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Very Late Recap…

April 10, 2010

I really should have posted this a week ago, but I didn’t then, so I’m doing it now…

Last week I got to enjoy a really awesome performance produced by operamission.  The organization, run by Jennifer Peterson was presenting a program called Opera In Flight.  Consisting of two one-act-operas, a solo clarinet performance, and scenes from a full length opera currently in progress.

The night kicked off with Edward Ficklin’s Anniversary for two singers and a chamber ensemble.  The story is about a woman awaiting her lover contains a very interesting twist, and was told very well.  I particularly enjoyed Nathan Wentworth’s performance.  I believe Ficklin is combining this with two other short works which I’ll be very excited to see.

This was followed by a handful of scenes from an opera still in progress entitled Paradises Lost.  Based on the novel with the same name by Ursula K Le Guin, Stephen Andre Taylor and Marcia Johnson are developing the story and were brave enough to put a work in progress on display.  There were a few rough spots, but it by and large came out very well, and I’ll keep an eye out for the full production.

Cory Tiffin then performed a solo work for clarinet by George Flynn called Forms of Flight.  The work is an absolute monster both technically and musically.  It is one of those pieces that are much more fascinating to hear live than on a recording.  Cory (and the concertmaster for the ensemble in the other works Aurelien Pederzoli) are members of Chicago’s Anaphora, an up and coming new music ensemble.  Following the clarinet piece was an intermission and an informal discussion on all of the new music that I really enjoyed.

The conclusion to the evening was Clint Borzoni and Emily Conbere’s new opera Margot Alone in the Light, which was based on Ray Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day.   After a slow start, this work really picks up and was a great way to end the evening.  A great story, performances, and writing all around.

You can see Margot once more this coming Friday at Galapagos:

Most important, however, is what Jennifer Peterson is doing with operamission.  Classical music needs more organizations like this: ones that are willing to present to people a unique experience that is both entertaining and meaningful and don’t rely simply on the standard venues and traditions of the medium.  The Gershwin Hotel is not a nuanced performance space by any stretch, but it is vibrant and engaging for the audience.  It immediately erases any stuffy misconceptions a person may have when thinking about opera.  On top of that, Peterson has found some really great singers and musicians to help put on the work, by and large freelancers who simply love performing (which is not something, sadly, you can say about all organizations, even the ones considered top-notch).  When you mix in the great operas performed during this concert and the Handel that they have put on previously, it makes for an excellent evening of music.    Definitely keep an eye out for their upcoming performances.

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