This has got to be a first. Luis Andrei Cobo is offering his services to compose a grand opera to the highest Ebay bidder. For $150,000 you can buy a grand opera over 2 hours in length.
Cobo estimates that he’ll need 2 years of full-time work to complete the project, so $75K/year will enable him to maintain the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed as a software programmer.
Don’t have $150K? That’s OK, he’s open to other offers. For as little as $32,000 he will write a half-hour long chamber opera for 3 to 5 singers.
The winning bidder will get to suggest subject matter for the opera, be able to produce the work royalty-free, and upon the composer’s death, the highest bidder or the heir(s) of the bidder will inherit the work.
Sounds like a deal. Then again, obtaining an actual staging of the finished work….
Complete information on this ebay item can be found here. Good luck on your bid!
Osvaldo Golijov working hard to meet his next commission deadline
Seems like it’s been a while since we had some Golijov bashing (and defending) on our site. What do you think about this story about a Eugene Symphony premiere, with its disturbing allegations of extended theft of another composer’s work?
The reporter doesn’t mention that Golijov’s m.o. these days is to collaborate with pop/folk musicians, making the question of authorship in works such as Ayre particularly murky. Nevertheless, if nearly 50% of the work is music by another composer, shouldn’t that composer get a conspicuous co-credit on the composition? Golijov does credit his collaborators, but you usually have to dig down into the program notes or CD credits to discover who else helped write the music on which Golijov’s name is so prominently displayed.
Read Bob Keefer’s story about the controversy here.
The 2011 Celebrate Asia competition from the Seattle Symphony is now open!
Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia announces the second Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition Competition. The Competition seeks to promote and recognize young composers who are interested in Asian culture, music and traditions. The concept originated in 2008, when local Asian leaders wanted to find a way to strengthen bonds with the broader community through a cultural celebration. Celebrate Asia is part of the Seattle Symphony’s Around the World series.
The Seattle Symphony, presenting its 109th season in 2011–2012, will come under the artistic leadership of Music Director Designate Ludovic Morlot in September 2011, following the close of Gerard Schwarz’s Farewell Season as Music Director. The Orchestra performs in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. The Symphony is internationally recognized for its adventurous programming of contemporary works, its devotion to the classics, and its extensive recording history. From September through July, the Symphony is heard live by more than 315,000 people.
•Award and Performance
The winning composer will receive a $1,000 cash award and an opportunity to visit Seattle for the world premiere. The winning score will be performed by Seattle Symphony and conductor Mei Ann Chen on February 24, 2012, in Benaroya Hall at the annual Celebrate Asia! concert.
All composers born after January 1, 1966, are eligible.
Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony Music Director
Simon Woods, Seattle Symphony Executive Director
Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning
Members of the Seattle Symphony Artistic Advisory Committee
1.Works must have Asian influences (for example: Asian folk melodies, Asian stories and legends, Asian traditional instruments).
2.Works must be new, original and accessible.
3.Works should be 3 to 6 minutes in duration.
4.Works should be for orchestra or chamber orchestra with instrumentation no larger than 3333 – 4331 – T+3 – hp – kybd – str. Woodwind doublings are allowed.
5.The submitted work must have had no prior performances.
6.Interested composers should submit:
– A legible, bound, full score
– A recording of the piece on a CD (midi-format is OK)
– A clear description of the composition’s Asian influence(s)
– A biography, with current address, e-mail address, and phone number
– If selected, professionally prepared parts will be required 60 days before the concert.
•Entry Fee and Deadline
There is no entry fee. All entries must arrive no later than Friday, October 21, 2011. Seattle Symphony is not responsible for lost or damaged material. The winning composition will be announced before Friday, November 18, 2011.
•Send submission to:
Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composer Competition
ATTN: Amy Stagno
P.O. Box 21906
Seattle, WA 98111-3669
Questions and inquiries may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Houston, TX – There’s no question that Houston’s proponents of contemporary music are enthusiastically embracing creative marketing concepts and alternative venues for performances in an effort to expand and educate a new century of audiences. In an un-zoned city like Houston, I find that musicians and audiences will happily cross so-called genre and cultural boundaries especially if there’s promise of a good time (Texas barbecue can help too, but that’ll be another entry…). Much to my delight, I am seeing familiar faces when I’m out at performances of new music be it in a gallery in the Third Ward, a club in Montrose, or the Hobby Center’s Zilka Hall. Although I’ve only been living in Houston for short time, I feel a sense of connection to what is a pretty broad cross section of the city’s creative community.
Duo Scordatura violinist Nicholas Leh Baker
One of the familiar faces I see around town is Houston composer George Heathco, who hipped me to what will be an exciting concert of contemporary pieces for the violin and viola, including three (!) world premieres, performed by the duo of violinist Nicholas Leh Baker and violist Faith Magdalene Jones who call themselves Duo Scordatura. The concert takes place Saturday, January 29th at 6pm at First Presbyterian Church, located at 5300 Main Street. Tickets for concert are $10 for general audiences and $5 for students, children, and seniors.
The concert, titled COMMISSIONED, includes four works commissioned by Duo Scordatura, including works by Alexandra T. Bryant, Luke Dahn, George Heathco, and Dr. Daniel Kramlich. Part of the creative marketing for COMMISSIONED includes the Commissioned Project Interview Series featuring the duo and commissioned composers discussing the collaborative process that takes place between composers and the performing musicians.
Composer George Heathco
Heathco describes his programmed piece Turbine (2010) as “a bitch to play, but…a very entertaining work (or so I hope).” Also on the program are pieces by Jack Benson and Jodran Kuspa.
All of the composers on the bill either currently or have at one point called Houston their home and, according to Nicholas Leh Baker in his video interview, will all be present at the performance. Duo Scordatura is committed to presenting works “in a wide range of venues across the Houston landscape.” I look forward to hearing them next Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, and in the future wherever their mission takes them.
When the 2010 Composer Collaboration Awards call for proposals went out on May 10, 2010, music presenters, ensembles, and composers all over the San Francisco Bay Area called, paged, and emailed one another, then got together to put their dream projects down on paper in time for the deadline.
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music – Laura Karpman and Independent Producers/Authors, The Kitchen Sisters
The Cabrillo Festival is one of the leading festivals dedicated to contemporary classical music. The work brings together Emmy award-winning composer Laura Karpman together with The Kitchen Sisters (authors and radio producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) to create a multi-media, full evening length symphonic production titled The Hidden World of Girls.The Hidden World of Girls will focus on stories of lives shaped by the secrets girls carry with them into adulthood. The premiere is scheduled for July 28 & 29, 2012 at the 50th anniversary season of the Cabrillo Festival.
Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (FAMSF) – Sarah Wilson and Aerial Dance Company, Catch Me Bird
Inspired by the incredible architecture, landscape and visual arts collections of the de Young Museum, Off the Walls will be a new jazz composition for aerial dance, which will be performed at assorted locations outside, inside and on the sides of the museum. It will be an evening length, site-specific work performed by composer Sarah Wilson, Catch Me Bird Aerial Dance Company, and an ensemble of 12-18 Bay Area musicians and dancers. The premiere is scheduled for March 2013.
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco – Mark Izu and Choreographer, Kimi Okada
The JCCSF’s Friend Center for the Arts aims to create a forum for innovative projects in multi-disciplinary and multicultural contemporary and traditional performance. It will commission a multi-media, multi-disciplinary work composed by Mark lzu and choreographed by Kimi Okada entitled Mu. Incorporating Korean, African, Indian, Japanese, and Hawaiian traditional music and dance, the piece heralds the end of the Mayan calendar and uses the legend of Mu, an ancient empire of blessings and noble values destroyed by materialism and greed, as a parable for today. The premiere is scheduled for December 2012.
Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose Incorporated (MACLA) -Guillermo Galindo and Chamber Ensemble, Quinteto Latino
MACLA is a San Jose-based contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience. The company incubates new visual, literary and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. Guillermo Galindo and Quinteto Latino will create Voces del Desierto, a piece that will explore the journeys of unnamed immigrants who cross the Mexican-American border in search of a better life. The premiere is scheduled for late 2011 or early 2012. San Francisco Girls Chorus – Gabriela Lena Frank and Librettist, Nilo Cruz
One of the premier girls’ choruses in the U.S., the San Francisco Girls Chorus will commission Gabriela Lena Frank to create a cantata for treble chorus, chamber orchestra, and vocal soloists in collaboration with librettist Nilo Cruz. Marrying Western classical music tradition with Latin American folk music, Holy Daughters (working title) examines the cultural clash and interchange between European colonialism and indigenous tradition, and the role and perception of women in both worlds. The premiere is scheduled for June 2013.
Z Space Studio (Z Space) – Marcus Shelby and Co-Creator, Margo Hall
Known nationally as a premier performance development lab for artists, Z Space will create a new work by composer/musician Marcus Shelby and actor/director/singer Margo Hall. The new musical performance piece will explore the journey of a young black woman growing up in Detroit during one of the most exciting times for music and one of the most turbulent for civil rights. Loosely based on Ms. Hall’s life, Detroit represents a link to her childhood where her father was a well-known Detroit musician and as a child, she sang with her “aunties,” who were members of the Supremes band. The premiere is scheduled for January/February 2013.
Meet the Composer’s latest venture, MTC Studio, will be unveiled on Monday at an event at the 92nd Street Y (Tribeca). It features members of the International Contemporary Ensemble and the first class of MTC Studio composers – Kati Agócs, Marcos Balter, Yu-Hui Chang, Glenn Kotche (of the band Wilco), Dohee Lee and Ken Ueno – in an evening of conversations and music making.
Yesterday, I caught up with Ken Ueno (University of California-Berkeley) and asked him about MTC Studio and some of his other recent exploits. In addition to his activities with Meet the Composer, Ueno is getting a portrait concert on the Baltimore Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern series. What’s more, he’s spending the year as a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.
Ken Ueno. Photo Annette Hornischer
Sequenza 21: For those not in ‘loop’, what’s ‘Meet the Composer?’
Ueno: Meet the Composer is one of America’s most important and vital institutions supporting the creation of new musical work. A core tenet of theirs is to foster exciting new ways for composers to interact with audiences and performers.
Sequenza 21: Tell us about their new project, MTC Studio.
Ueno: Meet the Composer sums it up this way: “MTC Studio is a website that documents the creative process of composers through video, blogs, and other web content offering a rare perspective into the raw inner-workings of a composer’s world. Viewers get the unique opportunity to follow a musical work from first note to stage and can take part in individually supporting commissioning projects.”
Sequenza 21: What was the process for creating your page on the website?
Ueno: Kevin Clark of Meet the Composer’s home office and Jeremy Robins (a videographer) came out to Berkeley to interview me over the summer. During that time, we shot some initial footage. They gave me a flip camera and I’ve been since shooting my own footage that Jeremy has been editing. It’s kind of like keeping a video diary balanced with a more general introduction to who I am and what I do as an artist. It’s been a lot of fun. Sequenza 21: Have you had, will you have, interactions with the other MTC composers?
Ueno: Most of them I’ve already known for years! I’m quite honored and humbled to be included amongst some of my favorite composers of my generation! Glenn, I did not know from before. But being a Wilco fan for years, I look forward to meeting him. Sequenza 21: You’re busy on this trip to the US. Tell us your itinerary!
Ueno: I gave a lecture on my music at Columbia this week. Next week, I have the MTC Studio event, a lecture at Stony Brook, and two performances of my new piece for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players (at Stony Brook and at Merkin Hall).
Sequenza 21: How’s your residency in Berlin been? What’s the academy like and what are you writing there?
Ueno: Being at the American Academy in Berlin’s been great! I have the time and space to concentrate on composing. It’s a gracious gift of time. What’s been especially enthralling and stimulating has been learning from the other fellows. People like the literary critic James Wood, the journalist Anne Hull, the writers John Wray and Han Ong.
Two senior colleagues from UC Berkeley are there too: Martin Jay, a historian (one of the world’s foremost experts on the Frankfurt School), and his wife, Catherine Gallagher, a professor in English (an expert in the field of counterfactual fiction). It’s been great hanging out with these folks and picking their brains about all sorts of things. I’m quite impressed with our youngest fellow fellow, Kirk Johnson, who started the List Project. His organization has helped hundreds of Iraqi allies transition to the US. This man has saved people’s lives! Very inspiring. We are also lucky to have Pamela Rosenberg be our dean of fellows, with all the experience she’s had in the arts. Oh, and as a foodie, I’ve especially enjoyed the creations of the academy’s chef, Reinold Kegel. He’s fantastic!
During my year at the academy, I’ll be working on a number of projects. The first piece I finished was a 20-minute work for 11 instruments for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, which will be premiered next week. Next, I’ll work on an installation for SCI-Arc, a collaboration with the architect, Patrick Tighe. After that, I’ll work on pieces for Alarm Will Sound and a solo for Evelyn Glennie. If all goes well, I’m hoping to have time to work on my chamber opera, in which I’ll perform, but that’s due much later.
I just got off the phone with a reporter from the Chicago Reader, who read our February 12th coverage of Eighth Blackbird’s Composition Competition (on Twitter, this came to be known as the “8Bb boo-boo” post).
In the initial post, I’d expressed my disappointment at finding out that Eighth Blackbird, an ensemble for whom I had a great deal of respect as new music performers, was charging a $50 entry fee for their competition. As the post’s title indicated, it seemed apparent that the competition’s prize would easily be self-funded by application fees, with plenty left over.
We had a lot of comments on the post. This discussion revealed a wide range of viewpoints on the subject, both pro and con. Some posters pointed out that instrumentalists are routinely required to pay robust fees for auditions; why should composers? Others suggested that the ensemble was right in charging a fee, as they would be spending time adjudicating the contest and deserved compensation for that time. But others agreed with me that self-funded commissions are a problematic aspect of far too many composition competitions.
The variance of opinion didn’t hew to a composer vs. performer divide; one of Sequenza 21’s regular contributors, composer Lawrence Dillon, mounted a vigorous defense for the competition’s guidelines. Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, on the other hand, went even further than I did in strenuously rebutting the idea of high application fees and self-funded commissions.
Shortly after our post, and commentary elsewhere on the web, Eighth Blackbird announced that they were postponing the competition to rethink and revise its guidelines. They have recently announced a new competition. Partnering with the American Composers Forum and MakeMusic, Eighth Blackbird will undertake the Finale® National Composition Contest. You can read the competition’s guidelines here.
As I pointed out in my interview with the Reader (the article will run next Thursday, if you’d like to see what they make of it), the Finale competition improves on the previous contest in several ways. Some highlights:
-Each contestant may send up to three works, composed in the last five years, that demonstrate how they would write for Eighth Blackbird. One may include CDs, DVDs, and scores.
– There’s no more application fee; composers may pay a nominal amount ($5) if they’d like for their materials to be returned. Like all good competitions, it remains anonymous. There are no age restrictions.
– Three finalists will each receive $1000 and a $500 travel stipend. They will workshop the piece for a weekend with Eighth Blackbird. The winner will receive $2000 and a performance by 8Bb.
-None of the prizes is a king’s ransom; but paying finalists a travel stipend and giving them the opportunity to workshop their piece with the ensemble are significant opportunities not afforded by many competitions.
I think that this competition will better serve both emerging composers and the ensemble. By partnering with Finale and ACF, 8Bb has high-profile sponsors who are helping to offset some of the administrative costs that were previously passed along to composers. The affiliation with Finale will doubtless garner more attention and publicity for the competition. I’d imagine it will also help to get the word out to a wider and more diverse pool of emerging composers.
I, for one, am pleased that our discussion about composition competitions on Sequenza 21 seems to have made a positive impact. I’m also glad to be able to thank Eighth Blackbird publicly for being receptive to criticism and open to discussion. Their willingness to listen to what composers have to say – and then act on it- is another brand of advocacy that’s all too rare and greatly appreciated.
[Polly writes about great events happening in the Bay Area, here. And, I'll have a few cool things happening in Seattle soon. In the meantime here are some interesting performances coming up in NYC ]
It looks like the first couple weeks of June are going to be full of tough choices. Like, on Saturday, June 5th will I check-out, a) TheJACK Quartet on the opening night of the Tribeca New Music Festival, b) Wet Ink meets Yarn/Wire at Roulette, or c) Feldman performed by Flux Quartet and Evan Ziporyn?
Here’s what’s coming up, choose wisely:
June 2:Da Capo Chamber Players will be “Illuminating Darkness” at Merkin Hall (8pm). Daniel Felsenfeld (Insomnia Redux), Carl Schimmel (Four Nocturnes), George Crumb (The Sleeper), Donald Martino (Notturno), and more.
June 4-6:Flux Quartet will be performing five works by Morton Feldman over 3 days over at Bargemusic. Friday at 8pm: String Quartet #1; Saturday at 8pm: Structures and Three Pieces for string quartet, also Clarinet and String Quartet (featuring Evan Ziporyn); Sunday at 3pm: Piano and String Quartet (again, featuring Evan Ziporyn)(and, no, that is not a mistake!)
June 5: Four of the people behind Wet Ink (Alex Mincek, Sam Pluta, Kate Soper, and Eric Wubbels) meet Yarn/Wire at Roulette (8pm).
June 5, 7-9: The 2010 Tribeca Music Festival begins at Merkin Hall (all concerts at 8pm). Concert #1, 6/5: JACK Quartet performs more string quartet goodness. Lisa Bielawa (The Trojan Women), David Crowell (The Open Road), Jeff Myers (Dopamine), and more. Concert #2, 6/7: “NextGen” featuring Andy Akiho, Timo Andres, A (yet to be named) “Ted Hearne Band,” and others. Concert #3, 6/8: “Monsters!” Mary Rowell, Geoff Burleson, and Kathleen Supove perform Eve Beglarian, Victoria Bond, Philip Glass, and more. Concert #4, 6/9: Bora Yoon and Pamela Z with video artist Luke DuBois and the acapella group New York Polyphony.
June 8:MAYA Commissions Concert at Judson Memorial Church (8pm). Works by Gabriel Erkoreka, Yotam Haber, John Hadfield, Robert Paterson.
And as an added bonus…Over the past year (or so) I have recorded audio interviews with many of the people on these concerts. Click on their name below to hear about their experience working with composers: Blair McMillen(Da Capo Chamber Players) Tom Chiu (Flux Quartet) (the background noise is really bad on this one, sorry!) Evan Ziporyn Laura Barger (Yarn/Wire) John Richards (JACK Quartet) Mary Rowell (performing on Tribeca New Music Festival) Sato Moughalian (MAYA)
A year ago at this time, Susan McMane, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, had no idea what a hot-button issue immigration would be in June 2010. For her, the works of immigrant composers formed a compelling programmatic mix for her five-time Grammy-winning ensemble’s concert series, which she’d entitled A New Land, A New Song.
Now, in the midst of nonstop political debate and a deployment of additional National Guard troops to the border, SFGC will celebrate the contributions of immigrant composers to the choral music oeuvre. Composers come literally from all over the map, from Russia with Igor Stravinksy and his Four Russian Peasant Songs, from Cuba with Tania Léon and her work May the Road Be Free; and Austria with Ernst Krenek’s Three Madrigals. The Cypress String Quartet,SFGC’s 2010 Artists in Residence, will contribute Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op.96, “American”. Choral pieces by Kurt Weill, Vernon Duke, and colonial Moravian composers are also on the bill.
But the centerpiece of the series will be a world premiere, commissioned by the Chorus from Chinese-born Chen Yi. The new work, Angel Island Passages, commemorates the 100th anniversary of Angel Island Immigration Station,known as “the Ellis Island of the West,” and evokes the experiences of Chinese immigrants. Artistic Director McMane came up with the idea for the work in 2009, and sent the book “Island, poetry and history of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940” — by Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung — to Dr. Chen for her reference as she began work on the commission.
The piece is written in three movements for treble voices and string quartet. The first movement, entitled “1882,” refers to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 passed by Congress to halt Chinese immigration into the United States. The music is based on a Cantonese folk ensemble piece, “Prancing Horses”, and contains a traditional scale in a sorrowful mode. Dr. Chen expands and develops the melody, and uses it horizontally and vertically throughout the movement. The second movement, “Longing,” continues in a slow, agitated and melancholy mood. The third movement contrasts small groups with the larger ensemble to symbolize the experience of assimilation into American culture. The text of the three movements includes nonsense syllables to convey emotional pain, and the words “We are America” sung in Cantonese, Mandarin and English.
Dr. Chen has already written for the San Francisco Girls Chorus – her piece, Chinese Poems, received its world premiere as part of the Chorus’ 20th anniversary season in 1998. Twelve years later, she says, “My experience writing…for the San Francisco Girls Chorus in 1998 convinced me that it is a world-class performing arts organization whose singers can handle any repertoire. I am confident that these young women have what it takes to bring this powerful subject matter to life.”
Angel Island Passages may officially be a piece for treble chorus and string quartet, but a compelling visual accompaniment, commissioned by the Chorus from documentary filmmaker Felicia Lowe, will be integral. Ms. Lowe’s past films include Carved in Silence, a documentary about the experience of detainees on Angel Island; and Chinatown, a short film about the history of the Chinese in San Francisco. She shared both films, along with her video production Road to Restoration, with Dr. Chen as Angel Island Passages was being written.
Dr. Chen relates the experience of the Angel Island immigrants to her own personal history. “I was born and raised in China and went through the dark period of Cultural Revolution 40 years ago, during which general education was interrupted and Western music was prohibited for 10 years,” she says. “My passion and hard work helped me overcome this hardship and to become the first woman to earn a masters degree in music composition in China. I’ve painfully learned about the history of Chinese immigration through Angel Island. Along with SFGC and Cypress String Quartet, I want us to use our music to share the true history, to voice our belief in equal rights, to improve our society, and to look forward to a brighter future.”
Performances of A New Land, A New Song will take place at 8:00 p.m. on June 4th and 5th at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, located at 50 Oak Street, San Francisco. Tickets are priced $18-$32 and are available for purchase by phone from City Box Office, by phone at 415-392-4400 and online at www.cityboxoffice.com.