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Long Leaf Opera Festival

Master Class, Recital and World Premiere Honor Company & Late Co-Founder Randolph Umberger

After 16 years of producing American Opera in the Triangle and winning national recognition and merit, Long Leaf Opera is taking its last bows with the Long Leaf Opera Vocal Festival, free two-day event featuring a master class, a recital and full-length world premiere opera and post-performance serenade to Long Leaf’s co-founders on Saturday and Sunday, March 16-17, 2013 at Kenan Auditorium, Durham Academy. Produced by local musician and choral director Richard C. Wall, the two-day affair will include a series of free events:

Saturday, March 16: Master Class

At 10:00am, a Master Class for Singers features Masters Mary Gayle Greene of Appalachian State, Timothy Sparks, UNC Chapel Hill, Broadway Music Directors Mark Hartman (Avenue Q and Sondheim on Sondheim and current Musical Director of Carolina PlayMakers‘ Cabaret) and Steven Tyler (Jane Eyre, Guys and Dolls and The Producers).  Singers will participate in a roundtable discussion with the masters on their presentation, vocal abilities and will receive encouragement to continue careers in singing.  FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Sunday, March 17: Recital and World Premiere Opera
At 3:00pm, a recital by JoAna Rusche, mezzo soprano, and winner of the 2012 Long Leaf Vocal Competition for young singers performs operatic songs and also songs composed by Long Leaf Co-Founder Randolph Umberger. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
At 7:30pm, a world premiere staging of A Shipwreck Opera by New York composer John B. Hedges, with libretto by national bestseller Aimee Bender, John B. Hedges and Aimee Bender, winners of the Long Leaf New Works Competition, features Mr. Hedges as conductor who will also participate in the invitation-only Seminar for Young Composers.

This premiere work is a thought-provoking and tender look at relationships young and old, past, present and future. The opera features Tara Sperry as The Girl, washed up on the beach as a baby who grows up under a Tree which she thinks is her Mother. Shannon French plays the Tree with Maurio Hines playing the Wind who seduces The Girl. Daniel Crupi plays the Lumberjack, who also washes up on shore and chops down Tree to make a raft to leave the island with The Girl.

Immediately following the performance, audience members are invited to a complimentary champagne reception catered by Fresno Cafe in Durham and featuring a short concert of 25 Long Leaf Alums featuring excerpts from productions in which they participated during the life the company such as Kismet, Lost in the Stars, Blitztein/Weill Cabaret, Vanessa and other popular operatic song. This serenade will honor Long Leaf Opera co-founder Benjamin Keaton and the late co-founder Randolph Umberger. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

All public events are free and open to the public.  No tickets or reservations necessary.  All events take place at Kenan Auditorium, Durham Academy, 3601 Ridge Road, Durham, NC.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: or (919) 942-0972 during business hours.

Promotional photo available upon request
About Composer John B. Hedges
John B. HedgesBorn in 1974 in Wilmington, Delaware, Hedges studied classical music at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his B.A. in Music in and a M.M. from Westminster Choir College with post-graduate studies at the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied with Richard Danielpour and Ned Rorem.  Hedges attended the Aspen Music Festival where he studied with John Harbison and George Tsontakis and attended the Contemporary Composition and Performance course at the Britten-Pears School (as both composer and conductor).  He returned to the U.K. to apprentice with Oliver Knussen.  He has participated in the Academie Musicale de Villecroze in France, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Composition and Conducting Institute and assisted composer Tan Dun on the Metropolitan Opera premiere of The First Emperor.

John B. Hedges’ music has been performed throughout the U.S. as well as Canada, France and England.  As a composer and conductor he has worked with the Ensemble Modern, New Jersey Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Ensembles and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble among others. He has conducted at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Academie Musicale de Villecroze and the Aldeburgh Festival.  Recently, Hedges completed A Shipwreck Opera in collaboration with fiction writer Aimee Bender, On the Good Foot, a James Brown tribute piece for the Albany Symphony’s Dogs of Desire, and a sonatina for clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester. In 2008, the Grand Rapids Symphony premiered Prayers of Rain and Wind with contrabass soloist Joseph Conyers for whom it was written.  He has also served as orchestral arranger for the eclectic string trio Time for Three and was the Fort Worth Symphony’s composer in residence for their 2011-12 season.

John B. Hedges has received the Alfred Casselo Award, the Theodore Presser Career Grant and a 2006 Independence Foundation Fellowship.  He has also received grants and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer and multiple residencies at Yaddo.  Hedges is currently on faculty at SUNY New Paltz.

March 16, 2013
March 17, 2013
Long Leaf Opera Festival
Kenan Auditorium Durham Academy
(919) 942-0972
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3601 Ridge Road, Durham, NC, United States, 27705
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