Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Judith Lynn Stillman and Will Liverman's Collaboration Takes First Place In OperaVision's International Competition

Article Pixel

Judith Lynn Stillman and Will Liverman's Collaboration Takes First Place In OperaVision's International CompetitionThroughout quarantine, Rhode Island College artist in residence, Judith Lynn Stillman kept busy working remotely on musical video projects, which examined complex universal issues.

Two of the video projects received top prizes with one netting first place in a global competition, sponsored by OperaVision, the digital platform for the international opera organization Opera Europa. For the first-prize winning production, a gospel/jazz-crossover opera called Essential Business, she collaborated with Chicago-based Metropolitan Opera baritone Will Liverman and partners from the United Kingdom.

Despite the challenges of working remotely while in quarantine, another one of her productions picked up accolades. Beneath A Silent Blue Sky, which brought together a team of opera singers virtually in an interfaith Holocaust commemoration set to the words of Elie Wiesel, won the 2020 Artisan Festival International World Peace Initiative Cannes. It also received the Karl Bardosh Humanitarian Award from the World Peace and Tolerance Institute. Additionally, the Providence-based pianist, composer and filmmaker saluted the Centennial of the women's right to vote with March of the Women. It is a virtual suffrage parade.

The first-prize winning Essential Business is set during the coronavirus quarantine. A young pastor reaches out to God-over Zoom-as he wrestles with his faith, family and losing his ministry amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The 10-minute short opera provides a powerful commentary on spirituality and the need for connection in isolation. "For me, it captures a microcosm of the societal lockdown dilemma," said Juilliard-trained composer Stillman.

"Humans crave connection, we're pack animals, and isolation can be devastating - to what extent do we take risks to mitigate these challenges? Is there a way to reconcile both faith and science when there can be life and death consequences?"

For a long time, she wanted to collaborate with Liverman, who made history as the first Black artist to star in The Magic Flute as Papageno for the Metropolitan Opera. "It was extraordinary to watch Will bring the music to life as we rehearsed online," Stillman said. "Joining forces with our UK colleagues, Anna Pool and Elayce Ismail, added to the combustible energy of the project."

Stillman noted: "I believe that it's the musician's mandate to create works of art that help us explore and evaluate complex issues. Longfellow called music 'the universal language of mankind.' Kenneth Rexroth said that 'against the ruin of the world there is only one defense: the creative act'." Links to videos made by Stillman in quarantine Essential

Business Log line: Lockdown 2020, Florida, USA. Churches are open, but social distancing has changed worship forever. A small but vocal group of fundamentalists think it's a hoax. One pastor is about to discover the consequences.

Beneath a Silent Blue Sky Log line: In remembrance of YomHaShoah and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp March of the

Women Log line: a "virtual suffrage parade" in celebration of the Centennial of Women's Right to Vote (created in quarantine) Opera Europa's OperaVision created #OperaHarmony to unite over 100 composers and performers to develop short-form digital operas based on themes of distance and community.

Related Articles View More Opera Stories

More Hot Stories For You