tesla at OPERA America new works forum 2015

Amidst the end of my work with the PROTOTYPE festival (see below), I was also engaged to help prepare the vocalists for American Opera Projects’ concert reading of scenes from Tesla (a collaboration between composer Phil Kline, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, and director Robert Wilson) at the OPERA America New Works Forum earlier this January.

While the presentation itself featured the American Contemporary Music Ensemble led by Alan Pierson, in the days ahead I played from the full score and helped prepare the singers (Ryland Angel as Tesla, Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek as Katharine, James Harrington as Morgan, Brandon Snook as Robert, Kamala Sankaram and Gregory Purnhagen as our Chorus) for their final rehearsal and performance.

Tesla will be undergoing major revisions in the months ahead as the story and libretto are retooled by the creators, but I can say for a fact that we are all eagerly awaiting whatever they have in store for us next. After all, the possibilities are endless for a subject ranging from “mad scientist” to “eccentric celebrity” to “cult hero”…and soon, operatic legend.

behind the scenes for PROTOTYPE 2015

Happy New Year!

One of my favorite January traditions as of late has been the annual PROTOTYPE festival produced by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE, a showcase of contemporary opera and music theater works coined “suddenly indispensable” by The New Yorker (among countless other accolades from press and critics alike).

Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get to perform with a show (Kamala Sankaram and Susan Yankowitz’s Thumbprint in 2014; an early workshop in 2013 of Paola Prestini, Rinde Eckert, and Julian Crouch’s Aging Magician), and other times I’m lucky enough to work behind the scenes on a show, like in this year’s festival, when I supplied rehearsal piano for Stefan Weisman and David Cote’s The Scarlet Ibis (a family opera I’ve been a part of as pianist/coach since its earliest stages in 2012), and served as vocal coach for Ellen Reid and Amanda Jane Shank’s Winter’s Child (a lush Southern-gothic opera I’ve been introduced to only recently).

What will PROTOTYPE 2016 bring?



august is for warm summer days…and workshops

Or more specifically, playing for workshops of…

The Emperor & The Queen’s Parisian Weekend by Kamala Sankaram and Pete McCabe, August 10-11
The Pillar by Luna Pearl Woolf and David Van Taylor, August 14-17
The Scarlet Ibis by Stefan Weisman and David Cote, August 21-22

And rehearsals for…

As One by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell, and Kimberly Reed, August 25-September 4

Plus, looking ahead to the September workshops of…

The Pillar by Luna Pearl Woolf and David Van Taylor, September 9-13
The Difficulty of Crossing a Field by David Lang and Mac Wellman, September 16-19

“as one” with AOP and BAM

AsOne_Lane banner 2It’s been a lovely summer, and while I’ve had plenty of time to enjoy just that, I also began working on American Opera Projects’ latest chamber opera As One, created by composer Laura Kaminsky, librettist Mark Campbell, and librettist/filmmaker Kimberly Reed, and to be premiered at BAM Fisher in early September. This beautiful work “relates the experiences and inner life of a transgender person moving toward self-realization”, and features mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Kelly Markgraf in the role of the central protagonist, as well as the talents of The Fry Street Quartet. Ken Cazan directs, and Steven Osgood music directs.

We had two workshops this summer, one at SUNY Purchase in June, and one in Logan, Utah in July, where we were hosted by The Fry Street Quartet, who is based there and serves as the Quartet-in-Residence at Utah State University. Since summer always yields a variety of commitments for directors and performers alike, we had a second musical team that handled the two workshops, including our fearless cover cast mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert and baritone Christopher Herbert, and myself as Conductor and Vocal Coach (and Assistant Conductor for the BAM production). The New York-based Cassatt Quartet also served as our “cover quartet” for the June workshop. So, many of us have joined together to become As One!

As One premieres September 4-7, 2014 at BAM Fisher. Click here for tickets.


the world is round with Ripe Time and BAM

TWIR_Kristen Sieh

photo by Todd France

Coming up outside of my performance schedule is The World is Round with Ripe Time and BAM, conceived, written & directed by Rachel Dickstein (whom I recently worked with on Thumbprint during PROTOTYPE 2014).

I’ll be serving as Vocal Director/Rehearsal Pianist until Composer/Music Director Heather Christian arrives in early April, teaching the ensemble (Kristen Sieh, Grace McLean, Hannah Heller, and Blake DeLong) their vocal parts and playing for all rehearsals. I am already loving the mix of Christian’s indie-folk-gospel music using Gertrude Stein’s beloved text.

Don’t miss this “play with songs and mountains”, from April 17-30 at BAM Fisher. 

“Once upon a time the world was round and you could go on it around and around…

judgment of midas at OPERA America new works forum, january 2014

American Opera Projects’ Judgment of Midas (by composer Kamran Ince and librettist Miriam Seidel) returned this January, making an appearance on behalf of Schott Music at OPERA America’s New Works Forum on January 14th.

Conrad Chu conducted, with Abigail Fischer, David Gordon, Jennifer Goltz-Taylor, Philip Horst, David Schmidt and Jeffrey Tucker in the lead roles, supported by an eight-person chorus. It was almost three years to the day since the last time I played for Midas, at an early workshop in January 2011, and the orchestral reduction always provides plenty of opportunities to “color” the piano.

Check out the video here.

composers & the voice 2013-14

Excited to be back as a Music Director (as well as Project Administrator) for the 2013-14 season of AOP’s Composers & the Voice workshop series! Meet the new season here

C&V logo

Under the artistic direction of Steven Osgood, Charity Wicks, Kelly Horsted and I will be preparing C&V’s Resident Ensemble of Singers each month as they each learn a newly-written piece catered to their specific voice type, written for them by our five composer fellows and one composer/librettist team. Public performances will follow in May 2014 and September 2014…stay tuned!

“the blind” at lincoln center festival

The Blind_LCF 2013 image

Currently serving as répétiteur for The Blind, an a cappella opera by Lera Auerbach and co-production between Lincoln Center Festival & American Opera Projects, directed by John La Bouchardière with music direction by Julian Wachner.

While the cast and crew fine-tuned the “unexpected, shifting, multisensory sound space” during our April workshop, I honed my skills in reading 12-part vocal scores!  Thankfully, I didn’t have to wear a blindfold, though I can’t say the same for our July audiences…

The Blind will be performed at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse from July 9-14th at 8pm; tickets are available here.

making connections: advice for accompanists, coaches, & conductors

I was extremely honored to host OPERA America’s most recent Making Connections event, Cultivating a Business: Advice for Accompanists, Coaches & Conductors on February 20th at the National Opera Center.

Featuring a panel of esteemed professionals Timothy Myers (artistic director & principal conductor of North Carolina Opera), Arlene Shrut (collaborative pianist & founder of New Triad for the Collaborative Arts), and Steven Osgood (assistant conductor at The Metropolitan Opera & prolific coach of new music), I served as moderator for the evening, asking everything from how they found their niche as a collaborator to how they do their taxes.  Finally, the great secrets revealed!

an evening with missy mazzoli

On February 5th, I was very excited to have had the opportunity to collaborate with friend and composer Missy Mazzoli at OPERA America’s latest installment in their Salon Series, An Evening with Missy Mazzoli.

The evening featured music from her opera Song From The Uproar as well as a new song originally written for Gabriel Kahane, all sung by talented mezzo Abigail Fischer.

See the video here.