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Monthly Archives: October 2017

  • "Make the opera attractive enough that somebody wants to do it again..." Celebrating National Opera Week with Michael Ching

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 – Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and hard work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    Michael ChingE. C. Schirmer publishes Michael Ching's Buoso's Ghost which will play this season at SUNY Potsdam, the University of Central Florida, and OperaDelaware where the composer will also conduct the production. Michael's newest project is Anna Hunter, a one act opera about historic preservation in 1950s Savannah. It is part of the 2017 National Opera Week festivities at the Savannah Voice Festival.  Speed Dating Tonight! was commissioned and premiered in 2013 by the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center and will have its sixtieth production in 2018. It has been called the most popular opera of the 21st century. Michael has new projects as composer/librettist at Cedar Rapids Opera Theater and the Performing Arts High School at Rancho Mirage, California. Michael currently serves as Music Director of Amarillo Opera, Composer-in-Residence at Savannah Voice Festival, and Opera and Vocal Music Consultant for E. C. Schirmer and Galaxy Music. Email him.

    What is your all-time favorite opera?
    Carmen.

    What was the first opera you ever saw live?
    Trouble in Tahiti.

    If you could choose one artist to perform one of your operas, who would it be?
    Swedish Soprano, Anne Sofie von Otter.

    Who is your opera role model?
    Robert Ward, my teacher and composer of The Crucible.

    If you could have dinner with any composer, opera or otherwise, who would it be?
    Gershwin, and I’d bring along something to try to cure his brain tumor.

    What’s something about composing opera that people don’t know?
    It’s terribly fun!

    What is the biggest challenge in composing opera?
    Getting the story with an absolute minimum of recitative and dialogue. No one goes to the opera to hear recitative and dialogue. There are some composers that admire Debussy or Strauss and all the dialogue they have, but I personally find them dull. Call me a philistine.

    What are three important things to keep in mind when producing an opera?
    Replicability, Replicability, Replicability. Make the opera attractive enough that somebody wants to do it again after the premiere. Otherwise it’s way too much effort for one production!

    What is your greatest priority in creating new opera?
    Pleasing the producer and myself. Writing for the audience that I imagine will be attending the premiere.

    How did you come to create your first opera?
    I was studying with Robert Ward at Duke and he let me write an opera as a senior project, which they then produced the summer after I graduated.

    What are some of the differences between your first opera and your most recent one?
    My first opera sucked, my latest one’s really good. ;)

    Are you able to really enjoy a performance of your own opera, or are you mentally editing from you seat?
    I’m a really good audience member, and have learned to let go and enjoy the element of live theater and the choices made by the producers and performers. If you can’t let go, opera really might not be a good thing to write.

    How closely do you work with a commissioning organization?
    The closer, the better. The worst kinds of commissions are those that give you free reign. The best specify the subject matter, the size of the cast and orchestra, and even give suggestions about the musical approach.

    Tell us about how opera inspires or energizes you.
    I live and breathe it as a composer, librettist, conductor, and former administrator and coach. I’m very glad to be alive during a period of time where there’s a bit of demand for new work. I love taking something that you wouldn’t imagine would make a song and turn it into one. For example, my new opera, Anna Hunter, has a song about a “revolving fund” which is a financial lending instrument for historic preservation.

    Who’s another opera composer we should be watching?
    Bonnie Montgomery, an Americana singer-songwriter who has a background in opera, including an opera about Bill Clinton. I’m not saying that everyone should write shows like Porgy and Bess or West Side Story, but the field would be better off if there were more shows that used them as models.

    Who is your favorite opera company to watch? To work with?
    I’ve been delighted working with Sherrill Milnes and Maria Zouves at Savannah Voice Festival. It is singer-centered and they want music that is fun to sing and characterize. And their working model is opera-as-Greek-family, so there’s a lot of food and fun mixed into shooting the breeze about opera.

    What do you hope for the future of opera?
    I hope opera can be more central to our culture, like it was in Verdi’s time in Italy. Contrary to most composers, I think the answer is to be loved, not respected.

    For more information about Michael Ching and his catalogue, click here.

  • "...the music, libretto, themes, and ideas relate to the world we live in today so powerfully." A conversation with Francesca Zambello - The Crucible

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 – Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Francesca Zambello's American debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio in 1984. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda in 1987 and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe and the USA. Collaborating with outstanding artists and designers and promoting emerging talent, she takes a special interest in new music theater works, innovative productions, and in producing theater and opera for wider audiences. Ms. Zambello has been the General Director of The Glimmerglass Festival since 2010, and the Artistic Director of The Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center since 2012. She also served as the Artistic Advisor to the San Francisco Opera and as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Theater.


    The Glimmerglass Festival programmed Robert Ward's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, The Crucible, in its 2016 summer program. Ms. Zambello detailed the experience of directing that performance:

    "But to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group." Lillian Hellman’s letter to HUAC [United States House Un-American Activities Committee] speaks to us so powerfully today as it did then more than 60 years ago.

    As I thought about everything in that period of American history I was drawn to present and direct The Crucible at The Glimmerglass Festival as the music, libretto, themes and ideas relate to the world we live in today so powerfully. Although not a recent work, we at Glimmerglass have been resolved to feature great American repertory from the second half of the 20th century which has been so pivotal in inspiring today’s composers. We were blessed with a phenomenal cast led by Jamie Barton, Brian Mulligan, and Jay Hunter Morris under the baton of Nicole Paiement, an advocate for 20th century American music.

    As we dug into the score all of the cast was riveted by the piece, the melodies and the searing text, especially the unforgettable trial scene where every bit of fake news becomes the truth. It was a perfect piece for a young cast as they connected so powerfully to all the characters. Along with our designers, I decided to be totally true to the period as it is so shocking, then and now. I hope our effective revival will re-popularize it.

    Great reading by the way is Stacy Schiff’s book: The Witches, 1692


    https://glimmerglass.smugmug.com/Press/2016-The-Crucible-Press-Images/


    For more information about The Crucible, click here.

  • “Writing an opera is like sewing a quilt and building a monument at the same time.” Celebrating National Opera Week with Conrad Susa

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 – Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and hard work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    Conrad Susa

    Conrad Susa (1935-2013) was resident composer for the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and served as dramaturge for the O'Neill Center in Connecticut. He also wrote numerous scores for documentary films and PBS television productions, choral and instrumental works and operas (Transformations, Black River, and The Love of Don Perlimplín) commissioned by the Minnesota Opera Company, San Francisco Opera and Pepsico. His church opera The Wise Women, was written for the American Guild of Organists and The Dangerous Liaisons, for the San Francisco Opera. He won numerous awards, including Ford Foundation fellowships, National Endowment for the Arts grants and a National Endowment Consortium grant. He earned a B.F.A. from Carnegie Institute of Technology and received an M.S. from The Juilliard School, where he studied with William Bergsma, Vincent Persichetti, and P.D.Q. Bach.

    Answers by David Conte.

    Did Conrad have any words of advice that he gave his students about opera?
    Conrad’s advice to aspiring opera composers:  “Writing an opera is like sewing a quilt and building a monument at the same time.”  I believe that this was his way of saying that the opera composer has to keep track of both the smallest details and the largest structural matters.

    Are there noticeable differences in how Conrad wrote new opera from his earlier works to his later? If so, what were they?
    With each of his five successive operas, Conrad Susa expanded and refocused his energies.  The first, Transformations, he called an entertainment for 8 singers and 8 players, rather than an opera. Black River is the most ambitious, and in my experience the closest any American opera composer has come to the scale and depth of Wagner, whom Conrad greatly admired, along with Britten and Janacek, among others.  The Love of Don Perlimplin  is for me the most perfect of his operas;  he was at “the top of his game”  in building the dramatic arc, and especially in the orchestration, which in all Conrad’s operas is always giving the audience important information, and clarifying, deepening, and advancing the plot.  (This is one of the major differences between operas and musicals.) The Wise Women,  Conrad’s only church opera, may be the most unique, based on an original idea by Conrad and librettist Philip Littell that on the night of Christ’s birth, Christ appears to the wives of the Three Wise Men.  The Dangerous Liaisons has a harrowing intensity, and was the most challenging and difficult for Conrad to compose.  The libretto by Philip Littell is for me one of the finest librettos ever written in English.

    For more information about Conrad Susa and his catalogue, click here.

  • "...words are the structure which shape the music." Celebrating National Opera Week with Cerise Lim Jacobs

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 – Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and hard work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    Cerise Lim Jacobs

    Cerise Lim Jacobs has earned a place as one of the most creative and imaginative thinkers of our time. Born in Singapore, Jacobs eventually moved to Massachussetts where she worked as a trial partner at one of New England's largest law firms, practicing law for more than two decades. Three years into her retirement, a song cycle written for her husband turned into her first, full-length opera Madame White Snake. The music by Zhou Long won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. In September 2017, her latest opera project REV. 23Julian Wachner, music by , premiered at the Boston New Music Festival.

    What is your all-time favorite opera?
    Tristan

    What was the first opera you ever saw live?
    La Boheme

    If you could choose one artist to perform one of your operas, who would it be?
    Jonas Kauffman

    Who is your opera role model?
    Opera Philadelphia

    If you could have dinner with any composer, opera or otherwise, who would it be?
    Mozart

    Writing a libretto is a very different task than writing a play. What are the biggest differences and similarities?
    A libretto has to build in room for the music – the words form the structure for the music which moves through the words, livening the dramaturgy, filling in the emotions in ways words can’t.  So an opera of 100 minutes, as example, has a libretto which is much shorter in length than a play of 100 minutes.  A libretto also has to create moments in the dramatic arc when time stands still and singers are able to sing an “aria”.  Of course, a libretto and a play are similar in that both have to be dramaturgically strong and coherent.

    How does your libretto change once you begin working with the music?
    The music clarifies a lot of the dramaturgy.  Usually, I cut and simplify to allow more room for the music to blossom.  Many changes are also requested by the composer which range from simple word changes to additions or deletions of many lines of text.  All changes are made collaboratively with the composer.

    What unexpected challenges come up when creating a libretto?
    Creation is always an ongoing process; even a “final” libretto is not ever final.  The composer, director and dramaturg all have input, so there can be conflicting opinions about character development or dramaturgy which have to be explored and resolved.  In REV. 23, for example, Julian Wachner’s opera, we decided in the midst of the piano vocal workshop that the second half of the opera was not working, so it was back to the creative drawing board for a new iteration of the end for both the words and the music.

    What are your favorite themes to work with in opera?
    World mythology!  I was born and raised in Singapore in a multicultural mix of ethnicities, race and religion, where Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and others celebrated each other’s important religious days.  This has imbued me with a sense of the connectedness of myth and religion across cultures, and it’s the foundation of all my work.  Ouroboros Trilogy is a trio of grand operas based on Buddhist, Christian and Hindu myths.  REV. 23 melds Judeo-Christian, Greek and Chinese history and myth to create a satirical new chapter to the Book of Revelation.

    Does the music follow the words, or do the words follow the music?
    For me, the words are the structure which shape the music.  So if the libretto calls for an aria, the music will be an aria; if the libretto is moving the action forward, then so will the music.  However, the product that results from this collaboration between words and music – the opera – is ultimately an organic whole in which neither the words nor the music can exist without the other.

    What’s the biggest challenge in creating an opera?
    I am a creator of original opera.  This means that my work is not based on the life of a person (a biopic), or on an extant book, play or movie. So for me, the biggest challenge is coming up with an original concept or story which is worthy of the time and effort of commissioning, developing, producing and presenting.

    How did you come to create your first opera?
    My late husband, Charles, was celebrating a big birthday.  I wanted to give him a meaningful gift.  Since opera was his passion, I determined to commission a song cycle to be performed in our living room on his birthday.  This song cycle underwent what those who’ve ever built or renovated a house know well – scope creep!  The song cycle became an opera – Madame White Snake, which premiered in 2010 in Boston and won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for its composer, Zhou Long.

    What are some of the differences between your first libretto and your most recent one?
    I am so much more facile in the craft of writing libretti.  I have developed enormous trust in the music, which means that my libretti are much more concise and succinct.  There is no better teacher than experience and I’ve been fortunate to have the benefit of great and talented directors, composers and dramaturgs who have given me feedback.

    Are you able to really enjoy a performance of your own opera, or are you mentally editing from you seat?
    I have just had my fourth opera performed and I was able to sit back and really enjoy it.  Not so much the first one.  I think I realize now that once it’s on stage, there’s nothing I can do about it – it’s all in the hands of the director, conductor and singers.

    Tell us about how opera inspires or energizes you.
    It’s the most impactful art form combining music, theater and that most powerful and moving instrument – the voice.  What singers can do with their voices is miraculous.  At its very best, I feel my heart opening . . .

    Who is your favorite opera company to watch? To work with?
    Opera Philadelphia

    What do you hope for the future of opera?
    I’d really like to see opera be more of our times.  Compared to theater, there’s much less acceptance of new work by audiences.  We’re lucky to be in the midst of a renaissance in new American opera.  It’s going to be a while until this movement gains full acceptance by the current opera going public.  We just need to stay the course.

    For more information about Cerise Lim Jacobs and her catalogue, click here.

  • "Which comes first, music or words?" Celebrating National Opera Week with Henry Mollicone

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 – Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and hard work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    Henry Mollicone

    Henry Mollicone's one-act operas, Emperor NortonStarbird, The Face on the Barroom Floor, and The Mask of Evil, commissioned by the Central City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Kurt Herbert Adler Award Fund, and The Minnesota Opera, have been performed extensively. The Face on the Barroom Floor, a recipient of the American Composers' Recording Award, is one of America 's most oft-performed contemporary operas, and has also been produced in various European countries. Mr. Mollicone has guest-conducted at several American opera companies including those in Baltimore, Portland, Augusta, Lake George and Central City. In 1976, Mr. Mollicone was a musical assistant to Leonard Bernstein for the show 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and from 1971 to 1976 was an assistant conductor at the New York City Opera.

    What is your all-time favorite opera?
    La Traviata!

    What was the first opera you ever saw live?
    Rigoletto.

    If you could choose one artist to perform one of your operas, who would it be?
    Too many - can’t choose one!

    Who is your opera role model?
    Verdi (of course!)

    What’s something about composing opera that people don’t know?
    Interestingly, I find a lot of people who love opera ask the question “which comes first, music or words?" In opera, usually the words are written first, but sometimes a composer will give a librettist a melody, and a master librettist such as Sheldon Harnick  can handle the task very well.  A few times people have said to me, “It’s amazing how you could write the music and the librettist can find the words to fit it." That is, of course, an impossible task since the words are the foundation- the skeleton if you will- that sets the moods, structure, emotional content, etc., of the music.  In Broadway music, the answer is different: sometimes the words come first, and other times the music.

    What is the biggest challenge in composing opera?
    The commitment. The process is going on within the composer’s mind 24 seven, whether consciously or not.  Keeping up with the rest of your life while writing a large opera- or even a one-act- is a large task, and I find it takes serious effort to do so.  Opera just might be the most complicated musical form.  For me the most important elements are melody (which is of course married to harmony), and the emotional impact the work will have on the audience.

    What are three important things to keep in mind when producing an opera?
    Finding the best possible singers, director, and conductor; publicising the opera in a creative way so that audiences really want to see/hear the work; doing all you can to obtain with approval of the unions some kind of representative recording- audio or video, as getting new productions is an almost impossible task without having the ability to have other possible producers see/hear the piece.

    What is your greatest priority in creating new opera?
    Doing my best to reach the audience on an emotional level.  To me the greatest joy for a composer is to touch an audience in a positive way.  Composing music (as in writing, painting, etc.) is, or should in my opinion, come from a very deep place within the creator.  That’s why it is difficult sometimes  for me to sit through a premiere of my work.  Recently I was honored when Steven M. Crawford (a fine conductor from the Met) conducted the NYC premiere of a recent opera I wrote with librettist Sheldon Harnick, and told me that his wife was brought to tears in the finale of the piece.  Music should be written to bring pleasure and awareness to the audience!  This does not mean compromising what you are doing, but rather writing the best possible work you can while always keeping your audience in mind.  In the tough years of the 20th century, this was considered the wrong approach.  BALDERDASH!  It worked well for the master composers in the past!  I feel writing only for yourself and your colleagues is a selfish waste of time.

    How did you come to create your first opera?
    Interesting question!  I fell in love with the voice in high school, as my high school girlfriend (Carleen!) was a soprano.  I wrote a lot of things for her to sing so that our conservative parents would let us spend more time together to rehearse!! The girlfriend disappeared after our short romance, but the love of the voice continued, and I began coaching for the opera dept. at the New England Conservatory, where I decided it was time for me to write an original opera based on Hawthorn’s Young Goodman Brown.  I learned so much doing this, and learned even more when I got a job as a pianist at the New York City Opera after graduating college.  THAT was an education!  Thanks to two great men, composer Gunther Schuller and conductor Julius Rudel, I was able to receive my first opera commission.  Unfortunately I was going through writer’s block, as the accepted style was twelve tone music, and that must was not in my blood, so the piece didn’t turn out well as I was attempting to make my style sound more “modern.”  Thank God tonality (to my surprise) came back and was acceptable again— at that point I began to find my real compositional voice, and my next opera was the 25 minute The Face on the Barroom Floor, which still is my most performed work in that genre.

    For more information about Henry Mollicone and his catalogue, click here.

  • "The greatest priority in creating a new opera is finding a story and characters that need music.” Celebrating National Opera Week with David Conte

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 – Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and hard work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    David Conte

    David Conte (b. 1955) is the composer of over one hundred works published by E. C. Schirmer Music Company, including six operas. He is Professor of Composition and Chair of the Composition Department at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In 2010 he was appointed to the composition faculty of the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, and in 2011 he joined the board of the American Composers Forum. In 2014 he was named Composer-in-Residence with Cappella SF, a professional chorus in San Francisco.

    What is your all-time favorite opera?
    I have two:  Verdi’s Othello, and Janacek’s Jenufa.

    What was the first opera you ever saw live?
    Carmen, at the Masonic Auditorium in Detroit, 1976.

    If you could choose one artist to perform one of your operas, who would it be?
    Krzysztof Urbanski, one of the most gifted and exciting young conductors working today.

    Who is your opera role model?
    Puccini, Janacek, and Conrad Susa

    If you could have dinner with any composer, opera or otherwise, who would it be?
    Stephen Sondheim

    What is the biggest challenge in composing opera?
    Finding the right subject for your particular gifts, and working with the librettist to get the libretto you need.  There is a trend now, partly because of supertitles, which are indispensable, for libretti to be more like screenplays than true librettos.  The result is that the music is merely accompanying the dramatic unfolding, rather than animating it and illuminating the characters and their motivations.  Also, the audience is always being told in literal terms what is going on, but librettos, while they don’t have to be “high poetry,” need to have a tone of language that invites singing.  There can be a poetry “of” the opera, rather than “in” the opera.  This means that the language and structure of the libretto serve the music, in providing both varying tempos, which reflect the emotional tempo of the character at a given moment of his or her existence, and that there are opportunities for various kind of rhetorical composing, including music that both is “vertical,” in that the emotion of a situation is explored in a deep way, as in an aria, or “horizontal,” meaning that the plot actions are being advanced in a more practical sense.

    What is your greatest priority in creating new opera?
    Finding a story and characters that need music.  W. H. Auden said: “In order to sing, the characters have to be a little mad.”  One can make an analogy between high mass and low mass; what is sung, and what is spoken. Opera is sung. Fashioning a quality of language that “lifts of the page,” meaning that needs to be sung, and whose message is intensified when sung.  Building into the libretto a variety of tempos that reflect exactly the “rise and fall”  of the dramatic unfolding.  This is also a reflection of the dramatic structure of the work, which for me is best when it affirms classical Greek dramatic structure, with its clear climax and resolution.  When this is present, the audience can experience, again in the Greek sense, a true catharsis, which for me is the purpose of art, and is what leads both performers and audiences to bond with a work.  The most important quality to build into the libretto is what Somerset Maugham called “direction of interest.” It is the method by which an author causes you to concern yourself with the fortunes of certain people under certain conditions and keeps you attached to them until he has reached his solution.

    For more information about David Conte and his catalogue, click here.

  • "Human beings are hard-wired for narrative..." Celebrating National Opera Week with Libby Larsen

    In honor of National Opera Week (Oct. 27 - Nov. 5), E. C. Schirmer explores the creative process behind writing and producing new opera. Join us as we commemorate the creativity, diligence, and hard work of the composers, librettists, and producers who bring those operas to life.

    Libby LarsenGrammy award-winning composer Libby Larsen (b. 24 December 1950, Wilmington, Delaware) is one of America’s most prolific and most performed living composers, whose music has been praised for its dynamic, deeply inspired, and vigorous contemporary American spirit. Her opera Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus was selected as one of the eight best classical music events of 1990 by USA Today. In 1973, she co-founded (with Stephen Paulus) the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum, which has been an invaluable advocate for composers in a difficult, transitional time for American arts.

    What is your all-time favorite opera?
    Alban Berg’s Lulu, absolute favorite.

    What was the first opera you ever saw live?
    Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco.

    If you could choose one artist to perform one of your operas, who would it be?
    Nicholas Phan, superb artist.

    Who is your opera role model?
    Beverly Sills; artist, entrepreneur, leader.

    If you could have dinner with any composer, opera or otherwise, who would it be?
    Dinner séance with Hector Berlioz.

    What is your greatest priority in creating new opera?
    Human beings are hard-wired for narrative. I keep this as my top priority when I work in opera.  I challenge myself creatively to create and maintain a strong narrative – linear, non-linear, mobilesque – whatever the narrative form I use it must be clear throughout the work. Within this, my priorities are to tell a good story with interesting characters and music that involves the audience in their stories and character development.  A “character” can be as abstract as an idea or as concrete as a person.  Whatever or whoever it is the character needs to be deeply interesting and worked out on many levels.

    What are some of the differences between your first opera and your most recent one?
    One other noticeable difference (at least to me…) is the way in inhabit my characters and their stories. Over the years and the fifteen or so operas I’ve composed, I’ve changed  in how I think about and work with my characters. I used to set them in motion, watch them and respond with music.  Now I put them inside me, live with them, and let the music come through them. I’ve also evolved in the way I set text on character and circumstance.  In my early operas I tended to set text for each character in pretty much the same way.  For instance, if the meter of the score was 4/4, every character’s text was set 4/4.  I now create a customized rhythmic profile for each character as well as a customized tempo map for each’s character development throughout the opera. I’ve found that this way of working allows a character to transcend meter while coordinating naturally with it and with the other characters in the work.

    Tell us about how opera inspires or energizes you.
    I LOVE that the medium of opera allows a person to dwell deeply, over a long span of time, in an abstract, essential human emotion – love, death, grief, greed, jealousy, lust, avarice, power- lust, etc., When  we attend opera, we are more than willing to take ourselves to the subject at hand and GO THERE emotionally, trusting that we are welcome and belong in this particular world created of music/words/movement/lighting/costumes – maybe best of all, we BREATHE the same air along with the musicians so for this span of time we move together, musically, psychologically and spiritually.

    For more information about Libby Larsen and her catalogue, click here.

  • Gwyneth Walker visits Ohio University Choirs for masterclass & concert

    The Voice and Choral Departments of the Ohio University School of Music present visiting American composer Gwyneth Walker for a concert at First United Methodist Church, featuring Ohio’s choral ensembles and student vocal soloists. A public vocal masterclass occurs before the concert.

    Widely performed throughout the country, the music of American composer Gwyneth Walker is beloved by performers and audiences alike for its energy, beauty, reverence, drama, and humor. Dr. Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947) is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music. She holds B.A., M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in Music Composition. A former faculty member of the Oberlin College Conservatory, she resigned from academic employment in 1982 in order to pursue a career as a full-time composer. For nearly 30 years, she lived on a dairy farm in Braintree, Vermont. She now divides her time between her childhood hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut and the musical communities of Sarasota, Florida and Randolph, Vermont.

    Gwyneth Walker has been a proud resident of Vermont for many years. She is the recipient of the Year 2000 "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the Vermont Arts Council as well as the 2008 "Athenaeum Award for Achievement in the Arts and Humanities" from the St. Johnsbury (VT) Athenaeum. In 2012, she was elected as a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Walker's catalog includes over 300 commissioned works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, chorus, and solo voice. A special interest has been dramatic works that combine music with readings, acting, and movement.

    Source: OHIO College of Fine Arts - MUSIC: Visiting Artist Gwyneth Walker with Ohio University Choirs

  • Ragnar Bohlin conducts music by David Conte: Taiwan & San Francisco

    Taiwan

    Grammy award-winning Ragnar Bohlin conducted the Formosa Singers in concert in Taipei, Taiwan. As part of the performance, David Conte's work The Waking was performed. Commissioned in 1985 by the Music Parents Support Organization (Lakewood, OH), this work was written for Conte's alma mater. The composer writes, "I was attracted to the American poet Theodore Roethke's work because of its powerful evocation of his own youth in the Midwest. In his poem The Waking I found a gentle mysticism and an acceptance of the paradoxical nature of life which seemed a poignant message for young people."

    Here is a performance of The Waking by the Salt Lake Vocal Artists:


    San Francisco

    On October 28-29, Bohlin led Cappella SF in a performance of Conte's The Kingdom of God for SATB Chorus, Children's Chorus, and piano. They were joined by the Young Women's Choral Projects under the direction of Susan McMane.

    Nicholas Jones wrote in a San Francisco Classical Voice review: "At the end of the concert, the young women returned to the stage to join Cappella SF in a moving piece by David Conte, The Kingdom of God, written in memory of those killed at Newtown, and beautifully fitted to both the freshness and vigor of a youth choir and the virtuosity of a professional choir." Click here to read the full review.

  • Elena Ruehr piano concerto premiere - A Far Cry

    Heng-Jin Park

    Pianist Heng-Jin Park premieres Elena Ruehr's Piano Concerto in a program exploring human migration, hosted by Boston-based A Far Cry. The work was commissioned by AFC and is based on Park's own immigration story. Also included in the concert is Georg Phillip Telemann's Ouverture, "les nations," and Mieczyslaw Weinberg Symphony No. 10.

    A Far Cry stands at the forefront of an exciting new generation in classical music. According to The New York Times, the self-conducted orchestra “brims with personality or, better, personalities, many and varied.” A Far Cry was founded in 2007 by a tightly-knit collective of 17 young professional musicians, and since the beginning has fostered those personalities. A Far Cry has developed an innovative process where decisions are made collectively and leadership rotates among the “Criers.” For each piece, a group of principals is elected by the members, and these five musicians guide the rehearsal process and shape the interpretation. Since each program includes multiple works, this multiplicity of leaders adds tremendous musical variety to the concerts.

    Source: Music in Migration — A Far Cry

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