New York City’s Experiments in Opera Premieres Brother Brother on May 2-3

March 17th, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
May 2, 2014
8:00 pm
May 3, 2014
8:00 pm

brotherbrotherNew York, NY — Experiments in Opera announces the premiere of Brother Brother, the final production of their 2013-14 Season at Abrons Arts Center, with music and libretto by Aaron Siegel. This 90-minute opera, which has been in development with Experiments in Opera for the last two seasons, explores the relationship between Orville and Wilbur Wright following their first flights in 1903. Scored for 2 vibraphones, glockenspiel, strings, flute, vocal soloists, actors and chorus, Brother Brother will be premiered on Friday May 2 and Saturday May 3, 8pm in the Playhouse at Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand Street, New York. For tickets ($20 general, $15 student), patrons should call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit

This production of Brother Brother will be directed by Mallory Catlett, with scenic design by Obie Award-winning designer Mimi Lien, and musical direction by David Bloom. The involved musicians have been collaborators in the development of Brother Brother over the last four years and include Mantra Percussion, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, soprano Michelle Kennedy, countertenor Patrick Fennig, tenor Marc Day, and actor Julian A Rozzell, Jr.

Prior to each Brother Brother performance, Experiments in Opera will share two “Opera Trailers,” 90-second videos that offer a sneak peek at new opera ideas and characters. Featured artists include Jason Cady, Dave Ruder, Matthew Welch and the partnership of Daniel Kushner, Noelle Evans and Jascha Narveson. Additionally, in partnership with, composers and collaborators featured on Brother Brother will take part in a free public discussion — Opera in Dialogue #3 on Saturday May 3, 2014, 5:00 PM, at the Playhouse, Abrons Arts Center — exploring the ideas and motivations behind this premiere production.

The Wright Brothers’ fascinating story of family drama, business struggles and legal fights is layered over a secondary story about the fictional characters, Red and Blue, which details the challenges of contemporary brotherhood and the complexities of growing up with an unusual idea of brotherly intimacy. Aaron Siegel drew on his own experiences as a twin while writing the libretto that provides both sets of brothers a range of coded language to express their wonder in the world and in each other. The music for Brother Brother draws on Siegel’s wide range of experiences with percussive minimalism, early music, American shape-note singing, ambient electronic music and improvised jazz. Brother Brother is a timely look at the personal side of innovation and entrepreneurial optimism in America.


From the Composer:

Aaron_Siegel1_SMALL_(photo_by_Kevin_McGrath)“I’ve always been more drawn to consonance than to dissonance. This musical impulse has dramatic implications as well, and you could say that Brother Brother is really an argument for hopefulness — the kind I have always felt when I am around my brother. I know this sounds sentimental, and that it bucks against the notion that great drama is by its nature more of a downer. The historical period that the Wright Brothers emerged from was defined by a sense of promise and possibility and I think it is a message we need to hear more about nowadays, despite our reservations.

“Rather than try to speak in an authoritative voice about history or ideas, it was very important to me that Brother Brother be a personal story in my own words. For better or for worse, I am eager to share a holistic vision of the sounds I hear and the words I use to create meaning in my life. This ‘auteur’ approach is more common these days in film and indie culture, where a do-it-yourself aesthetic is the norm, but it once was also an important part of opera culture. Why shouldn’t it still be?”


Aaron Siegel’s inquisitive and playful work represents a personal vision of how we live with and respond to the sounds in our world. Brother Brother, his second opera, has been showcased in events produced by Experiments in Opera and at The Industry’s First Take Production in Los Angeles in June 2013. His CD Science is Only a Sometimes Friend for eight glockenspiels and organ was released in May 2011 on LockStep Records and hailed as “one continuous ecstatic sonic event,” and as one of the best records of 2011 by Time Out New York. In the past year, Science is Only a Sometimes Friend has been performed around the country by Mantra Percussion, Tigue, and the UNC-Pembroke and Eastern Kentucky University percussion ensembles. Siegel is currently working on a commission for the Young People’s Chorus of New York City’s Radio Radiance Series. A recording of his solo storytelling project Call Us Your People will be available in Spring 2014 on LockStep Records.

In addition to his work as a composer and organizer, Siegel has performed with Memorize the Sky, Anthony Braxton and Robert Ashley. His work can be found on numerous recordings including Cabinet for solo percussion and Every Morning, a History for chamber ensemble and solo piano. Siegel is manager of secondary school programs at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. For more information visit:

Mantra Percussion has been featured at festivals, venues, and universities throughout North America including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Carlsbad New Music Festival, the Bowling Green New Music Festival, MIT with Bang on a Can All-Stars, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, X Avant Festival, New Music New College, Moving Sounds Festival, Ear Heart Music, Hi Fi Music Festival, and Make Music New York. Mantra co-commissioned Michael Gordon’s recent evening-length percussion sextet Timber, and gave the work’s United States premiere in October 2011 at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and its New York premiere of at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival in December 2012.

The “commission-crazed” Cadillac Moon Ensemble is one of New York’s most visible new music groups, performing not just in traditional venues such as Roulette and the DiMenna Center, but in non-traditional spaces such as the High Line as well as in collaborations with dance, theater, and cabaret artists. The group strives to present a cross-section of contemporary music styles, tying together both uptown and downtown aesthetics with the creative use of thematic programming. Recent commissions have included works by Timothy Andres, Caleb Burhans, Shawn Allison, Nicholas Deyoe, Rick Burkhardt, Osnat Netzer, and Alex Weiser.




Co-founded by composers Matthew Welch, Jason Cady, and Aaron Siegel, Experiments in Opera is a composer-driven initiative, featuring recent and new works with innovative answers to the traditional questions about how to connect words, story and music. Our activities respond to the pronounced need to nurture composers who are exploring musical work beyond a strictly concert setting, but furthermore into the hybrid genre of opera. Additionally Experiments in Opera builds supportive and informed audiences that are capable of contributing to its work.

In its first two programming seasons, Experiments in Opera has presented the work of more than 12 composers in three large-scale presentations aimed at expanding the collective understanding of experimental opera. Venues have included Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and Issue Project Room, and have featured works by composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, Matthew Welch, Georges Aperghis, John Zorn, Robert Ashley, Joe Diebes, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal and the Cough Button collective. Also featured were performances by pianist Emily Manzo, singer Erin Flannery, drummer Brian Chase, Hotel Elefant, and the performance collective Why Lie?

Experiments in Opera’s 2013-14 season residency at Abrons Arts Center began with Chorus of All Souls in November 2013 featuring choral works by Jessica Pavone, Matthew Welch, Jason Cady and John Zorn. The residency continued with Radio Operas on February 28 and March 1, 2014 featuring works by Jason Cady, Paul Pinto, Aaron Siegel, John King, Jonathan Mitchell and Matthew Welch.

All of the work developed with Experiments in Opera is documented extensively in videos, images and writings that are available in an online catalogue at These insightful looks into the origins of artists’ ideas and their working habits help to support EIO’s mission of building a more robust conversation about how and why opera works the way it does.

The Abrons Arts Center, located at 466 Grand Street, New York, NY, is the performing and visual arts program of Henry Street Settlement. The Abrons supports the presentation of innovative, multi-disciplinary work; cultivates artists in all stages of their creative development through educational programs, commissions, and residencies; and serves as an intersection of cultural engagement for local, national, and international audiences and arts-workers. For more information, call (212) 598-0400 or visit


Experiments in Opera’s Radio Operas on Q2 Music

March 11th, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
March 17, 2014
8:00 pm
March 18, 2014
8:00 pm
March 19, 2014
8:00 pm
March 20, 2014
8:00 pm
March 21, 2014
8:00 pm
March 22, 2014
8:00 pm

Craig Warga for The Wall Street Journal

Just when you thought it was safe to turn your radio on, here come the spirit of Thomas Paine, a delusional stamp collector, a mallet-wielding Samuel Beckett, a quietly insane inventor, a skateboarding aesthete and a girlfriend-stealing android. Opera on the Radio, that is.

Experiments in Opera is partnering with Q2 Music,WQXR‘s online music station devoted to 20th and 21st century classical music, to present six new operatic works made especially with an ‘ears only’ audience in mind.

Each evening from March 17-22 at 8 pm, a new Experiment in Opera will make its radio premiere and thereafter made available on demand at Tune in for stories, singing, sound effects, talking and music.

Also, check out this Wall Street Journal preview of the event.



Scored for soprano, percussion, viola and electronics, ‘Ping’ by John King is an adaptation of a Samuel Beckett short story written in a stream of abstract imagery and thoughts. This performance uses musical substitutions to punctuate the flow of the spoken text and will feature soprano Joan La Barbara and electronics by John King.

‘The Mutt’ by Matthew Welch, takes as its subject freestyle skateboarder Rodney Mullen, who invented the vocabulary of modern skateboarding, endured family abuse in his youth, led a double life as a burgeoning biomedical engineer, and now is an established inventor. The music will feature James Moore and Taylor Levine, from the Dither electric guitar quartetMatthew Welch on spoken word, and will involve electro-acoustically sequenced “Foley” skateboarding sounds by Steve Brush.

‘Thomas Paine in Violence’ by Paul Pinto is a mad psychedelic depiction of the final days of the American founding father’s life. Paine—portrayed by a soprano spurting speech, operatic vignettes and a number of extended vocal techniques—transports “herself” through space and time, including on “her” deathbed in 1809, the Stock Market of 2008, and the future. Scored for singer and electronics and featuring Joan La Barbara and Miguel Frasconi.

In ‘The Collector’ by Aaron Siegel, a character delivers a wild and delusional monologue detailing his dangerous obsession with stamp collecting.  The natural rhythms of the spoken text are mimicked in increasing accuracy by the instruments in the ensemble.  The Collector is scored for piano, soprano, vibraphone and actor and will feature pianist Karl Larson, percussionist Matt Evans, soprano Jamie Jordan and Aaron Siegel as the collector.

“I Need Space” by Jason Cady and Ann Heppermann tells the story of a couple moving to a Martian colony but breaking up on the way there. It is set in an alternate present: 2014 as it had been imagined by science fiction writers in the 1950s. I Need Space is scored for two voices, guitar, piano, synthesizer and Foley artist and features tenor Vince B. Vincent, sopranoErin Flannery, guitarist Mary Halvorson, pianist Karl LarsonJason Cady on modular synthesizer and Foley artist Steve Brush.

“These Walls Can Talk (Working Title)” by Jonathan Mitchell tells the story of a guy who has figured out a way to extract sounds from objects. By inserting a needle into a wall (for example), he can measure the microscopic effects of variations of air pressure over time, and hear conversations that took place in that room. He can do the same thing with stones from Egypt, or the Great Wall of China.

Panel Discussion: New Examples of Collaboration

March 2nd, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
March 15, 2014
3:00 pm

CreativeChicagoExpo_0131_square_wTypeOn March 15, 3:00 pm at the Chicago Cultural Center Yates Gallery, Creative Partners will hold a free panel discussion about their business model, featuring Julia Rhoads (Artistic Director of Lucky Plush Productions), Peter McDowell (Managing Director of eighth blackbird), and Angela Luem (Program Coordinator for Pentacle’s Help Desk and Managing Director of Back Office in Chicago). Where are arts organizations innovating in administration to match and propel artistic innovation? Since its formal inception in January of 2013, Creative Partners has changed the fundraising landscape for three small-to-mid-sized arts organizations — Lucky Plush Productions (dance), eighth blackbird (music) and Blair Thomas & Co. (theater) — through a shared development team. The first of its kind resource-sharing model organized to effect long-term sustainability, Creative Partners has generated significant short-term outcomes for its partner organizations: an increase in individual and institutional giving, cross-disciplinary audience development, and greater collective visibility.

With Pentacle’s Help Desk® and Back Office programs, in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, participants work with Pentacle staff and mentors, all experts in the field of performing arts management, to help support their company’s business life. In addition to working one on one with their mentors in the Help Desk® program and Back Office Managing Directors, all participants meet, both in their home cities, and as a national network, to build a supportive peer community.This panel discussion will feature collaborative and shared business practices to support the continued vibrancy of the nonprofit arts sector, including a background on the inception and driving vision of both organizations and what we have learned from our work thus far.


Join us at the 2014 Creative Chicago Expo, March 14–15 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 10am–4pm. Connect with Chicago’s creative community, find resources and information for you to thrive. Choose from 30+ workshops and 140 exhibitors. This year’s theme, Moving Forward, will be highlighted by four keynote speakers: artist Theaster Gates, chef Carrie Nahabedian, fashion designer Maria Pinto and filmmaker Robert Teitel. FREE – No RSVP. For event details and schedule, visit

Three Performances by Gabriel Cabezas

February 2nd, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
February 2, 2014
12:00 pm
February 21, 2014
7:00 pm
February 24, 2014
6:30 pm
February 28, 2014
7:30 pm

1527038_10151868094033202_334926097_nThis has been a whirlwind couple of months for cellist Gabriel Cabezas. In December 2013, Cabezas made his LA Philharmonic debut and Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription series debut. Recently, he played his Philadelphia Orchestra debut at a Martin Luther King Jr. day concert (see below).

Coming up in the month of February, you can catch him at the following venues:

Friday, Feb 21, 7:00 pm

Partners in Performance, Columbia, KY
Golijov, Janacek, Debussy, Britten, Shostakovich with Amy Yang, piano. Presented by Partners in Performance and Lindsey Wilson College
For more information, please visit the Lindsey Wilson College website.


Monday, February 24, 6:30pm, New York, NY
with Robin Scott, violin, Mark Holloway, viola, and Doris Konig piano
works including Debussy Cello Sonata and trios by Beethoven and Taneyev
Omega Ensemble Benefit
The Racquet and Tennis Club, New York
For more information, please visit the Omega Ensemble website.


Friday, February 28, 7:30pm, Chicago, IL
LINES Ballet at Harris Theater
with Edgar Meyer, bass, Rob Moose, violin, and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet.
For more information, please visit the Harris Theater website.


This year Gabriel was thrilled to be invited to perform twice in Philadelphia. On January 20, he made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut as soloist for José Bragato’s Graciela y Buenos Aires. This performance was part of the orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert at the Girard College Chapel, and was conducted by Cristian Macelaru. And on February 2, he performed at the World Cafe Live, in a performance featuring Cloe Felesina of BalletX. The program included works by Britten, Golijov, and Bach.

Chinese Fine Arts Society Celebrates the Year of the Horse

January 26th, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
January 31, 2014
12:00 pm
February 1, 2014
6:00 pm
February 16, 2014
12:00 pm

14Chicago, IL – The Chinese Fine Arts Society will present a number of exciting and colorful free events to celebrate the Chinese New Year at a variety of venues from January 31- February 16, 2014:

Chinese New Year at Daley Plaza

Friday, January 31, 2014
Noon – 12:45pm
Richard J. Daley Center, 118 North Clark Street, Chicago

This free lunchtime show will feature Lion Dancers, musicians Brent Roman (see bio below) on Chinese Drums, Yi on Guzheng, Kerry Leung (Chinese Flute and Pipa), Martial Artists performing the renowned Soldier’s Dance and traditional Chinese dancers Amy Xie, Dollie Diaz, and Bing Bing.

Chinese New Year Celebration with Red Moon Theatre Company

Saturday, February 1, 2014
Navy Pier Ballroom, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago

CFAS collaborates with Red Moon Theatre Company on this free large-scale spectacle event featuring CFAS Martial Artists from Illini Wushu Team (see bio below) as well as other local Chinese artists.

Chinese New Year Lantern Festival at Navy Pier

Sunday, February 16
Noon- 3pm
Performances at 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm
Navy Pier’s Crystal Gardens, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago

This full afternoon of family-friendly programming marks the final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. This colorful event, the Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuan-Xiao Festival after the traditional sweet treats enjoyed on this day, will include martial arts, Chinese classical music and dance and a marketplace featuring Chinese calligraphers and souvenirs.


The Illini Wushu Team is a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign organization that focuses on teaching students Wushu or Chinese Martial Arts. Wushu can be considered one of the most demanding forms of martial arts due to its tremendous focus on aesthetics and grace. The performers today are the club’s instructors who have been training for over ten years together in the Chicagoland area.

Brent Roman is a Chicago-based percussionist, composer, recording artist and instructor. He has worked with looking glass theater company, Red Moon Theatre Company and is a lead musician in the acclaimed music group Mucca Pazza and the Cheng Da Drum Group. Brent received a grant from the Freeman Asian Foundation to travel to and study traditional Chinese Music at the Central Conservatory of Music in Shanghai, China in 2000. Brent is an accomplished recording artist whose work includes an album with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project.

Since 1984, the Chinese Fine Arts Society (CFAS), a small, fully-independent arts organization has brought together people from diverse backgrounds over a common goal: to celebrate the beauty and majesty of traditional and contemporary Chinese music and art. CFAS is dedicated to promoting the appreciation of Chinese culture, enhancing cultural exchange and pursuing excellence in Chinese music, dance and visual arts. For further information about the Chinese Fine Arts Society contact 312-369-3197 or and visit