Atlanta composer R. Timothy Brady emerged as a co-winner of the first annual Opera Vista Festival competition this past week with his new 40-minute chamber opera Edalat Square.
Opera Vista, a Houston-based organization dedicated to new opera, hosted the Festival, which took place from June 21-24, 2007 at the Barnevelder Arts Complex in Houston, Texas. After a professional jury winnowed down the number of contestants and operas to five, the Festival audience was called upon to select the winning work by vote, based upon live performances of 15-minute excepts from each. The result was a tie between Brady's Edalat Square and Soldier Songs by New Jersey composer David T. Little.
"We counted the votes numerous times (because it was rather incredible)," said Opera Vista's artistic director Viswa Subbaraman in an public message to the Orchestralist online discussion group. "They both received exactly the same number of votes!" As a result, both winning operas will be performed fully staged during the 2008 Opera Vista Festival.
The complete Edalat Square received its premiere April 15th of this year at Emory University, where Brady (b. 1985 in Atlanta) studied composition with John Anthony Lennon and graduated cum laude this year with a B.A. in music composition.
The composer offered the Festival the following synopsis:
"Darkness and despair, disguised as piety and righteousness, descend from atop the minarets of the mosques, consuming those who seek hope through the light of God. On July 19, 2005 in Edalat Square, Iran, Mahmoud Asgari (17) and Ayaz Marhoni (16) were hanged for the crime of lavaat (sex between two men). Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, an estimated 4,000 people have been executed for lavaat. Inspired by the circumstances surrounding the execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz, the soul of Edalat Square emerges from the poetic essence of the Sufi mystics—emerging from silence and meditation, melody and prayer. Disturbed by a crisis in Islam, the soul awakens..."
Houston Press critic D.L. Groover reviewed the Festival competition in an article published Thursday (28 June, 2007), which can be found online here at www.houstonpress.com.
In his review, Groover called Eladat Square both "the most adventurous of the lot—in both music and libretto" and "poignant, highly poetic."
R. Timothy Brady (who, by the way, is not to be confused the Canadian composer/guitarist Tim Brady) offers on his MySpace Music page a clip from the evocative multi-track pre-recorded vocal opening of the opera ("Preview" in the audio samples list) and a short radio interview with WABE-FM's Wanda Temko, recorded and broadcast prior to the work's Emory premiere.
For more information about Opera Vista, go to www.operavista.org
|—Mark Gresham, composer/music journalist • 28 June 2007|
[NOTE: This article by Mark Gresham is cross-posted from his EarRelevant blog.]