Eric Salzman: Composer, Author, Music Theater Innovator

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New Releasings

Labor Records in collaboration with Naxos is releasing a series of recordings of my work covering more than half a century! The most recent release is "Jukebox in the Tavern of Love" paired with a new work by Meredith Monk. "The Nude Paper Sermon" and "Wiretap" is a double album containing no fewer than five works; see below for details. "Civilization & its Discontents" is a words-and-music collaboration with Michael Sahl. More information, reviews and ordering (physical or digital editions) is available below or by going to Labor Records.

Jukebox in the Tavern of Love Nude Paper Sermon - Wiretap Civilization Discontents

Facebook posts

Kristin Norderval recently posted the following:

“WOW. What a year it has been!!
Beyond the political turbulence, there were many personal firsts.

2016 saw the premiere of my first full-length opera -The Trials of Patricia Isasa – at the Monument National Theater in Montreal; the release of my first CD on a jazz label; and the first performance in New York of ‘Cassandra Ground Zero’, a one woman opera written for me by Eric Salzman in 2001 that has had multiple performances in Europe but none in the US until this year in a new production expertly directed by Kira Simring and produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera. In the fall of 2016 I also had the honor of creating the soundscore for a new jill sigman/thinkdance production – Weed Heart – and participating in multiple related talk-backs and community meetings focused on issues of sustainability and racial justice. All of my work this year felt extremely relevant to the big issues that we are grappling with at this time.”

For those who need an introduction, Kristin is a hugely talented Norwgian-American singer, composer and computer performer!. Her No. 1 achievement in 2016 was the premiere of her own work, “The Trials of Patricia Isasa”, based on the true story of a survivor from the dark period of Argentine fascism not so many years ago. I believe that, unbelievably enough, Patricia Asasa herself attended the premiere which was very well received in Canada although, as usual with important American work abroad, it was ignored here. Anyway it’s an honor to be No. 2 on her 2016 hit list. It was a wonderful performance of “Cassandra” (produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera in collaboration with The Cell) and it can be seen on YouTube!

Ed Shockley, a writer and playwright from Philadelphia, wrote the libretto for “Bobos”, a hip-hop opera, with James McBride which I produced with the American Music Theater Festival. His post was a generous plug for the Oxford New Music Theater book that I wrote with Thomas Desi:

“James McBride and I worked this Eric Salzman several years in Philadelphia as we were doing “Bobos.” This is an important book. James McBride and I worked almost ten years to make it but Eric Salzman was the only one who was not afraid to say the work “Hip-Hop-Opera. (See number 367 in this book.)

Alternatives to grand opera and the popular musical can be traced at least as far back as the 1912 premiere of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Yet this ongoing history has never been properly sorted out, its complex ideas and philosophy as well as musical and theatrical achievements never brought full…
global.oup.com”

 

Date Posted // January 11, 2017
In Categories // Cassandra, Music Theater, News, Projects, The New Music Theater, Works and Productions

An Interview Reappears

An interview that I did with Bob Gluck a number of years back has now reappeared in issue #18.3 of eContact!, a Canadian journal that describes itself as an “Online Journal of Electroacoustic Practices” (but has a much wider reach than that description would suggest). The interview, slightly reworked as a first person narrative, covers my activities at free-form radio station WBAI (especially the Free Music Store), New Image of Sound, the founding of Quog Music Theater and leading up to the American Music Theater Festival which I started in the early 1980s. The link to the piece is http://econtact.ca/18_3/gluck_salzman.html

Date Posted // December 20, 2016
In Categories // Articles & Interviews, News, Projects, Radio

Sahl/Salzman collaborations

My old collaborator, Michael Sahl, is not well and has moved out of his apartment to a care facility while several of his associates — Beth Anderson, Laurie Speigel, Steve Rathe — have been collecting his scores and recordings for an archive at SUNY Buffalo where Michael was an artist in residence years ago. This is not the place to go into Michael’s distinguished, long and prolific career but Michael and I wrote six music-theater works in collaboration. They are “The Conjurer” (Public Theater; directed by Tom O’Horgan); “Civilization & Its Discontents” (AMDA,  NPR, published by G. Schirmer, recorded by Nonesuch Records; currently available on Labor/Naxos); “Stauf” (our cabaret Faust; performed at Cubiculo, Philadelphia Theatre Company/American Music Theater Festival); “Noah” (commissioned by the N. Carolina School of the Arts; performed at Pratt Institute, Washington Sq. Methodist Church and the Jewish Center for Services for the Aged; WBAI); “The Passion of Simple Simon” (Theatre for the New City; WNYC); “Boxes” (KCRW/APR, Seagram Award, National Music Theatre Network, Victory Theater NYC). “Boxes” was the only work in which text and music were credited separately (music by Michael, text by Eric Salzman; the others were words-and-music collaborations). All of these are full-length theater/opera works except “Civilization” which is a one acter.

Apparently none (or very little of this material) has been found in Michael’s apartment so I have been working on collecting, updating and digitizing the scores and recordings in my possession to make them available for the archive.

Scott Joiner sings cummings songs again

Scott Joiner and Eric Sedgwick reprised my settings of e e cummings love songs — now retitled “Speaking of Love” (a line from one of the poems) — at the Manhattan School of Music last night. The first part of the program was an unusual collection of Italian songs in three different Italian dialects: Venetian (songs from Stravinsky’s ” Pulcinella”), Neapolitan (songs by  Luigi Denza, Tosti and others) and Florentine (also known as Italian; songs by Monteverdi, Verdi and Bellini. Plans are in the works to record the set as part of an album of Salzman vocal music.

Date Posted // December 09, 2016
In Categories // Events, News, Recordings, Speaking of Love (e e cummings songs), Works and Productions

American Premiere of Cassandra:

On November 2nd, 2016, the Center for Contemporary Opera presented the final event of its fall festival: a program of Eric Salzman’s vocal music including the American premiere of “Cassandra Ground Zero” with a libretto by his poet/librettist daughter, Eva Salzman. The work was performed by Kristin Norderval, the Norwgian-American soprano for whom it was written. Ms Norderval, who accompanies herself on piano and with live computer processing of her voice, premiered the work at the Ultima Thule and NewOp Festivals in 2001 in Oslo, Norway, and subsequently performed it in Vienna, Austria, and in Germany. This is a modern version of the Cassandra myth which takes place on a Greek island just before Cassandra goes into Agamemnon’s palace where she foresees that she will be killed. Cassandra has the gift of prophecy but, because she rejected Apollo’s advances, he cursed her so that she would never be believed. The performance was at the Cell Theater which co-produced the evening; it was stage directed by Kira Simring, the artistic director of the theater. The program also included several sets of songs by Salzman including his Walt Whitman setting “On the Beach at Night” and “A Meredith Bestiary”, poems by William Meredith, both sung by Jessica Fishenfeld, soprano, with Eric Sedgwick, piano, and “Speaking of Love” a set of e e cummings love poetry performed by Scott Joiner, tenor, with Eric Sedgwick. An added feature was a short film, “Connection Lost: A Tinder Opera” by Adam Taylor with music by Scott Joiner who was also featured in the film and who generously credits Salzman with some of the inspiration for the film.

Date Posted // November 21, 2016
In Categories // Cassandra, Events, Music Theater, News