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Chautauqua Opera Company Premieres IN OUR SILENCE, A New Song Cycle For Our Times


Film of song cycle to premiere in three parts during live events December 3, 10, & 17 at 8 p.m. EST.

Chautauqua Opera Company Premieres IN OUR SILENCE, A New Song Cycle For Our Times

"In Our Silence" is a 75-minute song cycle that responds immediately to this moment in the world, exploring the musical ties that connect us all, even as we are isolated from each other. The film of the song cycle will premiere in three parts during live events December 3, 10, & 17 at 8 p.m. EST on Chautauqua Institution's CHQ Assembly platform

It is comprised of twenty solo a cappella songs performed and captured by the 2020 Chautauqua Opera Young Artists, with interstitial solo piano pieces performed by Hilda Huang. Frances Pollock, Chautauqua Opera's 2020 Composer-in-Residence, composed the work, setting text created by playwright and librettist Jerre Dye, in collaboration with the Young Artists. Jerre Dye provided the screenplay, with Danilo Gambini as director for the project, Michael Baumgarten as video editor, and Martin Gimenez as sound editor.

This spring, as the pandemic hit, and opera companies across the world were forced to close, Chautauqua Opera Company began re-imagining their 2020 summer season as a fully virtual experience.

"All of a sudden we were contending with the deep challenges of trying to create music together over Zoom," says General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood. "Frances Pollock brought me this fascinating idea of creating works for the company that embraced that challenge, short songs that were intended to be performed in isolation."

That seed of an idea grew into plans for an entirely new song cycle, and over four days in early June, composer Frances Pollock and librettist Jerre Dye interviewed each of the twenty Chautauqua Opera Young Artists. Together they investigated the emotional and professional impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the isolation it has created for so many people around the world, and other current events, including the murder of George Floyd and beginnings of the Black Lives Matter protests.

"The goal was to capture the voice and spirit of the singer as much as find the texture and the honesty in the conversation," says librettist Jerre Dye.

What followed was an intense ten-week process, with Pollock and Dye creating two or three songs per week, which were workshopped and filmed by the Young Artists in their homes and hometowns. In crafting each of the texts, Dye drew inspiration and material from those initial interviews, grounding each poem in the singer's own words and sentiments, and Pollock focused on composing songs that reflected each singer's personality and vocal aesthetic.

"For many of our Young Artists, this was their first experience performing music that was written explicitly for them," adds Osgood. "And the fact that the poetry was crafted directly from their own words brought such a unique intimacy to the whole creative process."

After the close of the 2020 summer season, Pollock and Dye worked to shape the twenty songs into a full song cycle, and the idea to compose additional music for the piano was born. In a traditional song cycle, the voice and piano are partners, always in dialogue with each other. With the current restrictions in place, that partnership wasn't possible for the performers.

"We wanted to capture this idea that the piano and the voice are always searching for each other, always just out of reach, but trying to be together," says composer Frances Pollock.

Osgood concludes, "COVID-19, this pandemic, has forced everybody into new ways of thinking, of creating, of imagining themselves as artists, and this song cycle is a direct result."

Upcoming Premiere Events

The full song cycle is in three parts, each connected by theme. Part One, which will premiere on December 3, is subtitled "Discovering". Part Two will premiere on December 10, and is subtitled "Deepening". Part Three, subtitled "Transforming," will premiere on December 17. The three premiere events will take place at 8 p.m. EST on the CHQ Assembly platform ( The events will also feature a newly created "Making Of..." segment on the cycle, and will be followed by live Q-and-A with the creators. Each of the parts will be available on demand following its premiere, and the full cycle will be released on the CHQ Assembly platform on December 25, for on demand viewing.

While these events are included in a subscription to CHQ Assembly, non-subscribers can purchase a special event ticket, available for $12.99, which includes access to the December 3, 10 and 17 premiere events as well as on-demand access to each of the parts and the complete cycle through January 3, 2021.

Purchase an Event Ticket Here

Watch the trailer below!


Frances Pollock, composer

Jerre Dye, Librettist and Screenplay writer


2020 Chautauqua Opera Young Artists:

Samina Aslam

Zachary Barba

Eric Botto

Michael Colman

James Eder

Jared V. Esguerra

Celeste Godin

Yazid Gray

Kelly Guerra

Nicole Heinen

Shafali Jalota

Chasiti Lashay

Daniela Magura

Michael Miller

John David Nevergall

Max Potter

Aaren Rivard

Jake Skipworth

Hilary Grace Taylor

Wan Zhao


Hilda Huang


Danilo Gambini, director

Michael Baumgarten, video editor

Martin Gimenez, sound editor

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