2014 Winners

A Letter to East 11th Street
Music by Martin Hennessy, Libretto by Mark Campbell

A Letter to East 11th Street is an intimate opera that affirms, with wit and pathos, the enduring bonds of love as it charts the impact of the AIDS epidemic on two best friends—first in the early years of the disease and then ten years later.

Martin Hennessy Photo

Composer/pianist Martin Hennessy is best known as a composer for the voice with a growing catalogue of art song, chamber music, opera and music theatre. He has received awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center and New Dramatists. His "Ben Jonson Songs" won Grand Prize at the San Francisco Song Festival, and he has been honored with Copland House and Millay Colony residencies, as well as two commissions from the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. His music has been presented by Guggenheim Works and Process, American Opera Projects, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Harvard Ballet Company, Dancers Responding to AIDS, and New York City Opera's Vox Series. A native of Newtown, Penn., he now works and lives in New York City.


  mark campbell photo


Mark Campbell was profiled in Opera News as one of twenty-five artists "poised…to become major forces in opera in the coming decade." In his ten years as a librettist, Mark has written nine operas and collaborated with a roster of contemporary notable composers. Mark’s most recent work, Silent Night, which he wrote with composer Kevin Puts for Minnesota Opera, received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The opera has more than five productions scheduled in the next two years. Other successful operas include: Volpone, Later the Same Evening, Bastianello/Lucrezia, and Rappahannock County.

 





In a Mirror, Darkly
Music by Christopher Weiss, Libretto by S. O’Duinn Magee

Each act of In a Mirror, Darkly is a complete story of a woman artist, but each is set in a different era and location. In Act II (1890s, Paris), Elaine is a painter and assistant in Lantier’s studio, where she works in secret to complete her masterpiece. After Lantier decides to sign his own name to her painting, Elaine is forced to confront her society’s views about women artists and to make a decision about her future.

Christopher Weiss Picture

Christopher Weiss’ music has been hailed by the New York Times as “wonderfully fluid [with a] cinematic grasp of mood and lighting.” He has received commissions and performances from the Huntsville Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, the Boston Chamber Orchestra, the Lancaster Symphony, the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic, the Columbia Orchestra, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, the Twickenham Music Festival, and from Music from Angel Fire, where he was Young Composer-in-Residence. Excerpts from his opera have been performed by the New York City Opera and the Virginia Arts Festival. Christopher has been in residence at Yaddo, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. He holds degrees from Rollins College and the Curtis Institute of Music.


 

 

Magee Picture

As a professor and publishing scholar, Magee was known as “Maggie Dunn.” Upon retiring from academics to be a fulltime writer, and while working with composer Christopher Weiss on their opera In a Mirror, Darkly, she chose the professional pen name “S. O’Duinn Magee.” She is an amateur musician (a pianist), not a professional. Yet her ability to read a musical score, combined with a lifelong love of poetry and opera, convinced her to try her hand as a librettist. Magee’s fiction-writing projects include a six-part series of literary mysteries and a five-part series of literary sci fi novels for adults.



 


The Fox and the Pomegranate
Music by Matt Frey, Libretto by Daniel J. Kushner

The Fox and the Pomegranate evolves over several episodes and takes place in a grove yielding many different fruits. A seductive and mysterious young man named Aril delivers a cryptic omen that something “tinged in red” is about to unfold. Nate, a gender-fluid individual, and Nate’s lover Meg are seen engaging in a reoccurring, intimate ritual. Distracted, Nate leaves Meg in anticipation of a coming “thief in the night.” Aril – donning a fox mask – seduces Nate, who forgets Meg. Meg becomes mad with disillusionment and cries out for Nate to return. The new couple seeks out Meg who is not able to reconcile with Nate. Amidst the pain of this reunion, Aril is seen deserting Nate for new, mysterious lover who only appears in silhouette.

Matt Frey Photo  

Matt Frey is a Brooklyn-based composer of contemporary concert music, both for vocal and instrumental ensembles. Recent projects have included residencies and premieres with the JACK String Quartet, the NYU Symphony Orchestra, the Manhattan Wind Ensemble, and the NYU Woodwind Quintet. Currently studying with composers Joan La Barbara and Julia Wolfe while pursuing a Master's degree at New York University, he is a co-founder and artistic director of the West 4th New Music Collective, a cooperative of NYC composers and performers. Combining inspiration from modern concert composers with a love for the bold gestures of electronic and popular music has become Frey's trademark, creating a sound uniquely recognizable and popular with both audiences and performers alike.

 

 Daniel Kushner Photo

 

 



Daniel J. Kushner is a professional arts journalist and music critic whose work has been featured in such publications as Opera News, NewMusicBox, The Huffington Post, and Symphony. Selected writings by Mr. Kushner—which often focus on the contemporary classical music scene, as well as non-classical music and visual art—can be found at his website, http://postpostrock.com/. He trained as a tenor during his undergraduate studies, and he completed his M.A. at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. The Fox and the Pomegranate marks Mr. Kushner's debut as opera librettist; the opera was first workshopped at the 2012 John Duffy Composers Institute. Previous work includes the text for the song cycle A Painting of Pollock, set to music by Mr. Frey for
vocalist and percussion.