Archive for the ‘5 questions to’ Category


5 Questions to Tobias Picker (Composer)

On July 20, 2014, the Glimmerglass Festival presented the premiere of a new version of composer Tobias Picker and librettist Gene Scheer’s An American Tragedy, originally commissioned by and premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. Nine performances in total will be presented until August 24. We asked Picker five questions…

You have said that you knew the Dreiser novel, An American Tragedy, had to be your subject when the opportunity to write an opera for the Metropolitan Opera arose. What was it about the story that made it a particularly good subject, a good pairing, for the Met’s commission?

I felt it was the greatest story for the greatest  American opera company because it goes to the heart and the heartbreak of the ‘American Dream’.  The gap between rich and poor during the Great Depression, is no less relevant today than it was just before the Great Depression when Dreiser wrote the novel. At the core of the story is a doomed love triangle with an unconventional conclusion. A poor boy from the Midwest with dreams of making a success of himself goes about it completely the wrong way in large part due to a rigid fundamentalist upbringing. He makes terrible mistakes and pays the ultimate price. An American Tragedy is the dark side of the American Dream.

Tobias Picker - Photo by Harry Heleotis

Tobias Picker – Photo by Harry Heleotis

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5 questions to The Westerlies (New Music Brass Quartet)

Following the release of their debut album “Wish The Children Would Come On Home”, The Westerlies made their way back to the west coast from New York for the summer, and celebrated Canada Day with a performance at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. We asked 5 questions to The Westerlies.

The Westerlies

The Westerlies

How has geography influenced your music and your musical approach?

The four of us grew up in Seattle which is a very laid back, nature-oriented place. This has certainly shaped us as individuals, and in turn our music reflects the environment in an organic way. On the other hand, we all moved to New York to study music and it is a really intense city - super busy, super exciting, but chaotic. New York is essentially the opposite of Seattle, so our music comes from and is informed by these polar extremes of our living experience.

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5 questions to Tim Benjamin (composer) about Madame X

Following his 2013 opera Emily, composer Tim Benjamin is back this August with Madame X, an operatic exploration of the darker side of the art world featuring the young lovers Masetto and Zerlina, Masetto’s agent, and wealthy collectors. We asked 5 questions to Benjamin.

I find it curious that your two lovers are named Masetto and Zerlina, ostensibly after the pair in Don Giovanni, and that you have a similar character of questionable morals, Mr. Wilmore. Would you say that Madame X is a reimagining of Don Giovanni?

Don Giovanni was indeed one of several starting points for the opera. However, Mr Wilmore is not the only one with questionable morals – all of the characters are questionable. Madame X is an opera about art, including in that definition an “opera about opera”, and you can find allusions to several other operas in there too. But the link with Don Giovanni is special, even in that context. The equivalent to the character of the Don is not any one character in Madame X, it is instead “money”, and the Don’s victims are not women, but “art”. In Madame X, money does the exploiting of art. So who gets dragged down to hell at the crux, and who does the dragging? You’ll have to come and see it to find out…

Tim Benjamin - Photo Drew Forsyth

Tim Benjamin – Photo Drew Forsyth

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Potential Energies: 5 questions to Sugar Vendil & Trevor Gureckis

On Thursday, May 29, 2014 (8pm), the Nouveau Classical Project is presenting the world premiere of Potential Energies, a ballet conceived and directed by NCP Artistic Director Sugar Vendil with choreographer Barbie Diewald and composer Trevor Gureckis. We asked 5 questions to Vendil and Gureckis about this new production.

NCP has been often hailed for leading the way in the fashion/classical music crossover. What inspired you to start working on a ballet now?

Sugar: I was actually inspired two years ago and it took that long to get it off the ground! Fashion is just one element of our concerts; it really just adds to the overall experience.

When I was brainstorming ideas for a new project two years ago, I wanted to do something that involved a true overlap of arts, not just two components existing in the same space. Music and dance came to me immediately. Musicians tend to move while they perform, and regardless of whether those movements are minimal, they are still there. So, musicians move, dancers move. I thought: how can this overlap and how can this have meaning?

Fashion was my starting point, but what I’m really obsessed with is creating experiences. Potential Energies is a culmination what we’ve built with NCP thus far. We have had a multidisciplinary bend since our inception, and now we’re pushing it further with a work that involves deep collaboration with dancers.

NCP rehearsing Potential Energies - Photo by Mickey Hoelscher

NCP rehearsing Potential Energies – Photo by Mickey Hoelscher

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5 questions to Guy Barash (composer, curator) about “Facts About Water”

On Wednesday, May 21, Guy Barash (composer and curator) will release his debut album “Facts About Water” (Innova) at Roulette in Brooklyn. We talked to Barash about his album, of course, but also Eavesdropping, the contemporary series he’s been curating since 2010.

Can you tell me more about the title of your album?

Facts about Water is a personal meditation on the fluidity of our perception, mindfulness amid a hyperactive society, and the cyclical nature of being. It is titled after a chapter from Nick Flynn’s second memoir, The Ticking is the Bomb, in which he includes many water references and frequently delves into the Buddhist cycle of birth, life, and death (Samsara).

Guy Barash - Photo by Shimpei Takeda

Guy Barash – Photo by Shimpei Takeda

How did you select the works featured on “Facts About Water”?

The album represents my musical journey that started a few years ago and culminated in these recordings. Not only new works came out of this journey, but also a new aesthetic (my aesthetic) began to establish. The works in the album belong to the same chapter in my musical story. They speak the same language. For example, the way I extract musical ideas from extra-musical sources.

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