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Kopernikus Online

Americas Society

November 13, 2020


Sergio Policicchio

In collaboration with:

Please note the new date. This concert was originally scheduled for October 29.

This concert will be streamed on this page. As a special addition to this season’s concerts, we will host a virtual reception with the musicians after each performance. Americas Society members can register by emailing If you’re not yet a member and would like to join us, learn more about membership

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 plot defies precise interpretation, offering multiple, often contradictory meanings. At the center of the quest is the composer’s fascination with the perennial majesty of the cosmos and his belief that “art will no longer be the sweet panacea that we apply to a wounded body, [but] will be the body.”  


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 (ICE) is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. Works by emerging composers have anchored ICE’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, ICE 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. ICE 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.