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Posts tagged 'Gregory Spears'

Phil Kline and Gregory Spears Premiere New Works with String Orchestra of Brooklyn

On June 8th, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn presents two world premieres of new works by Phil Kline and Gregory Spears, along with a new arrangement of Julius Eastman's classic Gay Guerilla. Vocalist Theo Bleckmann will perform four songs from his ongoing collaboration with Kline entitled Florida Man, so named after the enigmatic tales of people from that eponymous state which have long fascinated Kline. The composer writes: 

I began collecting Florida Man headlines a few years ago. Found texts fascinate me; they’re like secret messages not meant to be set to music. It was important to me that they were authentic, so I vetted them to see if there were actual news stories attached. Did this couple really sell golden tickets to heaven? No, they didn’t. Did this guy really get arrested for a joyride with an owl? Yes, he did! Interestingly, while the Florida Men were characteristically wacky, the Florida Woman stories were sadder. I was drawn into a kind of dialog with these characters, with whom I felt a kinship much keener than I would have imagined.

Bleckmann will perform four songs, including "Waffle House," and "Search and Destroy," which uses the lyrics from Iggy Pop's song of the same name, in honor of his recent residence in the Sunshine State. Florida Man, which is a song cycle in progress, will be published by PSNY upon completion. In the meantime, check out an excerpt from Kline's Exquisite Corpses below:

Spears will premiere a new concerto for two trumpets and string orchestra, performed by the SOB and soloists Brandon Ridenour and Andy Kozar. Spears takes common extramusical associations of the trumpet—the sounds of ceremony, war, and formality— and has composed a piece that he "had no narrative, and yet would play with those associations and let them interact with one another in unexpected ways." The texture of two trumpets against a string orchestra allows Spears to compose a contrapuntal concerto that evokes a pastoral and conversational quality.  

For a taste of Spears's instrumental writing, check out his 2010 String Quartet, Buttonwood

PSNY Composers in Alex Ross' 2017 Top Ten Lists

As the year ends, critics are busy preparing their annual accountings of the very best music of 2017. Alex Ross, the classical music critic of The New Yorker, has deftly diversified his year-end top ten lists, counting his favorite notable performances and recordings from the year. At the top of these lists is Kate Soper'sIpsa Dixit, performed at Dixon Place on February 4th. Ross describes Soper as "one of the great originals of her generation—a maker of erudite entertainments that inhabit a self-invented realm halfway between opera and philosophy."

Next on Ross' list is Chaya Czernowin's opera, Infinite Now, which premiered on April 23rd at the Flemish Opera. Check out an interview with Czernowin about this work below. 

Annie Gosfield's new adaptation of War of the Worlds, presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and narrated by Sigourney Weaver, also made it to Ross' list of notable performances. Check back soon for the full score of Gosfield's War of the Worlds on PSNY. 

Ross has been a vocal proponent of the music of Scott Wollschleger, so it is no surprise that Wollschleger's recent album on New Focus Recordings, "Soft Aberration", made it to his top ten records of 2017. That album features many of Wollschleger's recent works, including Brontal Symmetry, Soft Aberration, Bring Something Incomprehensible Into This World, and String Quartet No. 2 "White Wall". Check out Brontal Symmetry below.

Last but not least on Ross' list of notable recordings is Gregory Spears'  "Fellow Travelers", the very first recording produced and performed by the Cincinnati Opera. Three pieces from this opera—"I worry, that's all"; "Last Night"; and "Our Very Own Home"—are available from PSNY. See a concert performance of this last piece below.

Gregory Spears' "Fellow Travelers" Premieres at Cincinnati Opera



Gregory Spears
is a crucial voice in the contemporary opera landscape. His compositions, such as Paul's Case and Our Ladyshow how opera can communicate with the history of dramatic vocal music—from medieval liturgical music to the development of opera in the 17th century—while still remaining dedicated to exploring contemporary issues of identity, desire, and politics.

His latest project, Fellow Travelers, is based on the 2007 Thomas Mallon novel of the same name, with a libretto by Greg Pierce. Like Paul's Case, Fellow Travelers focuses on the experience of a young man in the process of discovering his identity, while reconciling his desires with American society. Fellow Travelers is set during the so-called "lavender scare" in 1950's, an often silenced era of oppression overshadowed by the more visible expulsion of suspected communist "deviants" from government and industry. Spears writes, "it's about a part of our history which was almost invisible, and I think one of the things opera can do is make invisible things visible."

Fellow Travelers will see its world premiere on June 17th at the Cincinnati Opera, who commissioned and co-produced the new work along with G. Sterling Zinsmeyer. Check out Spears' aria "Our Very Own Home" from Fellow Travelers, which weaves a thread between post-minimalism and early baroque monody, performed at a 2013 workshop of the opera: 

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