The Composer-in-Residence (CIR) program was directed to composers of all professional levels who saw opera as a significant component of their future creative work. There was no required creative output; however, composers were encouraged to make the best use of resources provided. The CIR was funded by two grants totaling more than $1.7 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and provided individualized, professional, and creative development for promising opera composers, combined with a living stipend and health benefits.
The program fostered tomorrow’s masterpieces of American opera through individualized creative development. The Composer in Residence (CIR) was eager to step beyond his or her musical comfort zones. He or she worked zealously with the resident companies and advisors to take this timeless art form and infuse it with the artistic, technological, creative, and collaborative sensibilities most relevant to our time.
Each CIR received highly individualized opportunities to cultivate his/her skills in all aspects of opera production, from working one-on-one with librettists and dramaturges to workshops and scene treatments with world-class performers. Additionally, they had access to observe and work hands-on in every aspect of artistic administration, creative development, production, and performance.
An accomplished rock drummer and the founding artistic director for the amplified chamber ensemble Newspeak, David T. Little fuses classical and popular idioms to powerful effect. The NewYorker has called him, “one of the most imaginative young composers on the music-theatre scene.” His multi-media music theatre work, Soldier Songs, based on interviews with veterans of five wars, received its New York City premiere in January 2013 at the inaugural PROTOTYPE Festival. The Wall Street Journal called Little’s first full-length opera, Dog Days, “one of the most exciting new operas of recent years,” and The New York Times cited Dog Days as one of two highlights of the season, stating that the work “proved beyond any doubt that opera has both a relevant present and a bright future.”
Little recently completed the large scale work AGENCY for the Kronos Quartet with electronics; two songs from Artaud in the Black Lodge (a theatre work in progress for tenor and chamber ensemble, commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects) for the 21C Liederabend at BAM; Hellhound for cello and small ensemble for Maya Beiser. A new production of Soldier Songs with film by Bill Morrison recently premiered in D.C. and will make its international debut on the Holland Festival next month. He is currently working on a new opera about the last day of John F. Kennedy’s life, with a libretto by RoyceVavrek, commissioned by the Fort Worth Opera and American Lyric Theater to premiere in 2016. He was mostly recently awarded a commission from The Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater as part of their new works program. Mr. Little attended University of Michigan and Princeton, co-founder of the annual New Music Bake Sale, served as Executive Director of MATA and is currently Director of Composition at Shenandoah Conservatory. He is published by Boosey & Hawkes. www.davidlittle.com
Andrew Norman’s symphonic works, often noted for their clarity and vigor, have been commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, theOrpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the Minnesota Orchestra, among others. In May 2013, the Philadelphia Orchestra performed his kinetic work titled Unstuck, which refers to a moment when he overcame writers block and began composing at a furious pace. A lifelong enthusiast for all things architectural, he writes music that is often inspired by forms and textures he encounters in the visual world. His music draws on an eclectic mix of instrumental sounds and notational practices, and it has been cited in the New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors” and in the L.A. Times for its “Chaplinesque” wit.
Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome, which premiered on November 13, 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah, was named a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in music. The Pulitzer Prize Board called it “an impressive musical portrait of nine historic churches, written for a string trio but sometimes giving the illusion of being played by a much larger group, changing mood and mode on a dime.” Norman’s chamber music has been featured at numerous venues in recent seasons, including the Wordless Music Series at Le Poisson Rouge, the MATA Festival, the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series, the Juilliard School Focus Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival.
His upcoming projects include collaborations with the Calder Quartet, eighth blackbird, Jeremy Denk, Jeffrey Kahane, Colin Currie and Jennifer Koh. Mr. Norman attended the University of Southern California and Yale. He currently serves as Composer in Residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. His works are published by Schott Music. www.andrewnormanmusic.com
Missy Mazzoli has produced new works for eighth blackbird, Kronos Quartet, the League of Composers Orchestra, violinist Jennifer Koh as commissioned by the LA Philharmonic, and the Santa Fe Chamber Players, and has received additional commissions from Carnegie Hall and the Whitney Museum of Art. The winner of four ASCAP Young Composer Awards and a Fulbright Grant to the Netherlands, she was recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” by The New York Times. In February 2012, she premiered her first full-length opera, Song from the Uproar, at The Kitchen in New York. The Wall Street Journal called the work "powerful and new", while The New York Times said that, "in the electric surge of Ms. Mazzoli's score you felt the joy, risk, and unlimited potential of free spirits unbound.” Her new, 25-minute opera entitled SALT, a multimedia collaboration based on the biblical story of Lot’s wife, premiered at UNCChapel Hill in October 2012.
Mazzoli’s 2013/2014 Season included a commission by Carnegie Hall for a new work for her band Victoire, Wilco drummer/percussionist Glenn Kotche and vocalists Mellissa Hughes, Martha Cluver and Virginia Warnken. This new work, based on poems by Matthew Zapruder, premiered at Carnegie Hall on February 22, 2014, as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival. The season also included premieres of newly commissioned works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and pianist Emanuel Ax, who performed her newest solo piano piece on tour across the country.
The 2014/15 season will include many new projects and collaborations, including a new work for the Ethel String Quartet, a performance on the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! Series, and the second release from Missy’s band Victoire – an album of her works recorded with Wilco percussionist Glenn Kotche and electronic musician Lorna Dune. Missy and Victoire will perform around the country next year in support of their new album, and will join Meredith Monk in a celebration of her work at Carnegie Hall. Along with librettist Royce Vavrek, Missy is also working on Breaking the Waves, a chamber opera based on Lars von Trier’s 1996 film, commissioned by Opera Philadelphia. Breaking the Waves will premiere in 2016. Mazzoli attended the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, and Boston University, and is published by G. Schirmer. www.missymazzoli.com
Lembit Beecher www.lembitbeecher.com