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Anne LeBaron

Introduction

Anne LeBaron’s compositions embrace an exotic array of subjects ranging from the mysterious Singing Dunes of Kazakhstan, to probes into physical and cultural forms of extinction, to the controversial cross-dressing Papessa Joanna. Widely recognized for her work in instrumental, electronic, and performance realms, she has received numerous awards and prizes, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, the Alpert Award in the Arts, and a Fulbright Full Fellowship. She is the recipient of two awards from the Rockefeller MAP Fund---for her cyborgopera, Sucktion, and her hyperopera, Crescent City, both with libretti by Douglas Kearney---and a 2009-2010 Cultural Exchange International Grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs for The Silent Steppe Cantata. Her sixth opera, Crescent City, invoking the legendary Marie Laveau, was performed throughout May, 2012, in an 'unforgettable, breathtaking' production by The Industry. The Los Angeles Times review can be viewed here, and a feature article, also in the LA Times, on Anne LeBaron, 'Grandmaster of Hyperopera,' can be viewed or downloaded here.

Anne LeBaron's darkly mysterious, troubling yet weirdly exuberant and wonderfully performed new opera CRESCENT CITY...(Los Angeles Times)

Another lasting impression is how perfectly composer Anne LeBaron’s score for the SILENT STEPPE CANTATA evoked the spirit of the traditional instruments the orchestra played...captivating and classy. (Tengri News)

LeBaron’s score, POPE JOAN, for mixed ensemble brilliantly evokes an imagined medievalism. (Gramophone)

 

 

News / Announcements

The live recording of my opera Crescent City is now available for purchase on innova recordings. Hailed as "darkly mysterious, troubling yet weirdly exuberant and wonderfully performed” (LA Times), and repurposed as “Preservation Hall on acid” (LA Culturespot), the experience of being an almost-active-participant, in a vast warehouse reimagined as a doomed city, has been captured on this knockout recording. Acclaimed poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney wrote the libretto. The incredibly gifted, fearless singers: Jonathan Mack, Ashley Faatoalia, Gwendolyn Brown, Maria Elena Altany, Ji Young Yang, Timur Bekbosunov, Cedric Berry, and Lillian Sengpiehl, and the orchestra of equally intrepid musicians, were conducted by Maestro Marc Lowenstein. Celebrated director Yuval Sharon, produced Crescent City with his company, The Industry. The press release can be downloaded here.


Highlighting the summer were several workshops on extended techniques that I led at the 2014 World Harp Congress in Sydney, culminating in performances of an original group composition and a multiple-harp rendition of Terry Riley’s In C. The Congress also programmed a performance of Some Things Should Not Move, an aria from my monodrama being written with a libretto by Yvonne Eadon.

My essay, "Composing Breathtails," has been published in the new issue of Current Musicology, a collection of experimental writing about music that can be accessed in print or online. This composition, Breathtails, was just awarded the 2014 Miriam Gideon Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music. Please see the press release for more information.


On June 22, 2014, SongFest presents Story of My Angel (scored for soprano and women’s chorus with piano altered by live electronics) at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, as part of the “Songs of California” concert. The text, by the late southern folk artist, Howard Finster, originated on one of his cheery yet slightly scary angel cutouts.

A couple of days prior, I’ll be attending the Opera America Conference in San Francisco, as one of the Discovery Grant recipients for my new opera-in-progress, Psyche & Delia. The synopsis can be read here; check out this photo of the Harry Partch instruments that will form part of the orchestra. A sneak preview of the opera was performed on my portrait concerts in Los Angeles earlier this year, reviewed by the Los Angeles Times as an “amazing body of work.” The full review can be seen here.


Opera America had the vision to implement a new grant for female composers, underwritten by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation: Opera Grants for Female Composers. The results of the application process have just been announced AND I'm one of the first recipients, along with seven other composers, yea!!! This award will provide essential support for the development of my new opera, Psyche & Delia.


Springtime brings a flurry of performances! First, two different portrait concerts at REDCAT in Los Angeles, on April 12 and 13, offer premieres, sneak previews, and much more. Zany concert theater works are programmed along with opera, chamber music, and several short films. I’m proud to share these concerts with emerging LA-based composers Daniel Corral, James Klopfleisch, Andrew McIntosh, Chris Schunk, Andrew Tholl, and Kwan-fai Lam, based in Hong Kong. Special guests include Ralph Samuelson, shakuhachi; Timur Bekbosunov, tenor; Cedric Berry, bass; the Formalist Quartet; Daniel Rosenboom, trumpet; Lucy Shelton, soprano; and Camilla Hoitenga, flutist; with harpist Alison Bjorkedal and percussionist Justin DeHart. Further program details can be seen here.

On April 8, Aaron Kahn performs Way of Light, my work for trumpet and video with fixed electronic media, at CalArts in the Wild Beast. Composer and pianist Diane Lindsay will perform my piano solo, Enigma of Papilio, on her April 22 recital, also in the Beast.

Alyssa Park will perform my solo violin piece, Four, as part of the Hear Now Music Festival scheduled for May 3 in Venice, CA, at the First Lutheran Church of Venice, 6:00 PM.


Four Seasons Arts presents Thomas Buckner in the West Coast premiere of Breathtails, with the Flux Quartet and Ralph Samuelson on shakuhachi, on Sun. March 2. The concert takes place at 4:00 PM in the Regents Theater at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA.

Several performances of my works at CalArts will be heard this spring: The Left Side of Time, for trombone and electronics: Kevin Taylor, March 4; Way of Light, for trumpet and video with electronics: Aaron Kahn, April 8; Enigma of Papilio, for piano solo: Diane Lindsay, Apr. 22.

Two profile concerts of compositions from the past four decades, along with pieces by former students, are scheduled at REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles: on Apr. 12 at 5:00 and Apr. 13 at 7:00. Featured performers include the stunning soprano Lucy Shelton, internationally renowned flutist Camilla Hoitenga, and the intrepid Formalist Quartet.


On Nov. 14, The Interpretations Series will present an evening of my music in New York, at Roulette, on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 8:00 PM. Performers for the world premiere of Breathtails, a setting of poems by Charles Bernstein, include the Flux Quartet, vocalist Thomas Buckner, and Ralph Samuelson, playing shakuhachi. Pianist Ana Cervantes, based in Guanajuato, will perform two compositions that she has commissioned from me: Creación de las Aves (after the Remedios Varo painting)—a U.S. premiere, and Los Murmullos, for speaking pianist—a New York premiere.

Two days prior, in celebration of the release of her brand new Monarca 2-CD recording, Ana performs Creación de las Aves  as a sneak preview,along with pieces she commissioned from several other Mexican and U.S. composers, on Nov. 12 at 6:30, the Music Room at St. Peter’s Church (Lexington and 54th) in Manhattan. Muchas gracias, Ana!


Just in time for mosquito, water moccasin, and bullfrog season, Floodsongs---a setting of three poems by Douglas Kearney---is programmed on a June 2 concert beginning at 3:30. The Santa Clarita Master Chorale will perform my latest work for chorus, with Phil Curtis electronically transforming the voices in real time, infusing the vocal sonorities with his subtle magic. The matinee event, with a program relating to cuisine, takes place at the Performing Arts Center, College of the Canyons, in Valencia, CA.

I’ll be serving as one of the Mentor Composers, along with colleagues George Lewis and Paul Chihara, for the upcoming American Composers Orchestra - Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute readings, held in New York on June 3-5. These New Music Readings will take place at Miller Theater on the Columbia University campus, June 3 at 10:00 AM and June 4 at 7:30 PM. Works by seven composers are scheduled, and tickets are free; registration suggested. Looks like a most exciting and diverse program!

I’ve written an article, “Crescent City – A Hyperopera,” for the spring 2013 issue of the International Alliance for Women in Music Journal. The article discusses the development of my concept of hyperopera; the production of Crescent City, my latest opera; experimental opera; and the future of opera. It can be downloaded here.    


My Concerto for Active Frogs will be performed as part of the Raudelunas 'Pataphysical Redux at the University of Alabama, Feb. 2, 2013, and I'll be performing in a reunion of the "Jewels" trio with Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith at this historic concert---a reunion of the original participants in the 1975 Pataphysical Revue concert, in the same theater. On March 2, my new work commissioned by Southwest Chamber Music for their 25th anniversary, Some Things Should Not Move, will be premiered, featuring soprano Elissa Johnston, set to a libretto by Yvonne M. Eadon.


I've had a lifelong dream of becoming a Grandmaster, and it finally happened, but not the way I ever envisioned! Read on, in the Los Angeles Times July 8 2012 profile: "Anne LeBaron is the grandmaster of hyperopera"


Thanks to the outstanding Crescent City cast, musicians, crew, director and producer, and to all of our supporters, for a superb run with the opera throughout May, in a fearless production by The Industry. A huge thank you to the visionary Yuval Sharon, founder of The Industry and director of Crescent City. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times called it 'weirdly exuberant' in this review, and 'breathtaking' in this one (writing about a moving and incisive concert by Southwest Chamber Music that included my work, Solar Music). Videos of excerpts from the performances can be viewed here.

Musikwerkstatt-Wien's production of my monodrama, Sucktion (on a double-bill with Miss Donnithorne's Maggot by Peter Maxwell Davies) also deserves kudos, garnering at least five dynamic reviews. Peter Dusek describes the production as 'hilariously funny and unexpectedly surreal' in Theatania (Das Theater-Portal für Wien). High fives to the director, Benjamin Prins, the music director, Hugh Rhys James, and the soprano, Anna-Maria Birnbauer!

Summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl! Leonard Slatkin will conduct my work for large orchestra, American Icons, on July 10, on a program with Beethoven's Ninth and works by Cindy McTee and Anna Clyne. The following month, I'll be participating as a faculty member in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute 2012 for a week, held at UCLA. At part of the back-to-back activities, the dashing LA-based collective, wild Up, will play the first movement of Telluris Theoria Sacra, conducted by Christopher Rountree.


Crescent City, my new hyperopera, premieres on May 10 in Los Angeles. Please consider contributing to our Kickstarter campaign, before Apr. 7. The debut of the Solaris Vocal Ensemble coincides with the world premiere of Floodsongs on Apr. 14, in Seattle, on a program with composers Meredith Monk, Ingram Marshall, and Frances White. Floodsongs, set to poetry by Douglas Kearney, is scored for twelve voices and live electronics. On May 9 and 12, Musikwerkstatt Wien will perform my cyborgopera, Sucktion, on a double bill with Peter Maxwell Davies' Miss Donnithorne's Maggot. Southwest Chamber Music performs Solar Music, for flute and harp (actually four flutes---bass, alto, concert, and piccolo), on May 21 at Zipper Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. On July 10, Leonard Slatkin will conduct my work for large orchestra, American Icons, at the Hollywood Bowl! This performance with the LA Philharmonic kicks off the classical season, and includes Beethoven's Ninth along with works by Cindy McTee and Anna Clyne.


The Dec. 10 premiere of the Silent Steppe Cantata in Astana exceeded my most pie-in-the-sky expectations! Timur Bekbosunov's performance was stunning, as he moved seamlessly among Kazakh, Russian, and English lyrics. His riveting presence was framed by the dynamic Astana Philharmonic Orchestra, performing on traditional Kazkah instruments and conducted by Erzhan Dautov, and the soaring voices of the Women's Philharmonic Choir. Tengri News published one of the several reviews, with photos. The performance was heard by over 1300 people and received a lengthy standing ovation.


The culmination of three years of development and collaboration among American and Kazakh artists and performers, the Silent Steppe Cantata will receive its official premiere performance in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on December 10, 2011, as part of the festivities commemorating the Republic of Kazakhstan’s twenty years of independence from the Soviet Union. The performance of the cantata will take place in the Norman Foster-designed Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, with texts from Kazakh poets set in three languages: Kazakh, Russian and English. Scored for an ethnographic orchestra of indigenous Kazakh instruments, womens' chorus, and tenor soloist, it will feature the young tenor Timur Bekbosunov. My inspiration to write the Silent Steppe Cantata initially came from three sources: hearing the astonishing folk instruments; learning about the incredible resilience of the great nation of Kazakhstan; and reading the powerful poetry of Abai, of Olzhas Suleimenov, and many other Kazakh poets and writers. Please download our press release for more details.


Announcing the Visual Artist launch for my hyperopera, Crescent City! Please join us if you’re in LA on Mon., Oct. 17, at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Park, from 6:30-9:30 for a festive introduction to the terrific artists creating installations, sculptures, and more for the May 2012 production of Crescent City. I’ll be performing on my red electric harp along with Phil Curtis on laptop, deconstructing a chorus of frogs residing in and around Lake Wildwood in Cottondale, Alabama. Another big draw: Timur and the Dime Museum are playing selections from the opera and from their own rep. More information on this flyer.


Having just completed Breathtails (three years in the making!), for baritone, shakuhachi, and string quartet, with the wondrous poetry of Charles Bernstein tying it all together, I'm off in a few days to my alma mater. To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of New College at the University of Alabama, where I spent four years and began composing and harp studies, I've been invited to give a concert of my music and to perform as well. I'll be reunited with one of my earliest improvising partners, the intrepid LaDonna Smith. More info about the concert on Aug. 20, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, here.

Check out Seth Watter's Aug. 2011 review of my recent two-disc CD, 1, 2, 4, 3, in the New York City Jazz Record. He's the first reviewer to mention the Deleuzian concepts behind the titles, and to go even further with a bit of decoding.


Crescent City, my hyperopera-in-progress, has been awarded a grant from the MAP Fund, helping us move forward with the planned production for next spring with The Industry.


The Silent Steppe Cantata premiered in Almaty, Kazakhstan on March 25, 2011, with much fanfare and acclaim. The fearless and mesmerizing LA-based tenor, Timur Bekbosunov, was joined by Sazghen Sazy, an orchestra of indigenous instrument conducted by Zhamat Temirgaliyev, along with a women's chorus and narrator. The first screening of a documentary by filmmaker Sandra Powers, detailing the creation of the cantata over a multi-year process, preceded the performance. Photos and reports from the American artists involved in the rehearsals and performance can be seen on my blog.


Announcing new concerts in March and May!

On March 16, the long- awaited launch event for a new production company based in Los Angeles, The Industry, initiated by director Yuval Sharon, will feature selections from my opera, Crescent City, with plans for a full production in Los Angeles in the spring of 2012. Festivities begin at the Royal/T Gallery in Culver City at 6:30, with the presentation at 7:30PM, featuring selections from the opera performed by John Duykers and Gwendolyn Brown, accompanied by the Dime Museum band. Librettist Douglas Kearney will perform part of the libretto as well, in his signature and unforgettable style. The Walsh Set Trio closes out the evening. Admission is free.

In New York, on March 18, Robert Frankenberry will premiere a new work for solo piano written to honor Leon Fleisher, Enigma of Papilio, on the Phoenix Concert series (Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy, 26 W. 84th, 8 PM). This concert, Music from Mt. San Angelo, is a celebration of the The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I spent dozens of productive composing hours, overlooking the golden fields and breathing the grassy air, some years ago.

Two concertos are scheduled for the same day, May 14: in Marseille, Harpestra: Concerto for Two Harps and One Player shares billing with Ives and Zappa on the last concert of the Festival Les Musiques. The featured soloist is Helene Breschand; Philippe Nahon conducts. Concerto for Active Frogs (no harps in this one, the frogs take over) will be performed on May 14 at 8:00 PM by the CalArts Anurans on the Hear Now Festival, taking place at the First Lutheran Church in Venice, CA.

Hsing, my solo composition for activated harpist (performer speaks, sings, cajoles, follows instructions on wild cards, and much more) will be performed in the complete 30-minute version on the Southwest Chamber Music concert series, Jan. 29 2011, at 8:00 PM. Harpist Alison Bjorkedal will give the world premiere at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena; direction is by Rafael Lopez-Barrantes. Program notes describing the piece can be found here. Alison and her harp will join me to speak with John Schneider on his radio program, Global Village Thursdays, on Jan. 20, with live excerpts from Hsing performed.


I’m thrilled to share news of my new two-CD release on Innova, 1, 2, 4, 3, documenting live performances from the past decade in solo, duo, quartet, and trio formations with over a dozen musicians from seven countries.  My concert at the Royal T in Los Angeles, to celebrate the release with some of the musicians on the recording, has been rescheduled for the spring---details will be announced early next year. I'm grateful to the New York Foundation for the Arts for assistance with this release, which teamed up with Innova to also release The NYFA Set, an extraordinary 5-CD set of music by fifty-two composers who received NYFA grants during the past several decades. Not an exaggeration to bill it as ‘a feast, an education, an extravaganza, and a Rosetta Stone all in one,’ as Innova does on the page devoted to this mega-project. My contribution to The NYFA Set, An Even Loan, is evenly shared by Wadada Leo Smith and Peter van Bergen. There’s a facebook page for these and other NYFA-related Innova recordings. Comments are welcome, feel free to chime in…

Other news for the fall: on Oct. 20 at 21:30 (and again on Oct. 21, at 12:30), an hour-long radio feature on my work as a composer / performer, ‘Monitor Goes West: Anne LeBaron,’ will air on Swedish Radio, edited and produced by Erik Mikael Karlsson. The live action as described by Erik’s visit to my home for the interview includes a scary episode with my ‘garden of black widow spiders,’ perfectly timed for the spider-centric Halloween season. Miss it? You can catch Erik, the spiders, his journalist colleague Lisa Wall, and me playing a python skin tambourine from Hong Kong, in the streaming broadcast available until Nov. 20 on the Monitor website.


On the heels of the premiere of "Waterfall at Lu-shan," a new choral piece setting a text by Li Po, and of a performance of scenes from "Sucktion" at the Galapagos Arts Space in Brooklyn, some time off! The first half of the summer was devoted to a divine eight-city European tour with my daughter, headed off to college later this year: a glorious communing with art, musicians, and lovely Lake Annecy in France. Back in LA, I’m looking forward to an early Fall release of a new double-CD recording on INNOVA, “1, 2, 4, 3.” (Mystery solved if you buy the CD!) More info, along with a sneak peak at Sandra Powers’ over-the-top cover artwork, can be accessed here.

You’re invited to access the podcast I recorded with KUSC Arts Alive host Brian Lauritzen, broadcast on 91.5 FM in Los Angeles on July 31. Our conversation orbits around "Solar Music", my work for bass flute, alto flute, C flute and piccolo (one player) and harp, programmed on the Summer Festival at the Huntington, Aug. 7 and 8, with Southwest Chamber Music. An update: the LA Times Review, transporting you right there to the Huntington Gardens.

On Sat., Sept. 4, I’ll be preparing, plucking, bowing, and sliding at the Altadena Folly Bowl with Michael Dessen (trombone / electronics), Carole Kim (live video) and Jesse Gilbert (programmer). 7:30 PM, $10, 1601 E. Loma Alta Drive, Altadena, CA. The Folly Bowl is a charming outdoor amphitheater at the home of Sue Dadd and James Griffith. You are invited to bring your own picnic, refreshments, cushions or blankets!

And if you're looking for light summer reading as the heat dissipates, try my short essay, "Down the Rabbit-Hole of Innovation," published in the UCLA Center for the Study of Women Special Issue: "Writing About Music."


As March rolls around, Out with baroque ruins invoked by four, a new work performed with poetic finesse by violinist Anthea Kreston on March 5 in New York (thanks, Anthea, what a beautiful concert), and In with the ephemera of memory conjured in Southern Ephemera ---a paean to my childhood in the South. Rarely performed, Southern Ephemera was commissioned in the early 90’s by Newband, an ensemble that toured and recorded the piece. The iconic American composer Harry Partch invented two of the four instruments used in the composition: Harmonic Canon and Surrogate Kithara (rounded out by flute and cello). The LA-based ensemble Partch performs Southern Ephemera on June 2 and 3 at REDCAT…with a brand new Surrogate Kithara, now being built. The piece is an ode to the distortion of memory---namely my own, particularly my childhood in the South. By scoring the piece with a tuning system dividing the octave into 43 discrete tones, a system favored by Harry Partch,  I wanted to create an intonation mechanism that, in its implicit ‘distortion’ of 12-tone equal tempered tuning, becomes the medium and the underlying message.

Right around the corner---in mid-March, the 16th---I’ll be performing on harp, with two dynamite string players, Ronit Kirchman and Torsten Müller. Our concert of duo and trio improvisations takes place at 8 PM at the Wild Beast, the new performing space at CalArts. Ronit and I first met when we both performed at the Total Music Meeting in Berlin in 2003. We get together and play from time to time, always a joy to collaborate with her, and with Torsten as well, who comes down from Vancouver.  If you’re anywhere near Santa Clarita, please join us for the concert!

Finally, thanks to Mark Menzies for his riveting performances of fore (for violin, it shares DNA with four)in Alaska and in Valencia last month.

Anne LeBaron and Mark Menzies


Mark Robson, pianist, and Timur Bekbosunov, tenor, after their concert at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C. on December 9, 2009. The program included the first public performance of excerpts from The Silent Steppe Cantata, arranged for piano and tenor: "Black of My Eye," and "I am a Kazakh." The concert was sponsored by the Embassy of Kazakhstan.


 
 
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