Houston Grand Opera Names First-Ever Composer-in-Residence

By David Salazar

The Houston Grand Opera has announced that beginning August 1, 2022, Joel Thompson will be the company’s first full-time composer-in-residence.

Thompson was previously commissioned for his first opera “The Snowy Day,” which the company world premiered during the 2021 season. In his new role, Thompson will live and work in Houston full time while a member of the company’s artistic leadership. He will be in charge of strengthening the organization’s relationship with the greater Houston community and lead new music-based education programs and partnerships with a number of educational institutions. He will also mentor new composers and librettists as well as other artists.

“This position was created for Joel because he is one of the most brilliant minds of his generation, a transformative artist that is redefining the future of opera and expanding its reach,” said HGO General Director and CEO Khori Dastoor in an official press statement. “We are thrilled for Joel to be joining the artistic leadership of HGO, a company whose commitment to discovery, innovation, and excellence is well-known. We are confident that Joel’s artistic contributions are making the world a better place, and we can’t wait to see and hear what he will do next.”

In addition to “The Snowy Day,” Thompson has created a wide range of music that traverses such genres as jazz, gospel, blues, and even Afro-Caribbean rhythms, among others. He is best known for his choral work “Seven last Words of the Unarmed.”

“This residency will provide me with an opportunity to do the things that matter to me most: creating music through community and creating community through music,” Thompson noted in the press statement. “I’m especially excited to do this in partnership with HGO, the visionary company that has helped me launch my career in opera. I believe that opera can be a space for us to hold each other’s stories and imaginations. HGO is giving me the chance to dream and to create works that I hope will be deeply meaningful to the community we will build together over the next five years.”