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Choral Arts Initiative Opens 11th Season With “Home”
The concert features the world-premiere of Dale Trumbore’s The Opposites Game and Tupelo Poems by Dylan Trần.
Irvine, CA – October 13, 2022 – The Choral Arts Initiative opens their 11th season with “Home” on Sunday, November 6 at 4:30PM at St. Mark Presbyterian Church (2200 San Joaquin Hills Rd, Newport Beach, CA 92660). “Home” boldly asks the question of what makes a home: is it a place? A feeling? Or the people who live in it?
The concert features the world premieres of Dale Trumbore’s The Opposites Game for chorus and piano, and Tupelo Poems by Dylan Trần, along with the West Coast premieres of Migration by Michael Gilbertson, To Propagate a Home by Ayanna Woods, and Whispers of Jasmine by Julia Adolphe. The choir will also perform “Home” from The Sacred Veil by Eric Whitacre. Tickets can be purchased at www.choralartsinitiative.org/event-details/season-11-home.
CAI’s 11th season focuses on finding answers after two years of difficult questions. Trumbore’s The Opposites Game reckons with one such question, with Brandon Constantine’s text for the piece asking “What is the opposite of a gun?” Dylan Trần’s Tupelo Poems questions: “What makes us feel at home?”In the piece, world-building elements and a three-movement emotional arc detail a narrative of lovers, a return to lost youth, and a redefinition of home.
The concert also explores the challenges of creating a new home. Woods’s To Propagate a Home honors the hard work and resilience necessary to put roots down in a community. Adolphe’s Whispers of Jasmine tells the story of Syrian refugees fleeing their homes in pursuit of a new life. “Home” from Eric Whitacre’s The Sacred Veil takes audience members on an emotional journey of falling in love and realizing that “home” is not a place, but a person. Through the performances of all six pieces, CAI hopes to carry audiences from a place of questioning to one of answering.
“I believe that the curation of new works for this performance will inspire thoughtful reflections and commentary as we consider what “home” means to each of us,” Artistic Director Brandon Elliott said. “The music on this is distinctly diversified and each presents a unique compositional voice that listeners will find engaging and refreshing.”
About the Composers
Adolphe’s music is described as “alive with invention” (The New Yorker), “colorful, mercurial, deftly orchestrated” (The New York Times) displaying a “remarkable gift for sustaining a compelling musical narrative” (Musical America). Her works are performed across the U.S. and abroad by renowned orchestras and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Belgian National Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Verona Quartet, soprano Hila Plitmann, and pianist Gloria Cheng, among others.
Current commissions include an orchestral work for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a violin concerto for Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic featuring concertmaster Martin Chalifour. Adolphe’s comic opera for all ages, A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears, based on the novel by Jules Feiffer with libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann, received initial workshops directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer at National Sawdust and Boston Court Pasadena in 2019. Adolphe’s 2017 orchestral work, White Stone, premiered by the NY Philharmonic, follows on the heels of the NY Philharmonic’s 2016 premiere of Unearth, Release, Adolphe’s viola concerto composed for Cynthia Phelps, and Dark Sand, Sifting Light, featured during the 2014 NY Phil Biennial.
Adolphe’s awards include a 2017 ASCAP Young Composer Award, a 2016 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, a 2016 OPERA America Discovery Grant, and a 2015 Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters. A native New Yorker living in Los Angeles, Adolphe holds a Masters of Music degree in music composition from the USC Thornton School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University.
The works of Michael Gilbertson have been described as “elegant” and “particularly beautiful” by The New York Times, “vivid, tightly woven” and “delectably subtle” by the Baltimore Sun, “genuinely moving” by the Washington Post, and “a compelling fusion of new and ancient” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2017 Gilbertson joined the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and began a tenure as BMI Composer in Residence with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. He was one of three finalists for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Quartet.
Gilbertson’s works have been programmed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Opera, Albany Symphony, New World Symphony, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Virginia Opera, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Symphony in C, New England Philharmonic, Cheyenne Symphony, wind ensembles including The United States Marine Band, and professional choirs including Musica Sacra, The Crossing, Volti, Conspirare, and Yale Choral Artists. He holds degrees from The Juilliard School, where he studied composition with Samuel Adler, John Corigliano, and Christopher Rouse, and from Yale where he studied with Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, David Lang, Ezra Laderman, Hannah Lash, Christopher Theofanidis, and Jeanine Tesori.
Gilbertson is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Lieberson Fellowship, a Copland House Residency Award, five Morton Gould Awards from ASCAP, and a BMI Student Composer Award. Gilbertson’s music can be heard in the 2006 documentary Rehearsing a Dream, which was nominated for an Academy Award. His published music includes choral works with Boosey & Hawkes and G. Schirmer, and orchestral works with Theodore Presser. In March, 2016, he was MusicalAmerica Magazine’s featured Artist of the Month.
Gilbertson’s opera Breaking, a collaboration with playwright Caroline McGraw, was commissioned by the Washington National Opera and premiered at The Kennedy Center in November, 2013. He has twice composed and conducted ballets for the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute. His fifth ballet, a collaboration with choreographer Norbert De La Cruz, was premiered by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in July, 2013. He served as Red Cedar Chamber Music’s Composer-in-Residence from 2011 to 2014, and has enjoyed an ongoing relationship with his hometown orchestra, the Dubuque Symphony, which has performed 8 of his works since 2003.
Dylan Trần (he/they) (1994—) is a multi-media artist based out of New Orleans, LA. He views music as a form of world-building, poignantly evoking nuanced atmospheres within an intimately expressive writing style. At home among intersections, Dylan is unrestrained by genre, drawing on his vast experience as a performer on the opera stage, in chamber and concert choirs, new and early music ensembles, rock bands, funk bands, folk bands, film music, ethnomusicological foyers into his own Việt heritage, and more. His piece “dear heart,” was awarded Honorable Mention for Chorus Austin’s 2021 Young Composers Competition (Austin, TX), and his piece “beautiful out here” was a finalist in the 2021 Springfield Chamber Chorus Composition Competition (Springfield, MO). He has been accepted into both the Salastina Sounds Promising Young Composers Program (Los Angeles, CA) as well as the Alba Composition Program (Alba, Italy) and was a semifinalist for the 2021 Helene Wurlitzer Foundation’s Artist Residency (Taos, NM). In 2022, Dylan has been commissioned by LA-ACDA, St. James Episcopal Church (Baton Rouge, LA), and baritone André Chiang. He composed and directed the film score for Chú đi biển (Uncle, at Sea), a short film directed by Marion Hoàng Ngọc Hill and produced by TAAF and Hulu. His piece Tupelo Poems will be premiered by the Choral Arts Initiative in November in Orange Country, LA. Dylan recently visited Cincinnati, OH, to step into the studio with M° Brett Scott and Coro Volante to record his piece A Soldier's Grave, which will be featured on ABLAZE Records’ upcoming album, “New Choral Voices Vol. 6”. In the spring of 2023, his song cycle Ba— poems from Ocean, based on texts from Ocean Vuong, will be premiered by the New Orleans Opera and André Chiang. In the summer of 2023, the song cycle will be recorded by André for his debut album, produced by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dylan is a member of the American Composers Forum, the Millennium Composers Initiative, and ASCAP.
Dale Trumbore is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer whose music has been called “devastatingly beautiful” (The Washington Post) and praised for its “soaring melodies and beguiling harmonies deployed with finesse” (The New York Times). She has served as Composer in Residence for Choral Chameleon and Nova Vocal Ensemble, and her compositions have been performed across the U.S. and internationally by ensembles including the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW ensemble, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Modesto Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Phoenix Chorale, Tonality, and VocalEssence. Trumbore's choral works have been commissioned for premieres at national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association, American Guild of Organists, Chorus America, and National Collegiate Choral Organization. Her music is available through Boosey & Hawkes, G. Schirmer, and Graphite Marketplace.
Trumbore is passionate about setting to music poems, prose, and found text by living writers. She has written extensively about working through creative blocks and establishing a career in music in essays for 21CM, Cantate Magazine, Center for New Music, and NewMusicBox. Her first book, Staying Composed: Overcoming Anxiety and Self-Doubt Within a Creative Life, was hailed by writer Angela Myles Beeching as a "treasure trove of practical strategies for moving your artistic career forward." Trumbore also writes poetry and fiction, with recent work published or forthcoming in New Delta Review, Southern Indiana Review, and F(r)iction. Learn more about Trumbore’s music and writing at daletrumbore.com.
Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, is among today’s most popular musicians. His works are programmed worldwide and his ground-breaking Virtual Choirs have united 100,000 singers from more than 145 countries. Born in Nevada in 1970, Eric is a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School of Music (New York). He is currently Visiting Composer at Pembroke College at Cambridge University and recently completed his second term as Artist in Residence with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. In the 2022-2023 season, the Cincinnati Pops and the National Symphony Orchestra will premiere a new commission: Prelude in C. Eric is proud to be a Yamaha Artist.
His compositions have been widely recorded and his debut album as a conductor on Universal, Light and Gold, went straight to the top of the charts, earning him a Grammy. As a guest conductor he has drawn capacity audiences to concerts with many of the world’s leading orchestras and choirs in venues such as Carnegie Hall (New York), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace (London). Insatiably curious and a lover of all types of music, Eric has worked with legendary Hollywood composers Hans Zimmer, John Powell and Jeff Beal as well as British pop icons Laura Mvula, Imogen Heap and Annie Lennox. Major classical commissions have been written for the BBC Proms, Minnesota Orchestra, Rundfunkchor Berlin, The Tallis Scholars, Chanticleer, Cincinnati Pops, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, National Children’s Chorus of America and The King’s Singers.
His composition for symphony orchestra and chorus, Deep Field, was inspired by the achievements of the Hubble Space Telescope and became the foundation for a collaboration with NASA, the Space Telescope Science Institute and 59 Productions. The film was premiered at Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral, Florida), has been seen at arts and science festivals across the world. Deep Field has been performed in concert on several continents, and with simultaneous film projection by the New World Symphony, New World Center (Miami), Brussels Philharmonic, Flagey (Brussels), Bergen Philharmonic, Grieghallen (Bergen) among other great orchestras. His long-form work for choir, cello and piano, The Sacred Veil, is a profound meditation on love, life and loss. It was premiered by the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Walt Disney Concert Hall, conducted by the composer and was released on Signum Records. Eric was Composer-in-Residence at Cambridge University from 2011 – 2016. A new version with full string orchestra will be performed in Denver with the choir, Kantorei, in Fall 2022.
AYANNA WOODS is a Grammy-nominated performer, composer and bandleader from Chicago. Her music explores the spaces between acoustic and electronic, traditional and esoteric, wildly improvisational and mathematically rigorous. A collaborator across genres and forms, her work spans new music, theater, film scoring, arranging, songwriting, and improvisation. She earned her B.A. in music from Yale University. Woods has been commissioned by Third Coast Percussion, Chanticleer, The Crossing, the Percussive Arts Society, Manual Cinema, Lorelei ensemble, the Chicago Children’s Choir, Boston Children’s Choir, and Chicago Chamber Choir. In 2018, she originated her role as a vocalist in Place, a new oratorio about gentrification and displacement co-conceived by Pulitzer finalist Ted Hearne, director Patricia McGregor and poet/librettist Saul Williams. Her music appears in a range of film and theater projects. Two of her songs are featured in the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls. In 2017, she and her sister Jamila Woods co-composed the score for No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, a live film created by writers Eve Ewing, Nate Marshall, and Emmy-winning performance collective Manual Cinema. She continues to tour the U.S. and Canada with Manual Cinema as a bassist and music director.
About Choral Arts Initiative
Choral Arts Initiative is a non-profit 501(c)(3) choral organization comprised of some of the most talented and passionate musicians in the Southern California region. Widely recognized as a champion of new music, Choral Arts Initiative has been praised as “gracefully lyrical” (Voice of OC), hailed as one of Orange County’s “Best Choirs” (CBS News, Los Angeles), and noted for its “sublime” and “triumphant” performances (Textura). Winner of the American Prize in Choral Performance, recipient of the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming, and Winner of the San Francisco Classical Voice Audience Choice Awards for Best New Music Performance, Choral Arts Initiative continues its commitment to musical innovation and excellence. Their inaugural album, How to Go On: The Choral Works of Dale Trumbore, ranked #6 on the Billboard Charts (Traditional Classical Albums), and #4 on the iTunes Best Seller Classical Charts. Their passion for new music has led to the commission of nineteen compositions and the premiere of over eighty works. In April 2022, Navona Records released From Wilderness: A Meditation on the Pacific Coast Trail, composer Jeffrey Derus’ new concert-length work and meditation on the transformative experience of traveling the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile scenic coastal hiking pathway that stretches the length of the pacific coastline of the United States and traverses the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.
About Brandon Elliott, Artistic Director
Brandon Elliott enjoys an expansive career as a conductor-educator, musician, arts leader, and consultant. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of Choral Arts Initiative, an award-winning new music choral ensemble based in Orange County, CA. Under his leadership, Choral Arts Initiative has received critical acclaim and recognition for its artistic excellence, musical innovation, and dedication to performing music from a vibrant roster of living composers. With a passion for new music, he has conducted the premiere of over 70 works.
Equally passionate about teaching, training, and mentoring musicians, Elliott is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Moorpark College. He regularly serves as an adjudicator, clinician, preparatory conductor, guest conductor, and guest speaker for festivals, competitions, and local K-12 programs, and is a semifinalist for the 2022 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. As a vocal musician, Elliott has sung with various professional and contracted choruses. Previous engagements include singing under Craig Hella-Johnson in the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Pacific Chorale with John Alexander, and various ad hoc ensembles for artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Beck, Star Wars Live, and Zelda Live.
Elliott maintains professional memberships with ACDA, NAfME, MACCC, and Chorus America. His writings have been featured in both Tactus and The Music Educators Journal. Additionally, he has presented on choral entrepreneurship at the 2016 and 2017 Chorus America national conferences and was a panelist for the CCDA Choral Leadership Academy. He currently serves on the California Choral Directors Association board as the Repertoire & Resources Chair for Community and Professional Choruses. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and a teaching credential from California State University, Fullerton, a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a specialist certificate in Music Business Leadership from the Berklee College of Music, and a Doctor of Education degree in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California. Learn more at brandon-elliott.com.
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