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Kate Soper Wins Virgil Thomson Award from American Academy of Arts and Letters; "Here Be Sirens" now on PSNY

Kate Soper
, known for her cutting-edge vocal works that fuse together voice, instruments, and text, has just won the second ever Virgil Thomson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. First given in 2014, this award "recognizes an American composer of vocal works," and is endowed by the Virgil Thomson Foundation. True to the award's namesake, Soper continues Thomson's tradition of radically new vocal music, her texted works echoing Thomson's avant-garde compositions such as Four Saints in Three Acts, with a libretto by Gertrude Stein. 

In announcing the award, composer and Academy member John Harbison writes of Soper:

Soper's vocal music is bold, varied, and forward-looking. Its advanced qualities are never dutifully or modishly present, but stem from a rich exploration of Voice, answering many imperatives—theatrical, textual, technological, social. There is joy, wit, shock, and allure in her pieces, all grounded by something meticulous and exacting.

(excerpt from Soper's Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say)

Perhaps most well-known of Soper's vocal works is her opera, Here Be Sirens, which follows the daily lives of three sirens on their well-trafficked island. First premiered in 2014, this work ranges from "ethereal medieval chant, gentle otherworldly melody, and the terror of the sublime"—what the Wall Street Journal calls "audacious, genre-bending music theatre" and The New Yorker hails as "an erudite, hilarious, furiously inventive meditation on the siren myth."

And now, Here Be Sirens, as well as a suite taken from the opera, are available via PSNY. In Soper's words, the Suite "presents an exquisite corpse-like portrait of these beloved and familiar monsters in all their murderous and irresistable glory."

Check out some excerpts from the opera below. 

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