Called “blazingly ardent and softly haunting “ by the New York Times, the music of composer/producer Luna Pearl Woolf offers penetrating insight into its subjects, creating acoustic sound worlds that evoke and inspire. Woolf’s music draws listeners into an emotional journey. Her innovative collaborations with authors, filmmakers, dancers and musicians tell original stories or grapple with history and current events.
Better Gods, Woolf’s one-hour opera commissioned by the Washington National Opera, Francesca Zambello, Artistic Director, was mounted January 8 and 9, 2016, at The Kennedy Center, Washington DC.
Part of the WNO’s ambitious American Opera Initiative, Better Gods tells the story of Queen Lili’uokalani, the last queen of Hawaii, and the fall of the Hawaiian monarchy. Libretto by Caitlin Vincent, directed by Ethan McSweeney, Timothy Myers, music director.
In 2014 Woolf received Opera America’s Discovery Grant to develop her new opera, The Pillar. A public workshop-performance of 3 scenes from the opera was held in September, 2014. Excerpts from The Pillar will be featured alongside Woolf’s Après Moi le Déluge and other works as part of the Washington Chorus’ New Music for a New Age series in 2016.
Academy Award winning actor Jeremy Irons narrates Woolf’s Angel Heart, a setting of a new story by bestselling children’s author Cornelia Funke. Of the work, The New York Times writes: “Ms. Woolf’s atmospheric music serves a different purpose… her compositions add psychological nuances and emotional depth through ever-changing textures. The … ensemble produces a dazzling variety of sounds, from the rich and earthy to the ethereal.”
The full project, Angel Heart, a music storybook, is performed by singers Frederica von Stade, Sanford Sylvan, Daniel Taylor, Zheng Cao and Delan, cellist Matt Haimovitz and Uccello, with guest appearances by mandolinists Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg. The album, with artwork by Guillermo Del Toro and Mathew Cullen’s Mirada Studios, has been released in North America on Oxingale Records and looks forward to worldwide release on PentaTone Classics.
Recent projects include Mélange à trois, a 30-minute work of theatrical chamber music commissioned by percussionist Krystina Marcoux for a Banff Center workshop and Montreal premiere. Opera director Brian Staufenbiel collaborates on this dramatic, wordless opera about the surprising revelations of love.
ECM+ and Montreal’s BOP Ensemble remounted Woolf’s operatorio, Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore, for soprano, tenor and chamber orchestra, adding a company of dancers to create a fully staged version of the piece.
Other recent projects include Suspense, music for the 1913 ground-breaking short silent film by Lois Weber, scored for 8 cellos and 4 percussionists, premiered by Uccello and the McGill Percussion Ensemble on April 3, 2013 in Montreal. Soprano Lisa Delan has commissioned two works for soprano, cello and piano, the most recent, Rumi: Quatrains of Love, released on PentaTone Classics.
Woolf’s Carnegie Hall debut in 2012 was her Après Moi, le Déluge, for solo cello and a cappella choir (2005) performed by Matt Haimovitz and the Trinity Wall Street Choir, Julian Wachner conducting. As “The first major work of classical music to commemorate the flooding of New Orleans” (Arts Journal), the work was described by the New York Times as: “an unsentimental but moving tribute” and “Somber, sardonic and bluesy.” Strings Magazine has called the work, “sorrowful, deeply political, and aching with universal regret.”
Woolf’s music has also been featured on NPR’s From the Top, the BBC’s The World and on NPR’s All Things Considered as well as Opera News, Strings Magazine, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Sequenza21. A full album of her music, including the “operatorio” Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore, and Après Moi, le Déluge, was recently released on Oxingale Records.
Woolf has been commissioned and performed by singers Frederica von Stade, Sanford Sylvan, Daniel Taylor and Lisa Delan, pianist Christopher O’Riley, Trinity Wall Street Choir, the Russian National Orchestra, the Minnesota Sinfonia, the New Amsterdam Singers, and ECM+, among others.
A prolific and imaginative producer, Woolf has been instrumental in spearheading Oxingale Productions, Inc. with cellist and co-founder Matt Haimovitz. As producer of thirteen recordings on Oxingale Records, Woolf has worked closely with performers such as Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley, the Miro quartet and others to release critically acclaimed albums that have been nominated for GRAMMY, JUNO and INDIE awards and frequently appear in the press’s top ten lists, including Amazon’s Best Classical Instrumental Album of the year in 2003.
In 2010 She launched Oxingale Music, publishing the works of award-winning contemporary composers such as Lewis Spratlan and David Sanford, and including a range of pieces recorded on Oxingale Records.
Woolf graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University, having also studied at Oberlin Conservatory, and earned her MA from Smith College. Woolf’s principal composition teachers have included Mario Davidovsky, Augusta Read Thomas, and Lewis Spratlan.