The American Opera Project Selects Emerging Composers and Librettists For Two Year Fellowships in the Fundamentals of Opera

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By: Sep. 15, 2023
The American Opera Project Selects Emerging Composers and Librettists For Two Year Fellowships in the Fundamentals of Opera

 The American Opera Project has announced the newest class of composers and librettists to receive fellowships for its 12th cycle of the Composers & the Voice (C&V) program. Created and led by Composers & the Voice Artistic Director Steven Osgood, C&V is a two-year, tuition-free fellowship that provides experience writing for the voice and lyric theater stage. 

This season, 6 composers and 4 librettists have been selected to receive fellowships, including composers JL Marlor, Joshua Brown, Joy Redmond, Kavita Shah, Kervy Delcy and Leighton White, and librettists Aiden K. Feltkamp, Andi Lee Carter, Anita Gonzalez and Melisa Tien.

Working collaboratively alongside the fellows will be the Composers & the Voice Resident Ensemble of Singers, including lyric coloratura soprano Natalie Trumm, lyric soprano Makayla McDonald, mezzo-soprano Ilene Pabon, tenor Brian Jeffers, baritone Phillip Bullock and bass Hans Tashjian. AOP has also appointed an additional Music Director, Kyle Walker, to work with the fellows and resident singers, alongside Mila Henry and Emma Luyuedijk.

“Hearing singers discuss in detail their experience learning and performing a new piece revolutionized the way I write for the voice.” - Gregory Spears 

The Composers & the Voice fellowships include a highly structured year of working with the company's Resident Ensemble of Singers and Artistic Team followed by a year of continued promotion and career development through AOP and its strategic partnerships. The workshop sessions between September 2023 and April 2025 include composition of solo works for six voice types (coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass). In addition, over 45 hours of "Skill-Building Sessions" – including Acting (Instructor, TBA), Theatrical Improvisation with Terry Greiss (Co-Founder, Ensemble Actor, Executive Director of Irondale Ensemble Project), and Libretto Development with librettist Mark Campbell (As One, Silent Night) – will provide in-depth knowledge of how singers build characters, act in scenes, and sing text.

Fellows will also receive individual guidance from "Artistic Chairs," sponsorships named in honor of mentors and their support of Composers & the Voice. Artistic Chairs in past seasons have included composers: Huang Ruo (Paradise Interrupted, An American Soldier), David T. Little (Dog Days, JFK), Missy Mazzoli (Breaking the Waves, Song From the Uproar), Nkeiru Okoye (Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, Invitation to a Die-In), Tobias Picker (An American Tragedy, Emmeline), and librettists Kimberly Reed (As One) and David Cote (Blind Injustice, Three Way).

At the end of the workshop sessions, AOP will present selections from the participants' work in public performances – First Glimpse (May 2024), a concert of songs, and Six Scenes (January 2025), an evening of short opera scenes.

Since launching in 2002, C&V has fostered the development of 88 composers and librettists. Alumni works that continued through AOP's opera development program and went on to a world premiere include Companionship (Fort Worth Opera 2019, Rachel Peters), Love/Hate (ODC/San Francisco Opera 2012, Jack Perla), Paul's Case (UrbanArias 2013, Gregory Spears), The Scarlet Ibis (PROTOTYPE 2015, Stefan Weisman), Three Way (Nashville Opera and AOP 2017, Robert Paterson), The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera 2017, Daniel Sonenberg), and Independence Eve (UrbanArias 2017, Sidney Marquez Boquiren), and The Echo Drift (PROTOTYPE 2018, Mikael Karlsson).

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts and many generous individuals.

Past AOP Composers & the Voice fellows have received grants and honors from the following organizations: Aaron Copland Fund for Music, ASCAP, BMI, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum, OPERA America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, the Fulbright Foundation, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Douglas Moore Fellowship, Tapestry New Opera Works, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, New Dramatists, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation.


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