The Ensemble for These Times has released the last installment of their online summer listening series, “Ensemble for These (Summer) Times.” This fourth program features music by composers who will be included in their upcoming 2020-21 season—and I am happy to be one of them!
Megan Ihnen and Alan Theisen Present will perform a set of works for voice and saxophone at the Oh My Ears New Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ on 2/1/19 at 7 pm. These fantastic performers are true champions of new music, and have been actively touring their first program, “This World of Yes,” for the past couple of years. Their OME performance will include compositions from that program as well as more recent works:
Elegy (Deserted) by Jennifer Bellor
The Little Mouse Elder by Kincaid Rabb
There are so many tictoc from When you touch by Alan Theisen
From All of Our Love This Was Lost by Nick Zoulek
Dark Star by Garrett Schumann
For the past year and a half, Kendra Preston Leonard and I have been creating a new chamber opera, “Marie Curie Learns to Swim.” This project will be brought to life next month with a premiere by the Hartford Opera Theater on April 28 as part of their “Speaking Her Truth” event. For this performance, HOT is partnering with my long-time collaborators the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra to present our new opera along with another world premiere—“Four Songs for Lady Macbeth,” also with text by Kendra—and a reprise of my mini-opera “Trigger.”
Producing new opera in particular is a very large undertaking, and we need your help!
If you are interested in the work Kendra and I are doing—
If you value HOT and HICO’s contributions to the Greater Hartford area—
If you love opera—
If you want to support new music—
If you believe in fostering new art by women—
Then please help us bring this event to audiences!
You can help by:
- Purchasing a ticket and attending the 4/28 performance
- Donating to the online fundraiser run by HOT
- Donating to the online fundraiser run by HICO
- Sharing these links and encouraging your friends to support this project
Any way you can help is greatly appreciated by everyone involved.
As a little bonus, if you donate to one of the two fundraisers above, I will send you PDFs of the score and parts for one of my solo or chamber pieces at no charge! Just make your donation and then send me an email here or contact me on social media with the name of the solo or chamber piece you would like to receive. If you donate to both fundraisers, I’ll send you two pieces!
Thanks for your support, and I hope to see you on 4/28!
I am very happy to announce that mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen and saxophonist Alan Theisen will perform Epilogue on their upcoming tour. Their program, “This World of Yes,” features a number of twenty-first century compositions from a diverse group of composers. Tour dates and locations are:
- Nov. 13 at 7 pm at Xavier University in New Orleans, LA
- Nov. 14 at 7 pm at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL
- Nov. 15 at 7:30 pm at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC
- Nov. 16 at 7:30 pm at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, NC
Megan and Alan have previously performed the program in Fort Wayne, IN; Kansas City, MO; and Lamoni, IA. A video of one of their past performances can be found here:
My work “Falling” for voice and live processing has been selected for inclusion at the 2017 Electronic Music Midwest Festival. Held at the Kansas City Kansas Community College on Sept. 21-23, “Falling” will be on the 1:30 pm concert on Saturday, Sept. 23.
The work was premiered at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford in 2015. Based on a line of text by Sarah Teasdale, the work uses Max/MSP to build ambient textures from the spoken vocal part. If you attend, you’ll see a rare sight – me performing!
Every year, the International Alliance for Women in Music presents a concert of works selected from a competitive score call. I am pleased to announce that my violin-cello duo You, as You Were Before You Existed has been selected for performance at the 2017 concert. The event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 pm at the University of Kansas’s Swarthout Recital Hall. The concert will featured the following works performed by the Kansas Virtuosi:
- Running Amok by Victoria Malawey (USA)
- Stay by Jennifer Bellor (USA)
- You, As You Were Before You Existed by Jessica Rudman (USA)
- Solitude by Ellen Ruth Harrison (USA)
- The Lives and Opinions of Literary Cats by Jennifer Jolley (USA)
- Up a Half Step by Amelia S. Kaplan (USA)
- Conigli by Anne Guzzo (USA)
- Meadowlark by Tawnie Olsen (Canada)
- Parakeet Dancing by Seunghee Lee (South Korea)
If you are in the area, I hope you will join us!
A video of my new mini-opera “Trigger” is now available on YouTube! The work was written for soprano Afton Forsberg and the 2016 Opera from Scratch workshop, where it was premiered by Afton and pianist Simon Docking on Aug. 28, 2016.
The composition was inspired by an incident from the spring of 2014 in Nova Scotia: a woman filed a domestic assault complaint against her boyfriend, and a local law enforcement officer accidentally left a voicemail message at the victim’s number where officers can be heard discussing the case. In the recording (which is available online), an officer can be heard disparaging the woman, implying that she may be lying about her injuries, and asking if she deserved to get hit. I was very disturbed by the incident, and my reactions to it ultimately became realized in Trigger.
My most recent orchestra work Still I Rise! has been chosen for the Earshot Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Readings and Competition. Along with compositions by four other emerging composers, the ICO will workshop my piece and present it in a public concert on Sept. 23 at 7 pm. Full details about the ICO Readings, including profiles of all of the composers, can be found here.
The music is inspired by Maya Angelou’s eponymous poem. Her words express a profound sentiment of perseverance: they reflect not only surviving hardships, but coming out of them with one’s spirit in tact. The narrator’s sassiness, quirky humor, and energy are manifested in the music’s grooves, flirty lines, and vibrant colors. Angelou’s theme of endurance is expressed as the main motive, or “protagonist,” travels through periods of confidence, adversity, manic excitement, questioning, and catharsis. Even when the identity of the main motive is almost obliterated by the heavy, static chords of the climax, it emerges to close the piece with a wink and a flourish —always rising again.
I began the work during a residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in 2014. Since then, I have worked on it in Spain, Canada, across the U.S., and here at home–actually, in three different homes–in Connecticut. This will be the piece’s first performance, and I am very happy that the music will be brought to life soon!
I recently received the good news that There Will Come Soft Rains for unaccompanied voice was chosen for performance by the Ensemble For These Times in their inaugural Call for Scores. Selected from over 200 submissions, the piece will be performed during the 2016-17 concert season. I am very excited to be working with this great ensemble and am honored to be among the composers chosen (see the official release for a full list of winners).
This work is now available through the online store – click here to listen to a recording, view a perusal score, and/or purchase downloadable sheet music.
Mike Hamad of the Hartford Courant has written a feature on the collaborations behind my new work Iseult Speaks. The full text of the article is available here, and it goes into the backstory of the work, discussing how the piece developed from a chance meeting. The work has been a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with poet Elizabeth Hamilton and mezzo-soprano Charity Clark, as well as the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra. It’s been a great roughly 18-month journey, and I’m excited for the work’s premiere!
In preparation for the premiere of Iseult Speaks on 2/20 by Charity Clark and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, I’ll be posting a new recording from the piano reduction each day. Nine of the thirteen movements were previewed by Charity with pianist Blake Hansen at my recital on 2/5/16, and the recordings will be posted to the playlist below. Follow me on social media to see announcements when new tracks are added, or listen to the full set of preview recordings here after Friday 2/19. Then, if you’re near Hartford, come check out the premiere of the chamber orchestra version on 2/20!
My new work, Iseult Speaks, for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra will be premiered on 2/20 by Charity Clark and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra. The concert will take place at 8pm in the auditorium of the Mark Twain House. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors/Lets Go Arts & MTH members, or $10 for students. They can be purchased online here.
Iseult Speaks is an extended song cycle for mezzo-soprano based on a retelling of the Tristan/Iseult myth. For those of you who might not be familiar with the story, the basic outline—and there are many variations on this skeleton—is that Tristan is supposed to bring Iseult to marry his uncle, but on the way they fall in love, usually because of a potion they accidentally ingest. Portrayals of Iseult range from passive cypher to tragic heroine to wanton seductress, but she is almost always cast as a one-dimensional accessory to Tristan.
Elizabeth Hamilton’s evocative and provocative poems reexamine the legend from Iseult’s point of view, here somewhat omniscient and shaded with a modern sensibility that links the tale to contemporary experiences. The text touches on questions of gender roles, societal pressure, and personal power as the narrator contemplates her life, rages against the unfairness of fate, wallows in memories of physical affection, condemns Tristan for his inaction, and vacillates between confidence, insecurity, hope, and despair.
The work was commissioned by HICO with generous support from the City of Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program.
As part of our Fall Fundraising Campaign running from now until Oct. 23, board members from the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, along with a few special guests, will present an exciting evening of music. “Love, Motherhood, and the Female Gaze” explores the ways that women composers offer unique perspectives on parenthood, romantic relationships, and the female body. The program will include music by Pauline Viardot, Florence Price, Amy Beach, Lori Laitman, Gala Flagello, myself, and more.
The concert will be held on Oct. 23 at 7:30 pm in the historic Charter Oak Cultural Center. Tickets are a suggested donation of $20 for general admission or $5 for students, educators, and seniors. Tickets are available ahead of time online or at the door.
Additionally, we have teamed up with Savers Thrift Store as part of this event, which means that we are accepting donations in the form of cash, check, and bags of gently used clothing, accessories, books, and small household items! We will also be selling swag from our Indiegogo campaign, which you can check out ahead of time here.
We hope you will join us for the concert. If you can’t make it but would still like to support the Festival, please consider making a tax-deductible donation – every little bit helps us to continue presenting high quality music by women composers!
Soprano Hillary LaBonte will perform my solo vocal work “There Will Come Soft Rains” on Oct. 9 at the Toledo Art Museum. The concert will take place at 7 pm and is part of the Ear | Eye series. The Museum describes the event as follows:
“In partnership with the doctoral program at Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts, the Museum presents a new performance and discussion series that explores the relationship between contemporary music and art through music performances in response to specific works of art. Performing musicians, TMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art Halona Norton-Westbrook and staff will lead a discussion of the paired music and art with an emphasis on the intertwining elements of visual and musical literacy. This Friday evening series is sponsored in part by Fifth Third Bank. The Oct. 9 performance will respond to art on view in Gallery 7, including works by El Anatsui, Louis Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi and Sol LeWitt.”
Hillary has performed the work before, as part of the 2015 New Music Gathering, and I am very excited that she has decided to program it again. If you can’t make the concert, but would like to check out a recording of the piece, it is available on Soundcloud here. If you’d like to purchase sheet music for this work, it is now for sale on Musicspoke.
Sophia Tegart and Helena Kopchick Spencer will perform Transformations at the National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC on August 13, 2015. Written for the duo in 2007, the work is a set of five miniatures inspired by poems from Anne Sexton’s eponymous collection. The piece will be featured on a program entitled “Women of Note”. Works by Jennifer Margaret Barker, Lili Boulanger, Mélanie Bonis, Amanda Harberg, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Kate Soper, and Germaine Tailleferre will also be presented.
2015-16 is shaping up to include a number of collaborations and premieres that I am extremely excited to start working on. The first of these is a commission from the UK-based Riot Ensemble. As one of three winners from their recent Call for Scores, I will be composing a new work for soprano, flute, harpsichord, and two percussionists to be premiered in London on Nov. 17, 2015 (click here to read the official announcement).
Though a number of my recent works have featured flute and/or percussion, it’s been a couple years since I’ve written a vocal piece. I’m looking forward to composing for the voice and working with text again. (Spoiler alert: one of my other commissions for next season also involves voice – check back soon for details!) I’m also excited about the prospect of writing for harpsichord, which I’ve never before had a chance to include in any of my works. If you’ve got any favorite works involving harpsichord, I’d love to check them out, so please share in the comments section!
The Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO) is pairing up with Connecticut Composers, Inc. to present a concert of music by local composers. Five works were selected through a score call, and I am happy to announce that my Scenes from Battleship Potemkin will be performed with works by Robert Carl, Ryan Jesperson, Ken Steen, and Frank Vasi. After the concert, the audience will vote on their favorite work on the program, and the winning composer will be commissioned by HICO for the 2015-2016 season. Hope to see you there!
December 6 at 7:30 pm
Charter Oak Cultural Center
Tickets: $20 General/$10 Student and Senior
Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door
I am very pleased to announce that I have been selected as a participant in the 2014 June in Buffalo Festival for emerging composers. I will be in residence at the University of Buffalo on June 2-8 for the event, and my flute-percussion duet “Rituals and Superstitions” will be performed on one of the Festival concerts. I am greatly looking forward to this exciting opportunity and will post more details as they become available. Until then, general information about June in Buffalo can be found online at http://www.music.buffalo.edu/center21c/jib.
The first two weeks of March will be a busy time for me! In addition to presenting my research about Ellen Taaffe Zwilich at the Society for American Music National Conference on March 7 (see an earlier post about this event here), I’ll be making trips to Westfield State University for their Festival of New Music on March 2 and Mansfield University for a residency with the Cadillac Moon Ensemble on March 10.
As part of the Westfield Festival of New Music, the Boston New Music Initiative will be performing my First Praise. I am very excited to work with the talented musicians of BNMI again and am fortunate they have chosen to present the work for the second time this season (the first being the Parma Music Festival/SCI Region I Conference back in August). The concert will also feature works by Taila Amar, James Crowley, Sungji Hong, Cody Kauhl, Rodrigo Lima, Jeffrey Shivers, and Frederic Rzewski performed by BNMI and by the Connecticut-based Generous Ensemble. In addition to participating in the concert, I will also be conducting a masterclass at the University and am greatly looking forward to meeting with the students.
The following week I will head to Pennsylvania for a short visit at Mansfield University, where I will also have the opportunity to work with students. While I am at the University, the NYC-based Cadillac Moon Ensemble will also be in residence and will be performing a program featuring premieres by Andrew Walters and myself. Having heard a reading session this past week that included my new string duo You, As You Were Before You Existed and a number of other works written for the CME, I can guarantee they will put on a great show!
As if that was not enough to keep me busy, I’ll also be in Connecticut for the weekend portion of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford on March 6-9. (Check back soon for a post about this staple of the Hartford music scene.) I hope to see you at one or more of these fantastic events!
This Saturday, Nov. 2, my fixed media work “Not One Would Care” will be included in the New Horizons Music Festival at Truman State University (Kirksville, MO). The Festival includes a number of traditional concerts as well as a gallery show with art by Nicholas Naughton and electroacoustic music selected from a score call. The exhibition is entitled “Disasters of War”, and my work, which was among those chosen to accompany the prints, was inspired by Sara Teasdale’s post-apocolyptic poem “There will come soft rain”. The art will be on display in the Truman Art Gallery with the selected pieces on loop from 12-6:30 pm. More information about the Gallery Concert and all other events of the Festival can be found online at http://music.truman.edu/newhorizons/.