I’m continually grateful and honored that Skylark featured this piece I wrote for them as the title track of their beautiful album, which gives expression to experiences of the pandemic through a musical program of courageous stylistic and emotional range.
The album is available for listening on all major streaming platforms and can be ordered directly from the ensemble here.
OPERA America has awarded a Commissioning Grant for Female Composers to Houston Grand Opera for Turn and Burn, my upcoming opera with librettist Megan Cohen!
In Turn and Burn, small-town barrel racing champion Shayla Taylor and ambitious executive Jamie Hernandez aim for a big win at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When an accident threatens Shayla’s career-defining race, the women discover each other’s strength in adversity. Our original story informed by interviews with rodeo athletes offers a feminist perspective on contemporary rodeo culture.
A 70-minute one act opera for five singers with an eight-piece amplified chamber-rock ensemble, Turn and Burn is scheduled for a World Premiere production with stage direction by Leslie Swackhamer in Houston next year.
OPERA America’s grant incentivizes opera companies in the United States to commission and produce works by female composers. In addition to Houston Grand Opera’s commission of my work, recipients this year include Beth Morrison Projects for Du Yun’s “In Our Daughter’s Eyes,” which is written by Michael Joseph McQuilken; Boston Lyric Opera for Ellen Reid and librettist Christopher Oscar PeÃ±a’s “The Desert Inn;” Guerilla Opera for “HER: alive / un / dead: a media opera” by Emily Koh; HERE for Heather Christian’s “A Practical Breviary: Terce;” Opera on Tap for Kamala Sankaram and librettist Kristin Marting’s “Joan of the City;” Opera Orlando for Stella C. Y. Sung and librettist Mark Campbell’s “The Secret River;” Opera Philadelphia for Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek’s “The Listeners;” and The American Opera Project for Rima Fan and librettist Karen Fisher’s “Precipice.”
I am honored to be included in such accomplished and visionary company!
Canadian Music Centre and Toronto Messiaen Ensemble recently selected my work Retrace (2018) for flute, violin, cello, for inclusion on their Spring 2020 season! My piece was one of five selected from roughly 450 submissions to their international Call for Scores.
This will be the first performance of my music in Canada! I’ll announce the concert date and further details soon.
I’m thrilled to have been named winner of Boston Choral Ensemble’s12th Annual Commission Competition to write a work for their annual holiday concert! It’s a great honor to have been awarded this highly competitive opportunity to continue expanding my work in choral and vocal ensemble music.
My planned work, Blue Shadows, Silver Sunlight, will feature poems by early 20th century American poets Margaret Widdemer, Sara Teasdale, and Amy Lowell, each of which use vivid descriptions of winter phenomena to convey moments of profound connection to the natural world.
Stayed tuned for an announcement of the World Premiere performance this December in Boston, MA!
I’m extremely honored that my chamber opera Mabel’s Call has been selected by Fort Worth Opera for their renowned 2018 Frontiers showcase! A 20-minute excerpt will be presented with piano accompaniment alongside other five other new operas-in-development during the Fort Worth Opera Festival at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. Check out their press release for more information about each of the works selected for this year’s festival.
Mabel’s Call will be featured on Thursday, May 3, 2018. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased online.
Hailed as “one of the most significant music events of the year” by D Magazine, Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase has yielded numerous regional and world premieres since its inception. This program offers audiences a first look at the developmental processes for operas and gives emerging composers and librettists a platform to showcase their talents.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have Mabel’s Call continue its development as part of this amazing program. Learn more about this opera at mabelscall.com.
These past few years, I’ve focused increasingly on vocal music and opera, and I’ve been fortunate to have access to workshops, residencies, and fellowships that have moved me towards becoming a better artist and building a career as an opera creator. I completed my first dramatic work, monodrama The Coming of Spring, in 2014, and finished my first full chamber opera, Mabel’s Call, this past summer.
A big question, of course, has remained: How could I make that leap from writing “on spec” and workshopping operas-in-development to securing a premiere production by a professional company? Or, for that matter, having an opera commissioned?
Then, one day, HGOco, the community collaboration and education arm of Houston Grand Opera, loved the proposal I wrote with my collaborator to create a “feminist rodeo opera” (more on that below!) for their award-winning Song of Houston initiative, which has been commissioning new works based on stories that define the unique character of Houston since 2007. Their open call for proposals opened a big door for me.
HGOco has awarded me a commission to compose a 60-80 minute one act opera, which will receive a full production in March 2021 with five soloists and an eight-piece chamber ensemble.
Dream. Come. True.
As if that weren’t wonderful enough, I get to write this opera with the brilliant Megan Cohen, one of the most-produced playwrights under 35 and an emerging opera librettist, recently commissioned by Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. She also happens to be my sister.
(As far as I know, Megan and I might be the first ever professional composer-librettist team of sisters!)
HGOco commissions works that reflect the Houston experience. Our original story, which will be informed by interviews with contemporary Texans, offers a feminist perspective on rodeo culture: “Small-town barrel racing champion Shayla Taylor and her sponsor, powerful businesswoman Jamie Mendoza, aim for a big win at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. When a bronc rider with a tragic past threatens Shayla’s career-defining race, the women discover each other’s strength in adversity with the help of a spirited rodeo queen.”
Over the next few years, Megan and I will be making frequent trips to Houston for dramaturgical research and workshops as we develop the libretto and score.
I am BEYOND thrilled and honored for the opportunity to create work for HGOco. I can’t wait to bring this opera to life and share it with an audience!
For more information about HGOco’s commissions, which also include an exciting project from composer Nkeiru Okoye and librettist Anita Gonzalez, check out the press release on BroadwayWorld.com.
It is a huge honor to have been selected by the Houston Grand Opera as one of eleven finalists for the 2017 Song of Houston Composer Call!
The nationally recognized Song of Houston initiative commissions new chamber operas and song projects that resonate with contemporary life in Houston and develops community projects that foster collaborations with many Houston-area organizations. Previously commissioned composers include Christopher Theofanidis, Gregory Spears, David Hanlon, and Laura Kaminsky.
Commissioned works will be announced during the summer.
I first visited Taos in June 2010 while filming my multimedia piece The Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe and the New Mexico Landscape. On that trip, I spent a night at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House: a historic home turned into a B&B.
It was there that my interest in Luhan, a memoirist and influential patron of the arts, was first piqued. Who was this glamorous, eccentric character who attracted Georgia O’Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, and countless other Modernist luminaries to her salons?
And wouldn’t she be a fantastic subject for an opera?
Fast forward to 2016. I am honored to have been awarded a Residency Grant from The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, an arts colony in Taos, where I will be for most of June through August. During this time, I’ll be working primarily on my opera based on the life and memoirs of Mabel Dodge Luhan.
I’m thrilled beyond words to have the privilege of spending ten weeks living and working in this artistic haven, situated in the scenic multicultural environment of Taos that inspired many of my favorite works of art and formed the heart of Luhan’s life and legacy.
Following this residency, my opera-in-progress will receive two exciting showcases in two very different venues!
On August 12, I will present an evening of excerpts from my opera in piano score at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos. Visit the Museum’s website for more information. This event will be presented in connection with Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West, a major traveling exhibition that explores Luhan’s impact on the art, writings, and activism of 20th century American Modernism.
Back in New York City, this same project will be featured on AOP’s Six Scenes on September 30 & October 2, the culminating performance of Composers & the Voice.
Six Scenes will feature excerpts from six operas by the emerging composer and librettist fellows in the Composers & the Voice program. After the outstanding performances on the First Glimpse concert earlier this month (recordings forthcoming), I can’t wait to hear what AOP’s resident ensemble of singers and music directors will do with my score.
Bringing Mabel Dodge Luhan to Life through Opera
August 12, 2016, 5:30pm
Harwood Museum of Art
238 Ledoux Street, Taos, NM 87571 More information
Composers & the Voice: Six Scenes
September 30 & October 2, 2016, 8:00pm
South Oxford Space
138 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 More information
I am absolutely thrilled and honored to have been selected by American Opera Projects to participate in the eighth season of their renowned Composers & the Voice fellowship program!
Directed by conductor Steven Osgood (The Metropolitan Opera, Beth Morrison Projects, et al), this program gives emerging composers and librettists experience working collaboratively with singers on writing for the voice and contemporary opera stage.
The two-year fellowships, made possible through a generous grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, include a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team at AOP’s home base in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships.
You’ll be able to hear my work in May 2016 at First Glimpse, AOP’s bi-annual concert of songs written in the C&V workshops. A second concert in September 2016 will showcase full opera scenes created by the composers over the summer.
Check out AOP’s official announcement to learn more about C&V and the accomplished group of artists I’ll have the privilege of joining this fall. I look forward to sharing the products of this program with you over the coming months and years!
UPDATE: The recording of this performance is now available, below!
As Composer-in-Residence with the NYU Symphony, I will receive the honor of having a newly commissioned work for orchestra, Point Reyes from Chimney Rock, premiered on Monday, March 3, 8:00pm at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY, the preeminent venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for NYU and lower Manhattan. The concert will also include works by Britten, Tchaikovsky, and my colleague Kyle Tieman-Strauss.
While Point Reyes is my sixth composition for large ensemble, it’s the first to be publicly performed. I hope some of you will be able to share this special moment with me.
About the Music
A tone poem inspired by the coastal landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area where I was born and raised, Point Reyes from Chimney Rock takes its title from a woodblock print by contemporary artist Tom Killion (www.tomkillion.com), which I received as gift from my parents in Summer 2013.
The print depicts a view of Point Reyes, the peninsula jutting into the ocean north of San Francisco, from which the rugged Pacific can be seen on one side of the rocky, grass-frosted land mass, and Drake’s Bay on the other. Wild irises and grasses in the foreground appear to tremble in a brisk wind, while the water’s horizon and a looming orange-red sky stretch far into the distance.
Killion’s artwork, along with my personal experiences walking in this and similar environs on the Point Reyes National Seashore, informed the sound world I strove to create within the orchestra. This landscape is broad and sweeping on the large scale, yet delicate and intimate in the details; it is bold yet ethereal, in both sunshine and fog. My love and yearning for this place is embedded in the music.