About eight months ago I was being interviewed with my director Christine Seitz on a local radio talk show about our production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in which I was playing the role of Bartolo. The interviewer asked Seitz what she thought the future of opera was, and she responded with a few remarks about the talented students at the university going on to have very successful careers in performance. She then went on to say that she believed composers were also responsible for the future of opera, and said, "Hans will write an opera for the Show-Me Opera program during his years here!" This was the first that I had heard of this, but there couldn't possibly be a more exciting way to find out about a commission! Seitz and I met later that week to talk about the specifics of the undertaking that is writing even a chamber opera. I told her my desire to write an opera with a brand new Sherlock Holmes story as the libretto, with fellow composer, genius, and novelist Jeremy Schwinger as my librettist. She was excited at the prospect of a Sherlock Holmes opera, and I got straight to work brainstorming with Jeremy about the plotline and characters as well as my musical aspirations for the chamber opera. The opera will be called "The Allenbach Amulet", and follows the story of Sherlock and Watson's investigation of the mysterious death of Sir Allenbach and the subsequent theft of the family's precious heirloom amulet. I am beyond excited to start working on this project, and I can't wait for it to come to fruition under the direction of Christine Seitz!
Christine Seitz, Associate Teaching Professor of Music, joined the faculty at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2008, where she is Director of Show-Me Opera and Voice Area Coordinator. She was a member of the stage directing staff for the Apprentice Artist Program at Des Moines Metro Opera from 2006 through 2013, and she was the founding Opera Director for the Pine Mountain Music Festival in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, directing and producing operas there from 1992 through 2002. She has been a guest director for the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee (educational outreach productions), the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Luther College. She has created original translations and supertitles for productions at the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, the Pine Mountain Music Festival, the University of Wisconsin Madison, the Dubuque Symphony and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Christine Seitz is an established dramatic soprano, and she recently appeared with the Des Moines Metro Opera, singing the role of Madame Larina in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. She has also sung operatic roles with the Seattle Opera, the Dallas Opera, Madison Opera, the Los Angeles Opera, the Toledo Opera, Kentucky Opera, the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Central City Opera, and in Europe with the Wuppertaler Bühnen and the Stadttheater Bern. She sang the leading role of Anna Clemenc in the world premiere ofThe Children of the Keweenaw, by composer Paul Seitz and librettist Kathleen Masterson, at the 2001 Pine Mountain Music Festival. She has also sung in concert with the MU Choral Union, the Waukesha Symphony, the Greater Lansing Symphony Orchestra, the Caramoor Festival, the Germanfest Symphony in Milwaukee, the Cincinnati May Festival and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. She has sung in numerous recitals in New York City and throughout the Midwest, collaborating with pianists Steven Blier and Jessica Paul, and she has presented voice workshops and master classes in Houghton, Michigan, and the University of California-Irvine.
Professor Seitz is currently the Central Region Governor of the National Opera Association. She received B.Mus. degrees in both applied voice and music education and an M.Mus. in applied voice from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A native of Madison, Wisconsin, she was a two-time winner of the Eastern Wisconsin Metropolitan Opera District Auditions.
In July, I was contacted by my choral director at the University of Missouri, Dr. R. Paul Crabb. He told me he thought I should write a piece for the University Singers' fall concert, the theme of which being "Laudate et Jubilate". I was deeply honored — how often does a composer come across the opportunity to write for such a phenomenal and renowned ensemble? He sent me a list of the repertoire for the concert and suggested a few pieces for which I could write a companion piece. I immediately settled on Goodnight, Dear Heart, a beautifully patient piece by Kansas composer Dan Forrest. The poetry for the piece is "Warm Summer Sun" by Mark Twain, which he wrote in memory of his daughter. In writing a companion piece, of course, I would have to create both musical and textual contrast in my work. I searched and searched for a text that would compliment the Forrest piece, but I couldn't find anything that truly inspired me. I sat down at the piano to flesh out some preconceived musical ideas I had, and as I did so, words and a melody came to me. I scribbled down both the notes and the text in admittedly messy script and played it through a few times. I was shocked — I wasn't typically a fan of writing my own poetry, as I'd only endeavored to do so for one of my compositions on one other occasion — but I thought I had married the music to my own words quite successfully. As I continued to write, more words came, and more musical ideas, too. Before I knew it, I had the finished score of The World Awakes in front of me. I'm so excited to begin work on this piece with the University Singers, and I can't wait for its October 23rd premiere!
R. Paul Crabb, University of Missouri's Director of Choral Activities, earned degrees in Music Education, Vocal Performance and Choral Music Education. His ensembles have performed at state, regional and national conventions and have traveled extensively in Mexico, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Bulgaria and Australia. Crabb served as assistant conductor at the Russian/American Choral Symposium for two years where his choir was invited as the resident American choir at the Moscow Conservatory. He served for one year as a visiting professor in Salzburg, Austria, where he taught and worked with the choir of the Salzburg Cathedral. He has taught conducting in Taiwan, eighteenth-century music in England, and studied sixteenth century polyphony in Italy with the renowned Peter Phillips. More recently he served as Guest Visiting Choral Professor at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary - the first American selected for that position. In 2007 he became the first American conductor invited to lecture in the Choral Department at the University of Vienna's Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst. In 2008 Crabb accepted the position as Resident Guest Conductor of the Baroque Orchestra of Domenica Cimarosa in Avellino, Italy, where he has conducted performances in the Naples and the Amalfi Coast region for the past several years and recently completed a recording project with the same ensemble. He also accepted a position as the resident conductor for the Dante Music and Arts Festival in Nagoya, Japan during March of 2010. Invitations for 2011-12 included California, New York, Washington, D.C., Italy, Austria and Brazil. In 2015 he was awarded a research leave at MU, using the time to lecture, perform and research choral music in Sweden, including lectures and performances at Lund University, Malmӧ College of Music and the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm. He also presented seminars and workshops in Austria, Italy and Slovakia. Invitations for 2016 include Austria, Italy, China and Poland.
Under Crabb's leadership, MU's University Singers have been recognized as one of the premiere university choirs in the United States. In November of 2009, they were invited to perform at the national convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization at Yale University--one of nine choirs selected by audition from across the U. S. In May of 2010 they accepted an invitation to perform at some of the most prestigious venues in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Salerno, Italy. This tour was sponsored by several institutions in these cities, as well as the office of the U. S. Consulate General in Naples. In January 2011 they performed by invitation at the Missouri Music Educators Association state convention. In March of that same year, they traveled to Chicago following an acceptance of an invitation to perform at the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association during a session on eighteenth-century performance practice. This same ensemble was the featured choir for a residency of Peter Phillips of the Tallis Scholars in April of 2012. In November of 2012, Crabb hosted Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt's residency during which he worked with students and conducted a performance of Choral Union's Lord Nelson Mass. In January of 2013, they returned to Missouri Music Educators Association conference as one of three collegiate choirs featured for the special 75th Anniversary convention. In May 2014 they were invited to perform in Austria and Hungary, including the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and performing with the Salzburg Cathedral choir. Crabb has also been recognized for his teaching skills. He was the recipient of the Walker and Doris Allen Teaching Award (Truman State University), was Missouri’s Professor of the Year, and in April of 2012 received the William T. Kemper Award for Teaching Excellence from MU. His published research has appeared in the MENC research journal Update and Choral Journal. He has also published editions of choral music with several major publishers in the U. S. Crabb is also Artistic Director and conductor of the professional vocal chamber ensemble, Prometheus.
MU's University Singers have been recognized as one of the premiere university choirs in the United States. In November of 2009, they were invited to perform at the national convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization at Yale University--one of nine choirs selected by audition from across the U. S. In May of 2010, they accepted an invitation to perform at some of the most prestigious venues in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Salerno, Italy. This tour was sponsored by several institutions in these cities, as well as the office of the U. S. Consulate General in Naples
In January 2011 they performed by invitation at the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) state convention. In March of that same year, they traveled to Chicago following an acceptance of an invitation to perform at the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association before accepting an invitation to perform at the White House in Washington, D.C. This same ensemble was the featured choir for MU residencies of Peter Phillips (Tallis Scholars) and Joseph Flummerfelt in 2012. In January of 2013, they returned to Missouri Music Educators Association conference as one of three collegiate choirs featured for the special 75th Anniversary convention. In May 2014, they were invited to perform in Austria and Hungary, including the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and performing with the Salzburg Cathedral choir. In May 2016 they completed a performance tour in China where they were hosted by various universities.
ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Hans Bridger Heruth is an award winning composer pursuing a degree in musical composition and vocal performance at the University of Missouri, Columbia. His works have been performed by various ensembles, both educational and professional. In addition to composing, Heruth is an accomplished pianist, violinist, singer, and conductor.