The work of composer Sivan Eldar has been described as “vividly imagined” (The Boston Globe), “ethereal” (Oakland Musical Examiner), “beautifully melancholic” (Opera Plus), “radiating with poetic sounds and silences” (ResMusica) and "with a unique sensitivity to dramaturgy" (Diapason). She has worked with many of today’s leading ensembles, including the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Divertimento Ensemble, EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble, Diotima String Quartet, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Accentus Choir, and Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, at festivals such as Festival ManiFeste, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Royaumont Voix Nouvelles, Festival Présences, Rainy Days Festival, Impuls Festival, June in Buffalo and Festival Tzlil Meudcan, at diverse venues including Boston’s Symphony Hall, Paris’ Maison de la Radio, Centre Pompidou and Le Centquatre, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Oslo’s Baerum Kulturhaus, NY's Bohemian National Hall, and Berlin’s RADIOALSYSTEM-V.
As a collaborator, she has worked frequently with dancers, directors and writers, with support from the Fulbright Foundation, Cité Internationale des Arts, European Network of Opera Academies, Snape Maltings, Hearst Foundation, Ladd Prix de Paris, the Hertz Traveling Fund, ASCAP, the European Broadcasting Union, and IRCAM.
Sivan began her musical education in Tel Aviv at the age of 5, studying classical piano and voice. At the age of 15 she moved to New Mexico to continue her education at the United World College, where she studied composition while becoming involved in environmental and political work. She continued her studies in Boston at the New England Conservatory (BM), where she studied composition, piano and ethnomusicology, alongside courses in gender studies and ethics. In 2009 She moved to California to pursue her PhD in composition at UC Berkeley with Franck Bedrossian, Edmund Campion, Cindy Cox and Myra Melfrd, with an emphasis in new media studies at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) and the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM). She then moved to Paris for training at the Institute de Recherche Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) under Hèctor Parra (Cursus 2016-17). During 2018 she was under commission from IRCAM and the Royaumont Foundation to develop the composition Heave together with computer music designer Augustin Muller and writer Cordelia Lynn.
In addition to her work as a freelance composer, Sivan has served on the theory faculty of the Department of Music at UC Berkeley, and on the composition faculty of the John Adams Young Composers Program (2009-16). She is currently based in Brooklyn and Paris, and is under commission from Accentus Choir (Donaueschingen Musiktage), Orchestre de Chambre de Paris (Théâtre de Châtelet) and Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier (Opéra Comédie), where she holds the position of composer-in-residence starting in Fall 2019. Together with writer Cordelia Lynn, she is developing her first opera, Like flesh, a commission from Opéra de Lille for its 2021-22 season, in co-production with IRCAM and Le Balcon ensemble. Her music is published by Durand/Universal Music Classical.
For this public reading with the Gulbenkian Orchestra, Amyra had composed her own text and vocals, which she wove in and out of my orchestral textures. Her presence on the stage was very powerful. It’s been almost a year and a half since we first met at Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and it’s been quite a journey. Portugal news discussed the project with Luis Tinoco here. Stay tuned for the premiere in November.
Opéra de Lille, together with IRCAM and Ensemble Le Balcon, is commissioning Like Flesh for its 2021-22 season. Librettist Cordelia Lynn and I have been developing ideas for this opera for over a year. Cordelia will begin working on the libretto in September, and I will begin working on the music at IRCAM in January. For more information about the core themes we’ve been exploring, check out this video from our second developmental residency at Snape Matings last Fall.
Earlier this year, I was commissioned by the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris and the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier to write a new work for voice and orchestra. I brought poet, activist, and R&B singer Amyra Leòn on board, and together we fleshed out our first ideas for the piece. I then went off to write the first draft for the orchestra, which was read last week by the Gulbenkian Orchestra. In July, Amyra will join me in Lisbon for the next reading, leading up to the premiere in November. Until then, here’s a little video press release about the upcoming premiere.
Being back in California is always a treat. The occasion: A week of guest lectures at my alma mater UC Berkeley. The highlight: A concert by the Eco Ensemble. SF Classical Voice did a nice writeup of the concert, highlighting soprano Ann Moss’ “luxurious, almost rapturous singing” in You’ll drown, dear, and drawing an interesting parallel with Bluebeard’s Castle “where the crux of the story isn’t figuring out the man: It’s all about the woman’s inner life.” The full review is here.
Solicitations received its French premiere by Diotima Quartet a couple of days ago. The reviews in l’Humanité and Anaclase managed to capture some of the magic in Diotima’s performance. Maurice Ulrich described the work as “meditative, captivating, where one holds one’s breath in anticipation” while Michèle Tosi observed “a secret dramaturgy… one woven by infra-saturation, phantom sounds, and unexpected colors.” You can read the full reviews are here and here.
[Switch~] ensemble will be performing Tarr in NY next month. While this chamber piece was originally written for Divertimento ensemble in 2014, [Switch~] has made it their own, touring with it in CA, and now in NY. In preparation for the NY concert, clarinetist Madison Greenstone interviewed me about the work, which led to this very special article. Do read it if you have a chance.
Thanks to Ilan Volkov, the director of Tectonics Festival in Tel Aviv, I got to work with two unique performers over the past few weeks: soprano Keren Motseri (who gave the Israeli premiere of You’ll drown, dear) and dancer Yuli Kovbasnian (with whom I explored my new persona as an improviser in a new show that we developed together). Tel Aviv seems to be bursting with creative energy these days, and I’m already looking forward to coming back in the Spring.
Cordelia and I just got back from the second residency for Like flesh - our opera-in-development. This time around we were very fortunate to have cellist Severine Ballon, dancer Vinicius Salles, and bass Jimmy Holliday join our team, which included movement director Joseph Alford, soprano Juliet Fraser, and actress Carolina Valdés. Footage from the open session performance at the Britten Pears Studio coming soon!
Leading up to the premiere on September 9th, Durand just released two short videos documenting my work on Heave over the past few months. They include some beautiful footage from the gardens at Royaumont, as well as footage from recording sessions at IRCAM. Take a look HERE.
For the past year Cordelia Lynn and I have been developing ideas for our joint opera Like flesh. Thanks to support from Snape Maltings and the European Network of Opera Academies (ENOA), we were able to design two residencies to explore some of the core themes in the opera, and to build a dream-team of artists to explore with: movement director Joseph Alford, soprano Juliet Fraser, voice and movement artist Elaine Mitchener, and actress Caroline Valdès. The first residency ended this weekend and it was nothing short of inspiring. The second residency in October will end with a public open session, so keep an eye out!
It was a great honor to be programmed on ManiFeste's "Monologues" concert at the Pompidou Center alongside Franck Bedrossian and Rebecca Saunders. You'll drown, dear (IRCAM Cursus 2017) opened the show, and received a lovely review from Michèle Tosi. Read it HERE.
This weekend Augustin Muller and I were invited to Royaumont to sit on a panel with Jean-Philippe Wurtz, the artistic director of the Voix Nouvelles Festival. We spoke about our new project HEAVE (a Royaumont/IRCAM/Ulysses co-commission), and also had a chance to test the electronics at the Carré Magique - Royaumont's unique "sonic garden" - where the work will be premiered in September. Special thanks to sound engineers Martin Antiphon and Manuel Poletti for enduring many hours in the garden with us on this unusually hot spring weekend!
It's been three years since my last visit to Prague, and five years since I lived there as a Fulbright fellow. What an honor to be invited back, this time by the Prague Spring Festival. The Martinu voices choir sounded great, the audience was warm, the acoustics were perfect... It felt like a real homecoming.
Soprano Juliet Fraser joined us at IRCAM today for a recording session. She sang through some sketches of Cordelia Lynn's new text, talking about lovers, mushrooms, bark and flesh. It was great fun!
I've spent the past week at IRCAM with computer music designer Augustin Muller. We are taking our first steps towards developing the electronics for our new work for Exaudi. This included a recording session in the anechoic chamber of some very delicate earthy sounds. It also included a special visit from playwright Cordelia Lynn, who had just finished the second half of the text!
Tarr has been performed by a few different ensembles over the past few years, but Switch~ was the first to do it without a conductor. During our days together in Berkeley and San Francisco, I watched them make it their own, with love and sensitivity. It made for a wondrous week.
I'm looking forward to returning to Royaumont next Fall with a new commission for Exaudi Vocal Ensemble! Over the next 9 months I'll be at IRCAM on and off developing the electronics, and in London working with Cordelia on the text and with Exaudi on new vocal techniques. More updates coming soon.
I've been hiding at an abbey for the past few weeks, listening to cows and mosquitos late at night, working on a nocturnal piece inspired by Fiona Sampson's beautiful poem Drowned Man. It's been intense and difficult. And also fun and exciting putting it all together with Juliet Fraser, Antoine Maisonhaute and Hélène Colombotti. They will perform it tomorrow in the abbey, at 17h45, just before the bells start ringing, with the sound of rain in the background...
Two years ago, set designer and director Aurélie Lemaignen introduced me to Rilke's play The White Princess. She read this section to me: "tout est le rêve que nous rêvons ; ce qui est court peut alors être long, ce qui est long l’est à n’en plus finir. Et le temps est espace." Time as space, she said, is your music.
A year later, through a commission from the Academie of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, we began a collaboration with writer Cordelia Lynn on an operatic scene inspired by Rilke's play. It took us on a journey, which Aix documented beautifully in this interview. Yesterday evening, sopranos Jennifer Courcier and Magali Simard Galdes, and percussionist Dorian Selmi gave it a beautiful premiere at the festival.
Pierre Rigaudière at Diapason featured you'll drown, dear in his review of IRCAM's Festival ManiFeste earlier this week. Read it HERE (scroll all the way to the end of the article). My deepest thanks go to the production team at IRCAM for crafting every dimension of this performance in such a detailed and subtle way. This review is as much theirs as it is mine.
6 months in 9 minutes. This is the most collaborative works I have ever created. It wouldn't have been possible without the absolute dedication of Aurélie, Cordelia and Juliette. Even after so many rehearsals, I was moved at the premiere last night, watching and listening to the work we created together.
My composition for the Cursus has been in the works for the past few months, and the team at IRCAM has been documenting the process! Take a look HERE at episode 3 in this series of short video documentaries, where Juliette, Cordelia and I try out the first musical sketches for our composition you'll drown, dear, and receive feedback and advice from the brilliant Hèctor Parra.
The Cité International des Arts has been my home for the past 6 months. I have been to countless open studios (really I stopped counting), met artists from literally everywhere, learned how to do printmaking and carve wood...
Thanks to Ensemble Regards and the production team at the Cité, I was able to share my music with this wonderful creative community this past Monday. My deep thanks go to them and to everyone who came out on that rainy night.
I was in NYC this past weekend to celebrate the work of two foundations that are very important to me: The Fulbright Foundation and the Terezin Music Foundation. They have played an important role in my personal and artistic growth. And they continue to play an important role in the lives of so many other artists and scholars. Many thanks to the members of Ghostlight Chorus for bringing this new music and poetry to life so beautifully!
I can still smell the ancient oak trees, the figs and rosemary, the low clouds... I am very thankful to Jonathan Kulp and William Plummer from the University of Lafayette for their hospitality, to the Lafayette Chamber Singers for their moving performance of The Song About the Child, and to the Acadiana Center for the Arts and International Alliance of Women in Music for putting it all together and including my voice on their panel on women in music. The Louisiana I got to discover through their eyes was magical.
My first month at IRCAM has just ended, and I'm excited to share my first experiment. Give it a listen HERE. Many thanks to Jack Stulz for trying out different viola preparations together. And to artist Dalia Meiri at the Cité des Arts for showing me how to carve a bow!
Preview of A Woman Spilled - a new work for orchestra and voice in collaboration with Amyra Léon - performed by the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier. Co-commissioned with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris.
Part 1 of a composition workshop that I will be leading with violinist Ludovic Nicot and percussionist Pascal Martin. This workshop is part of my 2019-20 composition residency with the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier.
Part 2 of a composition workshop that I will be leading with violinist Ludovic Nicot and percussionist Pascal Martin. This workshop is part of my 2019-20 residency with the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier.
A presentation of Like Flesh - my opera in development with writer Cordelia Lynn - at the annual Opera Europa conference in Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Germany. More info about the conference here.
Part 3 of a composition workshop that I will be leading with violinist Ludovic Nicot and percussionist Pascal Martin. This workshop is part of my 2019-20 residency with the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier.
Performance of You’ll drown, dear for voice and electronics by mezzo-soprano Christine Craipeau. Also on the program are works by Rebecca Saunders, Noriko Baba, and others. The concert will be followed by a roundtable discussion on women composers in the orchestral world, led by the CDMC. More info here.
World premiere of A Woman Spilled - a new work for orchestra and voice in collaboration with Amyra Léon - performed by the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier. Co-commissioned with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris. Tickets available here.
Premiers of new works for violin, percussion, and electronics composed by workshop participants. Part 4 of my composition workshop with violinist Ludovic Nicot and percussionist Pascal Martin.
A 5-day composition residency with pianist and multi-media artist Michiko Saiki at the Royaumont Foundation. We will be taking our first steps in developing a new work together.
Paris premiere of A Woman Spilled - a new work for voice and orchestra in collaboration with singer and poet Amyra Léon - performed by the Orchestre de Chamber de Paris. Co-commissioned with the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier. Tickets available here.
Premiere of a new work for SATB choir commissioned by Accentus, alongside a new work by Kaija Saariaho. Part of the 2020 Donaueschingen Music Festival. More info coming soon.
Performance of In Conversation with dancer Yuli Kovbasnian. Part of an evening-length event featuring local choreographers, composers, sound artists, and poets. More info here.
Public reading with Orquestra Gulbenkian and singer Amyra Léon of a new work for voice and orchestra. Part 3 of a residency at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, supported by the European Network of Opera Academies. Free admission with advance ticket reservation here.
On Air | Behind Glass, an electroacoustic work originally written for Czech Radio, will open the 2019 KLANG! Festival in Montpellier, organized by the Maison des Arts Sonores and Montpellier Opéra. Also on the program are works by Hans Tutschku, Natasha Barrett, and Jonty Harrison among others. Admission is free. More info here.
Live performance with dancer Yuli Kovbasnian, followed by a Q & A. Part of the 2019 ContComp Contemporary Music Festival and Conference at the University of Haifa. Organized by Prof. Eitan Steinberg.
I will be giving a public lecture titled "Straying into Magic: thoughts on metamorphosis" as part of the 2019 ContComp Contemporary Music Festival and Conference at the University of Haifa. In this lecture I will discuss my recent compositional work at IRCAM, and focus on my research into building hybrid sound worlds through technology, text, and the human voice. The full conference schedule is available here.
Dancer Yuli Kovbasnian and I will be leading a workshop on sound and movement collaboration.
Performance of The Song About the Child by The Esoterics vocal ensemble. Also on the program are works by Ted Hearne, David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, and Chen Yi among others. Tickets available here.
Performance of The Song About the Child by The Esoterics vocal ensemble. Also on the program are works by Ted Hearne, David Lang, Augusta Read Thomas, and Chen Yi among others. Tickets available here.
Performance of Mutable Music I by pianist & multimedia artist Michiko Saiki. Part of Spectrum’s Contemporary Insights series. Also on the program are works by Francesco Filidei, Zachary Seely, and Arthur Kampala among others. Tickets available here.
Reading session with the Orquestra Gulbenkian. Part 2 of a residency at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, supported by the European Network of Opera Academies.
I will be part of a panel discussion on composition in the arts alongside jazz composer and improviser Myra Melford and poet Geoffrey O’Brien. This event will be moderated by scholar and author Timothy Hampton, director of the Townsend Center. More info here.
Radio broadcast of Solicitations for Diotima string quartet, recorded live at the Auditorium of Maison de la Radio on February 16th as part of Festival Présences. Also on the program are quartets by Rebecca Saunders, Marc Monnet, and Wolfgang Rihm. Listen online here.
Performance of Tarr by [Switch~] enemble, alongside chamber works by Esaias Järnegard, Timothy McCormack, and Adrien Trybucki. More info here.
Radio broadcast of Solicitations for Diotima String Quartet, recorded live at the Heimathafen Neukölln Theater on January 17th, as part of the Ultraschall Festival. Also on the program are new quartets by Beat Furrer and Malte Giesen. Listen online here.
German premiere of Solicitations for Diotima String Quartet. Also on the program are Streichquartett Nr. 3 by Beat Furrer and unisono 1 by Malte Giesen. Part of the Ultraschalle Festival für neue Musik Berlin. More info here.
Radio broadcast of Heave for EXAUDI vocal ensemble, recorded live at Royaumont on September 9th as part of the Voix Nouvelles Festival. Also on the program are new works by Lorenzo Pagliei, Osvaldo Coluccino, and madrigals by Monteverdi and Gesualdo. Listen online here.
I will be improvising on electronics with Israeli dancer Yuli Kovbasnian. This performance is part of Tectonics Festival in Tel Aviv.
Performance of You'll drown, dear by soprano Keren Motseri. Part of Tectonics Festival.
I will be participating in a 3-part workshop at the Calouste Gulbenkien Foundation in Lisbon, supported by the European Network of Opera Academies. The workshop will culminate with a premiere by the Orquestra Gulbenkian in July 2019.
World premiere of Solicitations for Diotima String Quartet, co-commissioned by Luxembourg Philharmonie and Radio France. Part of the 2018 Rainy Days Festival (November 13-25). Also on the program are Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders, Quartet No.1 by Ursula Mamlok, and Gran Torso by Lachenmann. Tickets available here.
An open session performance marking the end of our second lab at Snape Maltings, exploring movement in our opera-in-development Like flesh. Tickets available here.
Second residency at Snape Maltings to develop the opera Like flesh. In this residency writer Cordelia Lynn and I we will continue to explore movement, vocality and text with director Joseph Alford (Royal Opera House), soprano Juliet Fraser, and voice and movement artist Elaine Mitchener.
Performance of You'll drown, dear at Banff Centre for the Arts by mezzo-soprano Rosie Middleton. Part of (R)evolution: Resonant Bodies' Festival and Academy. More information available here.
Performance of You'll drown, dear at Abrons Arts Center in Manhattan. Part of the New York City Electronic Music Festival (July 16-22). Full festival lineup available here.
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