Opera Philadelphia Commissions Four New Works

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Philadelphia Channel has commissioned four of today’s most dynamic composers to create and premiere new works to be streamed on the channel.

The company announced the news ahead of its digital platform launch. The first premiere, slated for January 2021, will be composed by Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Tyshawn Sorey. Subsequent premieres will be composed by Courtney Bryan, Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón, and Caroline Shaw.

In a statement, David B. Devan, General Director & President of Opera Philadelphia said, “We are thrilled to bring audiences together with these four incredible composers to continue to explore the creative process and the future of opera. As we explore and create for the digital stage, I cannot think of four more distinctive artists to lead the way.”

“We are excited to work with Tyshawn, Courtney, Angélica, and Caroline to create something new for the digital space,” said New Works Administrator Sarah Williams. “This is an opportunity to build upon our exploratory and innovative practice by commissioning these four creative composers who will work with a small ensemble of extraordinary artists to bring new music to our screens. We know our attention span has changed in the digital age, so they will create short, visual vignettes that play into that, all the while celebrating a sound world unique to each of them.”

Sorey has collaborated with lyricist Terrance Hayes on a song cycle for tenor Lawrence Brownlee, “Cycles of My Being,” and has performed nationally and internationally with his own ensembles, as well as artists such as John Zorn, Vijay Iyer, Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Wadada Leo Smith, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Claire Chase, Steve Lehman, Jason Moran, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton, and Myra Melford.

Bryan is currently the Albert and Linda Mintz Professor of Music at Newcomb College in the School of Liberal Arts, Tulane University. She was the 2018 music recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, a 2019 Bard College Freehand Fellow, a 2019-20 recipient of the Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Music Composition, and is currently a recipient of a 2020-21 Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, and a 2020 United States Artists Fellow.

Negrón has been commissioned by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kronos Quartet, loadbang, MATA Festival, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Sō Percussion, the American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Botanical Garden, among others. She is set to premiere with the LA Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, and NY Philharmonic Project 19 initiative.

Shaw has composed for Renée Fleming with Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw with Sō Percussion and Gil Kalish, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with John Lithgow, the Dover Quartet, TENET, The Crossing, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Calidore Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, the Baltimore Symphony, and Roomful of Teeth with A Far Cry.