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TCU Announces World Premiere Opera in Partnership with US Army

TCU Announces World Premiere Opera in Partnership with US Army

Texas Christian University's School of Music is proud to present the world premiere of a new opera, The Falling and the Rising, by contemporary artistic duo Zach Redler, composer, and Jerre Dye, librettist. The new opera paints a powerful portrait of the incredible resiliency, fortitude and heroism of our nation's servicemen and women, and is the culmination of a large-scale project commissioned by TCU together with the Arizona Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Memphis, and the initial staging was hosted at Seagle Music Colony, Seattle Opera and The Department of the Army. Seagle Music Colony is a developmental partner and hosted the initial staging of The Falling and The Rising. A product of the TCU School of Music's dedication to commissioning new music, The Falling and the Rising will premiere at 7 p.m. April 6 at Ed Landreth Hall and Auditorium and run for five performances.

Using opera as a vehicle by which to hold a spotlight on pivotal contemporary issues, the storyline of The Falling and the Rising is pulled from a series of first-hand interviews of recovering soldiers conducted by the creative team together with Staff Sergeant Ben Hilgert at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Fort George G. Meade and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. From these compelling and candid accounts, Redler and Dye distilled a small cast of composite characters that represent in full their many inspiring interviewees. Centered around a strong female lead who has been put into a medically induced coma following an IED attack, the opera chronicles the soldier's path toward healing through a series of dreamscapes punctuated with the lives and experiences of her fellow servicemen and women. Together they find community and comfort as they navigate their personal journeys toward healing and homecoming.

"This project tells the Army story in a very human way," Staff Sgt. Ben Hilgert said. "The stories contained in the opera speak truth to the service of Soldiers, while at the same time highlighting the resiliency and strength demanded of them."

TCU Opera Studio Director David Gately said, "Working on this piece has been one of the most satisfying experiences in my career. The collaboration of the many disparate groups who put this project together has been an inspiration. The incredibly moving story of the opera, brought to life by soldiers who live this truth every day and by the TCU students who are inspired by them, is a theatrical experience not to be missed."

The Falling and the Rising will not solely pay tribute to the men and women of our nation's military through third-person, civilian portrayals. Adding to the profound experience, the TCU world premiere will include three performances featuring a cast comprised of members of the US Army Field Band & Soldiers' Chorus, while TCU opera students will perform the remaining two. The dual casts allow for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for TCU students to work alongside a group of talented artists who also serve the country, learning from them in a professional, theatrical way, while also allowing them to come to a greater understanding of experiences and commitment to the country.

For more information about the program or to set up an interview with TCU faculty, please contact Holland Sanders at

Event Details

The Falling and the Rising (by Zach Redler and Jerre Dye)

Evening Performances: April 6, 7 at 7 p.m.

Matinee Performances: April 7 at 2 p.m. April 8 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Ed Landreth Hall and Auditorium

2800 S. University Dr., Fort Worth, Texas

Tickets: Free, but must be reserved at


The TCU School of Music is a nationally recognized, award-winning institution that features a distinguished, renowned faculty and a talented, energetic student body. The school offers an exciting musical environment in which students grow as artists, educators and individuals, and provides many opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, TCU's program provides professional training for performers, teachers, scholars and composers.


Zach Redler is an award-winning music theater composer whose music has been performed in concert halls, opera houses and theaters around the world. Ben Brantley of "The New York Times" said, Zach's music "transcends the expected and achieves a haunting originality...the music itself becomes a character that both connects and divides the others."

In May 2015, Fort Worth Opera presented Zach and librettist Mark Campbell's opera A Song for Susan Smith as part of their FRONTIERS Festival. Opera Memphis commissioned and premiered Jerre Dye and Redler's monodrama opera Movin' Up in the World in April 2014 with subsequent performances at the National Civil Rights Museum, during African American heritage week at the University of Missouri (2015) and Mable City Opera in Knoxville. In 2014, for their work in musical theater, the American Theatre Wing awarded him and collaborator Sara Cooper the 2014 Jonathan Larson Award. Redler and Cooper have written three musicals and a number of monodramas and chamber operas together, most notably their musical The Memory Show, which has enjoyed acclaimed runs off-Broadway, in London, Seoul and other venues across the country. In 2012, The Weston Playhouse awarded Redler and Cooper's show Loving Leo their New Musical award, garnering them a demo produced by the Grammy-winning label Sh-K-Boom. In 2011, American Opera Projects awarded Redler and Cooper the Van Lier Fellowship to take part in "Composers and the Voice" and develop their chamber piece "Windows," which AOP subsequently produced. Redler's first musical Perez Hilton Saves the Universe, written in 2008 with classmates Randy Blair and Tim Drucker, won Best Musical Fringe Festival 2008 and Best Musical in the Talkin' Broadway 2008 Summer Theatre Festival Citations and has since had multiple regional productions.

In addition to his composing career, Redler has a long history teaching various aspects of music beginning in the 10th grade when he developed the curriculum for and taught the AP Music Theory. Since 2007, he has served as adjunct faculty at NYU, first at Steinhart as a vocal coach and professor of a course on Contemporary Opera and later at Tisch's Graduate Music Theatre Writing Program teaching music theory to librettists. He has led masterclasses and workshops at high schools and universities across the country on a number of subjects, most fondly as a teaching artist with Opera America's Music, Words, Opera program teaching teachers how to explore opera with younger students. Redler's work as a copyist has allowed him to collaborate with some of the most talented and successful composers/orchestrators in the music theater industry such as Steve Martin, Edie Brickell, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lippa, August Eriksmoen, Mark Bennet, BD Wong, Stephen Flaherty, Ricky Ian Gordon, Mel Marvin and Lynne Shankel. As a musicologist, Redler's research and study of Auschwitz victim Marcel Tyberg's life and music has culminated in five world premieres by the Buffalo Philharmonic and two distinguished grants, in addition to numerous performances around the world. His experience as an orchestral percussionist, piano accompanist and conductor continue to come in handy as he periodically performs in recitals and productions in the greater New York City area.


Jerre Dye is a Chicago-based writer, director and actor. He is the recipient of the Award for Dramatic Literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His play, Cicada, had a Chicago premiere in 2014 with Route 66 Theatre Company. His play, Distance, premiered in 2016 with Strawdog Theatre Company. Other works for the stage include: Short/Stories, Threads, The New Adventures of Hansel and Gretel, Wild Swans and an adaptation of Stravinsky's A Soldier's Tale with Iris Orchestra. In 2014, Dye completed the libretto for Ghosts of Crosstown, a new short opera cycle in collaboration with Opera Memphis and four composers from across the U.S.: Movin' Up In The World with composer Zachary Redler (subsequent performances at the National Civil Rights Museum and Missouri State University), Abandoned with composer Kamran Ince (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in San Francisco as part of the New Works Sampler 2014), Ivonne with composer Nathaniel Stookey (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. as part of the New Works Sampler 2015) and Mitch and the Moon with composer Jack Perla. Current opera commissions include: Parksville Horror, a filmed, episodic, virtual reality opera for Opera On Tap/New York with composer Kamala Sankaram; The Falling and the Rising for the U.S. Army Field Band and Chorus with composer Zachary Redler; Chautauqua Stories for Chautauqua Opera in Chautauqua, N.Y.; BY/INfor Opera Memphis, Tenn.; and a new commission for Washington National Opera based on the life of Jose Sarria. Regional directing credits include: Sister Myotis (Abingdon Theatre, NY); One or Two Things (San Francisco Fringe); Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Theatre Memphis); Wilde Legacy WI (national tour); Pre-sent Pres-ent, Hold Fast (Voices of the South); and Failure: A Love Story (Athens West).

About The US Army Field Band:

The US Army Field Band tours nationally and internationally as directed by the Department of the Army, and serves as the liaison between the Army and the American people. The Army Field Band consists of four performing components and a far-reaching educational program. Each concert tour is sponsored by a local organization with the mission of supporting local community events such as centennial celebrations, festivals, and city and state commemorations. To become a sponsor or for more information, visit

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