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.
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.
Last week I took a quick trip from London to Paris to meet with my new publisher Durand. We will be working on my new piece for Exaudi together, and on my new opera Like flesh. I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Durand-Salabert-Eschig family!