June 15-17, 2023, 8:00pm
The Brick
579 Metropolitan, Brooklyn, NY

An operatic realization of the rarely heard Compositions No. 279-283 for comedian and improvising musicians by a giant of American music, composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton.

Rob Reese, actor/director
Kamala Sankaram, vocals
Nate Wooley, trumpet
James Fei, saxophones
Ingrid Laubrock, saxophones

Thursday June 15 — Rob Reese, Nate Wooley Kamala Sankaram
Friday June 16— Rob Reese, James Fei, Kamala Sankaram
Saturday June 17— Rob Reese, Ingrid Laubrock, Kamala Sankaram

In celebration of Anthony Braxton—one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of our time, as well as a mentor to Experiments in Opera, the company presents a rare run of performances of Compositions No. 279-283 composed for improvisational actor and improvising musicians. This production was originally scheduled to be part of the Braxton75 festivities in 2020 in collaboration with the Tri-Centric Foundation, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Drawing on Braxton’s complex systems of graphic notation, character development and narrative poetics, these compositions ask performers to engage with newspaper clippings, traditional improv comedy techniques and historical comedy tropes, all in the name of creating a dynamic and surprising evening of music and theater.  These shows will feature director/performer Rob Reese, as well as a different set of musical improvisors for each night of the run.  Confirmed musicians include renowned improvisers Nate Wooley (trumpet),  Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones), James Fei (saxophones), and Kamala Sankaram (vocals).


Anthony Braxton (born 1945), the Chicago-born composer and multi-instrumentalist, is recognized as one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of the past 50 years. He is highly esteemed in the experimental music community for the revolutionary quality of his work and for the mentorship and inspiration he has provided to generations of younger musicians. Drawing upon a disparate mix of influences from John Coltrane to Karlheinz Stockhausen, Braxton has created a unique musical system that celebrates the concept of global creativity and our shared humanity. His work examines core principles of improvisation, structural navigation and ritual engagement – innovation, spirituality, and intellectual investigation.

From his early work as a pioneering solo performer in the late 1960s through to his eclectic experiments on Arista Records in the 1970s, his landmark quartet of the 1980s, and more recent endeavors, such as his cycle of Trillium operas and the day-long, installation-based Sonic Genome Project, his vast body of work is unparalleled. His small ensembles of the 1970s through to the present day are considered among the most innovative groups of their respective eras, while his Creative Orchestra Music has brought together the varying streams of American jazz orchestras, marching bands, and experimental practices with the traditions of European concert music in a wholly individual compositional voice. His continuing and evolving current systems of the past 15 years, including Ghost Trance Music, Diamond Curtain Wall Music, Falling River Music, Echo Echo Mirror House Music, and ZIM Music, have served as the artistic incubators for some of the most exciting artists of the current generation. Braxton’s many awards include a 1981 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1994 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2014 NEA Jazz Master Award, and honorary doctorates from Université de Liège (Belgium) and New England Conservatory (USA).

Rob Reese is a director and writer based in NYC.  Opera credits include Kamala Sankaram’s Miranda, (Director, Co-Librettist), EiO’s Flash Operas (Director, Designer) and Opera On Tap’s Murder in the Key of Death (Director, Librettist) also composed by Ms. Sankaram.  Reese is the Artistic Director of Amnesia Wars Productions, with which he has written and directed such plays as Keanu Reeves Saves the Universe, Yahweh’s Follies, and 101 Reasons to Thank Your God for Donald J. Trump, Vladimir J. Putin, and My Dad Who’s a Dick.  AW’s next project is the immersive patriotic experience The Slightly Silly Party.

Composer 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.  As a performer, Kamala Sankaram has performed and premiered pieces with Anthony Braxton, and the Wooster Group, among others, and is the leader of Bombay Rickey, an operatic Bollywood surf ensemble whose debut was named Best Eclectic Album by the Independent Music Awards Vox Pop.

James Fei is a composer, saxophonist and live electronic musician. Works by Fei have been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, Bang on a Can All-Stars, MATA Micro Orchestra and Noord-Hollands Philharmonisch Orkest. Recordings can be found on Leo Records, Improvised Music from Japan, CRI, Krabbesholm and Organized Sound. Fei has taught at Mills College since 2006, where he is Professor of Electronic Arts and Director of the Center for Contemporary Music.

Ingrid Laubrock is an experimental saxophonist and composer. She has performed with Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jason Moran,Kris Davis, Nels Cline, Tyshawn Sorey, Mary Halvorson, Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, Tom Rainey, Tim Berne, Dave Douglas, Wet Ink and many others. Laubrock has composed for ensembles ranging from solo to chamber orchestra. Awards include Fellowship in Jazz Composition by the Arts Foundation, BBC Jazz Prize for Innovation, SWR German Radio Jazz Prize and German Record Critics Quarterly Award. She won best Rising Star Soprano Saxophonist in the ‘Downbeat Annual Critics Poll in 2015 and best Tenor Saxophonist in 2018.

Nate Wooley was born in Clatskanie, Oregon. He is known for his idiosyncratic trumpet language and mastery of extended techniques. Wooley made his debut as soloist with the New York Philharmonic at the opening series of their 2019 season. He is the editor of Sound American Publications, a journal dedicated to featuring the ideas and work of musicians in their own words. The journal has released 28 issues to date. He is the recipient of the FCA Grants to Artists Award and the Spencer Glendon Award for Ethics in the Arts. Wooley currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.