This week, March 13-16, soprano Emily Woodruff flew to Las Vegas to perform my composition From My Doleful Prison that was premiered at the Composers Now Festival in February on her showcase titled “The Queens Speak.” “The Queens Speak” is a multimedia concert pairing contemporary art song with projected imagery to narrate the lives and experiences of King Henry VIII’s wives. Premiered last month in NYC in the Composers Now Festival, the program features photography, graphic novel-style illustrations, ink and watercolor, and oil on canvas, paired with music by Jennifer Bellor, Devin Cholodenko, George Gianopoulos, and Libby Larsen. Each composer set letters written from the Tudor Queens. In addition to her performing it at the UNLV Nextet Concert on Wednesday, March 15, she presented the entire showcase Thursday afternoon at UNLV.
Paired with artwork by Dustin Brown, From My Doleful Prison sets the letter Anne Boleyn supposedly wrote to her husband Henry VIII while she was in prison awaiting execution. When I first read the letter, I knew I wanted to create a mad scene, since she is angry, confused, anxious, and filled with all sorts of emotions one would have when in a situation where one is wrongfully accused and sentenced to death for crimes that she may not even have committed. In addition to the soprano and piano parts, I used Logic samples to create a present day atmosphere that one might experience sitting in a jail cell. One would hear footsteps of prison guards approaching on a regular basis, along with clanging of the metal bars, people yelling, and even abstract sounds that one might experience in electrocution chambers. This sounds are ongoing throughout the entire piece to represent the fact that even after communicating the letter in song, the sounds will never stop, and the prisoner is still hopelessly stuck in a state of oppression sitting there in her jail cell.
The performance was thrilling! Joining her on piano was UNLV faculty pianist Tim Hoft.
The Missouri State University 2017 Composition Festival was February 27-March 1 featuring two wonderful concerts with a wide variety of new music! Directed by faculty composer Mike Murray, I was thrilled to be the guest composer along with Lansing D. McLoskey, and had a blast meeting with the performers, faculty, and students.
Monday’s concert featured chamber works by the guest composers and students on the first half of the program. My composition Stay (2016) was performed by clarinetist Allison Storochuk, pianist Peter Collins, and Scott Cameron on vibraphone. It was a beautiful performance, and a pleasure meeting them!
Tuesday, I really enjoyed working with the students in a master class followed by giving a presentation of my music, sharing compositions Chase the Stars, Moments Shared, Moments Lost, Air and Angels, and excerpts from Bordello Nights.
Wednesday’s concert featured the MSU Chorale conducted by Cameron LaBarr. I was blown away by their performance of Remember, one of the earliest compositions I wrote that I revised back in 2015, which sets the poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) titled Remember.
Here is a photo of the composers (and conductor) after the show. It was an honor to be invited to be guest composer for this festival, and I look forward to many more opportunities to make new musical connections with composers and performers!
Elevate Ensemble released the blog interview they did with me as a part of programming my piece “Moments Shared, Moments Lost” for their March 4th concert “After Dark!” I was asked questions ranging from my musical background and how I became passionate about pursuing a career in composition, to what the piece is about along with my favorite non-musical activities. It was really fun! =)
Here’s the link:
I will be releasing my new EP soon to be available online for streaming/purchase (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon). This EP is titled “Songs in the Dark” with songs setting texts by Emily Brönte (1818-1848) and John Donne (1572-1631):
Jennifer Bellor, composer and vocalist
Christina Wright-Ivanova, piano
Jason Corpuz, synth
Summer Kodama, electric bass
1. I’ll Not Weep
2. Air & Angels
3. The Night is Darkening
4. Interlude, Frozen
5. Fall, Leaves, Fall
Recording by Chuck Foley and Ron George
Mixing by Ron George
Mastering by Gil Kaupp
On Wednesday, January 25, Tod Fitzpatrick interviewed me on my album “Stay” for the Musicians’ Compendium program held every Wednesday that features interviews and news about the UNLV School of Music faculty and students. I was delighted to have the opportunity to share my music on this program! Tod and I spoke about the first three tracks featured on my album: Chase the Stars, Stay, and Burning Light.
Here is the interview:
Her debut album Stay (2016) was featured on NewMusicBox’s Staff Picks as an album displaying a “wonderful demonstration of how to maintain a highly individual compositional identity without needing to take refuge in pre-post-genre musical silos.” (Frank J. Oteri, NewMusicBox).