Joelle Lamarre, soprano
Joelle Lamarre, (soprano, actress and playwright) is thrilled to be joining George Lewis (a Guggenheim Fellowship winner) and Sean Griffin one more time with Afterwords for its west coast premiere at the Ojai 2017 Summer Festival. Afterword, an opera developed with Sean Griffin and Catherine Sullivan, constitutes an aesthetic extension of George E. Lewis’s 2008 book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press).
Julian Terrell Otis, tenor
Julian Terrell Otis is proud to reunite with “this trio of impressive vocal soloists” (New York Times) in the West Coast premiere of Afterword. He has become an enthusiastic interpreter of contemporary music. Most recently lending his ringing tenor sound to Anthony R. Green’s …I Shall Shake His Hand… curated by Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Cross That Line to Freedom (South Shore Opera Company). As a student Julian was able to explore the choral works of Ted Hearne, James MacMillan, Sebastian Currier and other contemporary composers under the baton of Donald Nally. Julian wishes to explore the limitless possibilities of his instrument’s expressive capacity through song, improvisation, and theatrical works.
Gwendolyn Brown, contralto
Contralto Gwendolyn Brown’s operatic performances of traditional, 20th century, American Art Song, Negro Spiritual and even the avant-garde has earned her consistent critical acclaim. Gwendolyn Brown’s “deep contralto “showed astonishing range and timbre, a stern voice of certainty.” (Huddersfield Examiner) and she is hailed as “a transfixing force of nature” (Mark Swed, LA Times).
Ms. Brown’s recent performances in George Lewis’s new opera Afterword: The AACM (as) Opera were met with critical acclaim in the US and abroad. Other critically acclaimed highlights of contemporary works include creating the lead role of Marie Laveau, in Ann LeBaron’s Crescent City for Los Angeles’ The Industry.
Ms. Brown has performed for many of the top opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States as well as in Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Amsterdam and Brussels. She has received critical acclaim in character roles including the Principessa in Suor Angelica and Zita in Gianni Schicci. She has performed her signature role of Maria in Porgy and Bess with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Washington National Opera as well as in Germany, Amsterdam, Brussels and recently for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Originally from Memphis, TN, Gwendolyn Brown studied music at Fisk University, the University of Memphis and the American Conservatory of Music. She participated in the young artist programs of Des Moines Metro Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists.
Ms. Brown is Assistant Professor of Music at her alma mater Fisk University.
George Lewis, composer
George E. Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis’s other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis’s work in electronic and computer music, computer-based multimedia installations, and notated and improvisative forms is documented on more than 150 recordings. His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Mivos Quartet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, London Sinfonietta, Spektral Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, Ensemble Erik Satie, Eco Ensemble, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Harvestworks, Ensemble Either/Or, Orkestra Futura, Turning Point Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others.
Lewis has served as Fromm Visiting Professor of Music, Harvard University; Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago; and CAC Fitt Artist in Residence, Brown University. Lewis received the 2012 SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, and his book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society’s Music in American Culture Award; Lewis was elected to Honorary Membership in the Society in 2016. Lewis is the co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera Afterword (2015), commissioned by the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at the University of Chicago, has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic. In 2015, Lewis received the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus, honoris causa) from the University of Edinburgh.
Photo credit: Emily Peragine
Sean Griffin lives and works in Los Angeles. Encompassing many languages, styles, media and forms, Griffin’s unique compositional works rely on interdisciplinary incongruities positioned at the intersection of sound, image, performance and the archive. His works manifest as music, large and small-scale operas, collaborative installations, complex numeric choreographies and historically weighted musical/performance works.
His works have been commissioned and presented internationally by venues including Los Angeles’ REDCAT, Armand Hammer Museum, and LACMA, June in Buffalo, Berlin’s Volksbühne, Secession Vienna, London’s Royal Academy and the Tate Modern, Festival d’Avignon, Taipei City Arts Festival, Walker Art Center, Centre Pompidou, and Festival BOM 2010 in Seoul, Korea, and EMPAC. He received an MFA from CalArts and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego. He studied with Mel Powell, Chaya Czernowin and George Lewis.
Visit his website at http://seangriffin.org
International Contemporary Ensemble
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), described by the New York Times as “one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music,” is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 35 leading instrumentalists, performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century.
Percussionist, conductor, author, and 2015 Festival Music Director Steven Schick was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family. For forty years he has championed contemporary music by commissioning or premiering more than one hundred-fifty new works. He was the founding percussionist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars (1992-2002) and served as Artistic Director of the Centre International de Percussion de Genève (2000-2005). Schick is founder and Artistic Director of the percussion group, red fish blue fish.