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City Opera's VOX Showcase returns May 10 & 11

New York City Opera's acclaimed series VOX 2008: Showcasing American Composers returns for its ninth season on May 10 and 11, presented at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU (566 LaGuardia Place, Washington Square Park South).  VOX 2008 will feature readings of ten new or previously unperformed American operas of both emerging and established composers.  All selections will be performed by City Opera artists and accompanied by its orchestra.

Admission to all VOX events is free and open to the public.  After last year's overwhelmingly strong response of over 1700 people in attendance at the Skirball Center, City Opera returns.  This year, VOX attendees can reserve their FREE tickets in advance by logging on to VOX's new website:

A record number of eighty works were submitted to the VOX selection committee, which is comprised of five full-time City Opera staff from various disciplines of artistic, music and dramaturgical departments, including City Opera Music Director, George Manahan.  Of those submitted, only ten were chosen, including: John King's Dice Thrown, an adaptation of Mallarmé's last poem, which is structured by chance operations, therefore no two performances of the work will be alike.  The young composer David T. Little uses his experience with rock music to bring to life true interviews in Soldier Songs, while Scott Davenport Richards' Charlie Crosses the Nation employs jazz to tell the story of a mixed-race band leader during the Big Band era of the 20s and 30s.  Alice Shields sets Criseyde, her feminist interpretation of the Troilus and Cressida story, partly in Middle English.  Maestro Manahan is set to conduct Little's Soldier Songs, Steve Potter's The Officers and Cary Ratcliff's Eleni.

Like last year, each selection will be introduced by a video featuring an interview with the composer and librettist.  Audiences can view last year's introductions at  This year, listeners will also be able to leave feedback for composers of the 2008 selections on the VOX website.

VOX 2008: Showcasing American Composers has been made possible, in part, by the generous leadership support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trust.  Additional funding has been provided by The Amphion Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Frederick S. Upton Foundation and Ms. Younghee Kim-Wait.

VOX 2008


May 10 and 11, 2008
2 - 5:30 p.m.
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
New York University
566 LaGuardia Place (Washington Square Park South)
New York, NY 10012

The titles, composers and librettists selected for VOX 2008: Showcasing American Composers are as follows.

May 10
Panel Discussion: Politically Engaged Music-Theater
Moderator: Yuval Sharon, VOX Project Director

Can opera act as the right platform for the depiction of topical issues? A roundtable discussion with some of this year's VOX composers focuses on this question and discusses the distinction between political and socially engaged works.

Our Giraffe
Music by Sorrel Hays
Libretto by Charles Flowers

This satirical and imaginative historical fable uses the arrival of the first giraffe in Paris to show the clash of cultural expectations from different societies. Sorrel Hays' eclectic, hybrid musical writing has earned her eight commissions from the Westdeutscher Rundfunk's Experimental Drama department, with her subjects ranging from the microtonal fluctuations of tone generators to a post-modern opera on the life of bees.

Music by Cary Ratcliff
Libretto by Cary Ratcliff, with Robert Koch
Based on the book Eleni by Nicholas Gage

During the Greek Civil War, 28,000 children were abducted to Eastern bloc countries. Nicholas Gage, a New York Times reporter, returned to Greece in 1980 to uncover the story of his mother's defiance, and to track down her executioner with a gun. Ratcliff is a pianist with the Rochester Philharmonic, has taught orchestration and choral writing courses at Eastman School of Music, and has created orchestral soundtracks for the Smithsonian's Einstein Planetarium.

The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth
Music by Veronika Krausas
Libretto by Tom Pettit, after Shakespeare

Los Angeles-based composer Krausas telescopes Shakespeare's play into an eerie, intense 25-minute chamber work for Lady Macbeth and the Three Witches. Krausas has created multimedia events and concert pieces for the Darmstadt New Music Festival, the Penderecki String Quartet, the Motion Ensemble, and other ensembles in America, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and Romania.

The Officers
Music and libretto by Steve Potter

A deadpan discourse subtitled "Scenic Music for Regulatory Voices and Instruments," The Officers follows the characters Parvula Consequence and Mister F as they travel from Venice, Italy to Venice, California to determine whether God is still "dead." Steve Potter has written for diverse ensembles such as Lontano (London), Teatro Lirico Sperimentale (Spoleto, Italy), and ASKO Ensemble (Amsterdam), and he is currently working on a PhD in composition at King's College London under the supervision of Silvina Milstein and George Benjamin.

Dice Thrown
An opera by John King

A striking aleatoric soundscape built from chance operations and based on a poem by Stéphane Mallarmé. Composer and guitarist King has collaborated with companies like Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Stuttgart Ballet, and New York City Ballet, with presentations at festivals like tba/Time-Based Arts Festival in Portland and BAM's Next Wave Festival.

VOX 2008

May 10 and 11, 2008
2 - 5:30 p.m.
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
New York University
566 LaGuardia Place (Washington Square Park South)
New York, NY 10012

The titles, composers and librettists selected for VOX 2008: Showcasing American Composers are as follows.

May 11
Panel Discussion: Singing New Music
Moderator: Cori Ellison, City Opera Dramaturg

Featured singers in this year's VOX and special guests discuss their approach to new opera, as well as the challenges and joys of singing new music.

Charlie Crosses the Nation
A jazz opera by Scott Davenport Richards

Set in the Big Band era of the '30s and '40s, this jazz opera tells the story of a fictional mixed-race jazz musician and his struggle for artistic freedom and survival across America. Composer Scott Davenport Richards is the recipient of Jonathan Larson and Frederick Loewe Awards. He is assistant professor at Montclair State's Cali School of Music and a member of the faculty at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Music by Alice Shields
Libretto by Nancy Dean

 An opera set in "funky middle English" that offers a feminist reinterpretation of Chaucer's version of the Troilus and Criseyde legend. Composer and classical singer Alice Shields has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Opera Institute, and Meet the Composer; her lyrical style encompasses Gregorian chant, Indian ragas, and electronic music.

Music and libretto by Justine F. Chen

A fractured retelling of Joan of Arc's story by composer and violinist Justine F. Chen, whose computer-enhanced chamber opera The Maiden Tower was featured in VOX 2006. New York-based Chen received a doctorate in composition from Juilliard and is Composer-in-Residence at North Carolina's Long Leaf Opera.

Soldier Songs
Music and text by David T. Little

A theatrical cantata based on actual interviews, Soldier Songs explores different aspects of a soldier's experience in a war-based society. Little is a young composer, performer, and band leader whose compositions have earned him awards and fellowships from the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Cabrillo Music Festivals, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, and ASCAP.

Dylan and Caitlin
Music by Robert Manno
Libretto by Gwynne Edwards

A lyrical account of the last year in the life of poet Dylan Thomas and his volatile relationship with his wife Caitlin, told entirely in their own words. Manno's music includes over 30 chamber works, a concerto for horn and orchestra, two song cycles, pieces for chorus, solo piano pieces, art songs and arrangements, and he is the recipient of several Meet the Composer and ASCAP awards.   

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