(2017) for mezzo-soprano, piano, and cello | text by Oscar Wilde
Kathie Kane, mezzo-soprano; M. Maxwell Howeard, piano; and Terence Moran, cello
Wilde Songs deconstructs three sections of text from the dry humor of Oscar Wilde’s legendary comedy “The Importance of Being Earnest” and sets them against the sonic palates of three classic British musicians/groups of great influence to Kane and Frey: Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, and the Beatles. The result is a humorous and melodramatic romp through the exquisitely-crafted nineteenth-century jokes of Oscar Wilde through the harmonic lens of late twentieth-century British popular music.
the fox and the pomegranate
(2011-15) for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and chamber orchestra| libretto by Daniel J. Kushner
Sarah Visnov, soprano; Kathie Kane, mezzo-soprano; Jacob James, tenor; and the Crane Opera Ensemble Orchestra, Kirk Severtson, conductor
The Fox and the Pomegranate is an allegorical opera about the multifaceted nature of love, the fluidity of sexual identity and gender roles, and the nuances of infidelity. The subject – a timeless, parable-like tale of love yearned for and mystery sought – is set in a surrealistic, forested landscape inhabited by a pair of lovers and a vulpine outlier. Nate, a gender-fluid individual, must choose between familiar intimacy with a past lover called Meg and a new tryst with an enigmatic young man in a fox mask, who goes by the name Aril.
(2014) for soprano, baritone, and piano | libretto by matt frey
Karianne Pasma, soprano; Andrew Machum, baritone; and Simon Dockery, piano; also with Krystyna MacKay, soprano
The passengers aboard Swissair Flight 111, which plunged into the Atlantic off the coast of Halifax in 1998, had no idea that anything was wrong until just before impact. What is it like to know death is imminent – in perhaps only minutes? One-Eleven Heavy is a 10-minute mini-opera in three parts which explores the relationship of humans to air travel – both the intimacy of abandoning control to technology and, through the tragedy of Flight 111, the sometimes horrific consequences. The libretto includes recollections of reporters on the scene of the Swissair crash, interviews with family members of the passengers and crew, and newspaper accounts of the incident, as well as descriptions of plane crashes from survivors of other disasters. Told in reverse chronology, the voices of these characters are woven into a narrative which recounts who was on the ill-fated flight, explores what they might have experienced, and gives momentary insight into the physical and emotional aftermath of the tragedy.
moby dick: extracts on death and other curiosities
(2014) for 3 sopranos, tenor, baritone, and chamber orchestra
Lucy Dhegrae, Ariadne Greif, and Charlotte Mundy, sopranos; Sean Christensen, tenor; Alex Samaras, baritone; and Contemporaneous.
New music ensemble Contemporaneous joined forces with West 4th New Music (W4) to create an evening-length oratorio exploring the modern-day implications of Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. With a libretto using only text from the novel itself, the composers of W4 – Matt Frey, Molly Herron, Tim Hansen and Ruben Naeff – each composed three movements, then pieced them together to create a unique interpretation of the story that focuses on Melville’s themes of mortality, identity, and the hunt outside the context of a linear narrative.
a white and turbid wake | libretto by matt frey
A White and Turbid Wake probes the human compulsion to obsess. Through the lens of Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab, we reflect on the nature and the necessity of being consumed with mania. His thoughts drive him into a fit of rapture and desperation as Ahab becomes convinced that a passion akin to insanity is essential to the human condition. Aware of the inherent nature of his own madness, Ahab entreats us – how could we not be mad?
what you resist
(excerpt; 2013) for contralto and baroque ensemble
Kirsten Sollek, contralto; Ben Grow, recorder; Karl Larsen, harpsichord; Francis Liu, baroque violin; Dan McCarthy, Tenor Viola da Gamba; Doug Balliett, Bass Viola da Gamba; Sam Nester, conductor
"What you resist persists, nuance makes heat
To counteract distance
I know you gave it all,
Offered me harmony if things were done your way."
(excerpt; 2011) for three sopranos and chamber ensemble
Jenny Ribeiro and Jenn Kidwell, sopranos; Sarah Kuzma, flute; Matt Frey, clarinet; Patti Kilroy, violin; Mariel Roberts, cello; Molly Herron, piano
"In the Evergreen Cemetery, they buried the nameless ones." - Leon Stein, The Triangle Fire.
Descent pays tribute to the seven victims of the NYC Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire who were buried, nameless and unknown, in Brooklyn's Evergreen Cemetery on April 5th, 1911. The work is divided into nine sections, mirroring the nine floors which the victims descended on their fall from the Ashe Building during the fire. Most of these victims remained unidentified until nearly a century after the tragedy.
46, 50, 61, 95, 103, 115, 127
(2008) for soprano and chamber orchestra | text by sophocles
Jenny Ribeiro, soprano; The Fox and Pomegranate Orchestra, Matt Frey, conductor
Friendless, unwept, unwed,
I, sick at heart, am led
The way prepared for me;
Day’s hallowed orb on high
I may no longer see;
For me no tears are spent,
Nor any friends lament
The death I die.
(2008) for mezzo-soprano and piano | text by becky frey
Jocelyne O'Toole, mezzo-soprano; Matt Frey, piano
i had a sweater.
that may not sound extraordinary, but it was to me.
it was a very special sweater.
it was pea-green with an army sheen with patches on the elbow and patches on the shoulder so it didn’t wear out or tear out.
it had thumb holes in the sleeves so they covered my hands.
it was a comfortable sweater.
it belonged to a friend who went far away one day and stayed.
for a tiny shining time, his scent clung to it.
in the dark of the night i liked to slip it on, wrap my arms tight around myself, and pretend he was hugging me.
for five years i held these moments dear.
then i gave the sweater back.
now in the dark of the night i can’t pretend he’s holding me tight.
(2012) for soprano and piano | text by d. h. lawrence
Jenny Ribeiro, soprano; David Friend, piano
I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.