rough for opera #2

22nd April 2012, 7.30 pm

The Cockpit Theatre

 …this is not the finished article…

 rough for opera is a scratch night for new opera.

Presented by Second Movement rough for opera is a space for young and emerging opera creators to road test and showcase new ideas and evolving work. Anything goes in an eclectic night of musical test drives and experiments from some of the most innovative opera makers in the UK.

 Of Simulation and Dissimulation Adam Dickson

 Zaum-Beyond Mind Caroline Wilkins, Oded Ben-Tal

 It Makes No Difference Simone Spagnolo

 Conversation with Prof. Paul Barker, Head of Music Theatre, Central School of Speech and Drama

programme 22.04.12: works

It Makes No Difference Simone Spagnolo

It Makes No Difference is an operatic work in progress that aims to take the final shape of a chamber opera – of an approximate duration of one hour and twenty minutes. The libretto is based on texts extracted from different sources of literature, including Italo Calvino, Nikolaj Vasil’evič Gogol’, Fëdor Dostoevskij and contemporary newspapers. Such extracts are collaged and juxtaposed following a personal and independent logic inspired by the collaging techniques of the twentieth century, as for instance postmodernism, dadaism, and Cage’s ideas of coincidence. The drama this work presents builds upon the concepts of multi- and non-linear-narrative, together with its dramaturgical and mnemonic implications. The apparently ambiguous plot this work aims to show wishes to implicitly express the feelings and condition of the contemporary Italian (and arguably north Mediterranean) generation with regards to social system and political establishment. At the same time it intends to forward a message of equality among people, stating the difficulty of judging what is good and bad in a modern blaming culture. The characters of the opera are very different from each other and seem to be initially not connected within the plot, however their stories eventually meet.

The score is currently written for a cast composed by a mezzo-soprano, a tenor, a baritone, a bass, three countertenors, and a small choir. The orchestra is chamber-size, and has fifteen players. The musical composition is interspersed with numerous theatrical devises and instructions, which intend to develop a connection between experimental theatre and contemporary opera.

For rough for opera I have selected a fairly short yet important passage from the larger operatic work I am currently developing. This consists of the presentation of a short story by Italo Calvino, titled Invece era un’altra, that a female Narrator mainly narrates through speech. She is accompanied by a solo clarinet. The importance of such passage lies on the fact that it is presented unvaried three times through the course of the opera, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. There is only a light development of the clarinet part, while the text remains identical. The repetition of the same text, and the same instrumental/musical combination, is of great importance within the whole work, which does not present other explicit repetitions. It in fact generates referential memories to the text itself and to the rest of the work.

Of Simulation and Dissimulation Adam Dixon

My left lung collapsed three times last year.  An awareness of its fragility but also the principle of balance has become a fascination of mine.  

Approaching the opera genre, I reconsidered the necessity of drama and its importance.  The text, ‘Of Simulation and Dissimulation,’ by Francis Bacon is not typical of operatic libretti.  However, there is a clear narrative, in the form of an essay.  In this work, the drama lies in the physical movement of the singer.  In relation to the text, I wanted to evoke the sense of testing oneself; how much pressure can one exert in a specific period of time?  To what extent can one withhold some of the truth?

This work was originally scored for two voices, both sharing the text of the essay.  However, one fell ill at too short a notice to find someone to understudy.  Wanting to see my work in its raw state, I rewrote the material making the countertenor the main focus.  

Zaum: Beyond Mind Caroline Wilkins and Oded Ben-Tal

Zaum: Beyond Mind is a sound theatre piece emerging from collaboration between composer/performers Caroline Wilkins and Oded Ben-Tal exploring notions between composition and improvisation, acoustic and electronic, time and space. The piece is a modular performance with several interchangeable modules or sections which we adapt to the performance situation to make up a piece of between 15 and 60 minutes in duration.  We are particularly interested in the notions of embodied musical performance as it relates to the digital nature of much of the sonic material and the changing relationship between different types of presence.

programme 22.04.12: biographies

It Makes no Difference Simone Spagnolo

Catherine Carter Mezzo-soprano

 Mezzo-soprano Catherine Carter trained at Trinity College of Music receiving a distinction for her MMus in June 2011. Whilst at Trinity she studied with Ameral Gunson and was supported by a Leverhulme scholarship. During the course of her studies she took part in masterclasses with Sarah Connoly, Linda Hirst on Pierrot Lunaire and Complicite Theatre company on the works of Georges Aperghis. Catherine also completed a diploma in physical theatre at The Arches in Glasgow in 2008 – 2009. She has worked with Physical Theatre Scotland and The National Theatre of Scotland and with her own company Jukka made the show ‘Pullover’ for Arches Live 2009. After the course she took part in master classes with Russian theatre companies Derevo and Akhe . Prior to Trinity Catherine studied music at New Hall College Cambridge and sang in the chapel choir at Selwyn college.

 Gordon Curtis Clarinet

 Gordon Curtis graduated in July, 2011 with a First Class Degree BMus (Hons) from Trinity Laban, where he will be continuing his studies on the Masters Programme with the World renowned Spanish clarinet player, Joan-Enric Lluna. Whilst Gordon was a pupil at Sherborne School, he was invited to be a soloist with the Elgar Chamber Orchestra under Stephen Bell, performing Weber’s Second Clarinet Concerto in E Flat Major, Op.74.

 After joining Trinity Laban in 2007, he has won The Wilfred Hambleton Clarinet Competition (2009), performed with all their major ensembles as principal clarinet including the UK Premiere of Leo Brouwer’s Fifth Guitar Concerto, and recording Alan Hovaness’s Symphony No.23 for Naxos, and a London Premiere of Surrogate Cities by Heiner Goebbels with Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra in The Royal Festival Hall as part of the Cultural Olympiad opening ceremonies.

 He has also performed with the International Student’s Symphony Orchestra, St Paul’s Sinfonia, Westminster Festival Orchestra, and has been Principal Clarinet for Vocal Motions Elastic Theatre with Artistic Director Jacek Scarso, who performed at the Tete a Tete Opera Festival at Riverside Studios in 2010.

As a performer Gordon has two principal interests, as a soloist and as a chamber musician. In both capacities he has performed in prestigious concert halls in the Far East; performing in the Tokyo City Opera House in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and in Europe; where he has recently returned from a critically acclaimed concert series in Slovenia with The Brodowski String Quartet.

 Gordon is also fostering musical relationships between Municipalities, Embassies and Educational Establishments in Britain and Overseas. He is currently organising and directing Music Festivals for 2012, 2013, and 2014 between five European Cities; to include World Class Musiciansperforming Concerts, Master Classes, Workshops, and other Educational Activities for all ages and abilities.

Luc Mollinger Director

Luc is a London-based Director of theatre, opera and film. Ongoing, he is exploring the intersection of traditional performing arts categories with new media technology and other creative enterprises (design, fashion and events). This has led to some exciting collaborative results so far. In 2010 Luc was a Creative-in-Residence at The Hospital Club, London. During the residency he pursued ways of engaging opera with new audiences, presenting it in innovative ways. Recent work includes the film The Music Shoot, a multifaceted re-imagining of Mozart’s The Magic Flute set in a television studio (The Hospital Club) and the live opera / filmTales of Hoffmann (Arcola Theatre), as well as assistant directing on productions with English National Opera, Young Vic Theatre, Rose Kingston Theatre and Opera North. Luc undertook a Graduate Diploma in Directing at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, Australia.

Simone Spagnolo Composer

 Simone Spagnolo’s music has been performed and broadcast in the UK, Italy, USA, Norway, Czech Republic, Brazil and China by internationally known ensembles and artists such as Philharmonia Orchestra, Asia America Symphony Orchestra, Trinity Symphony Orchestra, Allegri String Quartet, Rosamunda Trio, Darragh Morgan, Alda Dizadari, Jan Regulski, Finzi and Laks String Quartet, Sankorfa Percussion Quartet and M.J.Urkestra, among others.

With his works Evil MagicianOrchestral Variations and Soaku’s Revenge he won three times the ‘Asia America Symphony Orchestra’ Composition Prize (2006, 2008 and 2009), earning the distinction of being the First Prize Winner from outside of the United States. In 2008 he was appointed as the Composer-in-Residence for the Anteros Art Centre in Norwich, UK, and in 2011 as the Artist-in- Residence at USF Verftet and intern at Borealis Festival in Bergen, Norway.

Recent premiers include Fanfara for the celebration of Sir Charles Mackarras’s life commissioned by Trinity College of Music, Pleiades, winner of the 2009 Philip Bates Prize at Birmingham Conservatoire, Carnascialesco for wind quintet and squeakers performed in Brno’s Janacek Academy, arrangements of original film scores by Barry Gray performed by the London Philarmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, and soundtracks for Mir Fabergé’s I-Pad Application. Simone is also founder of Loops’ Theatre Project, which has recently been special guest at the 2011 Campania Eco Festival, and he received the Highly Commended with Hnours Prize at the 2011 Recital Music Composition Competition.

In the past few years Simone has collaborated with and worked for well known musicians including Rufus Wainwright, Errollyn Wallen, Ezio Bosso, Alwynne Pritchard and Francois Evans, on different genres ranging from concert music to Opera, from film to ballet, and he has been recently invited to lecture on his music at London Middlesex University and The Purcell School.

Simone Spagnolo graduated with a First class honours in composition at London Middlesex University and gained a Masters Degree at London Trinity College of Music under the guidance of Gwyn Pritchard, Errollyn Wallen. Simone also studied orchestral conducting for two years at London Morley College with Paul Sarcich and undertook composition tuition with David Charles Martin. He is currently undertaking Ph.D. studies in Contemporary Opera at Trinity College of Music with professors Paul Barker and Michael Finnissy.

Simone has collaborated as composer in numerous films including A Favourite Place, nominated for the Limelight Film and Art Award (2008) and Ottoman Love Affair for Punderson Gardens (2011). His growing interest in ballet has resulted in works such as Once you’re gone and The Tempest, toured at 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and Alice in Wonderland documented by BBC at Laban.

Simone is author of Musical Saw: Mechanics and Notation (to be published in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments) and Concerto for Musical Saw, String Orchestra and Pandemo- nium of Saw.

Of Simulation and Dissimulation Adam Dickson

Adam Dickson Composer/Piano

Born in London in 1989, Adam Dickson’s musical development was shaped by singing and playing the organ at his local church. During his gap year, he was organ scholar at All Saints’, Northampton and in 2007, won an organ scholarship at Robinson College, Cambridge where he graduated with an honours degree in music in 2011. Adam accompanied and directed the chapel choir and frequently worked with world-renowned choral director, Tim Brown, developing both a technical understanding and fascination with the human voice. An avid pianist, Adam performed extensively in Cambridge concerts. Highlights include premiering works by Giles Swayne, Jeremy Thurlow and Elliott Schwartz.

Adam’s interest in composition flourished at Cambridge where he wrote and performed many of his own works and established Platform, a concert series promoting new works by young composers. He is now studying for a MMus in composition with David Sawer at the Royal Academy of Music.

Recent achievements include having works performed by the BBC Singers, at the Spitalfields Festival and the Manson Ensemble. Future projects include the performance of a recent composition for oboe at one of NONCLASSICAL’s ‘classical club nights’ and a dance collaboration with Spitalfields Festival for the Olympics.

Servane Le Moller accordion

Servane Le Moller was born in Luxemburg in 1985 and started to play the accordion at the age of 14 in the class of Maurizio Spiridigliozzi. From 2005 to 2010 she studied at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen (Germany) in the class of Mie Miki, and in September 2010 she started the MA programme at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Owen Murray. Alongside her studies, Servane regularly performes in Luxemburg, in solo, ensemble and orchestral concerts, in particular with the “Luxembourg Sinfonietta”.

In 2010 Servane had the opportunity to perform the world premiere of the piece “Partita” from Maurizio Spiridigliozzi, in the Philarmonie du Luxembourg. Since September 2010 Servane has been part of the duo “Kadañs”, which she setted up with the clarinettist Rozenn Le Trionnaire. In April 2011 they won the Woodbrass price at the FNAPEC chamber music competition, in Paris.

As a musician Servane is always trying to have new experiences and is always ready to innovate, for example with unusual combinations of instruments, but also by collaborating with others artists, not necessarily musicians. Classical accordion is a quite recent instrument, and Servane is looking for exciting ways to promote and develop the possibilities for her instrument. 

Justin Kim Countertenor

Kangmin Justin Kim is a Korean-American countertenor from Chicago, Illinois, USA.  He recently graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, USA, with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and the Musical Theatre Certificate, and received both academic (cum laude) and departmental honors upon graduation. He is currently pursuing his Master of Music degree (Concert Project) at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Diane Forlano and Ian Partridge. A recipient of Rhoda Jones Roberts Scholarship, he was named the winner of this year’s Michael Head Song Prize at RAM.

Hannah Watts Flute

Hannah is currently studying for her Masters in the flute at the Royal Academy of Music, where she learns with Paul Edmund Davies and Patricia Morris. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2011 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Philippa Davies, Sarah Newbold, Ian Clarke and Sharron Williams. She has performed alongside the City of London Sinfonia at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, including a live radio broadcast for the BBC, as well as principal piccolo with the acclaimed European Union Youth Orchestra in St John’s Smith Square and The Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. In 2006 she played with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and in 2009 she was awarded First Prize in the Concerto Competition at Sutton Music Festival.

Zaum: Beyond Mind Caroline Wilkins and Oded Ben-Tal

Caroline Wilkins Composer/Performer

Caroline Wilkins was born in the UK and studied piano and composition at the Royal College of Music. From 1982-87 she lived in Sydney and regularly gave workshops in improvisation and new music theatre at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. As a performer she collaborated in projects and productions of new-form theatre/music theatre whilst pursuing parallel studies in performance/theatre skills at the Drama Action Centre, Sydney. In 1987 she was awarded an Australia Council grant for further study in new music theatre composition with Mauricio Kagel in Cologne. Since 1989 Wilkins’s music has received performances, prizes and broadcasts worldwide. She was awarded the Karl-Sczuka prize from South West German Radio in 2000 for her radio composition Mecanica Natura. She currently lives in Britain, where she has just completed a practice-based PhD in sound-theatre at Brunel University, W. London. Her works are published by G. Ricordi & Co. Munich.

Oded Ben-Tal Composer/Performer

Born in Israel, Oded Ben-Tal studied composition at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem followed by doctoral studies at Stanford University with Jonathan Harvey and Brian Ferneyhough. While at Stanford Oded also engaged in research activities at CCRMA (Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics). He participated in various international festivals and workshops such as the Dartington International Festival, Domaine Forget course with the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Apeldoorn intenraitonal young composers’ meeting, and Seoul’s International Electroacoustic Music Festival. His compositions were also played in numerous countries including the UK, France, Columbia, the US, Israel, The Netherlands, and Denmark. His work includes instrumental and vocal works, multichannel compositions, interactive electronic pieces, and multimedia projects – most recent is a collaboration with Dans sans Joux on an interactive multimedia performance Ukiyo performed at Sadler’s Wells theatre in London and the Kibla Arts Center in Maribor, Slovenia. In 2007 Oded was awarded an artist in residence grant from the Leverhulme Trust to develop interactive audio projects at Brunel University’s school of engineering and design. Currently he is a lecturer in Music Technology at Kingston University in London.