As part of its approaching 10th Anniversary in the 2020-2021 season, Experiments in Opera is embarking on its most ambitious project to date.  Inspired by television writers’ rooms, we have assembled a group of playwrights, librettists and storytellers to collaborate on a single large-scale opera.  Over two years, we will develop and produce a three-part opera made up of 10 individual episodes, each written by a different libretto and composer team.  The Writers’ Room project addresses EiO’s mission to rethink the process of creating opera and to nurture new voices as part of a community of artistry and learning.  This group of artists meets monthly to workshop script outlines, story ideas and librettos and will work collaboratively with selected composers as scripts go into production.

The Writers’ Room for the 2019-2020 season includes the writers Jason Cady, Adrienne Danrich, Lauren D’Errico, Krista Knight, Jerry Lieblich, Jerome Parker, Kamala Sankaram and Aaron Siegel and the composers Jason Cady, Matthew Welch, Phil Kline, Pauline Kim, Melissa Dunphy, Alex Temple,  Aaron Siegel, Kamala Sankaram.

The Writers’ Room Opera (Title TBD), currently in development, will be workshopped in March 2020 as part of EiO’s Off The Ground performances, and will be premiered in Spring 2021 in celebration of EiO’s 10th Anniversary.

Experiments in Opera’s Writers’ Room project is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Jason Cady (Librettist/Composer)

Jason Cady is a composer and librettist. He performs on pedal steel and modular synthesizer. Pitchfork called him a “mod-synth mastermind…funny and engaging.” Anthony Tommasini, in the New York Times, described his video opera, I Screwed Up the Future, as “charming fantasy…drably comic and spacey.” Opera News described his opera I Need Space as “delightfully weird…hilarious, dry and detached performances made this futuristic, retro story of love and rejection endearingly poignant.”

Cady’s CDs have been released on Lockstep Records and Peacock Recordings, and his podcast opera, Buick City, 1:00 AM is available on Apple Podcasts. NPR featured him in “The Mix: 100 Composers Under 40.” He has an M.A. in composition from Wesleyan University, where he studied with Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. He was born in Flint, Michigan and now lives in New York City.

Adrienne Danrich (Librettist)

The voice of EMMY® award winning soprano Adrienne Danrich has been described as “fresh liquid-silver”, “radiant”, and “meltingly tender in its high, floating vulnerability” by Opera News.

In addition to singing operas, concerts and recitals, Ms. Danrich has received writing commissions from Cincinnati Opera (This Little Light of Mine: The Stories of Marian Anderson and Leontyne PricePorgy & Bess: Redux), Indiana University Pennsylvania (An Evening in the Harlem Renaissance), The Dreamland Theatre (Echoes of the Harlem Renaissance) and Fargo Moorhead Symphony (Love & Trouble: Five Personas ~ One Voice). Ms. Danrich received an EMMY® nomination for the script of This Little Light of Mine and she won an EMMY® for her performance in the same televised program, produced by Milwaukee Public Television.

Lauren D’Errico (Librettist)

Lauren D’Errico is a playwright, librettist, and screenwriter from New Jersey. Her plays have been workshopped in Pittsburgh (Carnegie Mellon University) and New York (The Bechdel Group, The Nora Salon). She received the Mary Marlin Fisher Award for Excellence in Playwriting in 2019. Two of her short operas premiered in 2019 at Pittsburgh Opera, and her art song The Man Who Invented Rhyming was performed at the Charlotte New Music Festival this summer. Lauren is a member of The Tank’s 2019-20 TV Writers Group. BA: Purchase College, SUNY (2016). MFA: Carnegie Mellon University (2019).

Melissa Dunphy (composer)

Composer Melissa Dunphy specializes in political, vocal, and theatrical music. She first came to national attention when her large‐scale work the Gonzales Cantata was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, National Review, Fox News, and on The Rachel Maddow Show, and was staged by American Opera Theater in a sold‐out run. Other notable works include the song cycle “Tesla’s Pigeon,” which won first place in the NATS Art Song Composition Award, and choral work “What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?” which won the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Competition and has been performed by ensembles including Chanticleer and Cantus. Dunphy has been composer‐in‐residence for the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra, Volti, and the St. Louis Chamber Chorus. In addition to her concert

and choral music, she is a Barrymore Award‐nominated theater composer and sound designer and is Director of Music Composition for the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference. Dunphy has a Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.M. from West Chester University. More at melissadunphy.com

Pauline Kim Harris (Composer)

Pauline Kim Harris, aka PK or Pauline Kim is a GrammyTM- nominated violinist and composer. The youngest student to have ever been accepted into the studio of legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz, she has since appeared throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia as soloist, collaborator and music director. Known for her work with classical avant-punk violin duo String Noise, she has toured extensively with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and continues to collaborate with leading new music ensembles in New York City.

Pauline Kim was the first Music Director for the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company and has been the featured artist for choreographers David Parker and Pam Tanowitz.

Most recently, Pauline Kim was an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, had her debut residency at the Stone – New School, resident artist fellow at The Mabel Residency, and is the recipient of the EtM Con Edison Composer Residencies at Bloomingdale School of Music. In addition to a new work commissioned by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, Pauline will be creating music to new choreography by David Parker of The Bang Group for the dance troupe 10 Hairy Legs. Her evening length work “gold/crack” for violin duo String Noise and baritone, Thomas Buckner will receive its premiere in the spring of 2020 at Four Season Arts and Roulette.

Pauline’s debut album, Heroine — a reimagining of the Bach Chaconne and Ockeghem’s Deo Gratias was released on September 27, 2019 on Sono Luminus with worldwide distribution.

Phil Klilne (Composer)

A veteran of New York’s downtown scene, Phil Kline stands out for his range and unpredictability. From vast boombox symphonies to chamber music and song cycles, his work has been hailed for its originality, beauty, subversive subtext, and wry humor. Early in his career he cofounded the rock band the Del-Byzanteens with Jim Jarmusch and James Nares, collaborated with Nan Goldin on the soundtrack to The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and played guitar in the notorious Glenn Branca Ensemble. Some of his early work evolved from performance art and used large numbers of boomboxes, such as the outdoor Christmas cult classic Unsilent Night, which is now an annual holiday tradition celebrated around the world. Other notable works include Exquisite Corpses, written for the Bang on a Can All-Stars; the politically-infused Zippo Songs and Rumsfeld Songs; John the Revelator, a setting of the Latin Mass written for early music specialists Lionheart; and the Sinatra-inspired song cycle Out Cold, written for Theo Bleckmann and premiered at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Phil hosts a daily radio show on WQXR/Q2 in NYC and is currently collaborating with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch on a music theater spectacle about Nikola Tesla. His music is available on the Cantaloupe, Starkland, and CRI record labels.

Krista Knight (Librettist)

Juilliard Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Fellow (2016-2018), Page 73 Playwriting Fellow (2007), MacDowell Fellow (2008), Shank Playwriting Fellow at the Vineyard Theatre (2011-2012), and Vanderbilt Writer-in-Residence (current). Plays include LIPSTICK LOBOTOMY (2019 Kilroys List), DON’T STOP ME (new musical with Dave Malloy), KIRK AT THE SF AIRPORT HYATT (NYTW’s Summer Residency, Vineyard reading), PRIMAL PLAY (New Georges), the punk rock adaptation of Medusa HISSIFIT (Cradle Theatre, Rhodes College upcoming). BA: Brown University. MA: Performance Studies from NYU. MFA Playwriting: UCSD. www.KristaKnight.com

Jerry Lieblich (Librettist)

Jerry Lieblich lives and writes plays in New York. Plays include D Deb Debbie Deborah (Clubbed Thumb – Critic’s Pick: NY Times, TimeOut NY), Nostalgia is a Mild Form of Grief (Playwrights Horizons, Vineyard Theater), Your Hair Looked Great (Abrons Arts Center), and The Barbarians (New York Theatre Workshop, Dixon Place).

Jerry has held residencies at Blue Mountain Center, SPACE on Ryder Farm, UCROSS, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation, received an EST/Sloan Commission and the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award (twice), and is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab and Page 73’s I-73 Writer’s Group. BA: Yale; MFA: Brooklyn College.

Jerome A. Parker (Librettist)

Jerome A. Parker is a Brooklyn based playwright/screenwriter/librettist/lyricist born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx.  Plays and musicals include: DIG (Fire this Time Festival); BALLAD OF SAD YOUNG MEN (Company of Angels, Downtown Urban Theater Festival); MIRACLE ON MONROE (Kennedy Center, Public Theater); STAG (SUNY – New Paltz); QUERELLE (The Lark Roundtable); LIKE JOHNNY IN THE DARK (Dramatist Guild, National Black Theatre); HOUSE OF DINAH (On the Boards, National Black Theatre); FREIDA (Intiman Theater, MacDowell Colony, Dramatist Guild, New York Stage and Film, National Black Theatre); KAYA: TASTE OF PARADISE (New York Film Academy). Currently he’s a fellow with MADE IN NY / WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA EAST to develop his television pilot for the series THE TALENTED TEN.

Alumnus of Williams College (BA), The Juilliard School (Production), UCLA – School of Television, Film and Theater (MFA), Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, American Lyric Theatre Librettist Development Program, Dramatist Guild Fellows Program, MacDowell Colony Fellowship, New York Stage and Film / Guild Playwright Fellow and Freedom Train Productions.

Kamala Sankaram (Composer)

Praised as “strikingly original” (NY Times), and a “new voice from whom we will surely be hearing more” (LA Times), Kamala Sankaram has received commissions from Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Beth Morrison Projects, the PROTOTYPE Festival, Opera on Tap, Opera Memphis, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, among others. She is the recipient of a Jonathan Larson Award from the American Theater Wing, and has received grants from Opera America, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kevin Spacey Foundation, and the MAP Fund. Residencies and fellowships include the MacDowell Colony, the Watermill Center, the Civilians, HERE Arts Center, CAP21, Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis, the Hermitage, and American Lyric Theater. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Kamala created MIRANDA, which was the winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. THUMBPRINT, her second opera (written in collaboration with librettist Susan Yankowitz), premiered in the 2014 PROTOTYPE Festival, and was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition,  Agence French Presse, and over 25 media outlets around the world. THUMBPRINT has since received productions at LA Opera and Opera Ithaca. She is currently working with Opera on Tap and librettist Jerre Dye on THE PARKSVILLE MURDERS, the first opera written for virtual reality. Episode 1 is now available on SamsungVR.

Dr. Sankaram holds a PhD from the New School and is currently a member of the composition faculty at SUNY Purchase.

Aaron Siegel (Composer)

Experiments in Opera co-founder Aaron Siegel is a composer, percussionist, organizer, and educator.  As a composer, Siegel’s inquisitive and playful work represents a personal vision of how we live with and respond to the sounds in our world. He has written for solo percussion, percussion ensemble, string quartet, mixed ensembles, chorus among others.  His collaboration with Mantra Percussion, A Great Many, was released in January 2019 on New Amsterdam Records.

With Experiments In Opera, Siegel has premiered the opera short The Collector, and in May 2014 a full production of Brother Brother, based on the lives of Orville and Wilbur Wright. In the past three seasons Siegel has collaborated on Sisyphus with Jason Cady and Matthew Welch premired a monodrama for actor and 15 percussionists, directed a video opera called ‘Tea Before You Go’ and contributed ‘The Wallet’ to EiO’s production of Flash Operas.  His  choral work for young voices The Mysteries of Nothing, was premiered as part of The Young People’s Chorus of New York City’s Radio Radiance concert series and a 2017 commission from Chamber Music America resulted in the epic ‘A Great Many’ for six percussionists and clarinet.  Siegel is currently at work on a new opera with director Mallory Catlett based on a novel by Janet Frame.

In addition to his work as a composer of operas and innovative text pieces, he has performed extensively with Anthony Braxton and his improvised trio Memorize the Sky.  He also performed with Robert Ashley in a revival of his seminal work ‘That Morning Thing’ at the Kitchen in New York City. Siegel is on the staff of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall.

Alex Temple (composer)

A sound can evoke a time, a place, a cultural moment, or a worldview.  Alex Temple (b. 1983) writes music that distorts and combines iconic sounds to create new meanings, often in service of surreal, cryptic, or fantastical stories.  She’s particularly interested in reclaiming socially disapproved-of (“cheesy”) sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and investigating lost memories and secret histories.

In addition to performing her own works for voice and electronics, she has collaborated with performers and ensembles such as Mellissa Hughes, Timothy Andres, the American Composers Orchestre, Fifth House Ensemble, Cadillac Moon Ensemble, and Spektral Quartet.  She has also played keyboards with the chamber-rock group The Sissy-Eared Mollycoddles, and made sounds using her voice, synthesizers and various household objects with a·pe·ri·od·ic.

Alex got her BA from Yale University in 2005, and her MA from the University of Michigan in 2007.  After leaving Ann Arbor, she spent two years in New York working for the New York Youth Symphony’s Making Score program for young composers.  She recently completed a DMA at Northwestern University, and is now an Assistant Professor of Composition at Arizona State University.

Matthew Welch (composer)

Matthew Welch is a composer of innovative opera and genre-resisting concert music. Named one of “14 artists changing the future of opera,” by Huffington Post, and regarded as “a composer possessed of both rich imagination and the skill to bring his fancies to life” (Time Out NYC), Matthew’s musical adventures and collaborative spirit have brought him to work with some of today’s most noted musical personalities: Anthony Braxton, Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, David Lang, Alvin Lucier, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Julia Wolfe, and John Zorn. Mixing his backgrounds in bagpipes, gamelan, experimental, classical, rock and improvised music, Welch’s compositional sound is worldly and eclectic in material, yet personal and seamless in style.

In 2018, Matthew’s 2-Act shadow puppetry opera, And Here We Are, premiered to a sold-out audience at National Sawdust (NYC). Also in 2018, Matthew launched his music label Kotekan Records, documenting his various musical creativity. In 2017 Matthew was awarded a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to explore traditional music and culture in the Philippines. In 2016 Matthew Welch was commissioned to compose for San Francisco Girls Chorus and the MATA Festival with Ensemble NeoN (Oslo), with respective premieres at Davies Symphony Hall (SF) and Scandanavia House (NYC). In December 2015 his residency at The Stone (NYC) featured 11 consecutive concerts of his multifarious music. 2021 sees his premiere for a new opera for San Francisco Girls Chorus.

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