Monday, January 15, 2018

West Edge Opera: Snapshot

Received this week:

BERKELEY, CA, January 8, 2018:  WEST EDGE OPERA'S SNAPSHOT presents excerpts from new, previously unproduced operas by West Coast composers and librettists February 24 and 25, 2018. Inaugurated in 2017, the program is the first of its kind in the Bay Area and is a collaboration with Earplay, New Chamber Music Ensemble.

Performances will take place:

Saturday February 24, 2018  
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall, 
2288 Fulton St, 
Berkeley, CA 94704  

Sunday February 25, 2018 
Taube Atrium Theater, 
401 Van Ness Ave, 
San Francisco, CA 94102. 

Both venues are ideally suited to the intimate yet expansive demands of Snapshot and are conveniently close to BART. General admission tickets go on sale January 5 and will be available online at or by phone at 510-841-1903. Tickets are $40 each.

This year's Snapshot promises to showcase a diverse group of local and national artists in new works by West Coast composers, Cyril Deaconoff, Larry London, Brian Rosen, Katherine Saxon, and Erling Wold.
The Last Tycoon, music by Cyril Deaconoff and libretto adapted by David Yezzi, is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel of the same name. The Russian born American composer, conductor, pianist, and organist Deaconoff (born Kirill Dyachkov), attended Gnesine State Music College and is a graduate of the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory (Composition and Choral Conducting). His recent work String Quartet No. 1 was selected by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra for their concert of contemporary music entitled Valley Voices. He has received commissions from the Vallejo Choral Society and the Arts Council Silicon Valley. In November 2011, West Bay opera in Palo Alto presented a workshop of The Last Tycoon.

Dynamo, music by Larry London and libretto by William Smock, features brief, crucial scenes from the professional and family life of Thomas A. Edison. London did his undergraduate work at Harvard and earned a Master's degree in composition at Mills College. He studied with Darius Milhaud, Terry Riley, and Lou Harrison. His compositions have been performed at the Aspen and Cabrillo Music Festivals, by the Oakland Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony chamber series. London has contributed as a composer, arranger, or performer to over fifty films. He composed the music for Isamu Noguchi: Stones and Paper, an American Masters documentary film, recognized as Best Portrait at the Montreal International Festival of Films in 1998. He wrote music for Joann Sfar Draws from Memory, a documentary film for KQED Public Television in 2012.

Death of a Playboy, music and libretto by Brian Rosen, revolves around a heated private discussion that threatens to disrupt Hugh Hefner's funeral. Rosen is a San Francisco based composer/performer specializing in works that marry music and theater. Brian studied music composition at Interlochen Arts Academy and computer science at Princeton University. He moved to the Bay Area in 1993 to join Pixar Animation Studios for their first full length film, Toy Story and remains on staff as a software engineer, technical director, and occasional voice talent. Brian has written and arranged for the a cappella ensemble The Richter Scales, completed a commissioned operatic adaptation of Alice in Wonderland for Cinnabar Opera Theater, and composed a string quarted premiered and recorded in 2010. He recently received a grant from the American Comnposer's Forum for the premiere of his song cycle A Brief History of Love and Poetry.

In 452 Jamestown Place, music and libretto by Katherine Saxon, a young woman terrifies her boyfriend with outbursts from multiple personalities. Saxon has writen a wide variety of music that ranges from large-scale choral works to intricate chamber music. Her music has been performed at the Atlantic Music Festival, NACUSA events (regional and national), the Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the UCSB Primavera Festival. Her work Speed and Perfection received the first prize in the San Francisco Choral Artists' 2012 New Voices Competition.

She Who is Alive, music by Erling Wold and libretto by Robert Harris, features the warlord of a futuristic empire as he gives a dissident female scientist prisoner the third degree. Wold is an eclectic composer who has been called, "the Eric Satie of Berkeley surrealists/minimalist electro-art rock," by the Village Voice. His chamber works have been presented in San Francisco and Santa Cruz by New Music Works and by the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble. He was a resident artist at ODC Theater, who presented his opera Sub Pontio Pilato, an historical fantasy on the death and remembrance of Pontius Pilate, a chamber opera based on William Borroughs' early autobiographical novel Queer, and his critically acclaimed work A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, based on the Max Ernst collage novel.

Performers featured in Snapshot include sopranos Heidi Moss and Julia Hathaway; mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney; tenors J. Raymond Meyers, Jacob Thompson, and Darron Flagg; and baritone Jason Sarten.
Snapshot will utilize the unique spaces at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall and the Taube Atrium Theater at the Wilsey Center for Opera. Odd Fellows Hall is a high-ceilinged neoclassical space designed by James W. Plachek in 1925. The hall is a ceremonial space with iconic stained-glass details and a skylight that was painted black during WWII and never restored. The Taube Atrium Theater in the historic Veteran's Building at the heart of San Francisco's Civic Center reflects the soaring classicism of the Odd Fellows Hall, but with a renewed contemporary sensibility. Restored for San Francisco opera's new Wilsey Center for Opera, the space is electronically optimized for acoustic music with a Meyer Sound Constellation system.

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