The Glass Shō ~ RWO On Their Next Project

L to R: RWO’s Robert Maril and Elisabeth Halliday performing David Smooke’s Criminal Element (Photo courtesy of Anthony Trujillo)RWO1A

Baltimore-based chamber opera ensemble Rhymes With Opera have a new project for this coming season, and the folks that are key in the productions (Ruby Fulton, George Lam, Victoria Crutchfield, and composer Erik Spangler) sat down and talked to me for my podcast The Glass Shō.
This new piece, written by Spangler, is called Cantata For a Loop Trail, and it is a very unique concept involving hiking in outdoor terrain, traveling, and singing as well as telling a story.
The piece premieres June 14-15 in Baltimore, MD, and June 21-22 in NYC. Times and event locations to be determined.

Until then, RWO has a free concert, COMING TOGETHER: RWO IN CONCERT, Tuesday, April 29, at 7 PM at Illinois Jacquet Performance Space at York College CUNY (Jamaica, NY). More details about the show on the website page located here.

Please check out this interview on the link below, RWO appears in the first half of Episode 6.

The Glass Shō: Episode 6 (Mari Kimura/RWO)

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Rhymes With Opera (


The Glass Shō ~ Lainie Fefferman Discusses Her 2 Premieres

Composer Lainie Fefferman sat down to do a really fun and informative interview with me for The Glass Sho podcast, and below are some excerpts from the chat about her 2 premieres next month. The rock oratorio Here I Am, featuring new music band Newspeak and a cappella trio Va Vocals (May 1st at Roulette in Brooklyn), and a stand-alone piece titled “The Pirate’s Daughter” to be premiered by ETHEL at their Homebaked Commssions concert (May 11th at DROM in Manhattan; Links with information are on the bottom)
You can listen to the full published interview on the Glass Sho link at the bottom or on the right of this page.

newspeak4[Pictured left, Newspeak]

“Here I Am is a rock oratorio…It’s just tough what to call it. It’s new music, but it’s got lots of rock elements in it. I call it an oratorio because it is in the tradition of biblical stories and people singing out these biblical stories often as an omniscient narrator and not always taking on a role as a biblical character. It’s the intoning of these biblical stories and it’s not staged, but a semi-staged production. It’s got a lot of theatrical elements. It doesn’t feel like a concert to me, and I felt that rock lets you know the sound of the music that’s going to happen in this oratorio, because it’s a singing-out of these crazy biblical stories, so, that’s where that came from! I don’t really know what it is, it’s some kind of big, crazy theatrical music extravaganza, so I call it an oratorio.”

Lainie Fefferman: Here I Am – Trailer from Lainie Fefferman on Vimeo.


“I’ve loved ETHEL forever! When I was just starting to learn about new music, one of the first CDs I bought was the 1st ETHEL CD with the arm. And I fell in love, I just decided that was it!
Ralph Farris called me some time ago, and I was actually having dinner with my family, and I said ‘Hello? Who is this number?’, and he said ‘Hi, this is Ralph Farris, can I talk to you?’, and I was talking to Ralph Farris! He said ‘We love your music, can you write a piece for us for our Homebaked Commissions?’, and I was over the moon! That was my dream commission!

Trailer for the Pirate’s Daughter

I had been doing a series of pieces for a bunch of friends that I’m calling my portrait pieces–I tape interviews that I have with the commissioning performer, and I use that as a tape track. I highly edit it, but I use it as a tape track behind the piece, so that the audience hears the piece and the performer’s voice speaking about music, life and whatever we happen to be talking about. So this is what I wanted to also do for ETHEL’s piece. It turns out they are hilarious! So, the piece has a lot of humor, but I talked to them…Because ETHEL’s been so big in my life, I ended up talking to them a lot about the history of the group–what makes them (in my mind) a really special quartet and what makes them really different from other string quartets, and in a way, the piece is an homage to what they’ve done for the New York music scene and new music in general.”

The Glass Shō: Episode 4 (Lainie Fefferman)

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Click here for info/tickets for Here I Am at Roulette, May 1st

Click here for info/tickets for ETHEL’s Homebaked Commissions show featuring Lainie’s piece The Pirate’s Daughter at DROM, May 11th

Lainie Fefferman (

Fred Ho (1957-2014) ~ Marie Incontrera Shares Memories of Her Mentor

Fred Ho

Composer/saxophonist/bandleader Fred Ho, a truly unique artist who has been creating an interesting avant-garde blend of music featuring elements of jazz, big band, opera, and Asian folk and theatrical music, has sadly passed away on April 12 after battling metastatic colorectal cancer for the last 8 years. But it is very interesting to note that Fred Ho continues to keep his legacy going through his protégés, one of them his last student, composer Marie Incontrera. I heard about him when I interviewed her about the premiere of one of her works, and sure enough, I had the brief pleasure of meeting Mr. Ho that night at the show. Marie and I later spoke of interviewing Fred to preview a concert of his, but by that time, he’d become too ill to do an interview. Continue reading

in performance: Rhymes With Opera presents “Criminal Element”

Megan Ihnen reviewed the Baltimore performance of the newly-staged version of David Smooke’s Criminal Element

The Sybaritic Singer

Settling into David Smooke‘s nonopera, “Criminal Element“, is akin to letting a book of Rorschach paintings fall open in front of you. As each of the five scenes unfolds, the pages of that book flip in the breeze. That is to say, a nonopera in an invented language can take on myriad meanings and plays out the perceptions of those watching and listening. Gazing around the sultry Area 405 in Baltimore on Saturday night, there could have been as many interpretations of Smooke’s work as there were people crowded into the performance space. Rhymes With Opera singers Elisabeth Halliday, Robert Maril, and Bonnie Lander with the SONAR new music ensemble quartet under George Lam‘s conducting excelled in the performance of this work creating numerous audience entry points to a work that could be intimidating to some. Rhymes With Opera also used the evening as…

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A Night of Chamber Performances in New York With & Without Puppets (Double Review)

Rhymes With Opera (L to R: Robert Maril, Elisabeth Halliday and Bonnie Lander) performing David Smooke’s Criminal Element at JACK Space in Brooklyn, July 11th, 2013–Photo courtesy of Regina DeLuisecriminalelement2

Rhymes With Opera
Criminal Element
An opera by David Smooke
Also featuring 12 one-minute operas by various composers
JACK, Brooklyn, NY
Thursday, July 11th, 2013

criminalelementA small but full and dedicated sold-out audience filed into JACK Space in Brooklyn last night to witness the first performance of the fully-staged version of Criminal Element, a one-act chamber opera commissioned by Rhymes With Opera from Baltimore-based composer David Smooke originally in 2010, when it was being performed as a concert-only work in selected cities. Continue reading

Criminal Element ~ Preview of David Smooke’s Puppet Opera


Rhymes With Opera, an ensemble dedicated to commissioning and producing new operas in Baltimore and New York City, brings their first-ever revival to Brooklyn’s JACK Space on July 11, 2013 at 7:30pm, and Baltimore’s Station North Area 405 on July 13, 2013 at 8pm. This production includes a fully staged performance of David Smooke’s Criminal Element, a work that RWO commissioned from Smooke in 2010, and is scored for three singers and a string quartet.

Composer David Smooke calls Criminal Element a “non-opera” that was inspired by the story of outlaw French bank trader Jérôme Kerviel and his British counterpart Nicholas Leeson, told through a language invented by Smooke. Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith described the 2011 concert version as “a highly creative, absorbing experience.” This new, fully staged production will exponentially increase the creativity quotient, incorporating the talents of several Baltimore artists. MICA faculty member Valeska Populoh is designing and co-directing the production, and is creating massive puppets that will tower over the singers as an integral scenic element throughout the work. Margaret Rorison of the Red Room Collective (video design) and David Crandall (lighting design and technical director) will join Populoh and Smooke on the production team. Rhymes With Opera’s trio of singers will be accompanied by a string quartet from Baltimore’s SONAR New Music Ensemble.

In addition to Criminal Element, RWO will premiere twelve one-minute “signature” operas by Judah Adashi, Jenny Beck, Sidney Boquiren, Joshua Bornfield, Nomi Epstein, Alexandra Gardner, Tim Hansen, Andrew Histand, Mark Lackey, Anna Meadors, Rachel Peters, and Ashley Wang. These brand-new operas were commissioned especially for this performance.
Click here for tickets/info or on the link at the bottom of this page.

David had a few minutes to speak about newly-staged puppet opera. Continue reading

Blue Monday ~ A One-act Opera by George Gershwin (A Preview)

Alyson Cambridge as Vi (Photo courtesy of On Site Opera)Alyson_Cambridge_photo_by_Richard_Termine_Cropped

Courtesy of Bucklesweet Media

This 30-minute jazz opera tells the story of a love triangle gone wrong against the backdrop of a 1920s Harlem jazz club. On Site Opera & Harlem Opera Theater take up residence at the historic Cotton Club on Tuesday, June 18, Wednesday, June 19, AND Thursday, June 20, 2013. Each evening, the doors will open at 7pm with an hour of cocktails and dancing before the opera at 8pm. The dance floor will be open and cocktails will flow as a prelude to Gershwin’s jazz-infused murder romance.

Blue Monday will be conducted by Gregory Hopkins (Harlem Opera Theater) and directed by Eric Einhorn (On Site Opera) with choreography by Tony Award-winner George Faison and costumes by Candida K. Nichols. The talented African-American cast stars soprano Alyson Cambridge as Vi, an object of many men’s affections. Cambridge recently debuted the role of Julie in Show Boat at Chicago Lyric Opera, where critics noted that her “sensual, smoky readings were revelatory” (Opera News). Young American tenor Chase Taylor, a recent Metropolitan Opera National Council regional finalist, plays Joe, Vi’s gambling boyfriend. Baritone Lawrence Craig reprises the role of Tom, the club headliner, which he recorded in 1998 with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops. Versatile bass Alvin Crawford (last seen on Broadway in The Lion King) and bass-baritone Clayton Mathews round out the cast as club employees Sam and Mike, respectively. Accompanied by a full orchestra featuring the Cotton Club All Stars and members of the Harlem Chamber Players.

Blue Monday ~ A one-act opera by George Gershwin
Conducted by Gregory Hopkins
Directed by Eric Einhorn
Choreographed by George Faison
Featuring Alyson Cambridge, Chase Taylor, Lawrence Craig, Clayton Mathews and Alvin Crawford with the Harlem Chamber Players and the Cotton Club All Stars

Tuesday, June 18; Wednesday, June 19; AND Thursday, June 20, 2013
7pm: Cocktails & Dancing | 8pm: Blue Monday
The Cotton Club | 656 W 125th St | New York, NY
Tickets: $20 (cocktails not included) at
for more information:

UPDATE: All General Admission tickets for June 18th and 19th are SOLD OUT. A limited amount of standing room tickets for both performances will be available at a later date. To join the standing room waiting list, please email your name, number of tickets, and phone number to