Chorus of All Souls at Abrons Arts Center

Last February I attended Experiments in Opera’s excellent NEW SHORTS program at Issue Project Room. Well, it was presented with IPR at a different venue due to some kind of structural damage situation at IPR’s home venue. But anyway, the program featured new work by Robert Ashley | Jason Cady | Joe Diebes | Ruby Fulton | Gabrielle Herbst | Mary Kouyoumdjian Aaron Siegel | Justin Tierney | Leaha Maria Villarreal | Matthew Welch – was performed by Hotel Elefant and a roster of new music all-stars. It was, basically, amazeballs and I had a great time.

Afterwards I emailed  Aaron Siegel from EiO to touch base. He and I first met through Aaron Friedman of Make Music New York when we partnered on presenting Aaron (Siegel)’s “iPhone symphony” GROUP as part of River To River. (Which is also where I met Larry Legend, who programmed the GROUP app and who I just ran into a few weeks ago at Brooklyn Beta).

Anyway, I was really excited to hear about EiO’s approach and to see composers getting together to self-produce and take charge of the process. After seeing so many composers get f’ed by incompetent “creative producers” and lose control of their work, I was inspired to see these guys really jump in. Not only is the new opera that they support really exciting and high quality,  they’re building a community that can only grow stronger over time.

Now Experiments in Opera has joined forces with Paola Prestini’s Vision into Art (also a River To River alum!) to present Chorus of All Souls at the Abrons Art Center on Saturday November 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm featuring composers John Zorn, Jessica Pavone, Matthew Welch and Jason Cady.

Never one to miss an opportunity to have a great conversation, Culturebot is going to hang out with the composers and creators of the operas and special invited guests to have a freeform Long Table conversation exploring the origins of the chorus in opera, the aesthetic challenges of working with a chorus and how the chorus functions both artistically and symbolically. So that’ll be at 7PM this Sunday, October 27 @ Abrons Arts Center, Rm. 302. More info here. This will be a lead-up to the show on November 2.

Here’s the promo video for Chorus of All Souls and full info about the November 2 show is below.

Experiments in Opera ( announces their upcoming performance of Chorus of All Souls to be held on Saturday November 2, 8pm at Abrons Art Center Playhouse, 466 Grand Street, New York. This performance kicks off their 2013-14 Season and yearlong residency at Abrons Arts Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For tickets ($30), patrons should call Theatermania at 212-352-3101 or visit

In celebration of the Day of All Souls and the close of Hallowmas, Experiments in Opera (EiO), in partnership with VisionIntoArt, presents Chorus of All Souls, an evening of opera choruses including a semi-staged production of John Zorn’s The Holy Visions, an exhilarating choral opera based on the writings and work of the medieval mystic and composer, Hildegard von Bingen. The evening will also include the premiere of When No One Around You is There by Jessica Pavone, which utilizes the chorus as an abstract metaphor for the human predicament; as well as two semi-staged choral operas: Jason Cady’s Nostalgia Kills You, a comedy about a man and his zombie ex-girlfriend and Matthew Welch’s Reanimator Requiem which merges the mass for the dead with H.P. Lovecraft’s cult classic.

According to EiO Co-Founder Aaron Siegel “we are thrilled that part of our appeal is the way in which our work is connected more closely with popular culture media (television and movies).  We are looking to draw on viewers familiarity with these mediums to access the stories and messages.”


  • These are the World Premiere performances of the works by Pavone, Cady, and Welch.
  • This is the first staging of Zorn’s The Holy Visions and marks the beginning of a development project with VisionIntoArt that will culminate with a fully-staged production during the 2014-15 season.
  • Cady’s and Welch’s works address unconventional opera stories dealing with themes of Zombies and the Undead—stories we currently associate with the popular culture imagination.
  • Pavone’s work explores the drama of sound production within a community of singers and stretches the notion of opera: it doesn’t actually contain a narrative story or a libretto, but rather focuses on the expression of vocal mechanisms – breath, tension, the friction of air in the throat.

Featured vocalists include Abby Fischer, Kirsten Sollek, Jane Sheldon, Melissa Hughes, Sarah Brailey, and Vince B. Vincent. Both Nostalgia Kills You and Reanimator Requiem are directed by Louisa Proske and conducted by Matthew Welch. Chorus: Amanda Weber, Molly Netter, Kathleen Allan, Rachel Calloway, Patrick Fennig, Max Blum, Nick Hallet, Jeffrey Gavett, and Peter Stewart. Projection & Video Design for The Holy Visions is by S. Katy Tucker.  Peter Zuspan from design firm Bureau V will be the director for The Holy Visions. Zorn’s and Pavone’s works are a cappella. Welch’s and Cady’s works will be accompanied by Mike Pride (drumset), Tim Dahl (electric bass), Emily Manzo (amplified harpsichord, Nostalgia Kills You), and Brendon Randall-Myers (electric guitar, Reanimator Requiem).


EiO’s yearlong residency will also include a showcase of opera shorts for the radio (Radio Operas, February 28 – March 1, 2014), and the premiere of an evening length opera that has been in development with EiO for the past two seasons (Brother Brother, May 2-3, 2014). A $60 three event subscription (savings of $15) is available at

These mainstage programs will be augmented throughout the year by supporting videos, photos and writings that will help to contextualize the works in progress and by three free public programs (Opera in Dialogue) aimed to build dialogue between the composers, writers, performers, directors and designers working in the hybrid space of experimental opera. Experiments in Opera will partner with online magazine for these public programs which will take place in in the Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater.



Co-founded by composers Matthew Welch, Jason Cady, and Aaron Siegel, Experiments in Opera is a composer-driven initiative, featuring recent and new works with innovative answers to the traditional questions about how to connect words, story and music. Our activities respond to the pronounced need to nurture composers who are exploring musical work beyond a strictly concert setting, but furthermore into the hybrid genre of opera. Additionally Experiments in Opera builds supportive and informed audiences that are capable of contributing to its work.

In its first two programming seasons, Experiments in Opera has presented the work of more than 12 composers in three large-scale presentations aimed at expanding the collective understanding of experimental opera. Venues have included Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and Issue Project Room, and have featured works by composers Jason Cady, Aaron Siegel, Matthew Welch, Georges Aperghis, John Zorn, Robert Ashley, Joe Diebes, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal and the Cough Button collective. Also featured were performances by pianist Emily Manzo, singer Erin Flannery, drummer Brian Chase, Hotel Elefant, and the performance collective Why Lie?

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