Music Academy of the West Announces Beth Morrison Projects Residency
Santa Barbara, CA — Music Academy of the West is thrilled to announce that Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) will be in residence in Santa Barbara next year. Working intensively with the Academy’s talented young fellows in the Vocal Institute from June 28 to July 25, BMP’s Executive Director Jecca Barry, Director of Production Brian Freeland, and President and Creative Producer Beth Morrison – “a powerhouse leading the industry to new heights” (WQXR) – will produce a contemporary American double-bill, pairing Vinkensport by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek with The Odysseus Cycle by Pulitzer Prize laureate Ellen Reid, as well as a 21c Liederabend, Op. MAW, one of the company’s signature multimedia song showcases. As faculty artists of the Academy’s Innovation Institute, BMP’s Morrison and Barry will also help design the curriculum for the annual Innovation Residential, held next spring to support alumni entrepreneurship, and for related activities at the 2021 Summer School and Festival.
Like the appointments of John Churchwell as Director of Music at the Vocal Institute and James Darrah as Creative Director of the Vocal Institute, the new residency demonstrates the Academy’s ongoing commitment to preparing young artists for 21st-century careers. “A 21st-century Diaghilev, known for her ability to assemble memorable collaborations among artists” (Wall Street Journal), Beth Morrison “has been at the forefront of musical and theatrical innovation since 2006” (Broadway World). By taking part in BMP’s productions next summer, the vocal and instrumental fellows will collaborate closely with living composers while gaining invaluable insight into the multi-step process of producing new music and opera from some of the most original, inspired, and forward-looking minds in the business.
Beth Morrison Projects is a true pioneer of thought leadership in music and the arts. In today’s cultural landscape, young musicians need to be entrepreneurial and adventurous to succeed. There are no better role models for them than Beth Morrison and her team, who’ve forged transformative careers by supporting the development and production of meaningful new art that’s relevant to artists and audiences today.
— Music Academy President and CEO Scott Reed
I think this residency is going to be very special. We are so delighted and energized by this new partnership with Music Academy of the West. Over the past 14 years, my colleagues and I have had the privilege of working with some of today’s most pathbreaking composers and their collaborators. A major part of BMP’s core values is to nurture the next generation of artists and producers. This new partnership fits squarely into that mission, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to meet the students and be a part of their experience with the Academy. Music Academy of the West is future-focused, and that aligns perfectly with our world-view at BMP as well.
— Beth Morrison
The four-week residency is designed to take fellows behind the scenes of two different kinds of BMP productions. Leading contemporary composers and songwriters meet cutting-edge multimedia in 21c Liederabend, Op. MAW, BMP’s expansive re-imagining of the traditional art song recital, which has been performed in different versions at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and for the LA Phil at Disney Hall. Offering an immersion in 21st-century song, the innovative format represents “a succinct definition of just what song is: a personal utterance with global reach and universal impact” (New York Times).
With its emphasis on small chamber productions suited to intimate venues and economical touring, BMP blazed a trail long before today’s social distancing needs. Both works on next summer’s double-bill are scored for reduced forces, and both are by composers who share deep history with BMP. Ellen Reid won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for her opera p r i s m, which was commissioned, developed, and produced by BMP. A visceral concert experience, The Odysseus Cycle (2014) examines sound and story through new music, video design, and interactive installation. Reid’s work shares the program with the chamber version of Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera (2010) by David T. Little, “one of the most imaginative young composers on the music-theatre scene” (New Yorker). Set to a libretto by MCANA Award-winner Royce Vavrek, Little’s one-act opera is a bitter-sweet comedy that, through the lens of an obscure Flemish folk sport called “finch-sitting,” investigates obsession, desire, and the desperate urge to win.
The Academy’s Innovation Institute supports alumni entrepreneurship at a level unmatched by any other top-tier performing arts organization. At an annual Innovation Residential, leading industry professionals provide hands-on learning to enhance alums’ entrepreneurial and business skills, including pitching ventures, plus creating and sustaining a competitive advantage. The curriculum for the 2021 residential and related summer activities will be shaped by Beth Morrison and Jecca Barry in partnership with Casey Molino Dunn, the Academy’s new Vice President of Innovation and Program Development.
About Beth Morrison Projects
Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) has been an industry disruptor and tastemaker at the forefront of musical and theatrical innovation since its founding in 2006. By commissioning, developing, producing, and touring a burgeoning portfolio of groundbreaking and provocative new work, the company is helping to build a new national canon, featuring such resounding success stories as Pulitzer Prize-winners Angel’s Bone (Du Yun/Vavrek) and p r i s m (Reid/Perkins) and MCANA Award-winner Breaking the Waves (Mazzoli/Vavrek). BMP co-founded the Prototype Festival – “essential to the evolution of American opera” (New Yorker) – which showcases contemporary opera and music-theater projects over ten days each January. BMP also instituted BMP: Next Generation, a program designed to identify and foster the next generation of opera composers, and the BMP: Producers Academy, which fosters the next generation of producers. The Los Angeles Times calls Beth Morrison a “contemporary opera mastermind.” As Opera News writes, it is she, “more than any other figure in the opera industry, [who] has helped propel the art form into the 21st century.”
About Music Academy of the West
Founded in 1947, Music Academy of the West offers year-round programming for the local community and talented musicians from around the world. Each year, 140 fellows ages 18-34 are selected by merit-based audition from more than 2,000 applicants worldwide to participate in an eight-week Summer School and Festival to prepare them for 21st-century careers. At the Summer Festival, they receive opportunities for advanced study and frequent orchestral, chamber, recital and masterclass performances under the guidance of more than 70 internationally renowned faculty and guest artists. Each fellow receives a full scholarship for tuition, room and board. In 2018, the Music Academy began a partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) that brings LSO musicians to Santa Barbara, to teach and perform, and sends twelve Keston MAX Fellows to London for ten days of training and performance with the orchestra. Career-launching opportunities for fellows and alumni are offered through the Academy’s Innovation Institute. Summer Innovation Seminars bring together industry leaders and cutting-edge artists to engage fellows and audiences in discussion about the present and future state of classical music, while the annual Fast Pitch Awards give fellows a platform to present their entrepreneurial ideas. The Academy’s Alumni Enterprise Awards have provided more than $220,000 in grants for forward-thinking projects in artistic expression, audience development, education, community engagement, social justice and technology; recipients of the awards are also invited to attend a five-day Innovation Residential. Academy alumni create careers in music and beyond and are members of major symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, ensembles, opera companies, and academic faculties throughout the world. Music Academy of the West also provides music education locally through Sing!, a free, after-school choral initiative for seven-to-twelve-year-olds from 28 schools in Santa Barbara County. The Academy presents more than 150 public events annually in four campus venues and in sites across Santa Barbara and online. For more information, visit musicacademy.org.
Released: October 21, 2020
Director of Marketing and Communications
Music Academy of the West