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The American Opera Project Selects Fellows & Resident Singers For Innovative Training Program

The American Opera Project (AOP), announces its selection of eight composers and librettists to receive fellowships for its 10th cycle of the Composers & the Voice training program. Composers Alaina Ferris, Matt Frey, Michael Lanci, Mary Prescott, Jessica Rudman, Tony Solitro, and librettists Amanda Hollander and Jonathan Turner, will each receive a 2-year, tuition-free fellowship that provides experience writing for the voice and opera stage. The fellows will work collaboratively with the following six singers, named as the 10th Composers & the Voice Resident Ensemble: Lyric Coloratura Soprano Justine Aronson, Lyric Soprano Jasmine Muhammad, Mezzo-Soprano Augusta Caso, Tenor Timothy Stoddard, Baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco and Bass-Baritone Brandon Coleman.

AOP created Composers & the Voice to fill a gap in the training of contemporary composers and librettists. Writers often graduate from prestigious music schools never having composed for the voice, and will sometimes receive their first opera commission based solely on their orchestral writing. Traditionally, vocal departments do not partner with composition students in order to protect their students' still-developing voices.

"There are few opportunities for young writers to try and fail in opera. Producing an opera is rare and expensive, and many composers will only get one shot at it. Composers & the Voice provides a home for one year of experimentation through closed workshops." explains Matt Gray, General Director of AOP. Artistic Director Mila Henry further comments, "This fellowship is a deep dive into the 'how'- how do I write for the voice, how do I write for the stage, how do I collaborate, and how do I navigate this grand form."

Since its inception in 2002, Composers & the Voice has launched the careers of over 75 of the most sought-after contemporary operatic composers and librettists. Working one-on-one with professional singers provides hands-on training for the fellows, who must learn to write for each individual's range, addressing issues of tessitura, negotiating the passaggio, demands for vowel modification, and how these affect the performance of text. The Resident Ensemble is selected by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood based on their superior technical and musical skills, as well as their commitment to developing and performing new works. The Resident Ensemble will be joined by returning Music Directors Mila Henry, AOP Artistic Director and Head of Music, and Kelly Horsted.

The fellows will receive additional instruction from Mary Birnbaum (Acting), Mark Campbell (Libretto Development) and Terry Greiss (Improv Studies), as well as consultations with the following professional mentors in their field, known as the C&V Composer and Librettist Chairs: composers Ricky Ian Gordon, David T. Little, Missy Mazzoli, Tobias Picker, Huang Ruo and Du Yun, and librettists Kimberly Reed and Royce Vavrek.

Fellows were chosen by a panel of esteemed industry professionals, including Conductors J. David Jackson and Steven Osgood; Composers Sidney Marquez Boquiren, Clint Borzoni, Nell Shaw Cohen, Conrad Cummings, Anthony Davis, John Glover, Laura Kaminsky, David T. Little, Raymond J. Lustig, Gilda Lyons, Nkeiru Okoye, Robert Paterson, Rachel Peters, Kala Pierson, Gity Razaz, Zachary Redler, Andrew Staniland; Singers Amy van Roekel and Caroline Worra; Librettists Mark Campbell, David Cote, Edward Einhorn, Emily Roller, Kathryn Walat; and Music directors Miriam Charney and Mila Henry.

In closed workshops from October 2019-April 2020, the singers will rotate among each composer, giving demonstrations of proper vocal technique and writing, as well as performing short works written specifically for their voice. This will culminate with First Glimpse, a public concert on May 29-30, 2020, premiering songs created over the course of the year. On September 25-26, 2020, the AOP Resident Ensemble will perform Six Scenes, an evening of short opera scenes created by the composer and librettist fellows.

The C&V fellowships are made possible with major support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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