Experiments in Opera’s 2013-14 Season Continues with Radio Operas

January 26th, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
February 28, 2014
8:00 pm
March 1, 2014
8:00 pm


New York, NY — Experiments in Opera announces their upcoming performances of six Radio Operas – short 10-15 minute long world premiere works that draw themes and inspirations ranging from a Samuel Beckett story, a skateboarding legend, founding father Thomas Paine, and stamp collecting, to a Martian colony, and more. This production, the second in Experiments in Opera’s 2013-14 Season at Abrons Arts Center, explores the questions: What does opera gain when it is presented without visuals? And, how do the different media of opera and radio play combine? 

Radio Operas will be held on Friday February 28 and Saturday March 1, 8pm at in the Underground Theater at Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, New York. For tickets ($20 general, $15 student), patrons should call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit www.AbronsArtsCenter.org. In subsequent weeks to these performances, Radio Operas will be featured online through a unique partnership with Q2 Music, WQXR’s online music station devoted to 20th and 21st century classical music. Additionally, in partnership with www.CultureBot.org, composers and collaborators featured on Radio Operas will take part in a free public discussion – Opera in Dialogue #2 on Saturday March 1, 5:00 PM, at the Underground Theater, Abrons Arts Center – exploring the ideas behind this innovative program.


THE SIX RADIO OPERAS: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 quartet, Matthew 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, soprano Erin Flannery, guitarist Mary Halvorson, pianist Karl Larson, Jason 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.


The theme of ‘Radio Operas’ emerged from EiO’s interest in genre-oriented performance and innovative frames for short-form operatic works. Instead of prioritizing stage design and visual storytelling, these opera vignettes feature sound effects performed live by a foley artist, spoken text, music and singing and will rely on the imagination of the listener to create the image of the stories. This inversion of standard operatic presentation will be made complete when the six featured works are recorded at the studios of Q2 Music for world premiere webcasts and on-demand

IMG_2657streaming. Q2 Music will share one opera on consecutive nights Monday through Saturday at 8 pm during a special week in the month following the live performances.These are not nostalgic homages to the radio plays of yesteryear. EiO’s “Radio Operas” are daring new operatic works created by some of the premiere experimental composers of today and designed specifically with this program in mind. These are a collection of works exploring a wide range of stories highlighting the composers’ interests in Modern abstractionism, science fiction, melodrama, satire, hallucinatory experiences, scientific discoveries, and pop culture icons.



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?

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 www.experimentsinopera.com.  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.

EiO’s yearlong residency at Abrons began with Chorus of All Souls (November 1, 2013), and will culminate with the premiere of an evening length opera that has been in development with EiO for the past two seasons (Brother Brother, May 2-3, 2014).

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 www.AbronsArtsCenter.org.

Q2 Music is WQXR’s online music station dedicated to contemporary classical composers, innovative ensembles, and vibrant, live webcasts from New York City’s leading new-music venues. Q2 Music, a live 24/7 music stream available at www.wqxr.org/q2music, includes immersive festivals, insightful commentary from hosts and composers, full-length album streams, in-depth interviews with trend-setting artists, and special live events at The Greene Space at WQXR. Q2 Music is also available via the free WQXR app.





Cellist Gabrial Cabezas Appears with Philadelphia Orchestra

January 9th, 2014 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
January 20, 2014
1:30 pm

CUR_4116On Monday, January 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm, cellist Gabriel Cabezas will debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra as part of their annual FREE Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Concert. Cabezas will perform composer José Bragato’s Graciela y Buenos Aires, for cello and string orchestra with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cristian Macelaru, conductor, at the Girard College Chapel, 2101 S College Ave, Philadelphia, PA.

Volunteers will be collecting new school supplies in support of the King Day of Service signature project. Patrons are encouraged to bring school supplies to donate to local area public schools. Seating is general admission and is first-come, first-served. Limit four tickets per person. Doors will open at 12:30 PM.

For more information and tickets, please visit www.philorch.org.


Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man
Coleridge-Taylor, The Bamboula (Rhapsodic Dance)
Spiritual, “Go Down, Moses”
Márquez, Danzón No. 2
Bragato, Graciela y Buenos Aires, for cello and string orchestra
Abels, Outburst
Barber, Adagio for Strings
Smallwood, “Total Praise”
Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble at Rubin Museum, NYC

December 3rd, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
January 17, 2014
7:00 pm

brightrushingworldOn Friday January 17th, 2014 at 7:00 pm, Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble (www.douglasdetrick.com/anywhen/) will present a concert previewing their upcoming album on Navona Recordings, “The Bright and Rushing World.” The performance at New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W. 17th Street. Tickets are $18.00 in advance and $20.00 on the day of show; Museum Member Price is $16.20 (available at the door).

AnyWhen Ensemble is: Douglas Detrick, composer and trumpet; Hashem Assadullahi, saxophone; Shirley Hunt, cello; Steve Vacchi, bassoon; and Ryan Biesack, percussion. Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon will perform substitute for Vacchi on 1.17.

The Bright and Rushing World, an ambitious addition to this singular composer’s list of accomplishments, is a 10 movement suite, made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s 2011 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This extremely competitive grant attracts over 150 applicants every year. The album will be released in March 2013 on the Navona label, an imprint of Parma Records.

From Douglas Detrick:

I composed The Bright and Rushing World over nine difficult months. Persevering in this struggle gave me a sense of ownership over the work — I knew everything there was to know about it. But, after all that time I still didn’t know what the title should be. And I was shocked. At first it seemed like clumsy, ignorant neglect, but soon I realized something important — the piece didn’t need me any more. Now that it was finished, it was ready to go out into the world, and it wasn’t about to wait for me to give it a name. In a moment of clarity that surprised me with its intensity, I wrote this ten line poem from which I drew the title of the piece and of each movement. I had finally given the piece a name, but it had taken that long to give it the right one.

The Bright and Rushing World

the door is open
and you watch as he goes out
a seeker, insubmissive
into the bright and rushing world,
who, over years in your care,
you never thought to give a name.
you gasp and ask aloud
how can you live without a name?
a question so weightless it floats away
on the wind of his leaving.

AnyWhen 13

About the ensemble:

We believe in the unexpected. Our signature instrumentation sets us apart, but we make our real impact through bold new compositions that integrate chamber music conception with jazz spontaneity. We believe that great music can happen anywhere, anyhow, anywhy, and anywhen — ours is fitting music for this bright and rushing world.

Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble (www.douglasdetrick.com/anywhen/has performed at the Jazz Gallery and the Stone in New York, Center for New Music in San Francisco, and on festivals including the Festival of New Trumpet Music curated by Dave Douglas, and the Is That Jazz? Festival in Seattle, WA curated by Tom Baker. The group has also performed and given master classes at colleges across the country including Cornish College of the Arts, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, University of Oregon, and Willamette University.

Douglas Detrick is a composer and trumpet player from Portland, Oregon. Equally at home as a performer and a composer, he is a versatile and eclectic musician establishing his reputation as an innovator in jazz, chamber music, electronic music and improvised music. AnyWhen Ensemble is his primary musical project, but his music has also been performed by the NOW Ensemble, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, and Brian McWhorter’s Beta Collide, and recently conducted the Cherry Blossom Arts Orchestra in his Downbeat Student Music Award-­‐Winning arrangement of Duke Ellington’s Single Petal of a Rose.


Showcase: Steal a Pencil for Me

December 1st, 2013 by Peter McDowell No comments »
January 16, 2014
7:30 pm

steal a pencil print ad-01

Based on the book of the same title by Jaap Polak and Ina Soep Polak,
STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME is a new opera with music by Gerald Cohen and libretto by Deborah Brevoort.

A private presentation of excerpts from Steal a Pencil for Me will take place at the National Opera Center (at the home of Opera America, on 29th Street and 7th Avenue) on Thursday, January 16th at 7:30 pm. The showcase will include 40 minutes of live and video excerpts, as well as a discussion moderated by dramaturg Cori Ellison; features Ilana Davidson and Robert Balonek as Ina and Jaap, as well as vocal soloists Toby Newman and Cherry Duke.  Ari Pelto will conduct, with Lynn Baker as pianist. To request tickets, email Peter McDowell.

STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME is a love story set in two concentration camps during World War II. It is based on the true story of Jaap and Ina Polak, whom the composer has known for the last 25 years, and who recently celebrated their 100th and 90th birthdays. The Polaks, who live in Eastchester, NY, will be in attendance. In 2007, STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME was made into a compelling and award-winning documentary feature film by Academy Award® nominee Michèle Ohayon. The Polaks have dedicated their lives to teaching about the Holocaust and fighting prejudice. Jaap was one of the founders of the Anne Frank Center USA, and now serves as Chairman Emeritus.

New York-based composer Gerald Cohen (www.GeraldCohenMusic.com) is equally at home in the composition of chamber music, choral music, opera, and liturgical music, for all of which he has won awards and praise, and for which Gramophone Magazine noted his “linguistic fluidity and melodic gift”. His operas Sarah and Hagar, a two-act opera based on the story from the book of Genesis, and Seed, a one-act opera about love and choices for a post-apocalyptic Adam and Eve, have been performed in concert form. Cohen received a B.A in music from Yale University and a D.M.A in composition from Columbia University.

New York-based librettist Deborah Brevoort (www.DeborahBrevoort.com) is formerly from Alaska.  An award-winning playwright and librettistshe moves easily between the worlds of theatre, musical theatre and opera.  Her plays and musicals are produced regularly to enthusiastic reviews, including Time Out London who noted her “gift for high poetry.”  Deborah holds a B.A. from Kent State University and MFA’s from Brown University and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.


The action of the opera takes place in Amsterdam, at Westerbork Transit camp, and at Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp between the years of 1943-1945. Thirty-year old Jaap Polak is unhappily married to Manja, a social butterfly with a sharp tongue. He falls in love with twenty-year old Ina Soep, whose boyfriend, Rudi Acohen, has been seized and deported to Poland by the Nazis. When the husband, his wife, and his new girlfriend are deported to Westerbork, they actually find themselves living in the same barracks. Jaap’s wife objects to the relationship and Jaap and Ina resort to writing secret love letters, which sustain them throughout the horrible circumstances of the war. As Jaap says: “I’m a very special Holocaust survivor. I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend; and believe me, it wasn’t easy.”

Although friends and relatives of theirs, including Rudi, perished in the camps, Jaap and Ina survived the Holocaust. They have been married for over 65 years and now live in Eastchester, NY. A distinguishing feature of their book of letters is how they allowed the story to unfold; unedited; their shortcomings and faults are just as easy to see as their nobility, and their honesty makes the story compelling and real. The Village Voice wrote that their story “offers a corrective to the sentimental prevailing notion that the Shoah only happened to saints.”


Cellist Gabriel Cabezas Plays Tchaikovsky with the LA Phil

November 24th, 2013 by Sam Zelitch No comments »
December 6, 2013
8:00 pm

15th Annual Sphinx CompetitionOn Friday, December 6, at 8:00 pm, twenty-one-year-old cellist Gabriel Cabezas will perform with the world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic  in the magnificent sanctuary of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. Fresh off a national tour with the Sphinx Virtuosi ensemble, Cabezas will perform as the soloist on Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra, the composer’s only piece for cello and orchestra.

The Wilshire Boulevard Temple (Glazer Campus) is located at 3663 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. Tickets are available here or by calling (213) 388-2401. 



Beethoven, Leonore Overture No. 2
Tchaikovsky, Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra
Dvorak, Symphony No. 8

program subject to change

Cellist Gabriel Cabezas has appeared as soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, the National Symphony of Costa Rica, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New World Symphony, and the Nashville Symphony, among others. Cabezas has been portrayed as “…an intense player who connects to the music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello” (David Stabler, The Oregonian) and his debut performance with the Cleveland Orchestra described as a “…remarkably poised and elegant account, with superb attention to phrasing, nuance and tonal coloration” (Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer).

A passion for chamber music and collaboration has taken him to Marlboro Music, Music@Menlo, Music from Angel Fire, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Bargemusic, and Chicago’s Symphony Center Presents series. His television appearances include performances with Yo-Yo Ma at “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “Good Morning America”, and with Béla Fleck in “From The Top – Carnegie Hall.”

2013-14 season highlights include a subscription debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a return to Chicago’s International Beethoven Festival and the annual Sphinx Virtuosi national tour. Cabezas’ 2012-13 engagements included concerts with the Detroit Symphony, the Nashville Symphony and the National Symphony of Costa Rica, as well as appearances with Musicians from Marlboro, at the International Beethoven Festival, and ChamberFest Cleveland.

Formerly a recipient of an Education Grant by the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, Cabezas has supported music outreach and education programs including Midori’s Partners in Performance, the Sphinx Organization, Costa Rica’s national SINEM music education program, and Chicago’s Citizen Musician movement. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Carter Brey. As a writer, Cabezas has been featured in Teen Strings Magazine and has been a contributing writer for Strings Magazine.