PREMIERE

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Child of God

This is the first aria from Fils de Dieu (Child of God), a chamber oratorio about Joan of Arc, with poems by my great aunt and retired English professor Suzanne Evertsen Lundquist. I wrote this aria specifically for Clara Hurtado Lee, who is one of four singers to represent Joan. In this movement, Joan invites the listener to her hometown, Domrémy, “where children danced their innocence round about a beloved oak-wood tree.” Then, Joan tells us about the angel voices who guide her on a mission “To free France from famine and English rule…” My goal in this work, commissioned by Cherilyn Worthen and the Utah Valley University Women’s Success Center, was to examine Joan of Arc through the lens of a modern woman. 

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Jared

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 Jared received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Brigham Young University. He  was hired by Ballet West while still working toward his master’s degree in choral conducting, which he received in 2009. Jared has conducted at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre, the Wortham Theater in Houston, and the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis, among others. In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Jared is a sought-after ballet and collaborative pianist. Jared is also an active composer, and his first ballet, In Memoriam, scored for four violins and piano, premiered in 2016 at Ballet West. An avid researcher, Jared is a fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation and co-founder of the music publication and research nonprofit, Composer Discovery Initiative.

 Clara Hurtado Lee's warm and brilliant soprano voice and skilled dramatic interpretations shine on opera, oratorio, recital, and musical theater stages throughout the Intermountain Region and abroad in Italy.  Ms. Hurtado Lee's 2022 season has included singing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyrical Opera theater; First Elf in Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with Metropolitan Ballet and the Utah Valley Symphony; and the world premiere of Jared Oaks’ oratorio on the life of Joan of Arc. She looks forward to performing with Gentri and Lyceum Philharmonic in May as well as debuting her first EP. Her 2020-2021 season included recording with Lyceum Philharmonic and Nathan Pacheco, a performance of highlights from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream; performances of Brahms' Requiem with UVU Chamber Choir (under the batons of Reed Criddle and Craig Jessop); Clairieres dans le ciel; An Evening in Paris;  and Auf dem Strom and The Wondrous Milligram with Intermezzo Concert Series.  Clara teaches privately and she her husband Josh have 4 children. 

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Clara

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#unfilt{HER}ed

These pieces explore themes of love, longing, and loss through the medium of the Instagram poetry of Liz Christensen.  Each song borrows structural elements from earlier music traditions and stylistic periods including Baroque, Romanticism, French Cabaret, Latin, and Jazz among many others. 

 David Campbell is a composer living in SLC, UT. His music has been performed across the US and internationally. He has studied composition with Hal Campbell, Keith Bradshaw, Leslie Sommer, Roger Briggs, and Sheila Silver among others.  His most recent projects include a 6 movement song cycle for mezzo-soprano and piano , along with  two chamber operas. The first (The Combat) will be premiered during July and August 2022 and produced by the Ogden-based Next Ensemble. The second (Robot X) is slated to premiere 2024 and will be produced by Opera Contempo. David has served as Composer-in-Residence for Opera Contempo since 2021. David also enjoys writing music for media.

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David

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Liz

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Liz’s professional writing lands primarily on the stage and the screen, though her first public works were as a opinion section writer for a college magazine. Her poetry has been her guilty, largely private, pleasure. She has also published three children’s books, one stand alone comic book, and quite a few short stories. Liz loves storytelling in all forms and has a made a career of theatre, film, podcasting, audiobook narration, writing, and teaching English to junior high students. She is a proponent of adults following their creative impulses as professionals, amateurs, or anywhere in between. Her mantra, whenever she wants to try something new creatively, is “everyone fails or else they are doing it wrong.” Oddly, her best poetry always manages to be written on a rainy morning in the early spring or the late fall. Her relationship with her husband and two children remain her favorite ongoing works of art.

Mandi Barrus, mezzo-soprano, is a musician and actor originally from Seattle, Washington. With her "impressive technique and clear tone", Mandi's perform-ances are described as "a breath of fresh air" (Front Row Rev-iewers). She is known for her ver-satility of performance, with credits in both musical theater and opera.  

 

Mandi’s past season included singing Judy Shepard in Considering Matthew Shepard with Salt Lake Choral Artists; Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Nights’ Dream with Utah Metropolitan Ballet; and Public Opinion in Orpheus in the Underworld with Utah Vocal Arts. Mandi is currently playing Signora Naccarelli in Hale Centre Theatre’s production of The Light in the Piazza. She is engaged to premiere The Bitter Price by J. Arnold Tayler with NEXT Ensemble in Fall 2022 and to reprise her role as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti at Blinn College in Texas in Spring 2023.

 

Mandi shares her love of music as a dedicated teacher of young voices, weekly at St. Paul's Episcopal Church as the Mezzo Artist-in-Residence, and by presenting opera outreach programs in elementary schools throughout Utah where she lives with her three children in the Greater Salt Lake area. Mandi is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Opera Contempo.

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Mandi

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Jeffrey

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Jeffrey Price teaches piano at the University of Utah, where he is also the coach for the Lyric Opera Ensemble. During a versatile and multifaceted career, he has been extremely active as a coach, accompanist, soloist, chamber musician, musical director (for opera, musical theater, and dance), and composer.

For over ten years, he has been a co-director of the Contemporary Music Consortium, which presents concerts of new music in Salt Lake. He has composed chamber and orchestral music, piano pieces and songs, including several works for stage in a variety of idioms.

He studied music at the University of Utah, including piano under Gladys Gladstone Rosenberg and Lowell Farr, composition under Vladimir Ussachevsky, Ramiro Cortes, and Bruce Reich, and conducting under Jason Klein.

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Being

After completing "#unfilt{HER}ed" David had written a movement that didn't quite fit with the theme of the larger song cycle, but still had value in the composer's estimation. David decided to reach out to his regular collaborative partner and sister Jenny to see if they couldn't utilize the music with new text. Given that the music for the song was already completed David asked Jenny to attempt what is often the opposite way of combining text and music by creating new lyrics for the music. The process resulted in "Being" . The pair had so much fun working on this project that they have decided to fill out a complete set of "Songs With Words" whenever David has extra material in need of words. 

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 Jennifer Campbell is a writer born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT. She was trained as a journalist, makes her living as a copywriter, and is always juggling a slew of other creative writing projects. She is excitedly working on her first opera libretto, which her brother will score and will premiere in 2023. In addition to writing poetry and song lyrics, she is working to publish her first dark fantasy novel this year. Her works explore the themes of identity, memory and impermanence. Outside of writing, Jennifer’s 13-year-old son would tell you she plays bananagrams slightly too competitively, is a little bit obsessed with her favorite k-pop group (Stray Kids), and loves him more than anything in the world.

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Jenny

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Melissa

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 Melissa Gordon James is an Orem, Utah based singer and voice teacher. She has a master’s degree in vocal performance from Brigham Young University and a bachelor’s of arts degree from Southern Utah University. Her Major roles include Cio Cio San in Madame Butterfly, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, and Maria in Utah Opera’s production of Man of La Mancha. She is an active member of the Utah Opera Chorus and has recently been featured as a voice teacher in The Story Book Home Journal published by Al Young Studios.

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Song of St Clare & Weary with Toil

Song of St. Clare

I was moved by this text, a portion of a letter from St. Clare of Assisi to her friend and sister Agnes of Prague, when I read it in the transcript of the ordination of Clare Julian Carbone to the Catholic priesthood. Clare Julian’s ordination in Salt Lake City by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan in 2015 is just one of a large movement of Catholic women being ordained, and thereby immediately excommunicated, because they are women. Their actions hold together a painful pair of truths: the truth of the call that arises in them, and the laws of the church organization that criminalizes the public expression and realization of their call.

Is it the same or a different sort of mystery that Shakespeare’s writing about in his Sonnet 27 – the way, when we fall in love, our whole being is overtaken by love for, maybe even obsession with, another person? How our days and nights are filled with our dreams of them. In my experience these mysteries are at least related, as they are both related to the mystery of creation, whatever is that force that puts pen to paper and pulls something out of the artist and writer they didn’t know was there.

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Monica

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 Monica Hymas is a composer and church musician living and working in Salt Lake City, whose works have been premiered by the professional choir Brevitas and the choir at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark. Her song cycle Infinity Sister was premiered in November 2019 by Aubrey Adams-MacMillan and JJ Pena. She can generally be found singing with friends, including the Utah Sacred Harp Singers and the St. Mark's choir, meandering through the foothills northeast of downtown Salt Lake, or sitting at the piano working out her latest musical problems. While for many years art song and anthem-length choral works have provided very satisfying problem-solving material, she’s been moving toward both much longer and much shorter problems: opera on one end, balanced by Anglican chant psalm tones on the other. Monica is grateful to Opera Contempo for premiering these songs and letting them live.

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My River Runs to The & Go To the Mountain and Dream!

Nature has always provided two things to me, escape and retreat. In these two short songs I have tried to capture these ideas. In "My river runs to thee," the masterfully melancholy Emily Dickinson observes a river rushing toward the sea and in turn, asks the sea to welcome her as well. This gorgeous plea has such sadness to it, yet I can't help but identify with her; many times I find myself longing to escape to the mountains, in nature, to be swallowed up and lost in the trees, if only for a time. The song ends with the singer and piano becoming almost indistinguishable from each other.

 

In stark contrast is "Go to the mountain and dream!" I was astounded by 13th-century Persian poet/mystic Rumi in a poem where speaking to what appears to be a lover, he beckoned them to come to the orchard. He remarks that whether or not his lover comes, the orchard and its beauty do not matter. Astonished by the profundity of his poem, I decided to turn the concept on its head. The mountains do not care whether or not I am on them. Their magic and spirituality exist whether or not I am there to witness it. In contrast, it is us who do not matter. "We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever." -Carl Sagan

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 Clifford is an accomplished composer and arranger whose work has been performed all over the world and is known for his authenticity in diversity for different styles of music. His most recent commission for the Wasatch Chorale, "Let this be Heaven," was written for the annual Orem Invitational Choral Festival. His arrangement of the Russian lullaby, “Bayu, Bayushki, Bayu” was premiered by the Salt Lake Choral Artists conducted by Brady Allred as part as their contribution to the Wiegenlieder projekt, to enthusiastic acclaim. It is published by Hinshaw music, selected and edited by Andre De Quadros. His arrangement of the Macedonian lullaby, "Oj, Jano Jano" is published by Carus-Verlag as a part of a collection of Lullabies and Evensongs. He was awarded 2nd place at the 40th Annual Choral Composition Contest sponsored by Ithaca College School of Music and Mark Foster Publishing. He is the composer for the popular YouTube and podcast series "Profiling Evil."

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Clifford

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Anna

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A Utah native, Anna Hawkes holds a Masters in Vocal Performance from the University of Utah and a Bachelors of Music with an emphasis in vocal performance from Brigham Young University.  In addition to her studies, Anna has performed with the La Musica Lirica Summer Music Program in Novafeltria, Italy in 2018, Utah Valley Arts Academy Summer Program in 2017, and the Washington, DC Crittenden Workshop during the summer of 2016. In addition to her singing and onstage work, Anna danced with Tanner Dance and Children’s Dance Theater for 15 years. Favorite roles include Blanche (Dialogues des Carmélites, University of Utah, 2019), Hanna (The Merry Widow, Utah Vocal Arts Academy, 2017), Musetta (La bohème, Brigham Young University, 2016), and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel, Brigham Young University, 2015).

In 2020, Anna co-founded Opera Contempo- a chamber opera company featuring new settings, new works, and new voices - with fellow operatic force, Mandi Barrus. 

A Utah native, Anna Hawkes holds a Masters in Vocal Performance from the University of Utah and a Bachelors of Music with an emphasis in vocal performance from Brigham Young University.  In addition to her studies, Anna has performed with the La Musica Lirica Summer Music Program in Novafeltria, Italy in 2018, Utah Valley Arts Academy Summer Program in 2017, and the Washington, DC Crittenden Workshop during the summer of 2016. In addition to her singing and onstage work, Anna danced with Tanner Dance and Children’s Dance Theater for 15 years. Favorite roles include Blanche (Dialogues des Carmélites, University of Utah, 2019), Hanna (The Merry Widow, Utah Vocal Arts Academy, 2017), Musetta (La bohème, Brigham Young University, 2016), and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel, Brigham Young University, 2015).

In 2020, Anna co-founded Opera Contempo- a chamber opera company featuring new settings, new works, and new voices - with fellow operatic force, Mandi Barrus. A Utah native, Anna Hawkes holds a Masters in Vocal Performance from the University of Utah and a Bachelors of Music with an emphasis in vocal performance from Brigham Young University.  In addition to her studies, Anna has performed with the La Musica Lirica Summer Music Program in Novafeltria, Italy in 2018, Utah Valley Arts Academy Summer Program in 2017, and the Washington, DC Crittenden Workshop during the summer of 2016. In addition to her singing and onstage work, Anna danced with Tanner Dance and Children’s Dance Theater for 15 years. Favorite roles include Blanche (Dialogues des Carmélites, University of Utah, 2019), Hanna (The Merry Widow, Utah Vocal Arts Academy, 2017), Musetta (La bohème, Brigham Young University, 2016), and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel, Brigham Young University, 2015).

In 2020, Anna co-founded Opera Contempo- a chamber opera company featuring new settings, new works, and new voices - with fellow operatic force, Mandi Barrus. 

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Debby Cannon received her Bachelor’s degree in piano performance and pedagogy from Utah State University where she graduated as Outstanding Pianist in 2002, and participated in the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation Collaborative Artistry program.

She currently enjoys playing for the Weber State opera program, and for theater students at University of Utah.  She loves the opportunity to collaborate with other musicians for a variety of recitals and masterclasses.  She has loved taking part in Next Ensemble events, the Diva Moms, and frequent  assemblies for Arts Inc. sharing how opera works with elementary age children.  

She has received awards in multiple piano competitions including the Gwladys Comstock Piano Competition, Utah State Fair,  Federation of Music Clubs, Idaho State MTNA Yamaha and was a participant in the Junior Gina Bachauer International Solo and Inaugural Bachauer Piano Team Competition in 1996.   

She started accompanying at the age of 9 for the Eastern Idaho Regional Children’s Chorus and the Idaho Falls Youth Symphony Chorale.  After college, she was the accompanist for the San Diego Children’s Choir for several years.   She has accompanied for numerous community theater productions and honor choirs in Utah, Idaho, and California.    

             She maintains a private piano studio with 25 students in Syracuse, Utah where she resides with her husband and 3 boys.

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Anna

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