The Composers & the Voice Workshop Series is a competitive biannual fellowship offered to composers, librettists, and composer/librettist teams. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, the two-year fellowship includes a year of working with the company’s Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team followed by a year of continued promotion and development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 54 composers & librettists.

CV1719

C&V 2017-19 Bios

Composers

New York-based composer Matthew Browne’s music has been praised for its “unbridled humor” (New Music Box) and described as “witty” (The Strad) and “beautifully crafted and considered” (What’s On London).  He recently received honors such as the 2017 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize, a BMI Student Composer Award (2015), an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers award (2014), fellow at CULTIVATE Copland House (2017), winner of the New England Philharmonic Call for Scores (2014), and participant at the Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute (2016). Matthew has had the honor to collaborate with such ensembles as the Minnesota Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, the Albany Symphony, the New Jersey Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the New England Philharmonic, the Villiers Quartet, the Donald Sinta Quartet, the Tesla Quartet, and PUBLIQuartet. He received his DMA from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.  Previous teachers include Michael Daugherty and Kristin Kuster. www.matthewbrownecomposer.com

Scott Ordway (1984, Santa Cruz, California) is a composer, conductor, and Assistant Professor of Music Composition at Rutgers University. From 2014–17, he was a member of the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music. In recent years, Ordway has focused on a series of extended works fusing vocal and instrumental music with original text, video, digital soundscape, and experimental theater. These compositions explore a diverse array of contemporary themes, including natural landscape, protest and revolution, and the lives of cities. His music has been called “exquisite” by The New York Times, “a marvel” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and “an American response to Sibelius” by The Boston Globe, and has been presented by leading American and international festivals and institutions with projects in Berlin, Beijing, Tunis, Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. In 2016, his debut recording with the Hong Kong Philharmonic was released on NAXOS Records.

Known for her “bold and bracing” (Baltimore Sun) opera writing, Frances Pollock’s music “pulls no punches and never flinches.” (City Paper) Originally from North Carolina, Frances’s music has been performed all over the country by the Bridge Ensemble, Prima Volta, The North Carolina Governors’ School, Divine Waters Ensemble, and many others. In 2015, she wrote her first opera, Stinney, which won multiple awards including JHU’s Diversity Innovation Grant and Best of Baltimore award. From 2016-2017, Frances was composer in residence for the Divine Water’s Ensemble. In 2016, Frances was commissioned by Washington National Opera to write an opera entitled What Gets Kept as part of the “American Opera Initiative” Festival. Frances is a founding member of the new music non-profit, Prima Volta. She holds a B.M. in Theory and Composition from Furman University and a M.M. Peabody Conservatory. Frances will be continuing her studies at Yale this coming fall.

Praised for her “rich dramatics” (The Boston Globe), Pamela Stein Lynde is a versatile classical singer, composer, educator, and producer.  As a composer, Pamela has had her works premiered by Oh My Ears Festival of Phoenix, Patchwork American Song Project, Guided Imagery Opera, TEDx Carnegie Lake, Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project, and by many other performers across the US. As a performer, she has premiered works by some of today's most prominent living composers, appearing with Yamaha Young Concert Artist Series, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, Rhymes With Opera, New Music New Haven, Saratoga Fine Arts Festival, Beth Morrison Projects, The Bang on a Can Summer Institute at Mass MoCA, and many others. She can be heard as a vocalist on minimalist composer Alexander Turnquist's latest album Flying Fantasy, released on the Western Vinyl label.  She is the founder and director of Stone Mason Projects, a production company specializing in new music for voice.

Amber Vistein is a composer and sound artist who is intensely interested in the physicality of sound and delves deeply into the poetics of timbre, texture, and gesture. She deploys a diverse array of techniques in her compositions to create complex ‘sonic worlds’ that blossom, radiate, and continually transform. Her use of electronics and digital signal processing further expands the expressive potential immanent within her sonic materials. These tools allow her to develop an immense range of sonorities and compose music designed to envelop the listener in an immersive, evolving situation. Amber is currently a PhD student in the Computer Music and Multimedia (MEME) department at Brown University and received her MFA from the Studio for Interrelated Media at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2013.

Broad gestures, rich textures, and narrative sweep are hallmarks of the “compelling” (New York Times), “shapely, melody-rich” (Wall Street Journal) music of composer Alex Weiser. Born and raised in New York City, Weiser creates acutely cosmopolitan music combining a deeply felt historical perspective with a vibrant forward-looking creativity. Weiser has been praised for writing “insightful” music “of great poetic depth” (Feast of Music), and for having a “sophisticated ear and knack for evoking luscious textures and imaginative yet approachable harmonies.” (I Care If You Listen). An energetic advocate for contemporary classical music and for the work of his peers, Weiser co-founded and directs Kettle Corn New Music, an “ever-enjoyable,” and “engaging” concert series which “creates that ideal listening environment that so many institutions aim for: relaxed, yet allowing for concentration,” (New York Times) and was for nearly five years a director of the MATA Festival, “the city’s leading showcase for vital new music by emerging composers.” (The New Yorker). Weiser is now the Public Programs Manager at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research where he curates and produces programs that combine a fascination with and curiosity for historical context, with an eye toward influential Jewish contributions to the culture of today and tomorrow.

Librettists

Laura Barati is a librettist, performer, and devisor of new works.  As a librettist, Laura wrote the short operas Uprising and Henna Leaves with composer Aleksandra Weil, both of which were developed by AOP + NYU.  Laura trained at Kenyon College, the National Theater Institute, the School at Steppenwolf, and received her M.F.A. in Graduate Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch.  She’s worked with the Arden Theatre Company, Strawdog Theatre Company, Jackalope Theatre Company, and Cold Basement Dramatics.  Her writing has been performed in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York, at venues including Don’t Tell Mama, Duplex, NYMF, Prospect Theater Company, and Barrington Stage Company.  Current projects include We Regret To Inform You That Reza Is Dead with the devising collective The Electric Brain and the musical How To Create A Young Girl, written with composer TJ Rubin. 

Kim Davies is a 2016 fellow in Playwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts.  Her play Smoke premiered at the Flea Theater in 2014 for a thrice-extended run, was a New York Times and Time Out New York Critics' Pick, and has been produced in cities across the United States and in translation in Brazil. She is one of eight international writers selected by Ibsen International for their New Text, New Stage program and developed a new play with local theater artists in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, China from 2015 to 2016 for a world premiere in Shanghai in 2017.  In collaboration with the Muse Project, she wrote Stet, which in 2016 had its world premiere at Abingdon Theatre Company.  Davies is a member of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre and the New Georges Jam, and received her MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College.

Sokunthary Svay is a Pushcart-nominated Khmer writer and musician from the Bronx, New York. She and her family were refugees from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. She is the poetry editor for Newtown Literary and a founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA). Svay was a subject in New York Magazine’s “Living in a Sanctuary City” portfolio and featured in the New York Immigration Coalition’s This is Our NY, broadcast in Times Square. Writing credits include Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time, FLESH, Prairie Schooner, Women’s Studies Quarterly, The Margins, and Mekong Review. Svay recently received her MA in Language & Literacy from CCNY (CUNY), where she will also be teaching college composition this fall. Her first book of poetry, Apsara in New York, will be published by Willow Books in September 2017.

Instructors

C&V Artistic Director

Steven Osgood is General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera, where the 2017 season will feature new productions of Don PasqualeHydrogen Jukebox, and the US stage premiere of Ottorino Respighi’s realization of Monteverdi’s Orfeo.   As Artistic Director of American Opera Projects (2001 to 2008) he created Composers & the Voice, and conducted the world premieres of Paula Kimper and Wende Persons’ Patience & Sarah at the Lincoln Center Festival, and Janice Hamer and Mary Azrael’s Lost Childhood in Tel Aviv.  In 2014, he conducted AOP’s acclaimed premiere of As One by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.  He has conducted premieres by Tan Dun, Iannis Xenakis, David T. Little and Daron Hagen, among others.  He has served on the Music Staff of the Metropolitan Opera since 2006.  Most recently he conducted the world premiere of Breaking the Waves by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek for Opera Philadelphia.

Head of Music / Music Director

Lauded for her “sublime” playing (Feast of Music) and heralding orchestral scores of “incredible range and color” (OperaPulse), pianist MIila Henry is returning to Composers & the Voice for her fourth season, now as both music director and Head of Music. An integral member of New York’s contemporary opera community, she frequently collaborates with Beth Morrison Projects, PROTOTYPE, American Lyric Theater and American Opera Projects, where she was Assistant Conductor for the premieres of As One (BAM), The Blind (Lincoln Center Festival) and Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom (Irondale Center). She has performed at LA Opera (Thumbprint), Opera Philadelphia (We Shall Not Be Moved, September 2017) and the Library of Congress (OPERA America’s Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin); served as Vocal Director for Ripe Time’s Obie-winning The World is Round (BAM); and appeared on VisionIntoArt’s FERUS Festival, National Sawdust’s Spring Revolution Festival and the New York Musical Festival. milahenry.com

Music Director

Kelly Horsted enjoys an active career in NYC as an accompanist and vocal coach. Collaborations with AOP have included Sheila Silver’s Beauty Intolerable, Herschel Garfein’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, directed by Mark Morris, Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, and Paula Kimper’s Patience & Sarahfor the Lincoln Center Festival. He has also collaborated with Chelsea Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Wintergreen Festival, New Jersey Opera Theater, Friends and Enemies of New Music, Five Words in a Line and the Graduate Musical Theater Writing program at the Tisch School. He is a coach at the Hartt School of Music, and has also taught at Mannes College of Music, Hunter College, Intermezzo, Five Towns College and OperaWorks. His Bachelor and Master of Music degrees are from the Eastman School of Music. Kelly has been a music director for Composers & the Voice since 2006. KellyHorsted.com

Head of Drama

As AOP’s Producing Director and Resident Dramaturg since 2003, Matt Gray has overseen development and production of dozens of concerts, workshops, and premieres as well as AOP’s publicity and marketing. At AOP, he has directed the European premiere of As One in Berlin and will be directing As One at Chautauqua Opera in 2018, featuring the original cast and ensemble, Philadelphia premiere of Darkling at Center City Opera Theater and several opera workshops including AbSynth (Galapagos Art Space), Numinous City (Rubin Museum of Art), and the historical medical drama Semmelweis (New York Academy of Medicine), for which he is also the librettist. Outside of AOP, he recently directed Mateo Moreno’s play Bohemian Valentine at the 2014 New York Fringe Festival. He is the co-creator of the 12-part serialized play Penny Dreadful which ran for two years at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. BFA, North Carolina School of the Arts (Directing).

Libretto Writing Instructor

Mark Campbell’s work as a librettist is at the forefront of the current contemporary opera scene in this country. The fifteen plus librettos he has written – and the five new operas he premieres in 2017 – demonstrate a versatility in subject matter, style, and tone, an adeptness at creating successful work for both large and intimate venues. The composers with whom he collaborates represent a roster of the most eminent composers in classical music, and include three Pulitzer Prize winners. Premiered Works: Silent Night, As One, Later the Same Evening, Volpone, Bastianello/Lucrezia, Manchurian Candidate, The Inspector, Approaching Ali, A Letter to East 11th Street, The Shining. Premieres in 2017 include: Elizabeth Cree for Opera Philadelphia (Kevin Puts, composer), Dinner at Eight for Minnesota Opera (William Bolcom, composer), Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera (Laura Kaminsky, composer; Kimberly Reed, co-librettist), The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare for Boston Lyric Opera (Julian Grant, composer) and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs for Santa Fe Opera (Mason Bates, composer).

Acting Instructor

Mary Birnbaum is a NYC-based director. Recent opera credits include: Kept (Kuster/Levad World Premiere, Virginia Arts Festival) Aida in a Sandbox (Pacific Symphony), The Classical Style (World Premiere, Ojai Festival/Carnegie Hall), and The Rape of Lucretia (Juilliard) which the New York Times called “viscerally overwhelming.” Regional credits include: Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera (Assoc. Dir to Stephen Wadsworth on The Ring Cycle), New World Symphony and Bard (Le Villi/La Navarraise,2016.) She has directed internationally, in Taipei, Costa Rica, Melbourne and Tel Aviv. Mary is on faculty at The Juilliard School, where she teaches acting to singers. Upcoming: La Finta Giardiniera (Juilliard) and Protest Songs (NYFOS, Merkin). Training: Ecole Jacques Lecoq. For more: www.marybirnbaum.com

Improv Instructor

Terry Greiss, Exec. Director, actor, co-founded the Irondale Ensemble Project in 1983 and has overseen the company’s mission and vision since then. He has performed in over 45 roles with the company, and is a creator of many of Irondale’s original works and education programs. He has conducted hundreds of workshops in public schools, prisons, theaters, professional training programs and community venues. Terry was the Founding President of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, and sits on the Steering Committee of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance. In 2008. At the invitation of the US Embassy, he was invited to lecture and teach in Russia. He has taught at the New School, and the University of Wisconsin Drama Center. In 2008, Terry opened the Irondale Center, in the Brooklyn Cultural District. In 2015, he created Irondale’s To Protect, Serve and Understand, an improv training program for NYC police officers, designed to enhance communication skills and build empathy. Currently he also works as an Improvisation Instructor for the Alan Alda School of Communicating Science and Alda Communications, teaching improv to scientists, doctors and engineers to enhance their communication skills. He is a graduate of the HS for the Performing Arts and Sarah Lawrence College.

Singers

JENNIFER GOODE COOPER is a “lustrous soprano” (Wall Street Journal) with “steely eyed ferocity” (NY Times) who “fills the theater with her soaring soprano voice” (Variety). She specializes in crossing genres, as shown in a career fusing opera, Broadway, song, radio, and new works. She can be heard in recording on Albany Records, MSR Classics, and SKG Music. Career highlights: Title role in Floyd’s Susannah (Toledo Opera), Nathaniel Stookey’s Ivonne (Opera Memphis), Miss Jessel in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (New York City Opera), Titania/Hippolyta in the first known a cappella opera, Michael Ching’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Opera Memphis), Musetta in Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed Broadway and LA productions of La Bohème, Backup singer for Patti Lupone, Weekly Hip-Hopera singer with celebrity DJ’s Ed lover and Dr. Dre (NY’s Power 105.1). Jennifer was a 2013 Arts Envoy of the US Embassy (to Mozambique), and a 2014 recipient of a Professional Development Grant from the Weill Foundation. www.jennifergoodecooper.com

An active interpreter of art song, opera and new music, baritone MARIO DIAZ-MORESCO is garnering attention for his versatility and strong stage presence. Mr. Diaz-Moresco studied at the University of Colorado, the University of Southern California, and is currently a member of the Professional Studies Diploma program at the Mannes School, where he is a student of Diana Soviero. He has been a young artist with Central City Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Chautauqua Opera and a Stern Fellow at Songfest. Highlights from recent seasons include recitals with pianist Spencer Myer on California’s “ln Concert Sierra” series, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago and the Rocky River Chamber Music Society of Ohio, in addition to Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, The Old Doctor in Vanessa, playing the lead role in Robert Ashley’s Oust, and premiering the song cycle The Wanderlusting of Joseph C. by Joan La Barbara.

Tenor BLAKE FRIEDMAN has been seen on operatic, concert, and theatrical stages across the country.  His recent appearance as Iago in Rossini’s Otello with LoftOpera earned him praise for “his vast range and clear diction” (NY Observer) and “pliant tenor” (Parterre).  The New York Times said, “The most convincing tenor was that of Blake Friedman as Iago whose voice has a plummy fullness and dusky hue.  His duet with Otello was taut and exciting…”. Other notable New York City performances include: Tenor Soloist in the Liebeslieder Walzer with New York City Ballet, Tenor Soloist at Geffen Hall in Mozart’s Vespri Sollemnes de Confessore, and Singer in Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart (BAM Fisher).  He has also garnered praise for his “silken and strong” (Tampa Bay Times), “fresh lyric tenor” (OperaNews Online) singing roles such as Jimmy O’Keefe in Later the Same Evening, Conte Almaviva in Barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’Elisir D’Amore and Alfredo in La Traviata.  He is delighted to rejoin American Opera Projects Composers & the Voice as resident tenor for a second season.

Mezzo Soprano BLYTHE GAISSERT mezzo-soprano has established herself as a fresh and exciting artist in great demand in the United States and abroad for opera, concert and recital engagements. In the coming 2017-18 season, Ms. Gaissert will be creating the role of Walker Loats in Mikael Karlsson’s cutting edge one woman opera The Echo Drift at the Prototype Festival in NYC in a co-production with AOP, reprising the role of Hannah After in As One with San Diego Opera, and singing Hester Prynne in the professional premiere of The Scarlett Professor at Amherst College, Sadie in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star at On Site Opera. She is also a member of the alt/classical/rock group The Knells, who will be releasing their second album in Fall of 2017. A champion of new music, Ms. Gaissert has worked with numerous composers and librettists on dozens of new works, and has been a part of American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice series since 2014. Ms. Gaissert has worked with companies such as the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Opera Colorado, Tulsa Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Aldeburgh Festival in England, Lyrique en Mer in France, Opera Southwest, Opera Saratoga, and more.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a stalwart bass-baritone with a burnished voice” and in Opera News as a “mellifluous bass-baritone [with] theatrical flair,” ADRIAN ROSAS is an emerging young artist with “impressive experience and talent” (The Boston Globe). Mr. Rosas has performed with opera companies such as the Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Saratoga, Houston’s Opera in the Heights, and the Detroit Opera House. As a champion of new and modern music, he has had the opportunity to work on a variety of newly written works, including Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket, Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Frida, Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces, Matt Aucoin’s Whitman, newly written operas with the American Lyric Theater in New York, and with the Ostrava Center for New Music in the Czech Republic. Equally versed in concert and oratorio work, he has performed at Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, and Zankel Hall), Merkin Concert Hall, and Alice Tully Hall. Mr. Rosas holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Music Degree from The Juilliard School. Co-Founder and Executive Director of Arts On Site NYC, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to supporting the development of artists and encouraging community collaboration.

Cherokee soprano TOOKAH SAPPER, from Oklahoma City, holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance with a Minor in Collaborative Piano from University of Central Oklahoma. This summer, she will perform with The Chautauqua Opera Company as a Studio Artist for their 2017 season. This past spring, she performed as a member of the Princeton Singers, under the direction of Steven Sametz. She performed and collaborated with American Opera Projects as a member of their Resident Ensemble for the 2015/16 season of Composers & The Voice. In fall of 2015, she appeared in Sonic Blossom, an interactive performance exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, working with artist Lei Mingwei. She currently plays piano at the Princeton Ballet School and is a Cantor and Choral Scholar at St. John the Evangelist in Lambertville, NJ. MSM credits include: Cendrillon (Feé), Albert Herring (Cis), Schubert’s Mass in G Major(Soloist), Mozart’s C Minor Mass (Soprano II Soloist). UCO credits include: L’Elisir d’amore (Adina), The Messiah (Soloist), Dido and Aeneas (Belinda), Gallantry (Lola), and Gianni Schicci (Nella). Summer program credits include: The Maid of Orleans (Solo Angel) with Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pirates of Penzance (Mabel) and Le nozze di Figaro (Barbarina) with Opera in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Artistic Chairs

C&V Artistic Chairs provide one-on-one artistic advice and career guidance throughout the season to an assigned fellow.

Gordon
Little mazzoli Picker Scheer Schwartz Spears Vavrek
Ricky Ian Gordon
Composer
(27, The Grapes of Wrath)
Composer
(Dog Days, JFK)
Composer
(Breaking the Waves,
Songs From the Uproar)
Composer
(Emmeline, An American Tragedy)
Librettist
(Cold Mountain, Moby Dick)
Composer/Librettist
(Wicked, Godspell)
Composer
(Fellow Travelers, Paul’s Case)
Librettist
(Dog Days, JFK)

 

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Victor Herbert Foundation sponsors one fellowship as The Victor Herbert Foundation Composers & The Voice Chair, created in memory of longtime opera supporter Lois C. Schwartz.

Past AOP Composers & the Voice fellows have received grants and honors from the following organizations: Aaron Copland Fund for Music, ASCAP, BMI, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum, OPERA America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, the Fulbright Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Douglas Moore Fellowship, Tapestry New Opera Works, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, New Dramatists, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation.

 

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