THUNDER, PERFECT MIND
TWO SHOWS ONLY!
Friday, November 6, 8:30pm
Saturday, November 7, 8:30pm
Bridgeport Art Center
1200 West 35th, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60609
THUNDER, PERFECT MIND
TWO SHOWS ONLY!
Friday, November 6, 8:30pm
Saturday, November 7, 8:30pm
Bridgeport Art Center
1200 West 35th, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60609
THUNDER, PERFECT MIND is a site-specific, immersive, opera installation that takes place in a large vertical space—such as an atrium or lobby—of a large building. It brings the audience along on a narrative meditation on navigating the unknown. It is about finding one’s place amid the confusion of the material world, and about discovering and following an individual path. Rooted in creation stories, Gnostic cosmologies and the myth of Sophia, THUNDER opens with Sophia and the audience immersed in a field of unintelligible vocalizations – the glossolalia of infants, the ramblings of schizophrenics, and the sounds of ecstatic religious experience. This is how the journey begins: in an unknown world in which the audience, in parallel with Sophia (Marcy Richardson) and later with Eve (Harrah Friedlander), seeks to discover their agency, their voice, their relationship to the whole.
THUNDER is divided into four sections: ACT 1 – from beginningless time, ACT 2 – through as many deaths as she passes spheres descends to what on earth is called life, ACT 3 – i wandered through worlds and generations, and ACT 4 – the backward glance. ACT 1 follows the structure of an Indonesian creation myth, a timeless dance in which dancers and soprano emerge out of nothingness. The narrative is woven together with set, music, soundscape, visual design, and performance, creating a unified whole. In ACTS 2 – ACT 4 narrative and performance begin to fragment and disperse. During these acts, which present the myth of Sophia/Eve through the lens of Gnostic cosmology, spectators may position themselves how they wish or roam from place to place. Together, character and audience get lost in the labyrinthine installation as the now-dispersed narrative is expressed scene by scene: each a narrative node.
In one location, music is performed on 13 long tuned wires fitted with resonators. Further into the installation, musicians are nestled into pockets of the physical set, playing a graphic score on hand-built Foley instruments ranging from bull roarers to whirly tubes to amplified wooden “thunder” boxes. In another location, 8 dancers perform a score that abstracts the physical storytelling structures and movement signatures in classical Indonesian dance into a slow-traveling choreography that leads the audience out of the labyrinth and into the final scenes.
As the audience navigates the piece, sometimes they are with Sophia, sometimes they are with Eve, seeing the narrative nodes through her eyes as she sees and thinks aloud. Elsewhere, the audience is left alone with the performers or installation elements – effectively taking on the role of Sophia/Eve themselves.
THUNDER, PERFECT MIND is performed by two sopranos, twelve-part vocal ensemble, six percussionists, concert and improvising musicians, and movement ensemble. Sonic, visual and physical installation elements include two sets of 13 tuned long wires, hand-built Foley and percussion instruments, fixed audio, lighting design, video projections, and sculpted and found-object theatrical settings.
A modular construction, the musical score and all aspects of THUNDER, i.e., movement, video, visual elements, sound/visual installations are created as “prefabricated” units and integrated into the final THUNDER score and production. This allows each of the co-creators to work independently, and it means that individual elements, scenes, and acts may be presented separately as concert versions or installations.
The lead design team for THUNDER includes: Christopher Preissing, composer and project director; Deirdre Harrison, dramaturge and co-director; Jay Strommen, visual designer; Carmen-Helena Téllez, conductor; Kristina Isabelle, choreographer; Marcy Richardson and Harrah Friedlander, sopranos; and members of Chartreuse string trio, The Floating Opera Company and the Mocrep ensemble.
Composer, intermedia artist, collaborator, and artistic instigator, Christopher Preissing creates music and sound for live performance, fixed media, and interactive installation. He has been Artist-in-Residence and Fellow at Beloit College, Indiana University, Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Djerrassi, and Atlantic Center for the Arts, and has received awards from Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago, and American Composers Forum. He received a Pritzker Foundation Endowed Fellowship and a Columbus School for Girls Endowed Fellowship in support of residencies at Djerassi and the VCCA. Previous director of the Chicago Composers Forum, and producer of two large-scale productions of John Cage’s Musicircus, he is the founder of the Chicago multi-arts collective NON:op, Open Opera Works. Recent projects include f(H2T) from Here to There, an immersive, interdisciplinary opera (2014, Chicago); I Was Born for This, collaborative installation with 14 channels of sound (2014, Notre Dame); and The Floating City, a score for Kristina Isabelle’s multimedia dance (2013, Chicago). In addition to Thunder, Perfect Mind, an immersive sound-movement opera for soprano, percussion, chorus and dance company, he is working on a setting of Dante’s Divine Comedy with Carmen-Helena Tèllez and with Amey Miller on a sound-book collaboration, In Search of Margaretta Black.
Deirdre is a freelance producer, director, performer and arts administrator. Based for years in London, NYC, and Rome, she worked on new plays in development, premieres, classics and musicals at venues including The Almeida, The Royal Court, The Gate, Hampstead, Edinburgh Festival, the West End in the UK; Cucaracha, CSC, Big Dance, The Public in NYC; Portland Stage Company, New Jersey Shakespeare and Williamstown regionally; The Goodman, TUTA, Steppenwolf and Chicago Fringe in Chicago. She appeared on British TV and radio and in films including Gangs of New York, My House in Umbria, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, shot at Cinecittà. She sings on the soundtrack of Shining Through and is the voice of Athena on Pete Townsend’s Psychoderelict. In Chicago she was Music Institute of Chicago’s first Director of Community Engagement, was instrumental in launching Global Citizenship Experience High School and in turning around two newly independent progressive schools. She leads development and communications for Rush Hour Concerts/Make Music Chicago while collaborating on music theater projects with Chicago Q Ensemble and composers Jenna Lyle and Chris Preissing, and is a member of the chamber band The Lucky Trikes. Deirdre is a graduate of Yale and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and a recent alumna of Ragdale.
Carmen-Helena Téllez has earned a reputation nationally and internationally for her inventive support of living composers, Latin American music, and new modes of concert presentation involving music, the arts and the humanities. She is responsible for the commission, premiere and recording of many landmark works, such as Gabriela Ortiz’s opera Unicamente la verdad, the choral suite Sun-Dogs by James MacMillan and the Missa ad Consolationes Dominam Nostram by Mario Lavista. Upcoming commissions include works by Robert Kyr, Sven-David Sandström and Gabriela Lena Frank. She is also responsible for the Midwest premieres of John Adams’ oratorio El Niño and Osvaldo Golijov’s opera Ainadamar. She has performed in Chicago as the former resident conductor of the University of Chicago’s Contempo, and as the music director of Aguavá New Music Studio, the Pocket Opera Players and Indiana University’s Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. In that capacity she conducted the American premiere of Ralph Shapey’s oratorio Praise dedicated to the anniversary of the foundation of Israel, and the world premiere of the full version of Shulamit Ran’s Credo/Ani ma’ amin. As a founder and co-director of Aguavá New Music Studio she has recorded works by Mario Lavista, Cary Boyce, John Eaton, James MacMillan, Menachem Zur and many others. She has recently initiated the project Kosmologia to engage in inter-artistic collaborations in Chicago.
Jay Strommen received his MFA degree in ceramics from The School of the Art Institute (2000). After his graduation he was a resident artist at The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural in Japan from 2001 – 2002 and has been a teacher at Park West Ceramics and Lillstreet Art Center for the past 10 years. His work has been featured throughout the United States in association with wood fired ceramics. He was the recipient of The Oppenheimer Family Foundation Teacher Incentive Grant in 2003 and 2004. Jay fires his work and orchestrates instructional workshops in Galena, Il. On December 3, 2010, Pass Through Fire, a documentary that covers the life, work, and philosophies of Jay and the people that have crossed his paths, premiered in Chicago. Over the past two years (2014-15) Jay has been engineering, designing and building the Chicago Ceramic Center in conjunction with the Bridgeport Art Center, with the expected completion and classes beginning in fall, 2015. Currently Jay lives and has a studio in the south side of Chicago, Illinois.
Harrah Friedlander is a soprano from Mobile, AL. She earned her Master’s degree from Northwestern
University where she appeared as Amy in Little Women, Emmie Spashett in Albert Herring, Genovieffa in
Suor Angelica, and Elle in a production of La voix humaine, which she produced and directed. She served
as the Assistant Director for the Northwestern Opera Production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking
and directed Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as well as The Loop by Jivin Misra. Harrah performed Bach’s
charming Coffee Cantata at the Aspen Music Festival under the direction of Harry Bicket. She has
premiered several works by Northwestern composers as well, including Jivin Misra, Michal Novotny, and
Conner VanderBeek. Harrah was awarded the Dr. Gerald L. Smith Scholarship for scholastic and musical
achievements and graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University in 2013 with a Bachelor
of Music in Voice and Performance and an ad-hoc degree in Theatre Studies. She currently studies with
Pamela Hinchman and Alan Darling.
Emily Cox has experience in musical theatre, opera and solo orchestral works. Her numerous opera roles include Donna Elvira in UNC Opera’s production of Don Giovanni, Despina in the Greeley Philharmonic’s production of Cosi fan tutte, Nella in UNC’s Gianni Schicci, Isabel in UNC’s Pirates of Penzance, Contessa Almaviva in UE Opera’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and Marianne in UE Opera’s Tartuffe. In 2014, Ms. Cox made her Chicago debut as the Second Spirit in W.A. Mozart’s Die Zauberfloete. This fall, Ms. Cox will be performing with the Chicago Folks Operetta’s production of The Girl in the Train. She is a featured Teaching Artist with the Chicago Opera Theater Educational Outreach program and a returning member of the Chicago Chapter of Opera on Tap. An enthusiastic supporter of new music, Emily worked with the Fort Collins Art Commission and the Bas Bleu Theater on the world premiere of Colorado composer Previn Hudetz’s opera Salem: 1692. Ms Cox directed, produced and starred as Margaret Scott. Ms. Cox holds a Masters of Music from the University of Northern Colorado and Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Evansville; she graduated from both establishments with honors. She is currently a student of Ms. Julia Faulkner and Ms Emily Birsan.
Hailed for her “floating, silky soprano”, Nathalie Colas, soprano, was born and raised in Strasbourg, France. A curious and versatile artist, Nathalie is a founding member of Chicago new music ensemble Fonema Consort, with whom she has premiered numerous new works, collaborated with an array of international composers, and performed around the US, in Mexico, Costa Rica and Europe. An avid recitalist, Nathalie studied art song with the late German baritone Udo Reinemann and regularly performs such repertoire in the midwest and in Europe, aside from her operatic engagements. She is a current soloist with the Chicago Bach Ensemble, Aestas Consort and Voix de Stras’ – Ensemble de Chambre de Strasbourg. Nathalie was recently heard in Chicago’s Haymarket Opera Company production of Telemann’s Don Quichotte, in Handel’s Messiah with the St Louis Bach Society, and in the title role of Rita by G. Donizetti in Ardez, Switzerland. A graduate of DePaul University School of Music and of the Brussels Royal Conservatory, she completed her opera training at the Swiss Opera Studio/Hochschule der Kunst Bern. Nathalie was awarded 1st prize in the Music Institute of Chicago competition last winter.
Hope Littwin is a Chicago based singer, composer and producer who grew up in Seattle and Miami where she performed with Miami’s New International Ballet Company and New World School of The Arts’ Musical Theater Ensemble. She recently graduated from the Music Conservatory at Chicago College of Music (2013), with a double major in Classical Voice and Music Composition. She has performed at Chicago Symphony Center, Old Town School of Folk, The Auditorium Theatre and The Congress Theater. As a composer, Hope has written for Chicago New Music Vocal Quartet, Gaudete Brass, Roosevelt String Quartet, Chicago’s Electro Acoustic Music Festival and Kokopeli Production Studios. Most recently Hope has worked with Artemisia, Erica Mott productions, CUBE Ensemble, Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, Baroque Band and Renegade Stage. As a singer, Hope has performed with Celia Cruz, the SamaSama Project, The Lira Ensemble, High Concept Labs/Parlour Tapes and TKesh Productions. Hope is currently working as the Artistic Director of Chicago’s CUBE ensemble and a freelance composer and singer. www.hopelittwin.com
Daniel Grambow is a professional teaching artist based out of Chicago, IL. He received his Bachelors in Music from University of Miami: Frost School of Music and his Masters of Music at the Cleveland Institute of Music. As a teacher he has worked at Cleveland School of the Arts, and with Cleveland Institute of Music’s Distance Learning program. Some of his operatic credits include Peter (Hänsel und Gretel), Schaunard (La Bohème), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Papageno (The Magic Flute), Betto, (Gianni Schicchi), and Geronimo (Il matrimonio segreto). He also sings with St. Alphonsus Church Choir and is the general director of Floating Opera Project
here in Chicago. He was a finalist in the Seven Stars Project in Los Angeles California and at Inspiration Point, he was given the Marie Prudie Brown Emerging Young Artist Award. Since Daniel moved to the Chicago, he has collaborated with a number of local opera companies including Vox 3 Collective, Candid Concert Opera, Main Street Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, American Chamber Opera, Verismo Opera, Chicago Fringe Opera, Chicago Summer Opera, Music at Unity Temple and Chicago Opera Theater. He has worked as a performer, educator, voice teacher, playwright and marketing assistant with many of these organizations. Daniel currently works in the education department of Chicago Opera Theater and is helping produce Opera For All’s “Chicago: Once Upon a Windy City” in local Chicago Public Schools.
Daniel Johanson is a classical singer working primarily in the city of Chicago. He made the city his home upon attending the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and has since been working locally. When not performing, he spends his time as the Production Manager for WS Sound Productions, a local recording company, and co-managing the Chicago chapter of Opera on Tap. He is particularly drawn to chamber music, having recently presented Ibert’s Chanson de Don Quichotte and Ravel’s Don Quichotte a Dulcinee for his brainchild, Operatic Book Club. Recent roles include Don Diego in El Huesped del Sevillano, David in A Hand of Bridge, and L’Ambasciatore in Resphigi’s El dormente nel bosco. Upcoming roles include Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Leporello in Don Giovanni. In November he will presenting another recital, featuring Brahms’ Vier Ernste Gesänge and the six songs with texts by Heine from Schubert’s Schwanengesang.
Samuel J. Weiser, bass, is a current graduate student of Bruce Hall at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Samuel graduated cum laude from The Indiana University of Pennsylvania, B.S.Ed. Music Education. Samuel has appeared in such roles as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte in 2014 with Undercroft Opera Company in Pittsburgh, PA and as Sicario in Verdi’s Macbeth in 2013 with Resonance Works Pittsburgh which was a finalist in the professional division of the American Prize for Opera Performance. He has also performed the role of Elder Ott in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah in 2012, which was awarded 3rd place in the American Prize for Opera Performance in 2013. He has also performed as both Dr. Cajus and Falstaff in Otto Nicolai’s Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor in Weimar, Germany in 2014 with the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar. In the Spring of 2015, Samuel appeared as Colline with Windy City Opera. In May of 2015, he recorded and premiered Call Your Dad by Chicago composer Mischa Zupko for the “Make Music Chicago” festival. He is also an active and avid member of Chicago’s chapter of Opera on Tap. Currently, Samuel is performing the roles of Don Alfonso in Così fan Tutte, David in Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and as Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni all with Floating Opera. Samuel recently received the Michael Brick Scholarship from Roosevelt University. In May of 2015, Samuel was a finalist in the student division in the annual Monastero’s Bel Canto Contest. Recently, Samuel was chosen as a Gerdine Young Artist and will appear with Opera Theatre of St. Louis in the summer of 2016.
Allison Poh is a Chicago-based fluter who currently plays with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. She received her BM from Northwestern University, where she studied with Walfrid Kujala and Richard Graef, and her MM from New England Conservatory, where she studied with Paula Robison. She also spent a year studying in London at the Royal Academy of Music. Allison has always been drawn to new music and has premiered many new works. As a member of the Wabash Winds, a Civic Engagement Ensemble, Allison performs at public schools and community centers throughout the city of Chicago.
Eric Hollander is a multidisciplinary artist in search of mind-opening concepts and better methods for the globalization of original ideas. With extensive exposure in classical viola repertoire (especially focused on 20th and 21st century performance practice), traditional Irish and Celtic music, big band jazz, ska, funk, and free improvisation, Eric has found his way into a wide variety of ensemble, composer-collaborative, and creatively driven experiences. Most notably, he has participated in a number of competitions and festivals including Fleadh Chiol (1st place), the Massachusetts 2014 ASTA competition (2nd place), the Alexander and Bueno International Flute Competition (2nd place in chamber division), The Bowdoin International Music Festival, Gamper New Music Festival, and The Lucerne Festival Academy. Besides his musical adventures, Eric is deeply involved in creative writing and charitable projects for global initiative. Eric has written several collections of poetry and creative prose and has been published in “The Garden”, a Boston-based literary journal and “Farm Town Magazine”. Eric received his BM in viola performance from the Boston Conservatory in 2014 and is currently pursuing an MA in writing and publishing at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Recently, Eric has been in Mongolia bringing aid to the struggling orphans of Ulaanbaatar under the project name: “The UB Project” and working as the editor-in-chief of Crook & Folly literary magazine.
Nick Meryhew is a Chicago-based trombonist, improviser, and performance artist. Specializing in new and radical music, Nick’s work heavily deals with the performing body and the politics of performance. Nick is primarily involved with the co-artistic direction of the young Chicago ensemble Mocrep, a group that formed in 2013 and is currently in its third season. With this ensemble, Nick has performed works by Malin Bang, Mathias Kranebitter, Jessie Marino, Johannes Kreidler, Marina Rosenfeld, and many others. Among these and other performances have been numerous Chicago, U.S., and world premieres. Nick received his undergraduate degree in trombone performance from DePaul University.
Lilianna is an accomplished Chicago based classical and jazz cellist playing for over 2 decades with primary focus on cello solo and chamber music performance. She received her Master’s Degree in Cello Performance at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. Lilianna is a regular studio musician and she released three of her own CDs, ‘My Christmas’, ‘Edited to Form’ and ‘Episodes 1-12’. She regularly performs with classical, jazz, new music, and international folk ensembles in Chicago and abroad.
Myra Hinrichs, violinist, is a recent graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory.
Now relocated to the Chicago area, you can see her on stage with the Chicago Civic Orchestra,
and the Madison Symphony, as well as with her string trio, Chartreuse. She has recently started a living room concert series which aims to create an intimate, inter-disciplinary arts experience. She is always searching for new ways to access the joy that is inherent in listening and performing music and to share her findings with others. In addition to performing, she teaches private lessons in the Chicago area at Above and Beyond Music, Naperville Music Academy, and Music House, Inc.
Violist Carrie Frey, an enthusiastic proponent of new music, has premiered over 100 compositions. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied with Peter Slowik, she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program. A recent New York City convert, Carrie performs regularly with Petros Klampanis Group, Aeon Ensemble, and Tactus. She has also appeared with Wet Ink Large Ensemble, ensemble mise-en, the Lester St Louis Ensemble, and GADADU. When not color coding music or carrying around giant scores, Carrie indulges her passion for experimental cookies and muffins in her tiny kitchen.
Born in New York City, Lia Kohl is a cellist and performance artist based
Chicago. Her work as a performer is deeply collaborative, and she is constantly
seeking the meeting point between creative minds. She has worked extensively
with dancers, poets and visual artists, and is inspired by new and different ways
of thinking. Fascinated by the antiquated and illusory medium of performance,
she endeavors to blur the lines between the pedestrian and the formal, and the
obvious and the absurd in an attempt to bring her artistic practice into daily
life—and vice-versa. She is a passionate interpreter of contemporary music and
an avid improviser. She holds a B.M. and an M.M. in Cello Performance from
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and Chicago College of Performing
Peter Ferry is a young American percussion soloist and artistic collaborator based in Chicago, Illinois. As a concerto soloist and recitalist, Ferry champions works for solo percussion by living composers and reimagines the classical concert experience through multimedia collaborations. In 2013, he delivered the closing TEDx Talk on interdisciplinary collaboration, “Striking the Edge.” Recognition for such partnerships include First Prize at the Savvy Musician in Action competition (with video artist Xuan) and acceptance into the European Museum of Modern Glass’s permanent collection (with glass artist Carrie Fertig). Ferry has toured as a guest percussionist with established contemporary music ensembles such including Alarm Will Sound and Ensemble Dal Niente. An alumnus of the Eastman School of Music, Ferry graduated with the first ever John Beck Percussion Scholarship, an Arts Leadership certificate, and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate recognizing “outstanding performing ability.” More at PeterFerry.com
KG Price hails from the wine region of Upstate NY. He studied composition, audio technology and percussion at SUNY Fredonia then spent six years honing and tuning his skills in Buffalo. Having played a few shows prior to moving to Chicago he fell in love with the Windy City and changed homes in 2010. Currently, he plays as a member of the free-improv scene, is the music director and singer for The Lucky Trikes, sound technician at Honky Tonk BBQ, turntablist for “Lessons in Musicology” and recently started a custom jewelry line.
Phillip Sudderberg is a composer, improviser, and percussionist in Chicago. He has pursued independent studies with a number of singular drummers, the likes of Ricardo Flores, Chad Taylor, Frank Rosaly, Ches Smith, Dana Hall, and Tim Daisy. Sudderberg has also performed extensively with beacons of Chicago’s improvised music scene. He continues to pursue musical relationships with Keefe Jackson, Nick Mazzarella, Josh Berman, Anton Hatwich, and Eli Namay. Sudderberg is a member of touring rock bands Grandkids and Wei Zhongle. Sudderberg is a cofounder of Gilded Records (http://www.gildedrecords.com/), an independent record label based in Chicago that focuses on exclusive releases, as well as curation through its ongoing live music series in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
Andrew Tham is a Chicago-based composer, performer, and sound artist. Most recently, he designed sound for the Neo-Futurist production Haymaker and scored a short film by Ronnie Cramer that was performed by the Palomar ensemble. He performs in the musical duo Kai-Ye and is a founding member of Parlour Tapes+, a contemporary classical tape label in Chicago.