5 to 7 pm ET
Join Music of the Americas for the online premiere of the Meridionalis and International Contemporary Ensemble's performance, conducted by Sebastian Zubieta, of Claude Vivier's "ritual opera of death," in a video production by Argentine visual artist Sergio Policicchio.
Please note the new date. This concert was originally scheduled for October 29.
This concert will be streamed on this page.
In 2018, Americas Society's vocal ensemble Meridionalis premiered a new production of Claude Vivier's chamber opera Kopernikus with live video by Sergio Policicchio in Buenos Aires. (It was also the South American premiere of the piece.) Alongside the International Contemporary Ensemble, the group performed the New York premiere of the piece the following year. For this virtual concert, Policicchio prepared an online version with live music from the May 2019 concert in New York.
In what Vivier described as a "ritual opera of death," the central character—a young woman named Agni—descends into a dreamworld where "mystical beings borrowed from stories gravitate around her."
The composer writes about Kopernikus:
"The main character is Agni. Around her revolve several historical mythic beings (portrayed by the six other singers): Lewis Carroll, Merlin, a witch, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, the Master of the high seas, Copernicus, and his mother. These characters might just be Agni’s dreams that guide her in her initiation and ultimately in her dematerialization.
Strictly speaking, there is no story but rather a series of scenes in which Agni evolves towards total purification as she ultimately reaches a state of Pure Spirit.
The poetry of Kopernikus relies at once on the keen sensitivity of the composer, on his relationship with his childhood and on the different articulative levels of these various oneiric elements. The work is, in effect, a meditation on various poetic and cultural states, but a distancing occurs as soon as the different articulative levels come into play. The composer, faced with such creative issues could only write the texts himself.
I want art to be a sacred act, the revelation of forces, the communication with those forces. The musician should no longer perform music but organize sessions of discovery, seances that invoke the forces of nature, forces that existed, exist, and will continue to exist, forces that are the Truth. The true goal of any real revolution is to set a civilization that has detached itself back on the path of these forces. Become a priest, organize ceremonies dedicated to these forces, find the soul of humanity, and return it to itself, force the individual to face himself and to face infinity, before the total mystery that is The Universe, contemplate it, ultimately locate oneself within it. Organize revelations in which the performers are the priests and the composer is the medium. Start again at the beginning, really set the world right, rediscover sensitivity. “The world is getting ready for a huge change, would you like to participate?” (The Mother).
Humanity will find its place. It will stop gazing at its navel and will feel the infinity that surrounds it. Art will no longer be the sweet panacea that we apply to a wounded body, it will be the body..."
This production, commissioned by the Festival Nueva Ópera de Buenos Aires, premiered at the Planetario Galileo Galilei in Buenos Aires in 2018.
- Katharine Dain, Coloratura
- Amy Goldin, Soprano
- Hai-Ting Chinn, Mezzo-soprano
- Kirsten Sollek, Contralto
- Christopher Herbert, Baritone
- Joseph Beutel, Baritone
- Steven Hrycelak, Bass
International Contemporary Ensemble
- Michelle Farah, Oboe
- Joshua Rubin, Clarinet 1
- Madison Freed, Clarinet 2
- Zachary Good, Clarinet 3
- Gareth Flowers, Trumpet
- Michael Lormand, Trombone
- Josh Modney, Violin
Conducted by Sebastian Zubieta
Born in Montreal, Claude Vivier (1943–1983) grew up in a working-class part of the city. As an adolescent, he attended a boarding school run by the Marist Brothers that prepared pupils for life in the priesthood. There, the young Claude discovered music while singing in a midnight mass, and he began to compose. He was advised to leave the seminary at the age of 18 due to his "sensitive and excitable temperament." He studied composition at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec (Montreal) with Gilles Tremblay, and spent a few years in Europe at the Institute of Sonology (The Hague) and Hochschule für Musik (Cologne), where he had the opportunity to study with Stockhausen. He also traveled to Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia, whose culture and rhythms had a deep effect on his compositional output. After encountering spectral compositions of Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail, Vivier traveled to Paris in 1982, where he was murdered the following year. Many of his compositions were not heard during his lifetime, and he remains a tragic figure in the canon of twentieth-century music.
Sergio Policicchio (b. 1985, Buenos Aires) relocated to Ravenna, Italy in 2004, where he pursued studies in visual arts and mosaics at the Academy of Fine Arts. He lives and works between Italy, Argentina, and Moldova. Recent exhibitions include La visione dell'invisibile (solo, Vibra gallery, Ravenna, 2017); tsu-na-gu (collective, Shimadai gallery, Kyoto, 2016); Partiture eventual (site-specific installation, Emergenze creative 2015 in Ravenna); and Quelqu'un (collective, M comme mosaique gallery, Paray-le-monial, France, 2015).
Established in 2010, Meridionalis is a choral project of Americas Society that focuses on early and contemporary music from the hemisphere, with a mission to promote little-known and rarely-performed repertoire from the region. The ensemble has been lauded for its "well-blended, joyous sound" and "beautifully rendered programs" by The New York Times.
The International Contemporary Ensemble is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. Works by emerging composers have anchored the Ensemble’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present. A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the Ensemble was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The Ensemble was featured at the Ojai Music Festival from 2015 to 2017, and at recent festivals abroad such as gmem-CNCM-marseille and Vértice at Cultura UNAM, Mexico City.
The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation. The Fall 2020 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support for this production was provided by the Consulate General of Canada in New York, the Québec Government Office in New York, and The Amphion Foundation, Inc.