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Composer/Performer Kate Soper Hosts & Curates NYFOS

Composer/Performer Kate Soper Hosts & Curates NYFOS

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Guggenheim fellow, and Radcliffe alum, Kate Soper's music has been described as "exquisitely quirky" (The New York Times) and "epic" (WQXR). As a performer, she has been praised as a "dazzling vocalist" (The New Yorker) and likened to "Lucille Ball reinterpreted by Linda Blair" (Pitchfork).

For her first curatorship with NYFOS Next, Kate hosts, performs in, and delivers a program that delves into the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice when combined with electronics.

Kate comments: "Included on this program are new and 'classic' voice and tape works by Natacha Diehls, Alvin Lucier, and Kaija Saariaho, performed by the fantastic and fearless Charlotte Mundy, as well as a foray into the cutting edge world of realtime manipulation by the magnificent improvisors Charmaine Lee and Sam Pluta. Finally, I am excited to present two excerpts from my new opera-in-progress and to make my début as Lady Reason, the allegorical queen of logic and vocoding!"

The new opera she refers to is The Romance of the Rose. It will ultimately be a full-length opera that Soper is writing for seven voices, chamber octet, and live and taped electronics, with an original libretto inspired by a medieval French poem. The two excerpts that NYFOS will present contain texts by Marianne Moore, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, and Soper. The full opera will premiere in April 2020 in the NYC area. The New York Times spoke to Kate about the opera, the "thinky house" she grew up in, and more in this article.
This concert opens the ninth season of NYFOS Next, New York Festival of Song's contemporary song mini-series. With an emphasis on spontaneity, novelty, and collaboration, NYFOS Next offers a forum for song composers to share their work, and gives audiences an intimate encounter with the creative process, as new songs are presented in an informal setting. Composers are invited to curate and host their own program, showcasing their own work and the works of their peers, students or mentors. Past curators include Mark Adamo, Clarice Assad, Christopher Cerrone, Mohammed Fairouz, Gabriela Lena Frank, Kyle Jarrow (with Lauren Worsham), Gabriel Kahane, Carla Kilhstedt, Phil Kline, Lowell liebermann, David T. Little, Harold Meltzer, Paul Moravec, John Musto, Russell Platt, Kevin Puts, Bright Sheng, and Joseph Thalken.

The next NYFOS Next will feature LAURA KAMINSKY & FRIENDS on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 7:30 p.m. at the LGBT Center, NYC. Composer Laura Kaminsky curates a salon of songs by LGBT-identified composers and librettists, featuring the premiere of the cycle After Stonewall, with music by Kaminsky, Jennifer Higdon, Laura Karpman, Paula Kimper, Nora Kroll Rosenbaum, and Kayla Cashetta, and poems by Elaine Sexton-commissioned by NYFOS and Five Boroughs Music Festival. It also includes Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin, with libretto by Kimberly Reed and contributions from Kaminsky, Karpman, Kitty Brazelton, and Ellen Reid. This event will be co-presented by NYFOS, 5BMF and the LGBT Center in honor of Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

The Program

Kate Soper
The Understanding of All Things (2013, rev. 2015)
Kate Soper, soprano • Sam Pluta, electronics
Text by Franz Kafka

Kaija Saariaho
Lohn (1996)
Charlotte Mundy, soprano • Sam Pluta, electronics

Natacha Diehls
Bahnhof (2012)
Charlotte Mundy, soprano • Sam Pluta, electronics

Alvin Lucier
Three Wave Songs (1998)
Charlotte Mundy, soprano • Sam Pluta, electronics

A set of improvisations by Charmaine Lee (voice) and Sam Pluta (electronics)

Kate Soper
Two excerpts from The Romance of the Rose, a new opera:
1. Shame's Triple Aria Transformation (world premiere)
Devony Smith, soprano • James Moore, electric guitar • Sam Pluta, electronics
Texts by Anne Sexton, Marianne Moore, Adrienne Rich

2. Lady Reason's Collapsing Sestina (world premiere)
Kate Soper, soprano • Laura Barger, piano • Thomas Feng, keyboard • Sam Pluta, electronics
Text by Kate Soper

Kate Soper is a composer, performer, and writer whose work explores the integration of drama and rhetoric into musical structure, the slippery continuums of expressivity, intelligibility and sense, and the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice. She has been hailed by The Boston Globe as "a composer of trenchant, sometimes discomfiting, power" and by The New Yorker for her "limpid, exacting vocalism, impetuous theatricality, and...mastery of modernist style." A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Soper has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (The Virgil Thomson and Goddard Lieberson awards and the Charles Ives Scholarship), the Koussevitzky Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, the Music Theory Society of New York State, and ASCAP, and has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Center/BUTI, the MIVOS string quartet, and Yarn/Wire. She has received residencies and fellowships from the Civitella Raineri Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Camargo Foundation, the Macdowell Colony, Tanglewood, Royaumont, and Domaine Forget, among others.

Praised by The New York Times for her "lithe voice and riveting presence," Soper performs frequently as a new music soprano. As a singer and performer with experience in Western Classical and Indian Carnatic music, songwriting, improvisation, and experimental theatre, she has sung in U.S. and world premieres of works by composers such as Peter Ablinger, Beat Furrer, George Lewis, Matthias Spahlinger, and Katharina Rosenberger, and has appeared with groups such as the Morningside Opera Company, the Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf, and the Dinosaur Annex Ensemble. She performs regularly in her own works, and has been featured as a composer/vocliast on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW series, the New York City-based MATA and SONiC festivals, the Lucerne Forum for New Music, Gaudeamus Muziekweek New York, the Sacramento Festival of New Music, and the American Composers Orchestra's Orchestra Underground series.

Soper is a co-director and performer for Wet Ink, a New York-based new music ensemble dedicated to seeking out adventurous music across aesthetic boundaries. She is the Iva Dee Hiatt Assistant Professor of Music at Smith College.

Now in its 31st season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Each program entertains and educates in equal measure.

Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce its series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between musical genres, exploring the character and language of other cultures, and the personal voices of song composers and lyricists.

Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song. Among the many highlights is the double bill of one-act comic operas, Bastianello and Lucrezia, by John Musto and William Bolcom, both with libretti by Mark Campbell, commissioned and premiered by NYFOS in 2008 and recorded on Bridge Records. In addition to Bastianello and Lucrezia and the 2008 Bridge Records release of Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, NYFOS has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen (also a NYFOS commission) on New World Records. In 2014, Canción Amorosa, a CD of Spanish song-Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Sephardic-was released on the GPR label, with soprano Corinne Winters accompanied by Steven Blier.

In November 2010, NYFOS debuted NYFOS Next, a mini-series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues, including SubCulture, OPERA America's National Opera Center, National Sawdust, and the DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

NYFOS is passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young singers, and has developed training residencies around the country, including with The Juilliard School's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 14th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 11th year in March 2019); San Francisco Opera Center (over 20 years as of February 2018); Glimmerglass Opera (2008-2010); and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY.

NYFOS's concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.

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