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International Competition Spotlights OCU Composer's Opera
An opera by Oklahoma City University composition alumna Katarzyna Brochocka '09 has been selected as a semifinalist in Opera Vista 2010, an international competition for contemporary chamber opera. Her work, “Happy Garden of Life,” based on a short story by Kurt Vonnegut, was premiered at the Bass School of Music in 2009 by new music group Project 21. Seven Opera Vista semifinalists from three countries were selected for the 2010 competition. Works range from an adaptation of a Japanese folk tale to a horror opera. Excerpts of each opera will be performed March 24. A panel of judges - Buck Ross, director of the Moores Opera Theater; Chris Johnson, host of "The Front Row" on KUHF; composer Daron Hagen; and conductor Leslie Dunner – will critique each excerpt. The audience will vote to select which operas will advance to the finals on March 26. In the final round, winning excerpts will be performed, Judges will offer a more extensive critique, and audience members will be encouraged to question the composers. The audience will determine the winner, to be announced at the festival’s closing performance on March 27. The winning composer receives $1,500 and a full production of his or her opera at the next festival. Houston-based Opera Vista strives promotes an audience for new opera through interaction with the community, exposing new generations to opera through fresh approaches, innovative performance styles and practices. Brochocka’s world premiere of “Happy Garden of Life” was held March 12, 2009 at OCU’s Bass Music Center. She is a member of Project 21 and student of Dr. Edward Knight. Vienna Masterworks’ international 2008 Nancy Van de Vate International Composition Prize for Opera recognized her opera with a Special Commendation. Last year’s Opera Vista winner was Line Tjørnhøj of Aarhus, Denmark, for “Anorexia Sacra.” Second place went to Camilo Santostefano of Buenos Aries, Argentina, for his opera “El Fin de Narciso.” Tjørnhøj’s opera will be fully staged at this year's Opera Vista Festival. The OCU premiere of “Happy Garden of Life” featured vocalists Davy Green, Bridget Skaggs, Jeffrey Gates, Dustin Hertzog, Justin Brown and Robert Watson. Instrumentalists performing at the premiere were Kat Herbison, flute; Judyta Murzyn, alto saxophone; Evan Chancellor, horn; Travis Smith, bassoon; Angelica Pereira Espitia, violin; Ruben Gil, viola; Alejandro Acosta Acero, cello; Gregory Anikienro, percussion; Marcin Parys, harpsichord; and Hsin I-Lin, piano. Professor Jan McDaniel was the work’s music director; Benjamin Nilles was rehearsal conductor. In 2009, Brochocka’s “Chamber Music” was named grand prize winner of the biennial International Society of Bassists’ David Walter Composition Competition. The work was presented in concert June 9 in Esber Recital Hall at Penn State University as part of the 2009 ISB Convention. The winning work was performed by Brochocka’s husband, double bassist Karol Kowal, then also a graduate student at OCU’s Bass School of Music. “Chamber Music” was performed by Kowal and the Oklahoma City University Symphony Orchestra as part of the 2009 Society of Composers, Inc., regional conference. Her winning ISB composition was chosen from more than 50 entries from around the world. Honorable mention in the chamber division went to "Prelude and Fugazza" by Andres Martin of Argentina, double bass professor at the Orchestra of Baja California Conservatory. Jurors were Robert Black, chair, associate professor of double bass at the Hartt School of Music; Owen Lee, principal bass of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; and Yann Dubost, member of the Orchestre de Paris.