American Lyric Theater Partners With Army Week Association to Present Concert Reading of THE LONG WALK, 6/11
Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director of American Lyric Theater, in conjunction with Christopher Page, CEO and Founder of Army Week Association, announced today a partnership between the two organizations for an upcoming concert reading of The Long Walk, a new opera with music by Jeremy Howard Beck and libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann.
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater, The Long Walk is based on Brian Castner's critically acclaimed book of the same name. Brian's memoir describes a soldier's return from Iraq where he served as an officer in an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit and his battle with what he calls "the Crazy," as he tries to reintegrate himself back into family life. The opera highlights the perspective not only of Brian, but also the perspectives of Brian's wife, Jessie, and their children.
Army Week Association has planned a week of events and activities, from June 8-15, 2014, to highlight the achievements, sacrifice and service of those who have worn or currently wear the uniform of the United States Army and their families. Included in these events is the June 11th concert of The Long Walk. "Army Week Association is excited to have American Lyric Theater join in for our week-long celebration of service and community," said founder and CEO Christopher Page. "We're very happy that BR McDonald from Veteran Artist Program introduced us to ALT and are looking forward to seeing The Long Walk on June 11th."
"We are honored to be a formal part of the Army Week activities planned for NYC," continued Producing Artistic Director Lawrence Edelson. "ALT commissioned The Long Walk as part of the company's initiative to develop works that confront critical contemporary issues. While we have seen many contemporary operas that deal with war, and there is, of course, a long history of theatrical works drawn from the narrative of a soldier returning from war, Brian's book struck all of us as being not only quite different from other memoirs and stories of war, but material that could uniquely benefit from being realized through opera. Through our partnership with Army Week, ALT is connecting more deeply with the local community of active military, veterans and their families, while promoting public appreciation and understanding of the challenges faced by returning military personnel."
"From the very first page of Brian Castner's The Long Walk, the book's directness and immediacy grabs you by the throat and pulls you into its harrowing world," explain composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann. "A soldier comes home and must adapt to a world that is forever changed. This is a timeless story, though the context continues to change. From Homer's The Odyssey to the current wave of writing from contemporary soldiers, it is not just timeless; it is urgent, necessary, wholly of the present moment. Those who have survived their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home, or they are coming home, or they will be coming home one day in the near or distant future, at which point there will almost certainly be another war to contend with somewhere else."
Through this concert, ALT and Army Week hope to engage audiences with the central question of the opera: How do we help soldiers, veterans and their families once they return home? In particular, the goal of the memoir and opera are to illuminate the struggle and alienation that Brian felt upon returning from the war in Iraq. "I've heard the attitude that unless you are a veteran, you can't understand what these people have been through," explains composer Jeremy Howard Beck. "I don't think that's benign. You take a group of people and you isolate them and tell them that most people will never understand what they've been through. If I can do something to dismantle that idea with The Long Walk, I would like to."
On Wednesday June 11th, 2014 at 7:00 PM, ALT will present InsightALT: The Long Walk, a concert reading of the opera in development, presented in tandem with a conversation with the composer and librettist. Key musical staff and artists who have been involved in earlier developmental activities will continue to be important collaborators for this workshop and concert, including baritone Daniel Belcher and mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, for whom the lead roles of Brian and Jessie Castner are being written, as well as conductor Steven Osgood, coach/pianist Djordje Nesic and guitarist Taylor Levine, a member of Dither, the renowned electric guitar quartet. The full cast of singers includes tenor Javier Abreu, tenor David Blalock, bass-baritone Justin Hopkins, soprano Donita Volkwijn and soprano Caroline Worra.
The Long Walk will take place at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music (450 West 37th Street, New York City). Tickets are $20 General Admission, and $120 for VIP Seating ($100 tax-deductible). For further information and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showcode=INS57.
Following the upcoming workshop and concert, in the winter of 2015, ALT will present an orchestral concert reading of the score, the culmination of another extensive developmental workshop. The World Premiere of The Long Walk is currently being scheduled for June 2015, with the production team, full cast and producing organization to be announced in the summer of 2014.
Jeremy Howard Beck is an award-winning composer whose adventurous, eclectic and emotionally immediate music has been performed throughout the country: at the Bang on a Can Marathon, InsightALT, Eastern Trombone Workshop, International Trombone Festival, the Norfolk and Bang on a Can Summer Festivals, and throughout New York City. His works for trombone quartet have received a 2012 JFund/ACF grant (In Wait) and a 2011 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (Awakening). Recent commissions include the evening-length opera The Long Walk, with a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann based on the memoir of the same name by Iraq veteran Brian Castner (American Lyric Theater); ROAR (Gaudete Brass Quintet); In Wait (The Guidonian Hand) and Annunciation (Choral Chameleon). Excerpts from The Long Walk will be featured at the New Works Showcase during OPERA America's 2014 Conference in San Francisco. Current and upcoming projects include commissions and recordings with trombonist William Lang, contrabass trombonist James Rogers, and soprano Heather Michele Meyer. Jeremy is a Resident Artist with American Lyric Theater and a Composer-in-Residence with the Guidonian Hand trombone quartet, whose recording of Awakening is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and bandcamp. He studied with John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse at The Juilliard School and with Mark Adamo and Deniz Hughes at NYU.
Stephanie Fleischmann is a librettist and playwright whose texts serve as blueprints for intricate three-dimensional sonic and visual worlds. Her work has been performed internationally and across the U.S. Opera libretti include The Property, a commission for Lyric Opera of Chicago (Lyric Unlimited), music by Wlad Marhulets, and Another Sky (American Lyric Theater) and The Long Walk (American Lyric Theater), both with music by Jeremy Howard Beck. Her texts have been set by composers Olga Neuwirth (Aldeburgh, Basel, Berlin, Vienna), Brendan Connelly, Sxip Shirey, Theo Popov, Jeff Smith, Alla Borzova, Saskia Lane, and Elspeth Brooke. Music-theater works include Red Fly/Blue Bottle, Tinder, and The Secret Lives of Coats, music by Christina Campanella; The Hotel Carter, music by Jenny Giering (Frederick Loewe Award); The Greeks Parts 2 and 3, and The Americans at Juilliard (lyrics and dramaturgy; director: Brian Mertes). A 2014-15 Howard Foundation Fellow in Playwriting, an alumna the Composer Librettist Develoment Program at American Lyric Theater, New Dramatists, and a former Playwrights Center Core Writer, Fleischmann has received support from the New York State Music Fund, Greenwall Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Tobin Foundation, and the Anna Sosenko Assist and Pew Charitable Trusts. She has received a NYSCA Individual Artist Theater Commission for her libretto for Red Fly/Blue Bottle, a NEA Opera/Music-Theater New American Works commissioning grant, 2 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, the Whitfield Cook Award, and residencies at MacDowell, HARP, Hedgebrook, Mabou Mines/Suite, DPI, Chashama, and the Chocolate Factory. She is currently collaborating with Brian Mertes and Melissa Kievman on a screenplay for Chekhov's The Seagull (Piece by Piece Productions), and with Andy Dawson on The Russian Doctor (Mass MoCA, Birmingham Rep, Bristol Old Vic, Winchester Theatre Royal). A former Tennessee Williams Fellow in Playwriting at Sewanee, Fleischmann teaches playwriting at Skidmore College. She received her MFA from Brooklyn College. Published by: Play, A Journal of Plays; Playscripts.com; Smith and Krauss. Founding member of Latitude 14.
Brian Castner is the author of "The Long Walk," an Amazon Best Book of 2012 and Chautauqua Scientific & Literary Circle selection for 2013. Previously, he served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in the US Air Force from 1999 to 2007, deploying to Iraq to command bomb disposal units in Balad and Kirkuk in 2005 and 2006. After leaving the active military, he became a consultant and contractor, training Army and Marine Corps units prior to their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has appeared in a number of national and regional publications, including Wired, The New York Times, The Daily Beast,The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, Publisher's Weekly, and Garry Trudeau's The Sandbox anthology. Brian lives outside of Buffalo, New York with his wife and four sons.
Army Week Association, by mission, aims to educate; the veteran, the families, the communities, the employers, and those still serving in uniform. We hold forums and panels that will embrace and articulate the many issues facing those who have served, so we can all better assist their transition and reintegration into their communities. We also hold unique events recognizing their courage and valor on the battlefield and their contributions here at home. Ultimately, our mission at Army Week Association, Army Week NOLA, and Army Week NYC is to aid and assist communities in welcoming back their sons and daughters from service, help them care for those that need more assistance due to the rigors of combat, and comfort the families of the fallen. The ethos instilled in a soldier, marine, sailor, and airman while in the United States Armed Forces consistently results in community philanthropy and appropriation, and we will highlight those men and women doing just that.
American Lyric Theater (ALT) was founded in 2005 by Lawrence Edelson to build a new body of operatic repertoire for new audiences by nurturing composers and librettists, developing sustainable artistic collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. Many opera companies commission and perform new works; but ALT is the only company in the United States that offers extensive, full-time mentorship for emerging operatic writers. While the traditional company model focuses on producing a season, ALT's focus is on serving the needs of composers and librettists, developing new works, and collaborating with larger producing companies to help usher those works into the repertoire. Operas developed through the CLDP and by CLDP alumni have been presented by a wide variety of companies, including Tulsa Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Urban Arias, Center City Opera, San Francisco Conservatory, New York City Opera VOX, and Beth Morrison Projects. In 2012, ALT was the first company dedicated to artist mentorship rather than operatic production to be recognized by OPERA America as a Professional Company Member - a testament to ALT's service to the field. For more information about American Lyric Theater, please visit www.altnyc.org.