News from December

The Giver

I’m really looking forward to my first trip to Tulsa for their production of The Giver, January 10 and 11.  While there, I’ll be doing a Composer Forum and giving a master class to composition students at bART Center for Music.  That should be a lot of fun.

She Never Lost a Passenger

This opera, my first commission twenty years ago, is having two productions coming up in the new year.  Opera Kansas, in Wichita, is bringing this story about Harriet Tubman to twelve schools in February.  Children in those schools will learn the hefty chorus part with their music teachers (I am thrilled to hear there still are music teachers in schools) and get to perform with professional singers for their schools and their parents.  In writing this opera, I was determined to use a lot of traditional music that recent generations of kids don’t seem to hear any more: Go Down Moses, Simple Gifts, Follow the Drinking Gourd are all woven into the narrative.  Thanks to Dr. Paul Brodene Smith, artistic director of Opera Kansas, for carrying this torch and bringing Harriet’s story – and the experience of singing, hearing and seeing opera – to so many people.

And I’m super excited to be commissioned to orchestrate Passenger for a chamber ensemble of eight players, something I have wanted to do for a long time.  Erie Opera Theater, in Erie, Pa., will be doing it in May with a brand new scoring for oboe/eng.horn, clarinet/b.clar, horn, percussion, 2 violins, cello and piano.  Passenger was commissioned in 1994 for piano only, and has had over a dozen productions since then.  I think having a chamber ensemble might now make it viable as a proper main stage show in tandem with another piece or simply on its own as an offering for families with children 5 and all the way up.  Thanks so much, Brent Weber, artistic director of Erie Opera Theater!