Insomnia / Whitman Portrait Digital Fringe Program
Online screenings of Artsong Repertory Theater Company’s People Sing Amazing Poetry Really Loud, a live performance video beautifully filmed by videographer Robert Kaithern, will be available through the Philadelphia Digital Fringe Festival all day Saturday, September 10th, Sunday, September 11th, and Wednesday, September 14th. On show days head to www.artcy.org to access the videos and our concert program, which includes song texts and in-depth information about the artists (be sure to use good headphones or speakers for a great listening experience!).
This was not your everyday art song premiere. We put the ARTCy stamp on two fantastic new works by composers Tom Cipullo (winner of the 2012 Guggenheim fellowship) and Philadelphia-favorite, acclaimed composer Jeremy Gill. Both pieces are song cycles written for several singers and piano that explore our interconnectedness through poetry, music and time. Cipullo’s Insomnia, in its Philadelphia premiere, is set around a night-time tableau narrated by the texts of varied poets. The neon and lamplight-tinged feelings that emerge in the hours of a sleepless night tell stories: a man listens to the sounds of his home as if it were alive, a virgin dares to dream of a lover, a hilarious ode to snoring. Jeremy Gill’s Whitman Portrait (a world premiere) uses the humanist poet Walt Whitman’s own words alongside brilliantly crafted music to paint a picture of the self-scrutinizing man through his private thoughts, obsessions, expressions of eroticism and existential meditations.
We assembled a group of artists for this event that are as amazingly devoted as they are talented. AVA alum and Grand Prize winner of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition, soprano Michelle Johnson, has an international operatic career and has been lauded for her “velvety and pliant” voice by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Soprano Cara Latham has earned critical praise for her roles in both musical theater and opera, and is a doctoral graduate from Temple University. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Beattie has been hailed for her “exuberant voice and personality” by Opera News and has been billed as a “smashing success” by the San Francisco Examiner. Tenor Cory O’Niell Walker is a diverse performer of opera, art song and musical theater who has been applauded for having a “honeyed voice” that “will break your heart” by the Cape Cod Times. Winner of the 2015 Opera Ebony Benjamin Matthews Vocal Competition, baritone Brian Major has been noted as having a “commanding voice that’s agile and very easy on the ear” by the Houston Press. Baritone Jean-Bernard Cerin is a recent University of Michigan doctoral graduate from Port-au-Prince, Haiti and has performed throughout the United States, Haiti, France and Austria. ARTCy’s music director, pianist Jillian Zack, is a Graduate of The Juilliard School and has performed throughout the United States, England and New Zealand. Contemporary music liaison for NPR and Pacifica radio stations nationwide, pianist Adam Tendler has been celebrated for his uncompromising recital programming and bold original compositions.
Tom Cipullo, composer
Hailed by the American Academy of Art & Letters for music that displays “inexhaustible imagination, wit, expressive range and originality,” composer Tom Cipullo’s works are performed regularly throughout the United States and with increasing frequency internationally. The winner of a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Sylvia Goldstein Award from Copland House, and the 2013 Arts & Letters Award from the American Academy, Mr. Cipullo has received commissions from Music of Remembrance, SongFest, Joy in Singing, the Cecilia Chorus, the New York Festival of Song, the Mirror Visions Ensemble, Sequitur, Cantori New York, tenor Paul Sperry, mezzo-soprano Mary Ann Hart, the Five Boroughs Music Festival, pianist Jeanne Golan, soprano Martha Guth, soprano Hope Hudson, the Walt Whitman Project, baritone Jesse Blumberg, and many others. He has received multiple fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and awards from the Liguria Study Center (Bogliasco, Italy), the Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), the Oberpfaelzer Kuenstlerhaus (Bavaria), and ASCAP. The New York Times has called his music “intriguing and unconventional,” and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has called him “an expert in writing for the voice.” Other honors include the Minneapolis Pops New Orchestral Repertoire Award (2009) for Sparkler, the National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Award (2008) for the song-cycle Of a Certain Age, and the Phyllis Wattis Prize for song composition from the San Francisco Song Festival for Drifts & Shadows (2006).
Mr. Cipullo is the composer of two operas. The most recent, After Life, was commissioned by Music of Remembrance and premiered by that organization in Seattle and San Francisco in 2014. Glory Denied (2007), after the book by journalist Tom Philpott, is based on the true story of America’s longest-held prisoner of war. The piece has already received five full productions, including a recent run of ten performances with the acclaimed Fort Worth Opera. In addition, Opera Memphis, Chelsea Opera, Opera Idaho, and Vulcan Lyric Opera will mount productions in 2015 and 2016. Critical reception to the opera has been enthusiastic. The July 2013 issue of Opera News called the piece “intimate in its presentation…and epic in its scope and effect,” citing the work as “tense, nervous, and gripping theater.” The Fort Worth Star Telegram called Glory Denied “a powerful drama of great music and acting intensity,” Fort Worth Weekly cited it as “a powerfully realistic thriller and an abashedly honest commentary on the America of the 1960s and 70s,” and D Magazine recognized the work as “an intimate operatic masterpiece.” Theater Jones called Glory Denied “horrifying, riveting, involving, shocking, inspiring, overwhelming, appalling, and devastating – in that order.” A production by the UrbanArias company in Arlington, Virginia (2011) was reviewed by The Washington Post. Under a headline that exclaimed “Vietnam-Era Saga Glory Denied Doesn’t Withhold a Single Musical Wish,” the Post praised a “luminous score that offered vivid embodiments of the protagonist’s mental states.”
Tom Cipullo’s song cycles A Visit with Emily, Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House, and Of a Certain Age are published by Oxford University Press. Other works are distributed by Classical Vocal Reprints. His music has been recorded on the Albany, CRI, PGM, MSR Classics, GPR, Centaur, and Capstone labels.
Mr. Cipullo received his Master’s degree in composition from Boston University and his B.S. from Hofstra University, Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors in music. He studied composition and orchestration with David Del Tredici, Elie Siegmeister, and Albert Tepper. Mr. Cipullo is a founding member of the Friends & Enemies of New Music, an organization that has presented more than 80 concerts featuring the music of over 200 different American composers.
Jeremy Gill, composer
Described as “vividly colored” (The New York Times), “exhilarating” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), “intriguing” (The Washington Post), and “work of considerable intensity” (American Record Guide), the music of Jeremy Gill is remarkable for its breadth and diversity, from opera through major solo works, and its “fearless emotional depth” (Philadelphia Music Makers). Recently, Jeremyʼs music has earned him residencies with American Opera Projects (2013–14), Copland House (2015), and the MacDowell Colony (2013), as well as major grants from Chamber Music America (2011) and New Music USA (2015). In 2016, he will join the music staff of Chautauqua Opera as their Composer in Residence.
During the 2015–16 season the Dallas Symphony premiered his oboe concerto Serenada Concertante, featuring DSO principal Erin Hannigan and conducted by music director Jaap van Zweden, which The Dallas Morning News lauded as “replete with imaginative textures and interplays between soloist and orchestra…By turns stringing out lyric lines, weaving arabesques and exploding in flourishes and runs.” Also this season, Duo Cortona (mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway and Ari Streisfeld of the JACK Quartet) premiered his setting of Hart Craneʼs Carmen de Boheme during the SONiC Festival in NYC, and Jeremy traveled to Havana, Cuba as part of a select group of composers assembled by the American Composers Forum as the first-ever Artist Delegation to the Havana Contemporary Music Festival, an historic trip documented by ACF and National Public Radio.
Other performances of note during the 2015–16 season include Helian (2009) with baritone Jonathan Hays and Jeremy on piano, in a new, staged version conceived by director Copeland Woodruff (this production will be repeated at National Sawdust in NYC next season). And in April, Jeremy conducted his 2014 opera Letters from Quebec to Providence in the Rain in a joint performance by Lyric Theatre @ Illinois and the Illinois Modern Ensemble at the Krannert Center of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where Jeremy enjoyed a week-long residency.
Earlier in 2015, Jeremyʼs third commercial CD was released on the innova Recordings label. Featuring the Grammy-winning Parker Quartet in Jeremyʼs hour-long Capriccio (2012), this recording has garnered extensive critical acclaim: Classical Minnesota Public Radio called it “a work to return to often, for fresh insight and stimulation,” while the San Francisco Chronicle called it “a varied and kaleidoscopic collection of vivid miniatures…an ebullient cataloging of the various textural and rhetorical forms that writing for string quartet can take.” In Capriccio, “Jeremy Gill conveys to us his own special sensibilities as a composer of almost unlimited breadth, a master stylist who knows virtually no boundaries in his poetic collocation of past, present and future,” remarked Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review. The Big City Blog included Capriccio on its list of top ten “Best Classical Recordings of 2015,” and Jazz da Gama called it simply “one of the most remarkable opuses in chamber music this year.”
Other recent premieres of note include Notturno Concertante (2014), a clarinet concerto commissioned by the Lois Lehrman Grass Foundation for Christopher Grymes and the Harrisburg Symphony, Sons Découpés (2014), commissioned by Network for New Music and premiered at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and inspired by Henri Matisseʼs works held in the Barnes collection, Nearly Complementary Invention with Quasi-Canonized Bach (2014) for Philadelphia Orchestra principal flutist Jeffrey Khaner and Dolce Suono founder and artistic director Mimi Stillman, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, and Before the Wresting Tides (2012), a work for chorus, piano solo, and orchestra setting a poem by Hart Crane and featuring Rubinstein Prize-winning Ching-Yun Hu, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, and the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the work “exhilarating,” and remarked: “the ending is a stunner.” Jeremy conducted the premiere of this work on one dayʼs notice and with only one rehearsal, and also conducted Beethovenʼs Choral Fantasy with the same forces, both to great acclaim.
Jeremy regularly appears as a pianist in music of his own and by his contemporaries. Most recently, he presented a recital at Spectrum NYC with composer/violinist Avner Finberg that included music by George Crumb, György Kurtág, Roberto Sierra, and Claude Vivier. He has appeared with Baltimore Symphony violist Peter Minkler at the Mansion at Strathmore in viola sonatas by George Rochberg and Arthur Honegger, with the Network for New Music Ensemble in George Crumbʼs Vox Balaenae, and with the Dolce Suono Ensemble and celebrated soprano Lucy Shelton in music by Messiaen and Shulamit Ran on the Ear Heart Music series in Brooklyn (prompting The New York Times to deem him “a fine pianist.”)
Jeremy has conducted over 35 world premieres featuring artists such as Eric Owens, Evan Hughes, Lucy Shelton, and Randall Scarlata with ensembles including the Dolce Suono Ensemble and Network for New Music, and has appeared in recital with Maren Montalbano, Mimi Stillman, and Jonathan Hays throughout Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. He has received awards and grants from BMI, ASCAP, and a Music Alive composer residency from the League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer, and has served as the composer-in-residence with the Dalí Quartet Chamber Music Camp and Festival, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, and the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival. In 2012, University of Rochester Press released A Dance of Polar Opposites, a theoretical-philosophical work written between 1955–2005 by his former teacher George Rochberg that Jeremy edited for publication.
Robert Kaithern, videographer
Robert Kaithern is a voiceover artist and videographer.