A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, opera a cappella now available at Albany Records

Friday, June 17, 2022

Per la gloria arrangement

Several years ago I did some arrangements of the old Italian songs. They were premiered by the artists in residence at Opera Memphis. One of them was Per la gloria d'adorarvi. A few years later, I borrowed the arrangement and put it into Speed Dating Tonight! #29-#30. The idea is that the daters are talking while the song is playing in the background. Because of balance, it's tricky and the singer singing the song can cover the daters. 

We are giving it another try right now at Taos Opera Institute, where we will be doing Speed Dating Tonight! for the second time in late June 2022. Here's a lovely phone recording of one of the participants Gabriel Chona Rueda, who is a student at University of British Columbia.  



Saturday, June 11, 2022

Interview about ALICE AND ANNA


Earlier this week I did an Instagram Live interview with Savannah Voice Festival Artistic Director Jorge Parodi about ALICE AND ANNA. You can view it here. Jorge was interested in the process of figuring out the story, writing the libretto, and composing the music. I was my usual opinionated self, talking about the need for repetition, melody, many more female characters, and a contemporary point of view--why will a modern audience member be interested in these stories, set in the 1730s and 1940s-50s. 

ALICE AND ANNA plays in Savannah (hey that rhymes!) August 12 and 13, 2022.  The first one act, ALICE RYLEY premiered in 2015 and ANNA HUNTER played for the first time a few years later. COVID-19 delayed their culmination as a full evening. 




Saturday, June 4, 2022

National Opera Association board meeting in Houston

I'm proud to be on the board of the National Opera Association, which serves opera at colleges, universities, and small opera companies. We recently had a board meeting in Houston, which is the location for the January 2023 conference. Since the most active members are usually the directors of university opera programs, I'm able to provide a bit of a perspective from other parts of the opera ecosystem such as professional companies and composers. I particularly would encourage composers to think about writing operas that can be performed by small and medium sized college programs. (The largest universities and conservatories can often do what professional opera companies can do.) NOA has a vocal competition, a scenes program competition, a bi-annual new one act opera competition, and an important new composer fellowship supported by the estate of Dominick Argento. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, this time with orchestration

Thanks to Courtney Kalbacker, the intrepid and enthusiastic opera producer and teacher at Towson University, my version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM had its first production in ten years. Originally premiered in 2011 with an all a cappella voicestra in the pit, it's been perceived--perhaps correctly--as very difficult to produce. Now, with a small orchestration of eight winds, much of the difficulty has gone away. These winds, along with a keyboard, keep the voicestra on pitch, but still allow the show to retain its a cappella character.

COVID provided much drama, but the double cast group of 57 managed to have only one drop out due to the pandemic. 

This is, IMO, my best work and I have Jay Mednikow and DeltaCappella to thank for it bringing it to life and making the cast recording, along with Opera Memphis and Playhouse on the Square for the 2011 production. I now have Courtney to thank for seeing the potential in MIDSUMMER as a perfect work for midsized university opera programs.

You can get the piano vocal perusal score here (an autodownload) and there will be video samples available soon.


Saturday, March 19, 2022

Introducing Reg Huston (Thank you Susanne Mentzer)


Earlier this month, Susanne Mentzer did a concert of premieres at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. It featured new songs by fourteen different composers! All of the texts were written by Reg Huston during the pandemic, hence the title: STANDING STILL: STILL STANDING, Thoughts from a pandemic isolation. I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to Reg's work and promise there is more to come. There were so many new songs on the program that Susanne didn't premiere all of them. Here's one of mine from the concert, "Heaven's Gaze." It's performed by Matthew Worth and Kevin Korth. 

What can heaven show me
that I can’t see in your eyes;
when I look upon their beauty
they reflect the starry skies.

What can nature offer,
what magnificence, indeed;
your humanity is deeper
than all of her vast seas.

Can the mountain ranges
overpower the strength you own;
they bow in humbled silence
by the goodness that you’ve sown.

They cast empty shadows
but your light shines through, I find;
and your laughter echoes clearly
and your kindness clears my mind.

When I look to heaven
and I seek to find what’s true,
I am thankful that you love me
and that "heaven’s gaze" is you.

Reg Huston
December 30, 2020

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

 Earlier this month, I went to Joplin, MO to participate in RSBE #6 at Heartland Opera Theatre/Missouri Southern State University. It was a joyous experience to be back live. There was one issue and it wasn't COVID... It was snow! Joplin got hit with 4+ inches of snow and the temperature went down after. It stuck around for three days, causing the 1st dress and final dress to be cancelled as well as the opening night. We managed to open for two performances which played to quite nice houses.

Special thanks to the team, including Director Erick Wolf, Music Director Diana Allen, and pianist Kathy Nenadal.

Lingering ice in Joplin on Saturday after the 
Wednesday snow

RSBE is built to be expanded, like it's predecessor SPEED DATING TONIGHT! We premiered one new piece in Joplin, "What I had to do." 

I always ask casts to let me know if they have any ideas for new songs and one brave cast member, Faith Escobar, told me how she likes to hide in her room with old sitcoms and movies. She says they help portray a happier and less troubled world and help her get back out into the thick of it. It was an inspiring idea, and one I'd never have gotten on my own. "Hide with the TV" will be #19. Here's the demo.

While in Joplin, I went down to see George Washington Carver's boyhood home. It was an inspiring place, made special by the coat of snow. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

RSBE from Spring 2021 at Amarillo Opera


I'm about to go off to Heartland Opera which is collaborating with Missouri Southern State University on the 6th production of RSBE. Here's the video from last spring's 2021 production of RSBE at Amarillo Opera. The accompaniment is the two keyboard version which has piano and keyboard. 

The Amarillo production changes the premise from the original version at the University of Alabama. This optional premise incorporates COVID into the plot in a more plausible way. Either premise can be used when producing the show at this point. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Art Songs and Arrangements


I'm not known as much for art songs and arrangements, but over the years, I've amassed over fifty of them. Probably the best known is an arrangement of the spiritual "Hold On,"  

An art song "I know the stars" is popular too. Anyway, I always hate things languishing on the shelf so what I've got  here is a chronological list of my art songs and arrangements, along with their first pages. There are links to recordings for some of them. If you're interested in doing something, please get in touch.