Saturday, February 9, 2008

African Canadian Librettists Thrive in Composer/Librettist Laboratory

Christopher Foley has supported AfriClassical from its early days, and recently contributed a link to a very informative article he wrote for The Collaborative Piano Blog, “African Chamber Music Program from Vancouver New Music in March 2000”. He presents this brief bio on his blog: “I live in Toronto, where I am the head of the voice department at the Royal Conservatory of Music Community School and teach piano, collaborative piano, chamber music, and vocal coaching. I am a member of the Tapestry New Opera Works Ensemble Studio, and also do a lot of freelance playing for various organizations.”

Dr. Foley recently told AfriClassical of three African Canadian writers who have benefited from a Composer/Librettist Laboratory in which about 70 people have taken part, and which has led to similar projects in other cities and countries. The Tapestry website explains: “The Composer-Librettist Laboratory is generously supported by the Laidlaw Foundation and Mr. Roger D. Moore. Workshop facilities are donated by Rosedale United Church, Toronto.”

Christopher Foley tells us of three African Canadian librettists: “Marcia Johnson and Alicia Payne are writers who participated in the Tapestry New Opera Works Composer/Librettist laboratory in 2007 and had their work performed in Opera Briefs 7 in September.” “Lisa Codrington is the librettist for The Colony, a one-act opera that opens on February 14 at Tapestry New Opera Works' Opera To Go 2008.” AfriClassical has invited each of the three to submit a brief bio and comments on the laboratory experience. First we present some background, from the Tapestry New Opera website,

Composer-Librettist Laboratory

For most composers and writers the artistic process is a solitary one. Producers around the world agree that forming workable artistic partnerships between composers and playwrights is the single greatest challenge facing the development of new opera and music theatre. The Composer-Librettist Laboratory is Tapestry’s response to this challenge. Initiated in 1995, the laboratory is an intensive one-week workshop for composers and writers to explore the collaborative process. Currently, the program attracts participants from Canada, the United States, Germany and England. It is also the model for the English National Opera Studio’s All-in Opera, as well as Pacific Opera Victoria’s Composer-Librettist Workshop.

Tapestry’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory provides artists with the opportunity to work with several partners in a short period of time, thereby developing techniques for effective collaboration. Throughout the weeklong program, writers and composers are partnered with one another for one day each. With input from music and stage directors, each pair writes a short piece of music theatre and investigates the collaborative process. Their work is performed at the end of each day by a resident ensemble of singers and répétiteurs, and then constructively critiqued by the group.

Afro-Caribbean+Librettists" rel="tag">Afro-Caribbean Librettists
Marcia+Johnson" rel="tag">Marcia Johnson
Alicia+Payne" rel="tag">Alicia Payne
Lisa+Codrington" rel="tag">Lisa Codrington
Black+Librettists" rel="tag">Black Librettists
Afro-Canadian+Writers" rel="tag">Afro-Canadian Writers

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