September 16, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio — Ever wonder what an opera with computer-generated instruments might
Wonder no more. Peter Mowrey, associate professor of music at The College of Wooster, will present just such a creation when he unveils “Sangreal” at Cleveland’s annual IngenuityFest later this month (Sept. 24-26). He will conduct the first act of the opera, which presents the saga of seven characters from different times and places who awaken in a surreal landscape after dreaming of the Grail. “Everyone seems to get along until they realize they are all there for one purpose — the Grail — then violence erupts as they come into conflict over just what the Grail is, how it is obtained, and who is worthy to receive it,” says Mowrey. “In the second act, which won’t be performed at this festival, there is movement toward redemption and compassion.” Mowrey is planning to premiere both acts of the opera in their entirety in the near future, but this will give
potential audiences in northeast Ohio a taste of things to come.
The performances will take place Saturday (Sept. 25) at 2:15 p.m. and Sunday (Sept. 26) at 2 p.m. on the lower deck of the Detroit Superior Bridge, where the festival will be held this year.
Mowrey, who wrote both the music and the text, describes the production as very modern, but also audience-friendly. “My goal was to write something that would be approachable, not academic or pretentious,” he says. “The work is intended for anyone who loves music, not just those who love opera.”
The computer is preprogrammed to produce sounds using two very sophisticated pieces of software: Digital Performer, in which every note of the musical accompaniment has been programmed and which can be played back by a performer flexibly in real time, following the singers and conductor; and Kontakt, which is used to create all of the electronic “instruments” themselves, from very realistic analogues of acoustic instruments to otherworldly electronic sounds never heard in nature.
Wooster senior Paul Winchester will handle the accompaniment, while Shirley Huston-Findley, associate professor of theatre, will direct, and Charlene Gross, also of the theatre department, will provide costumes.
The cast of characters includes a knight, a businesswoman, a priest, an artist, a scientist, a courtesan, and a mysterious madwoman; these roles are sung by sopranos Carrie deLapp-Culver and Susan Wallin, both members of Wooster’s music faculty, as well as five other professional opera singers from The University of Akron, Ashland University, Lake Local Schools, and Kent State
“It’s a great collaborative effort,” says Mowrey. “It’s a production that I hope will appeal to a wider audience. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
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