In honor of its impending grand opening in 2015, The Opera San Antonio hosts an inaugural gala concert on May 23 at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, featuring performances from Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy. Tobias Picker, Artistic Director of The Opera San Antonio, has curated a diverse line-up of opera highlights for the event, with performances by star singers including Patricia Racette, Susannah Biller, Dolora Zajick, Daniela Mack, Jay Hunter Morris, Alek Shrader, Lucas Meachem and Eric Owens. Mixing music “from the time of Handel to the time of Tobias,” according to board chairman Mel Weingart, the program features music from Picker’s An American Tragedy including the aria See the Light performed by Dolora Zajick and the San Antonio Symphony, led by conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing. With its first season set to open in January of 2015, The Opera San Antonio will make its home at the new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.
On May 7, the Miller Theatre Pop-Up Concerts series celebrates the chamber music of Tobias Picker with a performance by the Tobias Picker Ensemble. The program includes Picker’s Nova quintet and Invisible Lilacsfor violin and piano, both of which will be featured on an upcoming recording of Picker’s chamber music on the Tzadik label. The Miller Theatre program also includes two works for solo piano: When Soft Voices Dieand the third etude from Four Etudes for Ursula, performed by Nathaniel LaNassa.
For more information on Tobias Picker visit www.schott-music.com.
To learn more about The Opera San Antonio visit www.theoperasa.org.
For details on the “Picker Pops Up” concert visit www.millertheatre.com.
An American Tragedy (2005)
opera in two acts
libretto (En) by Gene Scheer
for 2 sopranos, 3 mezzo-sopranos, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, boy soprano, children's voices and SATB chorus
2(pic)2(ca)2(bcl)2-188.8.131.52-timp.1perc-hp.pno-org(in pit)small portable onstage organ-str
for piano quintet
Invisible Lilacs (1991)
for violin and piano
When Soft Voices Die (1977)
for solo piano
Four Etudes for Ursula (1996)
for solo piano
On April 19, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s presents the US premiere of Tobias Picker's ballet-suite, Awakenings. Presented by New York Live Arts as part of its annual Live Ideas Festival the performance is the centerpiece of this year’s theme, “The World of Oliver Sacks,” exploring neuro-physical connections as seen through the works of the acclaimed neurologist and author.
Commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company, Picker’s Awakenings is a striking music and dance adaptation of the themes and cases discussed in Dr. Sacks’ novel of the same name.
Picker offers the following introduction:
In composing Awakenings, I was inspired by the exquisite art and stunning imagery of Oliver Sacks' prose, and above all by the lives of the uniquely tragic patients he writes about. His book, Awakenings, written in the form of a series of case studies and footnotes, suggested the musical structure and characteristics of the score. While not specifically programmatic, I hope that the music may express some understanding of the patients as well as the sense of nostalgia, anger and longing they felt for their stolen past.
The Rambert Dance Company premiered Awakenings in 2010 at The Lowry in Salford (UK) with a subsequent tour of over 50 performances throughout the United Kingdom. This month’s performance features new choreography for solo dancer by Aletta Collins with soloist Daniel Hay-Gordon and includes a screening of Re: Awakenings, a film by Bill Morrison based on original footage taken by Sacks. Taking place at the New York Live Arts Theater in Manhattan, the concert concludes with a concert-performance of selected passages from Michael Nyman’s opera, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
For more information on Tobias Picker, please visit www.schott-music.com
To learn more about the New York Live Arts “Live Ideas” Festival, visit www.newyorklivearts.org
for chamber orchestra
1(pic,afl).1(ca).1(bcl).1-1.1(Bb picc tpt).0.0-timp(also concert toms).perc-hp.pno-str(184.108.40.206.1)
On March 12, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Symphony presents Tobias Picker's enchanting work for oboe and orchestra Romances and Interludes. The concert features soloist Stephanie Caulder with David Martynuik conducting. Written in 1989,Romances and Interludes was commissioned by the Houston Symphony and its music director Christoph Eschenbach for principle oboist Robert Atherholt. Eschenbach and Atherholt presented the world premiere in 1990.
Romances and Interludes was inspired by Robert Schumann’s Drei Romanzen for oboe and piano. Composed by Schumann in 1849, Drei Romanzen is the only contribution of an original solo work by a major Romantic composer to the entire 19th-century oboe literature. Picker embedded these pieces in his own composition which flows breathlessly through a succession of romances and interludes introduced by a prelude. In April, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Symphony tours Romances and Interludes to the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, MD.
Precise details on the concert are located at www.iup.edu.
For more information about Tobias Picker visit www.tobiaspicker.com or www.schott-music.com.
Romances and Interludes (1989)
for oboe and orchestra
2(afl).0.ca.2.2-220.127.116.11-timp.1perc(b.d, 2tam-t, glsp, mar, vib)-hp.pno(cel)-str
The much anticipated opera from Tobias Picker, Dolores Claiborne, took one major step closer to becoming a fully realized work with a first full reading of the new opera with piano at the San Francisco Opera on December 4 and 5. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy, Dolores Claiborne is based on the Stephen King novel and will see its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on September 15, 2013, in association with British theatrical producer Andrew Welch. Mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick creates the title role of Dolores Claiborne and is joined in the cast by sopranos Susannah Biller and Elizabeth Futral, tenors Greg Fedderly and Joel Sorensen, and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges. in his company debut, George Manahan conducts the premiere run and James Robinson, whose previous engagements at the War Memorial Opera House include the 2009 season productions of Il Trittico and Salome, directs. The new production features the work of scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schutte, lighting designer Chris Ackerlind and projection designer Greg Emetaz. Picker writes:
Dolores Claiborne is a character destined for the operatic stage—passionate, desperate, trapped. She will do anything to save the daughter who despises her. Pushed to the extreme edge of life, she does what she has to, fearless and forsaken. I have wanted to write this opera for years. Yes, Stephen King is a master of suspense, but he is also a remarkable reader of human desires and fears. The superb team that San Francisco Opera has assembled allows me to compose a powerful, heart-stopping piece of music theater for a cast of brilliant voices.
Visit www.sfopera.com for more information on San Francisco Opera and Dolores Claiborne.
For more on the life and music of Tobias Picker, go to www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com.
Tobias Picker has been named Artistic Director of The Opera San Antonio (TOSA). Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "our finest composer for the lyric stage,” Picker will lead TOSA through a highly anticipated period of growth and prominence as one of America's leading opera companies.
Picker provides the following remark on his recent appointment:
Obviously as a composer, and known especially for my operas now, I am interested in the art form as a living art, and not strictly as a museum. But I don't want to encourage people to assume that there is going to be lots of scary new modern music and nothing else. I love Puccini, I love all the masters — they will all be represented, but there will be exciting new pieces, too. The programming will feature the best singers in the world. The productions will be on a level as high as the singer. I want the audience to see productions that are theatrically exciting; it has to capture people's imagination, to be something they want to see it has to be terrific.
In other news outside of the opera world, Picker’s The Blue Hula will be performed on November 18 at the City Performance Hall, in Dallas, by the Voices of Change ensemble. In the words of the composer:
I wrote The Blue Hula -- named for an old American dance form -- when I was living in Hawaii in 1980. It is ten minutes long, in three movements and scored for what many composers in the 20th century have come to call 'Pierrot plus percussion.' The same ensemble -- flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano -- which Schönberg used for Pierrot Lunaire,with the addition of percussion, and which instrumentation has become something of a standard 20th-century ensemble.
For details on the performance of Picker’s The Blue Hula, please visit www.voicesofchange.com.
Learn more on Tobias Picker at www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com.
The Blue Hula (1981)
for chamber ensemble
fl, cl, vib, glsp, mar, pno, vn, vc