BMP: Next Generation is a new initiative to discover the next generation of music-theatre and opera-theatre compositional voices. 72 emerging composers from coast-to-coast submitted vocal works, and ten extraordinary pieces were selected to be featured as a showcase at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. The complete three-year program will include the commission, development, and world premiere production of a new opera by one of the selected composers. The March 17, 2018 concert at National Sawdust will be led by music directors Lidiya Yankovskaya and David Bloom, with stage direction by Luke Leonard. New-music ensemble Contemporaneous will provide its orchestral forces.


The chosen composers are:

Jessie Downs, Noah Kaplan, Molly Joyce, Michael Lanci,

Matt McBane, Emma O’Halloran, Gemma Peacocke,

Matthew Recio, Daniel Sabzghabaei, and Leaha Maria Villarreal.


These composers hail from across the US, and represent a wide variety of compositional styles. The concert will feature the submitted vocal works of each composer. The concert will be adjudicated by an assembled panel of classical music luminaries. Panelists include Christopher Koelsch (LA Opera), Missy Mazzoli (composer), Beth Morrison (BMP), Julian Wachner (Trinity Church Wall Street), Ed Yim (American Composers Orchestra).  From the ten composers, the panelists will select two composers who will be commissioned to write a 30-minute work (song cycle, one-act opera, or other vocal work). These 30-minute works will premiere in BMP’s 2018-2019 season in a semi-staged concert. Finally, Beth Morrison Projects will choose one of these two composers to receive a commission for a full evening-length operatic work to be developed, produced, premiered, and toured by BMP.


Jessie Downs is a composer, vocalist, and teaching artist for whom music is a medium for sharing personal experiences and entering into community with others. As a composer, her aesthetic is one which treasures the uncanny and surprising beauty of wild yet delicate things. Her favorite compositional media include found objects, altered instruments, and the human voice. She has premiered numerous works by other living composers, as a solo vocalist and with her ensemble the Sotto Voce Vocal Collective. Her vocal training has involved both long-term tutelage under master bel canto pedagogue Franco Bertacci and attendance at contemporary vocal music workshops with such luminaries as Jeff Gavett and Juliet Fraser. In both her performances and compositions she aims to compellingly combine the new and the old. She holds a BMus in Composition from Oberlin Conservatory and is currently a PhD candidate in Composition at the University at Buffalo.


Noah Kaplan is a composer and saxophonist from Topanga Canyon, CA. Kaplan has composed for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, JACK quartet, PRISM quartet, So Percussion, and the American Modern Ensemble, among others. He co-leads the indie pop band Dollshot and is currently collaborating with screenwriter Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049) on Salvation, an opera trilogy. The Noah Kaplan Quartet has recorded two albums for HatHut Records, Descendants (2011) and Cluster Swerve (2017). Noah is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Music Composition at Princeton University where he is a Naumburg and Mark Nelson doctoral fellow. He was the recipient of a Tanglewood Composition Fellowship in 2016. In addition to composing and improvising, he produces new classical and experimental music for Underwolf Records. He recently edited a new English edition of Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s Manual of Quarter-Tone Harmony, published by Underwolf Editions in 2017. He lives in Brooklyn.


Active as a composer and performer, Molly Joyce’s music has been described as “impassioned” (The Washington Post), written to “superb effect” (The Wire), and “vibrant, inventive music that communicates straight from the heart” (Prufrock’s Dilemma). Her works have been commissioned and performed by several distinguished ensembles including the New World Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and the New Juilliard, Decoda, andContemporaneous ensembles. Additionally, her work has been performed at the Bang on a Can Marathon and VisionIntoArt’s FERUS Festival, and featured in outlets such as Pitchfork, WNYC’s New Sounds, Q2 Music, I Care If You Listen, and The Log Journal. As a performer, Molly often plays on her vintage Magnus toy organ, an instrument she bought on eBay and has performed on in multiple capacities; including solo, with toy piano, and with a beatboxer. She is additionally active as a DJ, spinning under the moniker “DJ MJ.” For more information, please visit


Michael Lanci is a composer and educator residing in Saratoga Springs, New York. His music is viscerally engaging, stylistically diverse, drawing from a wide range of influences. Recent projects include a collection of five protest songs dedicated to nineteenth century singer-

songwriter and labor rights activist Joe Hill. His works have been performed at the Midwest Composers Symposium, Edmont Fringe Festival, Orford Festival, Detroit Bureau of Sound and Vox Novus Festival. He has received commissions from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Beyond Pluck, Unheard-of//Ensemble, Klangpar2 and Vive! Ensemble; along with performances by the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra, Hypercube, All of the Above, Duo d’Entre Deux and Decho Ensemble. Michael holds a B.M. in piano performance from SUNY Albany, where he also studied composition with Max Lifchitz and a M.M. in composition from SUNY Fredonia, studying with Rob Deemer. Michael earned his D.M.A. in composition from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati studying with Michael Fiday.


Matt McBane is a composer whose music draws on simple arithmetic and the subconscious; classical minimalism and avant pop; fiddle music and analog synthesizers. He has been described as “a natural composer, a fresh voice” by the Los Angeles Times and his projects range from “Bathymetry,” a collection percussion quartets with synthesizer for the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet to “Drawn,” a 25-min suite for bluegrass string band released on the Jake Schepps Quintet's album “Entwined.” Matt is the violinist and composer for his Brooklyn-based instrumental band, Build, which released two albums on New Amsterdam records and has been described by New York Magazine as a “rocking post-classical quintet which takes inspiration from minimalist chamber music, instrumental rock, modal jazz, and more.” He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Carlsbad Music Festival, widely known for its programming of “adventurous music by the beach” and he is a doctoral fellow at Princeton University.


Emma O’Halloran is an Irish composer, producer and performer whose work moves freely between acoustic and electronic forces. Emma has written for orchestra, folk musicians, chamber ensembles, turntables, and laptop orchestra. Her work has been performed at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, and MATA Festival, and she has collaborated with artists such as Crash Ensemble, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. In addition to concert music, Emma composes for film and theatre, and performs with her band Games Violet, a duo of producer-performers that make hybrid rock/electronic music. Emma considers much of her music to be reflective, often trying to map real or imagined moments in time to gain a deeper understanding of her own personal experiences. Emma is currently completing a doctorate at Princeton University. When not composing, she can be found hiking, practicing yoga, and flying high on aerial trapeze.


Gemma Peacocke is a US-based composer from New Zealand. She combines acoustic instruments and voices with electronics, and her work often has a sociopolitical focus. Her multimedia song cycle, Waves + Lines, based on Eliza Griswold’s book I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, premiered in June 2017 at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn with the support of a commission from the Jerome L Green Foundation. Her song cycle Pacific, for chamber choir, piano four-hands and electronics was premiered by the Tudor Consort at the National Cathedral in Wellington, New Zealand, in September 2017 with the support of a PADET grant. Gemma was the Creative New Zealand Edwin Carr Scholar for 2014 and 2015 towards her studies with Julia Wolfe at NYU Steinhardt, and a 2015 Bang on a Can composition fellow. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in composition at Princeton University.


Matthew Recio is an avid vocal composer and has been nationally recognized for his work in the field. He was recently named the 2017 American Prize winner in the choral composition category and this past May his opera "In Memoriam" (libretto by Molly Korroch) was premiered by New Voices Opera. Recio is a two-time winner of the NOTUS Competition, a featured composer at the 2016 ACDA Convention, a winner of the Cincinnati Camerata Competition, finalist in the YNYC competition, and a finalist in the Morton Gould Awards. William Stowman's newly released CD, A Timeless Place (Klavier Records Label) features Recio's song cycle Chronology of Storms, with poetry written by Jenna Lanzaro. As a composer of instrumental works, Recio has been represented at the Midwest Composer Symposium, the UNK Music Festival, and the Hammer and Nail Dance collaboration. His chamber works have been recognized in the IMTA young artist competition and the Quartet Nouveau competition. He is a composition fellow alumnus for the IMANI Winds Chamber Festival, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Valencia International Performing Arts Program, Yale’s Norfolk Chamber Series and Donald Nally’s award-winning choir “The Crossing”. A Summa Cum Laude graduate of Ithaca College (B.M. Composition and Music Education), Recio is pursuing his D.M. in music composition.


Daniel Sabzghabaei (دانیال سبزقبایی) (ASCAP) is a composer and vocalist whose work aims to emphasize the malleability of time and how we experience it, not just in the concert hall but in everyday life as well. His music has been performed and commissioned by organizations such as: Hong Kong’s Intimacy of Creativity Festival, the New York Festival of Song, Minnesota’s VocalEssence, Dallas’ Voices of Change, Seattle’s The Esoterics, the Busan Choral Festival, Korea’s Ansan City Choir, Romania’s ICon Arts Festival, Festivalul Internațional Craiova Muzicală, and Pittsburgh-based OvreArts, to name a few. As of late, Daniel has been increasingly interested in his Persian heritage, seriously studying and taking inspiration from Persian melodic and rhythmic systems, Persian folk music, and Persian art and poetry. Daniel is currently a doctoral student and Sage Fellow at Cornell University, studying with Roberto Sierra, Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, and Kevin Ernste.


With works described as "visceral" (Lucid Culture), "propulsive" (Bachtrack) and "austere" (New Music Box), composer Leaha Maria Villarreal’s output includes music for dance, film, opera, and the concert hall. She has worked with organizations and ensembles such as Beth Morrison Projects and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; ETHEL and Friends concert series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; andPlay; Wild Rumpus; JACK Quartet; Experiments in Opera; and TRANSIT New Music, among others. Past composition teachers include Roger Reynolds, Steven Kazuo Takasugi, and Chinary Ung. Villarreal holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and an M.M. from New York University where she studied with Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon. She is a co-founder of contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant; a Jerome Fund for New Music recipient; and taught composition with New York Philharmonic's Very Young Composers Bridge Program. Villarreal is pursuing a D.M.A. at the University of Southern California.


BMP: Next Generation is funded in part by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation as well as by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Inaugural Performance

March 17, 2018

7:00 p.m.

National Sawdust

80 N 6th Street

Brooklyn, NY 11249


138 South Oxford St, Suite 1C, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Phone: 646.389.7322


© 2020 Beth Morrison Projects

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