The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $150,000 grant to the American Lyric Theater to support capacity building and the national expansion of the company’s Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP), which is the only full-time professional mentorship initiative for emerging operatic writers in the country. The new grant will enable the company to expand CLDP from a 10-month program offered annually, to a comprehensive three-year artist mentorship cycle through which artists will not only receive personalized mentorship, but also be commissioned to write new operas. In addition, newly acquired high definition videoconferencing equipment will increase the geographic scope of the program, allowing gifted emerging artists with an interest in writing for the operatic stage to participate regardless of where they live. Previously, the program was only able to serve artists living in the metropolitan New York City area. A total of eight new resident artists have been selected to join CLDP beginning in September, selected from a national pool of applicants: 4 from the New York City area and 4 from cities across the nation.
The eight new resident artists who have been invited to join this season are composers Clarice Assad (New York, NY), Elizabeth Lim (New York, NY), Evan Meier (Silver Spring, MD), and Kamala Sankaram (Brooklyn, NY); and librettists Rob Handel (Pittsburgh, PA), EM Lewis (Woodburn, OR), Jerome Parker (New York, NY), and Niloufar Talebi (San Francisco, CA). They will be introduced to the public during a salon featuring their work at the National Opera Center in New York City, on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. Biographical details about each of the new resident artists as well as previous participants in the program are available on the American Lyric Theater website.
The American Lyric Theater was founded in 2005 to build a new body of operatic repertoire for new audiences by nurturing composers and librettists, developing sustainable artistic collaborations, and contributing new works to the national canon. CLDP, which was established in 2007, is a tuition-free program that includes a core curriculum of classroom training and hands-on workshops with some of the country’s leading working artists and has been regularly recognized for artistic excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts. The principal faculty for 2013-2014 includes composer/librettist Mark Adamo, composer Paul Moravec, librettists Mark Campbell and Michael Korie, stage directors Lawrence Edelson and Rhoda Levine, and dramaturg Cori Ellison. Recent guest teachers and lecturers have included composers Kaija Saariaho, Anthony Davis, Ricky Ian Gordon, Nico Muhly, Stewart Wallace, Christopher Theofanidis, and John Musto, and librettists Stephen Karam, Donna DiNovelli, and Gene Scheer. Composers and librettists who participate in the program also have the opportunity to observe the development of productions at The Metropolitan Opera. Plus additional networking and membership resources are provided through a partnership with OPERA America.
(—from the press release)