TOWNSEND OPERA AND STANISLAUS STATE
ANNOUNCE EXCITING NEW PARTNERSHIP
Partnership features innovative new program to engage young poets and composers
in the creative process of writing new vocal music to be performed by the opera
Modesto, California – September 17, 2015
Townsend Opera and California State University, Stanislaus are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership between Townsend Opera, the Stanislaus State Department of Music and the poetry community in Modesto that will pair local poets with University composers to get them engaged in the creative experience of writing vocal music for Townsend Opera.
This groundbreaking new partnership kicks off with a concert event titled Opera Remix: Music & Verse at the State Theatre on Saturday, October 17. Led by Sam Pierstorff, the former Poet Laureate of Modesto, the thriving poetry community of Modesto will give performances of original works of poetry alongside a performance of a chamber opera titled Hydrogen Jukebox. The chamber opera was the only collaboration between renowned American beat poet Allen Ginsberg and the prominent American composer Philip Glass.
Participating poets and composers will take part in several workshops by prominent opera composers and librettists from around the country currently working with Townsend Opera. The composition process will be overseen by Deborah Kavasch at Stanislaus State, who will guide the young composers as they write new vocal music set to texts written by local poets. Professional singers from Townsend Opera will workshop these new pieces of music as they are being composed, giving the composers and poets immediate feedback on their work.
The new works created by these local poets and composers will be performed at a Townsend Opera concert event in October 2016 at the State Theatre.
Matthew Buckman, General Director of Townsend Opera, said: “Our goal over the next few seasons is to reconnect opera with our contemporary culture and begin to build a long-term place for opera in our community. I can think of no better way to accomplish this goal than to engage the young musicians and poets in our community in the creative process, and to build interest in the art form by creating opportunities for young people in our community to get hands-on experiences with the art form.”
Deborah Kavasch, Chair of the Department of Music and Coordinator of Music Theory and Composition at Stanislaus State, said: “We continuously seek opportunities for our students to collaborate with professional musicians. This partnership represents a unique chance for young artists to create new music in collaboration with our community of local poets, and to have feedback throughout the process from professional composers. And the opportunity to have student compositions performed by a professional company is one not often found at the undergraduate or even graduate level. Additionally, the majority of our current composition students are also singers who will benefit as both composers and performers.”
Sam Piersdorff, former Poet Laureate of Modesto, said: “It’s exciting to bring slam poetry to a new audience and to bring something with a tradition as rich as opera to an audience of poets. I believe very strongly in the cross-pollination of the arts. The audience always gets a glorious new experience and minds can change quickly as those who might have dismissed poetry before suddenly see it as a vibrant, visceral genre, and for others, opera suddenly becomes a whole lot cooler than they ever thought it could be.”
This innovative new program is funded in part by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.