L’Opéra: On Se Souviens De Toi, Sappho (We Remember You, Sappho)

April 12, 2015


Présenté pour la première fois avec mis en scène, [à la compagnie Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime, directeur Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse] l’opéra Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore de Luna Pearl Woolf s’est révélé une fascinante et onirique proposition artistique: la rencontre de ces deux figures de la Grèce antique, Orphee et Sappho, deux allegories anciennes de l’art et de la passion. L’oeuvre s’enracine dans l’idéal des grans madrigalistes italiens qui désiraient marier poésie et musique, danse et theater. D’ailleurs, la partition de Woolf comporte de nombreuse mélopées ayant un je-ne-sais-quoi de baroque dans la souplesse et la délicatesse de la ligne vocale. La compositrice fait prevue d’une belle sensibilité et d’un grand attachement pour ses personnages, ce qui reflète dans une musique simple et brillante, efficace et théàtrale. Et comment ne pas être touché à la fin de l’opéra par ce vers authentique de Sappho: “Je crois qu’un jour, on se souviendra de nous,” chanté avec toute la douceur du monde sur un éclairage entre chien et loup.

Jana Miller et Hubert Tanguay-LabrossePresented for the first time with staging [by Québec company Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime, director Hubert Tanguay-Labrosse], the opera Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore by Luna Pearl Woolf proved itself a fascinating and dreamy artistic proposal: the meeting of two figures of ancient Greece, Orpheus and Sappho – two ancient allegories for art and passion. The work is rooted in the ideals of the Italian madrigalists who sought to combine poetry with music, dance and theater. Moreover, Woolf’s score includes numerous melodies with a Baroque je-ne-sais-quoi in the suppleness and delicacy of their vocal lines. The composer proves herself to have a lovely sensitivity and great affection for her characters, reflected in a music both natural and brilliant, effective and theatrical. And how not to be touched at the end of the opera by the words of the real Sappho: “I think someone will remember us,” sung with all the sweetness in the world on a twilit stage.

By: Éric Champagne

Read at: L’Opéra

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Congratulations to composer David Sanford: Winner of a 2015 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

David Sanford has been awarded a 2015 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Fellowship of $15,000 is awarded to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts. David’s extraordinary musicianship and unbridled creativity are an inspiration!

For more information please see:


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San Francisco Classical Voice: Lisa Delan Recital A Pure Delight

Lisa Delan

February 15, 2015 

Lisa Delan’s performance Wednesday evening at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music was billed as part of the Alumni Recital Series. But inside the SFCM’s comfy Sol Joseph Recital Hall, it felt more like a visit to the homes of the five composers — four of who were smilingly seated in the small audience — with soprano Delan serving as the friendly, fascinating, attractive and — did I forget ‘talented’? — hostess.

Luna Pearl Woolf, the first up of those composers, was flanked in the fourth row by the children she parents with cellist Matt Haimovitz, there on stage with pianist Christopher O’Riley to accompany the world premiere of his wife’s Rumi: Quatrains of Love, which opened a program that in several ways also served as an early run-up to Valentine’s Day. Delan, in fact, was dressed in a bright red ruffled dress, as she vocalized English translations of ten short poems by the title 13th-century Persian Sufi.

Her vocalizing the first of the poems toward the inside of the opened Steinway grand, with O’Riley’s foot on the sustain pedal, was the first of the evening’s several nontraditional devices, and it worked to create an intimate chill. Woolf’s composition alluringly displayed diverse facets of love refracted through a variety of genres, with Haimovitz channeling a jazz bass pizzicato here, sliding into Middle Eastern modes there,something fluttering with O’Riley like attendant lovebirds. And Delan drew fans close to her warm, heart-friendly tone and her compelling conveyance of lyrics, rendering the sentiments of the venerable Rumi — with the help of a good translation — timeless and borderless.

It felt like a new experience to hear Gordon Getty’s Four Dickinson Songs up close and personal, though their performance by Delan a year ago, with Robin Sutherland, had seemed unaffected and accessible, even in awesome Davies Hall. The granitic aspect of Getty’s composition, at times Mahlerian in its panoramic scope, was perhaps more striking in the smaller SFCM venue, and the contrasting delicate veins and occasional pastoral touches were more aurally accessible, with pianist Robert Schwartz forthcoming with colorful support. The most familiar of the evening’s many pieces of verse — Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” — proved the composer capable of setting and changing a scene convincingly, and providing the singer with a comfortable but affecting vehicle for her lyric. Delan’s clear diction, and the ensuing approval of the audience inspired Getty to rise from his seat, beside his wife Ann, with his arm raised in gratitude.

Jake Heggie manned the piano behind Matt Haimovitz to accompany a portion of the song cycle Heggie wrote for Delan,From the Book of Nightmares. (This and others of the program’s selections are heard on Delan’s 2013 PentaTone Music recording, The Hours Begin to Sing.) Here Delan, an unquestionably fine actress, embodied poet Galway Kinnell’s experiences with his young child, looking and sounding both comforting and concerned in “Again”, and lullabying charmingly on “Back You Go”, the cello again evoking its Middle Eastern ancestry.

We’ve known Heggie to be a master at creating melodic lines matching a text, and Delan made convincing use of the composer’s gift. “My Father’s Eyes” was wonderfully loving and lustrous, and just a touch triste.

The second half of the program continued to showcase Delan’s skill, power, and versatility. A  pair of pieces  by John Corigliano  and an arrangement by Christopher O’Riley, inspired by a Joni Mitchell song (“The Wolf Who Lives in Lindsey”) began with a howl from Delan that elicited titters from the elder members of the audiences and big grins from the youngsters. The howl was effectively taken up by Haimovitz’s cello, and at one point cleverly arpeggiated on O’Riley’s piano.

Delan’s skill as a thespian helped thicken the impact of Corigliano’s rather flat melodic lines, but the text, from Mitchell, occasionally challenged her with unsustainable words (for example, “goes”). Ending the first section, “The Heavy, Heavy Snow”, Delan made the entire audience her pack for a spirited mass howl.  Minimal electronic effects were brought in to enhance the atmosphere, but the feral mood was far more impressive than any melodic movement.

Changed into black ruffled pants and top, Delan started David Garner’s Phenomenal Woman seated in the dark on a chair, with her legs up on the Steinway. There ensued a sort of cabaret variety set, with some jazz, some boogie, and some Randy Newman-like whimsy on the piano, well-handled by Kevin Korth. Alas, most of the melodies and arrangements weren’t particularly memorable, and the lyrics, from poems by Maya Angelou, were for some reason less distinctly audible than they’d been earlier in the evening, particularly with the house lights off and the program notes unreadable. Still, Delan proved the trouper, at one point intoning in an amusingly childish squeak. It was unclear whether she was trying to affect an African-American accent to match the material’s source.

Delan encored with a lovely and evocative arrangement by Garner of “Auld Lang Syne,” offered in memory of Delan’s long-time accompanist Kristin Pankonin, who died last summer after a long battle with breast cancer.

It had everyone appreciating good music and the people, living and gone, who make and share it.


Read at: the San Francisco Classical Voice.

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The New York Times: Her Art, Her Passion, Her Torment: Joyce DiDonato Celebrates Camille Claudel at Zankel Hall

February 6, 2015

Joyce DiDonato at Zankel Hall with the Brentano String Quartet: from left, Serena Canin, Mark Steinberg, Nina Lee and Misha Amory. Credit: Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

The life of the French sculptor Camille Claudel is a tangle of art, passion, madness and betrayal. A student and lover of Rodin’s, Claudel was a critically acclaimed artist when she began to show signs of mental distress, which led her family to commit her to an institution, where she spent the remaining 30 years of her life.

On Thursday at Zankel Hall, the incandescent mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato presented the New York premiere of Jake Heggie’s “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire.” Set for voice and string quartet, the work compresses a tragic life of operatic dimensions into a song cycle of great beauty and emotional resonance.

Ms. DiDonato is one of this season’s artists in the Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall, tasked with assembling a group of concerts that reflect her own interests. At first glance, these seem eclectic: Thursday’s program, which featured the fiercely eloquent Brentano String Quartet, also included instrumental music by Charpentier and Debussy, as well as the world premiere of “Mother Songs,” a set of lullabies composed by amateurs, resulting from an outreach program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

But at a closer glance, there was a narrative cohesion to the concert that revealed Ms. DiDonato’s intelligence as a storyteller. Debussy’s seething String Quartet provided a backdrop for Claudel’s personal drama, a Parisian arts scene humming with innovation yet anchored in the kind of classicism of which Charpentier’s “Concert Pour Quatre Parties de Violes” is an elegant example. The Brentano Quartet performed both with stylistic finesse; in the Debussy, the juxtaposition of blurry textures and bright explosions of sound vividly evoked Impressionist painting.

The titles of Mr. Heggie’s songs, with texts by Gene Scheer, are those of some of Claudel’s sculptures, allowing her work to remain in the foreground, even as the songs explore her personal turmoil. Ms. DiDonato gave a riveting performance that ranged from the unkempt eroticism of “Shakuntala” to the hollow despair with which she sang the final line, “Thank you for remembering me.”

The touching simplicity of “Mother Songs,” written in a gospel-tinged American vernacular, with spun-sugar arrangements by the composer Luna Pearl Woolf, may seem far removed from Claudel’s wild genius. But the authors, women who had teamed up with teaching artists from the Weill Music Institute during their pregnancies, drafted these lullabies facing their own struggles. Of the four women represented in Ms. DiDonato’s performance, one had been homeless during her pregnancy, two were teenagers, and one was incarcerated on Rikers Island.

Ms. DiDonato’s tender performance of their songs alongside her tribute to Claudel thus became a gesture of defiant compassion.


Read at: The New York Times 

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San Francisco Classical Voice: From the Top Loves the S.F. Conservatory

February 4, 2015
Christopher O'Riley
Christopher O’Riley, photo by Edy Perez


It’s been a while, seven years, since the popular NPR musical talent show From the Tophas been back to San Francisco. The show is planning to tape a show at the S.F. Conservatory on Feb. 14.

The taping caps a week in which From the Top host Christopher O’Riley will be in residence at the Conservatory giving concerts with cellist Matt Haimovitz.

Unusually, this edition of the radio show will focus on performers from the Conservatory’s pre-collegiate division, including soloists 16-year-old cellist Elena Ariza from Cupertino; 15-year-old pianist Elliot Wuu from Fremont; and 14-year-old violinist Kevin Zhu from Cupertino. Conservatory alums Haimovitz and soprano Lisa Delan will premiere parts of the “music storybook” Angel Heart (based on stories by Cornelia Funke and with music by Luna Pearl Woolf) on the same program. Normally, the auditions for From the Top include a geographical region, so this is a little feather in the cap for the Conservatory.

The radio episode airs nationally on March 9. For tickets to the taping, call 415.503.6275 or visit this Conservatory website.


Read at: San Francisco Classical Voice

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Oxingale Music announces Winner of Composition Competition

November 16, 2014

Oxingale Music, publisher of a range of contemporary sheet music from award-winning composers, has chosen a slate of winners for the first in a series of composition competitions aimed at expanding and enrich the repertoire for cello in unusual combinations and ensembles. The nucleus of Oxingale Music is a catalogue of works written for, premiered by, and recorded by Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz.

For the 2014 Composition Competition, Oxingale Music and Matt Haimovitz joined UK vocal trio Voice in inviting composers of all ages and nationalities to submit a work for cello and three voices, using text from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 8, 30, or 60. 

Over 40 composers from over 18 countries entered works, most written expressly for this competition. 

The winning composition will be premiered by Matt Haimovitz and Voice in February, 2015 in New York State, with the possibility of further performances into 2016. The winning composer will be offered up to $500 to defray the cost of travel and accommodations to attend rehearsals and the concert. In addition, the full slate of winning compositions will be considered for publication on Oxingale Music.

Because of the tremendous quality of submissions received, Matt Haimovitz and Voice will perform at least one of the runner-up works, in addition to the winning composition, on their concert in February.

• Winning composition: Bozo Banovic, “Sonnet 60 of William Shakespeare,” Serbia 

• Runners up:

Diana Rosenblum, “Like as the waves,” United States

Filipe Sousa, “Like as the waves,” Portugal 

• Honorable mention: Gabriel Malancioiu, “Chronos phagos – The Eater of Time,” Romania

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THE PILLAR – Opera-in-progress Workshop

THE PILLAR an Opera by Luna Pearl Woolf

An opera by Luna Pearl Woolf
Libretto by David Van Taylor
Based on the book, The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, by Diana B. Henriques

September 14, 2014 – 7pm
RSVP to reserve your place

Opera America Center Recital Hall
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY

Libretto reading
30-Minute excerpt performance
Audience feedback

Julian Wachner, Music Director
Marnie Breckenridge, Soprano
Leah Wool, Mezzo-soprano
Peter Tantsits, Tenor
Wes Mason, Baritone
Jonathan Woody, Bass

THE PILLAR tells the tale of a woman who has dedicated her whole life to her husband, a pillar of the community.  When he falls into disgrace, she must finally confront choices—and consequences—of truly operatic proportions.  That woman is … Ruth Madoff.

Based on Diana Henriques’ bestselling The Wizard of Lies:  Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, THE PILLAR digs beneath the surface of this contemporary scandal to uncover a timeless meditation on loyalty, corruption, and the nature of love.

Please join us to sample the work in progress and offer your feedback. THE PILLAR has received an Opera America Discovery Grant, and we are now seeking a producing partner to continue development of the project.

To RSVP and reserve your place at this intimate venue, please click here or visit: http://tinyurl.com/ThePillarRSVP

The development of THE PILLAR received funding from Opera America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
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The New York Times: Classical Playlist: John Adams, Handel, Lewis Spratlan and More

June 6, 2014

LEWIS SPRATLAN: ‘Apollo and Daphne Variations’; other works
Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, conductor
Eliot Gattegno, on soprano and alto saxophones
The American composer Lewis Spratlan, born in 1940, gained wide attention in 2000 when a concert version of Act II of his opera “Life Is a Dream,” which was completed in 1978 but had never been staged, won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. This welcome new recording from the impressive Boston Modern Orchestra Project offers three ingeniously written and distinctive Spratlan works. “A Summer’s Day” (2008) uses a simple, dreamy Celtic tune at the start as a jumping-off place for an elusive, complex suite that ruminates on the tensions below the surface of an inviting day. In his Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra (2006), Mr. Spratlan finds a gripping, fresh approach to what might seem an awkward classical music genre; the music evolves from mystical musings to raw, jazzy vehemence. “Apollo and Daphne Variations” is like a Spratlan version of a Schumann suite, with alternating episodes of whimsy, frenzy and innocence. (Anthony Tommasini)

Read at: The New York Times

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Oxingale Music Announces New Composition Competition for Cello and Voice

May 29, 2014

Oxingale Music, publisher of a range of contemporary sheet music from award-winning composers, announces the first in a series of composition competitions aimed at building the repertoire for cello and unusual ensembles. The nucleus of Oxingale Music is a catalogue of works written for, premiered by, and recorded by Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz.

For the 2014 Composition Competition Oxingale Music and Matt Haimovitz join UK vocal trio Voice in inviting composers of all ages and nationalities to submit a work for cello and three voices, using text from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 8, 30, or 60. Works should be under ten minutes in duration. There is no fee to submit. For additional details, please see below.


– The winning composition will be premiered by Matt Haimovitz and Voice in February, 2015 in New York State with the possibility of further performances in 2016.
– Oxingale Music will provide the composer a stipend of up to $500 towards travel and accommodation to attend rehearsals and the concert.
– The composer will be provided an archive recording of the performance, if available.
– The winning composition will be considered for publication on Oxingale Music.


– Submission deadline: October 15, 2014
– Composers of any age or nationality may submit one original work.
– Duration: up to 10 minutes
– Text must be taken from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 8, 30, or 60. Sonnets may be used in whole or in part, individually or combined, at the composer’s discretion.
– Work must be for acoustic cello and un-amplified voices. (No electronics please)
– Works must be submitted electronically via dropbox or other file-transfer method. Please see required submission package contents below. Please do not submit materials via email or postal mail.

Vocal ranges:

Victoria = A4 to C6. Happy to sing in a folky chest register up to D5.

Emily = G3 to B6.

Clemmie = E3 to G5. She is most comfortable A4 to E5.

Please visit Voice’s website where you can listen to recordings and get an idea of the three singers’ blend on different tracks. If you have specific questions regarding the vocalists, please direct your inquiries to Victoria at voicetrio@gmail.com.
Submission package must include:

– Complete submission form (below)
– PDF of full score
– XML or .sib file of full score
– Biography/CV of composer
-Program notes
– Photo of composer

For more information on the artists and Oxingale Music please visit:

The fine print:

– The competition organizers reserve the right not to select a winner.
– By submitting a work to this competition you certify that the composition is original and does not rely on the copyrighted material of any other person.
– Payment of stipend will be made in the form of reimbursement of expenses. Documentation of expenses must be received no later than 30 days after the premiere.
– Archive recording may be used for promotional purposes only. Any commercial use or public broadcast must be approved separately.
– By submitting a work to this competition you certify that there is no legal impediment to Oxingale Music acting as publisher for this work. If any conflict exists, please disclose it on the submission form. Oxingale Music reserves the right not to publish the winning composition.

General inquiries can be sent to info@oxingale.com Please do not email submissions.


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Mountain Lake, PBS: Mélange à Trois

May 17, 2014
MÉLANGE À TROIS is an instrumental theater work, set for violin, cello and percussion. In this voiceless opera, each musician embodies a character in an enchanting tale of misplaced love.

MÉLANGE À TROIS is an instrumental theater work, set for violin, cello and percussion. In this voiceless opera, each musician embodies a character in an enchanting tale of misplaced love.

After first hearing Krystina Marcoux’s fiery, solo performance of Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto back in 2013, it was with a lot of anticipation that I attended Luna Pearl Woolf’s original voiceless opera Mélange à Trois with the BIK ensemble last Friday, May 16th at McGill University’s Pollack Hall.

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Vespers Cantata: Hesperus Is Phosphorus

By Lewis Spratlan | SATB Choir and 6 instruments | 60′ Continue reading

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Horn Quartet

By Lewis Spratlan | For French Horn, Violin, Cello, and Piano | 15′

Continue reading

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Seven Kings

By David Sanford | For Brass Sextet and Percussion | 19′ Continue reading

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Te Deum

By David Sanford | For Congregation, SATB Choir, Organ, Two Trumpets, Horn in F and Trombone | 8′ Continue reading

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By Luna Pearl Woolf | For Bassoon, Horn and Piano Quartet | 16′ Continue reading

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Sonnet CXXX

By Luna Pearl Woolf | For Soprano, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon and Violin | 10′ Continue reading

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By Ernest Bloch/Luna Pearl Woolf | For Solo Cello and String Orchestra | 4′ Continue reading

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The New York Times, ArtsBeat: Opera America Names Eight Grant Winners

April 2, 2014

Late last year, Opera America set out to encourage women composers to write new operas, and offered incentives, by way of a two-year grant program, underwritten by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. The organization announced the first group of recipients of its Opera Grants for Female Composers on Tuesday. Eight composers, and their proposed projects, were chosen from among 112 eligible applicants. Each will receive a $12,500 grant to help develop her opera.

The winner composers (and projects) are Anna Clyne (“As Sudden Shut”); Michelle DiBucci (“Charlotte Salomon: Death and the Painter”); Laura Kaminsky (“As One”); Kristin Kuster (“Old Presque Isle”); Anne LeBaron (“Psyche & Delia”); Fang Man (“Golden Lily”); Sheila Silver (“A Thousand Splendid Suns”); and Luna Pearl Woolf (“The Pillar”).

The adjudication panel included the vocal coach Susan Ashbaker; the composers Douglas Cuomo and David T. Little; the mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer; and the librettist and composer Gene Scheer.


Read at: The New York Times

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Mélange à trois

By Luna Pearl Woolf | For Violin, Cello, and Percussion | 30′ Continue reading

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Boston Classical Review: A bustling Boston music season is on tap with several anniversary celebrations

September 3, 2013

There is expectation everywhere. A new music director at Symphony Hall ( even though he won’t really get going for a year). A new opera troupe in town, restoring one of Boston’s best conductors to the pit podium. Outsized anniversary celebrations, and theatrical productions, vying for the spotlight. And new music everywhere, enlivening the season with listening challenges….

…Radius Ensemble (radiusensemble.org) opens at Longy Oct. 5 with music of Rota, Piazzolla and Luna Pearl Woolf, the first of four concerts at the Cambridge conservatory that all begin with Radius’ unique brand of casual introductions. A Nov. 23 program mixes a premiere by John Holland with works by Martinu and Dvorak; on Mar. 8, Chen Yi shares the bill with Mozart and Bartok; on May 3, Evan Ziporyn joins musical forces with Lalo Schifrin and Debussy….

By: Keith Powers

Read at: Boston Classical Review


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