera movement for a quarter century, AOP (American Opera Projects) 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 most recently 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 premieres with collaborating companies: Gregory Spears’s Paul’s Case at UrbanArias 2013, 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, Hoiby’s This Is the Rill Speaking at Opera Memphis 2013.

Upcoming:  7th season of Composers and the Voice, AOP-commissioned The Wanton Sublime and Nora, In the Great Outdoorswww.operaprojects.org


Young AOP Poet featured on Patch.com

April 6, 2011

Samori Covington, a young poet based in Brooklyn, has already had her work turned into a song, performed by an opera singer, and premiered at Carnegie Hall.  And she’s only 12 years old!

Samori, who wrote the poem “When Randa Wears Red” when she was just 8 years old , was part of the Phat Phun Tuesdays workshop headed by Angeli Rasbury at the Eastern Parkway and New Lots branches of the Brooklyn Public Library, along with two other girls, Alexis Cummings and Najaya Royal.  Each girl had one of their poems selected for the I Hear America Singing initiative, founded by Greg Trupiano of The Walt Whitman Project and our very own Executive Director Charles Jarden, which were then turned into the song cycle Songs from the F Train by composer Gilda Lyons.

The songs were premiered in the Fort Greene Literary Festival in 2009, although they’ve since been performed at Galapagos Art Space, Cave Canem, and Restoration, not to mention that musical behemoth called Carnegie Hall.  Samori’s involvement recently caught the attention of the the online newsletter for Bed-Stuy, Patch.com, which features local news about the Brooklyn region.  The Patch article also includes a sound clip of “When Randa wears Red,” featuring mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell.

After Songs from the F Train made its initial debut, three more songs were commissioned for Gilda Lyons, and her follow-up cycle, Songs from the A Train, made its debut as well.  In fact, the initiative has been so successful that AOP and The Walt Whitman Project will commission another three songs through Angeli’s Phat Phun Tuesdays, with performances scheduled for this June in Fort Greene Park.

But is Samori phased by all this well-deserved success?  Not one bit.  She admittedly still uses a script when she reads her poem aloud.  Though she does want to be a writer when she grows up.  Or a pediatrician.  Or a scientist.

 

L-R: Najaya Royal, Alexis Cummings, Samori Covington, and Angeli Rasbury


Young Poets Inspire Opera, Opera Inspires Young Poets

August 6, 2010

On a hot summer morning, the Brooklyn Library’s Dweck Auditorium is filled with children (along with their parents and a few other adults) craning their necks to watch five of their fellow students, one by one, take the stage and recite poetry. Not just any poetry, but their own. Poetry that talked about loving Brooklyn, about hating Brooklyn, about being shy, about being ambitious, about looking good in a dress, about living large in a mansion. Moments after these five students, ranging in ages from 6 to 13, had finished reading – some shyly, some proudly, all bravely – they took their seats and all watched as  mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell and pianist Kelly Horsted walked on the stage. A few seconds later they heard the poetry again, this time expressed in powerful song.

IHAS at the Dweck Auditorium

I Hear America Singing at the Dweck Auditorium, July 19, 2010. (l. to r. The Walt Whitman Project Artistic Director Greg Trupiano, poet Tyler Forsythe, poetry mentor Angeli Rasbury, poet Tristan Regist, composer Gilda Lyons, poet Keanu Stowe, poet Alexis Cummings, AOP General Director Charles Jarden, mother Angeline Keller, poet Samori Covington, pianist Kelly Horsted, singer Nicole Mitchell)

This was I Hear America Singing, the initiative by American Opera Projects and the Walt Whitman Project to transform the words of ordinary Americans into opera, and its first two song cycles composed by Gilda Lyons – “Songs from the F Train,” premiered in June 2009, and “Songs from the A Train,” premiered on this summer morning July 19, 2010 at the Dweck Auditorium, with all but one of the six young poets in attendance.

Among the enraptured faces was Mr. Jim Vogel, Spokesperson for State Senator Velmanette Montgomery whose district covers a huge swath of Brooklyn from Ocean Hill to Fort Greene and down to Sunset Park.  Mr. Vogel was proud to tell everyone that these young poets were to going to be recognized by the NY State Legislature for their hard work and inspirational voices. The students smiled to learn how far their voices had traveled and how many people had been listening. (And to learn how politics work. They would have been officially presented with this recognition that morning in the form of a framed Proclamation… but Albany first had to complete their months-delayed budget.)

Later, their writing mentor Angeli Rasbury asked the students to express themselves yet again, but this time with a focus on what they felt when they heard Ms. Mitchell, a Brooklyn native herself, sing.

When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I hear a talented opera voice in my ears.
I feel very happy to hear her beautiful voice singing, letting all her emotions out.
I hear and see the birds flying high.
I hear the crickets singing and the butterfly flying joyfully through the sky.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell I look back in the days when black people were slaves singing and working hard to get their freedom.
I imagine Nicole back there in time singing to her freedom, singing when will she be free.
When I hear that song it makes me feel proud of black people, of how far we have come,  to this stage right now. When I hear people like Nicole Mitchell, my day keeps getting better and better.
–  Rood Dorestil, 13 years old

When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel happy and think I’m in heaven.
I hear trees whistling in the breeze.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell, I can imagine different colored flowers moving slowly from side to side.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I am joyful.
I feel like a red leaf.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel like I am in beautiful, lush Barbados.
I feel Nicole Mitchell is a beautiful singer.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, she sounds excited to be alive.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel free.
When I hear Nicole Mitchell sing, I feel like a pretty slave who has been freed.
–    Aliah Gilkes, 10 years old

master tell me i’m his slave
no i say i’m a flow of music
i’m not a slave
don’t believe such foolishness of your white community
i hear the the voices of opera
and feel the beat of opera
i hear the piano of the flat boards
that used to be teeth
the loud voices saying
you go girl
that my people is pure music!
–  Eva Taylor, 9 years old

This is only the beginning of I Hear America Singing. In the 2010-11 season AOP will branch out with new performances and new songs. There are many voices yet to be heard. Visit www.operaprojects.org throughout the year to discover when and where to hear them.


AOP REVIEWS: “Remarkable series” Opera Grows in Brooklyn “an open-minded night of musical experimentation”

July 14, 2010

Galapagos Art Space was the place to be for another night of drinks and drama at Opera Grows in Brooklyn, the hit series from AOP and Opera on Tap.

Just look at what the blogs had to say…

Nicole Mitchell at Opera Grows in Brooklyn

Nicole Mitchell sings "Songs from Hood to Riches"

Parterrebox:

“…it seems clear that the Brooklyn hipster is destined to be the next audience for opera.”

“…once again some amazing surprises were presented by this rag-tag bunch of very experimental artists.”

“…the old and new guard of opera viewers mingled in an open-minded night of musical experimentation.”

Read full review

Opera Insider:

“I for one do not intend to miss another installment of this remarkable series!!! … the eclectic and sometimes challenging musical offerings [are] beautifully framed by the contemporary space and the relaxed, social atmosphere.”

Read full review

Adrienne Danrich performs the Calamus Songs

Adrienne Danrich

The July 9 show kicked off with the rousing set Brooklyn Poets – Past and Present, a combination of songs from AOP and the Walt Whitman Project’s Calamus Songs (Daniel Felsenfeld, Andrew Staniland) and “Songs from Hood to Riches” (Gilda Lyons). Soprano Adrienne Danrich and cellist Hamilton Berry drew thunderous applause for the Whitman settings and mezzo Nicole Mitchell continued her dramatic interpretations of Lyons’s songs based on the poetry of Brooklyn children featuring longtime AOP artist Kelly Horsted on the piano.

Ross Benoliel and Indre Viskontas get busy in the "Chamber"

Ross Benoliel and Indre Viskontas get busy in the "Chamber"

The night continued with singer/songwriter Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts, a disturbing and touching series of portraits about voluntary amputees featuring the incredible piano stylings of Kathleen Supové. Soprano Indre Viskontas and baritone Ross Benoliel brought sexy back with The Bloody Chamber by Daniel Felsenfeld, a new opera being developed by the former C&V composer (prolific, ain’t he?) and staged by the Vineyard Theater’s Sarah Stern.

Opera Grows in Brooklyn will return to Galapagos in 2010 on October 15 and December 10 with all new cutting edge scenes and songs. Mark your calendars now!


AOP Celebrates RFK at Brooklyn Memorial Party

February 26, 2010
Nicole Mitchell and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

AOP mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

On December 12, 2009, AOP was invited to present “Songs from the F Train”  during The RFK Memorial Holiday Party at the Youth Arts Academy in Brooklyn.  Distinguished guest  Robert Kennedy Jr., son of the late Senator and Attorney General, had the opportunity to listen to mezzo-soprano Nicole Mitchell sing through the trio of songs. Pianist Christopher Berg accompanied the  performance held at the Restoration Plaza.

Residents of Bedford Stuyvesant joined parents and children to form an audience of over 250.  AOP’s performance of “Songs from the F Train” furthered Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s mission to promote the growth of arts and culture in central Brooklyn.

The first commissioned work of AOP’s  I Hear America Singing, “Songs from the F Train” is a setting of poems by three Brooklyn students ages 9-12. The poems were written in a poetry workshop led by Brooklyn writer Angeli Rasbury in Fort Greene Park, and set to music by composer Gilda Lyons.


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