news

2017

Arjuna’s Dilemma had 11 performances in Kathmandu, in September 2106. Staged in a Royal Palace courtyard in Patan Durbar Square (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), this was the first performance of an opera ever in Nepal. Presented by One World Theater, featuring tenor Roy Stevens, and Indian singer Gurudev Kamat, conducted by Jonathan Khuner and directed by Deborah Merola.

Union Avenue Opera Company’s production of Doubt this past August was received three St. Louis Theater Circle nominations - for Outstanding Production of an Opera, for two separate Outstanding Achievement in Opera awards, one each for soprano Christine Brewer and mezzo soprano Melody Wilson.

Here’s an article by David Curtis, conductor of the Orchestra of the Swan (Stratford-Upon Avon, U.K.). He writes about engaging composers and audiences in the process of commissioning new works, and including some quotes from me reflecting my two commissions for OOTS - Objects in Mirror, and Black Diamond Express Train to Hell.

2016

Jeff Zeigler is performing my piece Only Breath, for cello and electronics at National Sawdust on the 23rd of January. Here's the link to concert info.

Also there's a small performance of Winter's Journey being done at the U of Miami on Jan. 24th -- Tony Boutté is singing it with Alan Johnson on keyboards, Brian Lynch on trumpet and me on guitar and electronics. Here's the link.

2015

On Sunday, September 21 at 2:30pm, Slowly she turns, will be performed at Society for New Music's "Upstate Treasures" concert. More here...

In the coming year I'll be working on a number of new pieces including - Veronica, an evening length piece for former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and the projection artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder; two pieces for mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, one with the Romero Guitar Quartet and one with the chorus VocalEssence; and a song for soprano Christine Brewer.

2014

On Wednesday, May 14th at 7:00pm I’m curating a concert at the Tribeca New Music Festival at the Cell Theatre in NYC. It's called “Film to Stage” and the program features work written by me, Carter Burwell, John Corigliano, Frank London, Huang Ruo, Rob Schwimmer and Bora Yoon. See the preview video in the sidebar on right of this page. My pieces are Stations of Light and Shift and feature video by Sandra Gibson & Luis Recoder and Laurie Olinder. More info here

On Saturday, May 17 at 7pm at The Church of the Holy Trinity in NYC, the Octopipers, the middle school girls chorus from the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford will join the Young People’s Chorus of New York City in a concert that includes two pieces of mine, Bobobo and How To Survive In The Woods. The concert is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 at the door of the Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East 88th Street.

On May 22 at 8pm as part of the Musical Ecologies series Shem Guibbory and Rex Benincasa will be performing Slowly She Turned in Brooklyn at the Old Stone House. More info here

NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

On May 2nd Stations of Light was performed at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival in Germany by cellist Dirk Wiethegar, with live projections by Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder.

On April 6th at the Morgan Library in NYC soprano Christine Brewer sang the world premiere of I song I wrote for her Sorry For Your Loss.

On March 28th at Bryn Mawr College Kiera Duffy sang the world premiere of Our Vision for the Future, at a concert presented by Lyric Fest, who commissioned the piece.

2013

Cellist Cecilia Huerta is performing a piece of mine, called Disbelievers, at the Dayton Chamber Music Society on Sunday, May 19th.

On May 22 at 7pm I'm playing a benefit concert for PS 107 in Brooklyn, featuring jazz versions of some of my film and television music. In the band are heavyweights Robby Ameen, David Ephross, Bob Franceschini and Mark Soskin. More info here

Here are some nice reviews of my opera, Doubt.

Here is a link for the Salon Series: American Voices evening of my music at Opera America on March 5, 2013. It includes performances of excerpts of DOUBT and WINTER'S JOURNEY by singers Lauren Flanagan, Michael Chioldi and Abigail Fischer. video...

Here are beautiful still photos and some performance video sneak peaks from the dress rehearsal of the opera DOUBT, at the Minnesota Opera.  Also very nice feature articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

And in other news, Winter’s Journey, a new piece of mine re-imagining the Winterreise poems of Wilhelm Müller (famously set by Schubert) is scheduled to premiere in spring of 2013. more...

Other upcoming work in the pipeline -- a DVD release of the opera Doubt, a concerto for orchestra and the great jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano, a brief song cycle for the Young People’s Chorus on New York, and a piece for the student choruses at the Kingswood Oxford School. Also another big theatrical/opera piece who’s details I can’t quite divulge yet.


I am honored to have been named the University of Miami Frost Music School Alumni of the Year this year. To mark this occasion there will be concert of my music as part of the Stamps Series at Festival Miami on the U of M campus at Gusman Hall on April 13, 2013.

On March 5th I will be speaking and presenting an evening of my music as part of the Salon Series at the Opera Center in New York City. There will be music from DOUBT, ARJUNA'S DILEMMA and the upcoming WINTER'S JOURNEY. Tickets are free but you have to get them in advance. More details here.

And the premiere of the full production of the opera will be at the Minnesota Opera on January 26th, 2013, with performances as well on Jan. 29th, 31st and Feb. 2nd and 3rd. more...

2012

Here are some events for my new opera Doubt, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play and Oscar winning film, both written by John Patrick Shanley. John who also directed the movie, is writing the libretto for the opera too. After this he says he is planning a board game. . . Anyway, the events are:

On November 4th and 5th, 2012 at 7:30 pm there will be a preview of Doubt at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. more...

On September 4th and 5th, 2012 we are having a workshop that is inaugurating the brand new National Opera Center. I’m proud that this workshop will be the first event in this fantastic new space, right in downtown NYC so I wanted to mention it even though the reading isn’t open to the public. But . . .

On November 4th and 5th, 2012 at 7:30 pm there will be a preview of Doubt at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, as part of their Works & Process Series. We will be presenting excerpts from the opera, with piano and singers, and there will be a panel discussion with librettist John Patrick Shanley, director Kevin Newbury and me. This will be the first public performance of this brand new work. Ticket info here -- http://bit.ly/jcaFW, and the November 4th Works and Process event (see above) can be viewed online here - ustream.tv/worksandprocess.

And the premiere of the full production of the opera will be at the Minnesota Opera on January 26th, 2013, with performances as well on Jan. 29th, 31st and Feb. 2nd and 3rd. The cast is fantastic -- Christine Brewer (Sister Aloysius), Denyce Graves (Mrs. Miller), Matthew Worth (Father Flynn) and Adriana Zabala (Sister James) and it is in the wonderful Ordway Theatre in Minneapolis. Ticket info is here - http://bit.ly/PFjCW0

And in other news, Winter’s Journey, a new piece of mine re-imagining the Winterreise poems of Wilhelm Müller (famously set by Schubert) is scheduled to premiere in spring of 2013. This full length music-theatre evening is another collaboration with Music-Theatre Group, (who produced Arjuna’s Dilemma). Written for the electrifying mezzo soprano Beth Clayton, trumpeter Frank London, keyboardist (and musical director) Alan Johnson and myself on electronics and guitar, the piece is directed by David Schweizer.  It’s been described as a “gripping, jazz-inflected take on Müller/Schubert’s Winterreise”. More details to come.

I am honored to have been named the University of Miami Frost Music School Alumni of the Year this year. To mark this occasion there will be concert of my music as part of the Stamps Series at Festival Miami on the U of M campus at Gusman Hall on April 13, 2013. The program has yet to be selected but will include various pieces including selections from Arjuna’s Dilemma, Doubt, Winter’s Journey and more, performed by U of M faculty and students.

Other upcoming work in the pipeline -- a DVD release of the opera Doubt, a concerto for orchestra and the great jazz saxophonist Joe Lovano, a brief song cycle for the Young People’s Chorus on New York, and a piece for the student choruses at the Kingswood Oxford School. Also another big theatrical/opera piece who’s details I can’t quite divulge yet.



Older News

2012

My jazz band is performing Thursday, March 17th at 7pm at the Dweck Auditorium at the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch as in a concert called "dweck-lec'-tic: Douglas J. Cuomo - Composer OutFront!". Part of a series sponsored by the American Composers Orchestras, who commissioned my recent Black Diamond Express Train to Hell. The band features Mark Soskin (piano), Robby Ameen (drums), Bob Francescini (sax) and myself on guitar. We'll be playing music inspired by some of my film and tv scores. Admission is free, and more info is here.

On Friday, April 8th part of my opera-oratorio Arjuna's Dilemma will be presented as part of 21c Liederabend, a contemporary art song festival presented at The Kitchen in NYC. Performers are: Tony Boutté, reprising the role of Arjuna, which he premiered and subsequently recorded; the Brooklyn Youth Chorus; the ACME ensemble with added guests; and I'll be conducting. There is a lot of great music on the program, including works by Missy Mazzoli, Mason Bates, Paola Prestini and others.

My jazz band is performing Tuesday April 12th at 7pm as a fundraiser for PS 107 (1301 8th Avenue, Brooklyn NY). The band features Mark Soskin (piano), Robby Ameen (drums), David Ephross (bass), Frank London (trumpet) and myself on guitar. We'll be playing music inspired by some of my film and tv scores.

Arjuna's Dilemma was chosen by Opera America to be part of their Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase. It will be included with three other operas; Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox and John Adams' A Flowering Tree. Four teams of young directors and designers, one for each opera, were selected to present their production proposals to attendees of the 2011 Opera Conference in Boston on Tuesday May 10 at 3:15 pm. The Arjuna's Dilemma team is Gian Marco Lo Forte, director and set designer; Angela Wendt, costume designer; Rocco D'Santi, lighting designer; Philip Montana, choreographer; Jane Catherine Shaw, mask design and puppets; and Mark Tambella, projected drawings and paintings.

Black Diamond Express Train to Hell, my piece for orchestra, solo cello and sampler, is being given its European premiere on Friday, May 27th at 7:30 pm by the Orchestra of the Swan, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, U.K. Presented as part of their Spring Sounds International Music Festival, the featured cellist will be Nicholas Stringfellow, I'm performing the sampler part, and the conductor is David Curtis. More info here.

1/2012

I will be one of composers participation in the Carnegie Hall Choral Institute and the Young People's Chorus of New York City Present Transient Glory Symposium Feb. 15-18th, 2012.  The YPC, led by MacArthur Prize winner Francisco Nuñez will be performing my piece Fortune and another short new work.  Other composer participants include John Corigliano, Michael Gordon, Paquito D'Rivera and John Tower.  More info here.

 

11/2011

On November 27, the New York Times reported on the creation of Doubt, the opera. Go to the New York Times article.

Here is a great article about the Cincinnati workshop of my opera-in-progress Doubt (see below). Click to go to article.

 

10/2011

Doubt will be workshopped in Cincinnati this November 3-13. The Cincinnati workshop is part of the Opera Fusion: New Works program that is jointly sponsored by Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Opera Program and the Cincinnati Opera, with funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. More info here

The University of Miami recently announced that they are awarding me the UM Frost Distinguished Alumnus for 2011.  In conjunction with this there will be a concert of my music performed at the University on a date still to be determined.  Here is the official announcement from the University.

 

7/2011

I have been commissioned by the Minnesota Opera to write an opera based on the celebrated play and film Doubt.  The opera will have its premiere in 2013 as part of the company’s 50th anniversary season.  The opera will have a libretto by John Patrick Shanley, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play and its subsequent Academy Award-nominated screenplay starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. You may read about the commission here.

 

4/2011


October 1st at 7pm in Dumbo, Music-Theatre Group hosts an exciting evening with the artists Douglas Cuomo & David Schweizer, Daniel Fish, Susie Ibarra, & Yusef Komunyakaa, and Nico Muhly talking about and present excerpts from their upcoming works.  More information here.


See this beautiful video of Arjuna's Dilemma by William Cusick.

Check out this video of Maya Beiser performing my piece, Only Breath.

My jazz band is performing Thursday, March 17th at 7pm at the Dweck Auditorium at the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch as in a concert called "dweck-lec'-tic: Douglas J. Cuomo - Composer OutFront!". Part of a series sponsored by the American Composers Orchestras, who commissioned my recent Black Diamond Express Train to Hell. The band features Mark Soskin (piano), Robby Ameen (drums), Bob Francescini (sax) and myself on guitar. We'll be playing music inspired by some of my film and tv scores. Admission is free, and more info is here.

On Friday, April 8th part of my opera-oratorio Arjuna's Dilemma will be presented as part of 21c Liederabend, a contemporary art song festival presented at The Kitchen in NYC. Performers are: Tony Boutté, reprising the role of Arjuna, which he premiered and subsequently recorded; the Brooklyn Youth Chorus; the ACME ensemble with added guests; and I'll be conducting. There is a lot of great music on the program, including works by Missy Mazzoli, Mason Bates, Paola Prestini and others.

My jazz band is performing Tuesday April 12th at 7pm as a fundraiser for PS 107 (1301 8th Avenue, Brooklyn NY). The band features Mark Soskin (piano), Robby Ameen (drums), David Ephross (bass), Frank London (trumpet) and myself on guitar. We'll be playing music inspired by some of my film and tv scores.

Arjuna's Dilemma was chosen by Opera America to be part of their Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Showcase. It will be included with three other operas; Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, Philip Glass' Hydrogen Jukebox and John Adams' A Flowering Tree. Four teams of young directors and designers, one for each opera, were selected to present their production proposals to attendees of the 2011 Opera Conference in Boston on Tuesday May 10 at 3:15 pm. The Arjuna's Dilemma team is Gian Marco Lo Forte, director and set designer; Angela Wendt, costume designer; Rocco D'Santi, lighting designer; Philip Montana, choreographer; Jane Catherine Shaw, mask design and puppets; and Mark Tambella, projected drawings and paintings.

Black Diamond Express Train to Hell, my piece for orchestra, solo cello and sampler, is being given its European premiere on Friday, May 27th at 7:30 pm by the Orchestra of the Swan, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, U.K. Presented as part of their Spring Sounds International Music Festival, the featured cellist will be Nicholas Stringfellow, I'm performing the sampler part, and the conductor is David Curtis. More info here.

 

3/2011

My piece Slowly She Turns will be performed by violinist Shem Guibbory and percussionist Rex Benincasa on Thursday, March 3rd at 6 pm at the Bruno Walter Auditorium. This piece was written for Shem, and he is a wonderful violinist. The concert also includes music by Bach, Brahms and Bacewicz, and is free of charge. More info here.

On Sunday March 13th at 6pm at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC the cellist Maya Beiser will be presenting a solo concert as part of the "Resonating Light" series, hosted by Elliott Forrest of WQXR. She will be performing works inspired by the museum's current exhibition, "Embodying the Holy," which explores striking parallels between Eastern Orthodox Christian and Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Along with works by Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Sofia Gubaidulina and others she will be playing Only Breath, which I wrote for Maya in 2008 and is featured on her CD Provenance. More info about the concert here.

 

2/2011

I'll be the featured composer the week of February 27th on NO EXTRA NOTES, a podcast hosted by composer Richard Zarou. I'll be interviewed and will also be playing some of my music from Arjuna’s Dilemma and Only Breath.

My piece Slowly She Turns will be performed by violinist Shem Guibbory and percussionist Rex Benincasa on Thursday, March 3rd at 6 pm at the Bruno Walter Auditorium. This piece was written for Shem, and he is a wonderful violinist. The concert also includes music by Bach, Brahms and Bacewicz, and is free of charge. More info here.

Black Diamond Express Train to Hell, my piece for orchestra, solo cello and sampler, is being given its European premiere on Friday, May 27th at 7:30 pm by the Orchestra of the Swan, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, U.K. Presented as part of their Spring Sounds International Music Festival, the featured cellist will be Nicholas Stringfellow, I'm performing the sampler part, and the conductor is David Curtis. More info here.

My jazz band is performing Tuesday April 12th at 7pm as a fundraiser for PS 107 (1301 8th Avenue, Brooklyn NY). The band features Mark Soskin (piano), Robby Ameen (drums), David Ephross (bass), Frank London (trumpet) and myself on guitar. We'll be playing music inspired by some of my film and tv scores.

On Friday, April 8th part of my opera-oratorio Arjuna's Dilemma will be presented as part of 21c Liederabend, a contemporary art song festival presented at The Kitchen in NYC. Performers are: Tony Boutté, reprising the role of Arjuna, which he premiered and subsequently recorded; the Brooklyn Youth Chorus; the ACME ensemble with added guests; and I'll be conducting. There is a lot of great music on the program, including works by Missy Mazzoli, Mason Bates, Paola Prestini and others.

 

6/2010

Coming on December 3rd at Zankel Hall in NYC is the premiere of Black Diamond Express Train to Hell, for orchestra sampler and cello soloist. I'm playing the sampler part and Maya Beiser is the featured cellist, the orchestra is the American Composers' Orchestra who commissioned the work along with the Orchestra of the Swan, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, U.K.

Maya Beiser's album Provenance, featuring my piece Only Breath has just been released. It is number one on the Amazon classical music charts and you can purchase it there or at eMusic, iTunes, etc. Hear Maya talk about the album (and a lot about my piece) on NPR's Weekend Edition.

 

5/2010

Thursday, June 3rd, sets at 8 & 9:30pm - DUMBO Arts Walk
I'll be playing with my band, performing re-imagined jazz versions of some of my film and television music as part of the DUMBO Arts Walk event. This band played a little while ago and it was so nice we're doing it again. Featuring the usual all star cast (Robby Ameen, drums; Mark Soskin, piano; Bob Franceschini, saxophone; David Ephross, bass and myself on guitar). These guys are really great -- they've played with everyone from Paul Simon to Sonny Rollins to Chaka Khan, and the gig will feature some prodigious blowing and lots of fun. See more info here. Come early and do some arts-walking, check out local galleries, etc. The concert is presented by MUSIC-THEATRE GROUP @ OneArmRed (who produced my opera ARJUNA'S DILEMMA) and is at their space in DUMBO (which is in Brooklyn, for you out-of-towners). Concert details:

10 Jay Street, 9th floor
Brooklyn, NY
Thursday, June 3
Two sets, 8pm & 9:30pm. Ticket $15 at the door

Tuesday, June 8th, 8pm - Tribeca New Music Festival at Merkin Hall
Mary Rowell, who plays violin in ETHEL, is also a fine violist. Along with pianist Geoffrey Burleson she will be playing my piece A FAR PLAYGROUND, as part of the Tribeca New Music Festival, which has become so popular it is no longer in Tribeca at all but rather at Merkin Hall. Lots of other great music on the program too, by Eve Beglarian, Victoria Bond, Philip Glass, Gregor Huebner, Preston Stahly and Scott Wheeler. Also performing is pianist Kathleen Supové.
Details here...

Sunday, June 27th, 7pm - Joe's Pub
The wonderful violinist Shem Guibbory will be premiering SLOWLY SHE TURNED, a piece I wrote for him and hand percussion (Rex Benincasa, a long-time collaborator) at Joe's Pub as part of Shem's CD release party for Voice of the People. Shem will be playing much other great music, by Gabrilea Frank, Shotakovich and more.
Details here...

Every week on PBS
NEED TO KNOW, a new weekly hour long news series features my theme music, as well as end credit and "funder" music (this is the music they play while telling you who funds the show, which includes of course "viewers like you" We hope.) Check your local listings for specific airtimes, the show first airs each Friday evening but is re-broadcast numerous times during the week. Need to Know also has a great website, where you can stream the show at your own schedule --
More info here...


2/2010
On Wednesday, March 3rd I will be making a rare appearance performing some of my film and tv music live at a benefit for PS 107 in Brooklyn, NY. I'll be playing guitar and leading a band of musical all-stars (Frank London, trumpet (The Klezmatics, Mark Ribot); Mark Soskin (Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson), keyboards; Robby Ameen, drums (Ruben Blades and Seis de Solar, Paul Simon); and David Ephross, bass (Betty Carter, Geoff Keezer). I don't play live often and I'm very excited to be playing with all these great players. Here's the info:
$10 admission
7:30 PM (one set only!)
PS 107, 4th Floor
1301 Eighth Avenue (between 13th and 14th Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11215

On Sunday, February 28th A Far Playground, my piece for cello and piano, will be performed on the Resonance Concert Series by Inbal Segev (cello) and Leon Livshin (piano). The concert is at 7pm at the United Methodist Church, 24 Madison Ave, Madison NJ.


 

7/2009
I will have a performance presented at Festival Miami as part of Six Operas in Sixty Minutes!!!!!!. My piece, Winter’s Journey is an acoustic adaptation of a longer work in progress of mine and is based on the poems from Wilhelm Müller's Winterreise cycle, which were famously set by Schubert.

I was commissioned to write a piece for the multi-media theatrical production A Night at The Alhambra Cafe, created by violinist Shem Guibbory and director Margaret Booker. October 13, 8 PM in Gusman Hall on Festival Miami.

I received a Composer Commissioning grant from NYSCA for the commission for Only Breath, the piece I wrote for cellist Maya Beiser.

Maya Beiser has been in the studio with renowned producer Judith Sherman recording her next album for Koch Records, which will include Only Breath.

I just finished a score (featuring Angelique Kidjo, the fantastic singer from Benin) for Back to School 3, a two-hour documentary film to be aired on the award-winning PBS series Wide Angle this September. The film is a riveting and dramatic look at seven young children from around the world, following them through their schooling in their respective home countries. (By the way I wrote the theme for Wide Angle when it first aired in 2001, listen here.)

I recently completed a commission for Shem Guibbory for violin and percussion, to be included as part of his The Evolution of a 21st century Violinist project.

I am contributing music to a library of music for the South African television network, the South African Broadcasting Corporation.


4/2009
WNYC recently posted a podcast of their New Sounds program from October, which hosted Maya Beiser & friends performing works inspired by Spain's Golden Age. The show featured music by Raz Mesinai and Djivan Gasparyan, as well as a performance of my piece for cello and electronics, Only Breath. Click here to listen.


3/2009
I've been invited to do a residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key on the Florida Gulf Coast. I'll be there from March 25 through April 2nd working on a piece for the violinist Shem Guibbory. Part of the residency involves some community involvement and on Monday, March 30 at 5pm I'll be talking about my music at College Hall on the campus of the New College of Florida. Admission is free, for more information call (941) 475-2098.


2/2009
Sound designer David Meschter is interviewed in Stage Directions magazine about his work on Arjuna's Dilemma at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Read The Article Here


12/2008
AllMusic.com's Stephen Eddins has chosen Innova's recording of Arjuna's Dilemma as a Classical Favorite of 2008. Reviewing the disc for AllMusic, Eddins called it "a genuinely original work...[Cuomo] clearly understands how music and dramatic action are coordinated... Cuomo handles the juxtaposition and sometimes superimposition of the various types of music with such skill that the opera has a sense of unity and purposefulness despite its diversity of styles. The musical development has a feeling of inevitability that keeps the listener fully engaged, but it's full of astonishing turns and is never predictable. Cuomo is also a natural vocal composer and his writing for the voice is simply gorgeous... Arjuna's Dilemma is an opera that should be explored by anyone with an interest in fresh new directions in music theater. Highly recommended."


11/2008
Opera Today reviewed Arjuna's Dilemma at BAM: "[It] has been created by a composer who trusts sound, a few fine voices and a few fine virtuoso instrumentalists, to reveal his message in the same way that the great opera composers trust the sounds will bring to us... Its meaning comes to us subtly, open to our different levels of understanding, on the beauty of the human voice, of melody working sinuously to take us into trance states while we meditate, line by line, on the brief story being told us... Arjuna’s Dilemma is a modern opera, a tale told through singing." Read the entire review here.


11/2008
NPR's Weekend Edition ran a story on Arjuna's Dilemma, currently in performances at BAM's Next Wave Festival.  You can listen to it here.


11/2008
Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times praised Arjuna's Dilemma: "Composers of the current generation from all stylistic camps view categories as pointlessly limiting. Why shouldn’t they borrow from any musical tradition they choose to? Douglas J. Cuomo, for one, takes that stance in Arjuna’s Dilemma, an opera with an appealing and unabashedly eclectic score, based on the Bhagavad-Gita and presented at the Harvey Theater of the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Wednesday night. The production, directed by Robin Guarino, was the first full staging of this unconventional 70-minute work, which was developed over nearly eight years.

"Mr. Cuomo has written music for classical ensembles, theater, film and television (notably the effervescent, salsa-tinged theme song to Sex and the City). In composing Arjuna’s Dilemma he immersed himself in North Indian music. The score boldly blends those Indian sources with diverse contemporary music idioms and hints of jazz... I liked the score best when Mr. Cuomo pushed the complexity to extremes, piling up Arjuna’s solos, choral counterpoint and instrumental textures to create haunting, astringent, multilayered music, with cluster chords in the electric keyboard and spiraling flights in the strings and winds.

"Mr. Cuomo’s designation of Arjuna’s Dilemma as a contemporary chamber opera is as apt as any. Still, it is doubtful that the audience that gave an ardent ovation on Wednesday cared much about categories." Read the entire review here.


11/2008
At this writing, tickets are still available for Arjuna’s Dilemma at BAM’s Harvey Theater on November 5, 7, and 8 -- click here to purchase. Advance interest in the work has been keen, thanks to previews in The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York magazine, Time Out New York, and other publications.


10/2008
Let's talk: in the first week of November I'll be participating in a pair of panel discussions on Arjuna's Dilemma. On Thursday, November 6, 6:30 - 8 pm, the Asia Society and Museum hosts a discussion titled Arjuna's Dilemma -- The Bhagavad Gita Today. The Asia Society is located at 725 Park Avenue (70th St.). Then, following the Friday evening (Nov. 7) performance of Arjuna's Dilemma at BAM's Harvey Theater, there will be a free Artist Talk. I'll be joined by host Limor Tomer and some of the my creative collaborators on the piece. The Harvey Theater is at 651 Fulton St. (Rockwell Pl. and Ashland Pl.) in the Ft. Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. More info at www.bam.org.


10/2008
I'm pleased to be on WNYC-FM twice in the coming weeks. On Sunday, October 26, I'll be chatting with host David Garland on Evening Music's "Sacred Sundays" series, talking about Arjuna's Dilemma and Only Breath (see below). The program airs 8 - 11 pm. On Thursday, November 6, in between performances of Arjuna's Dilemma at BAM's Next Wave Festival (Nov. 5, 7, and 8), I'll be talking about the work with John Schaefer on Soundcheck, 2 - 3 pm. Both programs are always worth a listen.


10/2008
Taking a brief break from concert music, I've composed the theme for a new PBS program called WorldFocus, a nightly show covering international news for an American audience. PBS is launching WorldFocus on Monday, October 6; it will run at 6 pm Eastern time. The show is hosted by Martin Savidge, a former CNN and NBC journalist. One could describe my theme as an urgent-sounding fanfare.


9/2008
Arjuna's Dilemma has made another, much more extensive appearance in The New York Times's "Arts & Leisure" section. In a fascinating article titled "Naming The Nameless" (Sept. 28), Matthew Gurewitsch examines operatic treatments of the Bhagavad Gita, the ancient Sanskrit scripture that serves as the text for both my piece and Philip Glass's Satyagraha; it also turns up in John Adams's Doctor Atomic. As Gurewitsch points out, in Satyagraha the Bhagavad Gita has been subsumed "into the music: omnipresent yet beyond a listener's grasp... In Arjuna's Dilemma, the sacred text is everything: foreground, background, action, touchstone... The cast of characters is pared down to a single man and the god in whom all being rests [Krishna]. What could be more intimate? What could be more cosmic?" You can read the entire article here.


9/2008
Maya Beiser will give the New York premiere of Only Breath, my piece for solo cello and electronics, at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, October 30 (7:30 pm). 

As mentioned below (1/2008), the work was commissioned by Maya Beiser as part of a multimedia program titled “Provenance,” in which live music and original texts in Ladino, Arabic, Hebrew and Latin are woven together into an all-encompassing musical tapestry.  Maya premiered Only Breath in June at the Arts & Ideas festival in New Haven, and then played it at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival in July.


9/2008
Anne Midgette of The Washington Post reviewed Arjuna's Dilemma as part of a roundup of new operas on disc: "In this opera, [Cuomo] blends Indian classical singing, jazz improv, the busy minimalist-style patterns that appear to have entered the bloodstream of so many composers and the jewel-like tones of a four-part women's chorus, all worked into a seamless whole, like a golden Indian brocade.

"...It struck me that Arjuna's Dilemma has something a lot of new operas don't: appeal. Opera is an art form that was for many years the ne plus ultra of popular entertainment. That aspect of it is all to easy to lose sight of, as many current pieces show. Opera, to work, has to have a certain understanding of what drama is, and how it functions. But it also has to have an audience, and Arjuna's Dilemma...has a pretty good chance of attracting one." You can read more here.

In The New York Times's Sunday "Arts & Leisure" section, Allan Kozinn picked Arjuna's Dilemma as one of the highlights of the upcoming season: "The composer Douglas Cuomo looks at war, and duty, from a more mystical perspective in Arjuna's Dilemma, a compelling opera based on the Bhagavad-Gita, the sacred Hindu text, set in a musical language that draws on Western and Indian styles...The opera will be staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in early November."


9/2008
Arjuna's Dilemma is featured in the Fall Preview issue of New York magazine (Sept. 1 - 8). Rebecca Milzoff's article is titled, "On Trading 'Sex and the City' for Sanskrit Verse."


9/2008
The Arjuna's Dilemma preview performances at Purchase were very successful, offering our production team an opportunity to refine the staging before our NY premiere at BAM. The Journal News, a regional paper serving the lower Hudson valley, ran an excellent article on the piece, detailing the work's genesis and including a vivid description of the production's visual design:

"The production reflects the kaleidoscopic nature of the music. During a technical rehearsal at The Performing Arts Center's PepsiCo Theatre, the crew runs through lighting cues that bathe the stage alternately in swirling white, blue and purple illuminations. Projections create marbleized patterns and moving landscapes on a long, rectangular screen at back. Meanwhile, a group of female singers, which functions as a Greek chorus, turns sinuously and scatters petals, suggesting Indian temple sculptures."


8/2008
My chamber opera Arjuna’s Dilemma will have three preview performances, August 22 – 24 (Fri. through Sun.) at the PepsiCo Theater at SUNY Purchase. It’s a great opportunity for an early look at the production that will come to BAM’s Next Wave Festival this fall, November 5, 7 and 8. We’ve lined up an outstanding cast, with two new additions:  Sufi singer Humayun Khan as Krishna, and noted performance artist John Kelly as The Scribe. Tony Boutté lends his pure tenor to the title role, as he does on the new Arjuna’s Dilemma CD.

New Yorkers can easily reach SUNY Purchase by car, or via Metro North’s Harlem and New Haven lines. Tickets are only $20 ($15 for seniors), and you can order them here.


8/2008
I have a new Myspace page. You're invited to visit, friend me, leave comments...you know the drill.


7/2008
Cleveland Plain Dealer critic Donald Rosenberg, reviewing the new Arjuna's Dilemma CD on Innova, called it "a haunting chamber opera... The work's roots lie in the Bhagavad Gita, the Sanskrit text that explores a discussion between the divine Krishna and worldly Arjuna, who searches his soul to come to terms with obligations as a warrior. Cuomo's background in jazz and ethnomusicology appear to have given him the ideal grounding to create such an opera. His music embraces both Western and Indian classical traditions, with voices used in notated chants and improvised episodes.

"The score is a mesmerizing blend of vocal and instrumental possibilities. Arjuna is assigned to a tenor who must negotiate high-lying lines, tender gestures, and dramatic points, all the while singing in Sanskrit. The role of Krishna is divided between an Indian vocalist and a chorus -- on this recording [members of] the remarkable female ensemble Anonymous 4 -- that sings in English.

"However Arjuna's Dilemma unfolds in the theater, it is a gripping experience on compact disc.The excellent performers include Tony Boutté as Arjuna, Amit Chatterjee as Krishna, and an instrumental ensemble that features the adventurous string quartet known as Ethel."


6/2008
On June 24, Maya Beiser gave the premiere of Only Breath (see below), prompting an admiring review on the Hartford Courant's website. Local radio host Richard Kamins wrote, "Most impressive for this listener was...Douglas Cuomo's Only Breath (that utilized a tape loop of the cellist breathing and her continual electronic repetition of certain melodic phrases) and the group's arrangement of Hamza El Din's Escalay... The Long Wharf Theatre [in New Haven] was packed and the assembled multitude truly appreciated the music and the musicians."


6/2008
Innova's recording of Arjuna's Dilemma has been chosen by WNYC-FM's Soundcheck program as a "CD pick of the week." As noted below, the disc will be released on July 1.


6/2008
The Sex & the City movie, which opens with the theme I wrote for HBO's television series, was released on May 30 and became the #1 film in the country. Two versions of the theme can be heard in the film: a big-band arrangement, and a pop song titled Labels or Love, sung by Fergie and produced by Salaam Rami, whose credits include tracks for Amy Winehouse, Fugees, and Nas. In connection with the premiere, I was interviewed by the Arizona Daily Star (being a Tucson native).


5/2008
More exciting news on Arjuna’s Dilemma: premiere dates for the stage production. Arjuna will have preview performances at the PepsiCo Theatre in Purchase, NY on August 22-24, followed by a high-profile NYC premiere at BAM’s Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn, November 5, 7, and 8. Arjuna’s Dilemma is produced by the Music-Theatre Group, headed by Diane Wondisford, who's been working with me for nearly eight years to bring this work to the stage.

 


5/2008
Some further details on my new work for cellist Maya Beiser, which she’ll premiere this summer at the Arts & Ideas festival in New Haven on June 24. The piece is called Only Breath, after a poem by Rumi, and it’s scored for solo cello with electronics. Maya will perform Only Breath as part of a thematic program called Provenance (see 1/2008 entry below), taking the piece to the Ravinia Festival on July 22 and Zankel Hall on October 30.

I’ve also written Maya a second piece for cello without electronics; it’s called "...and Disbelievers." It draws inspiration from a text by the 13th-century Spanish poet-King Alfonso X.

 


4/2008
The release date for the Arjuna’s Dilemma CD has just been announced -- it’s coming out on the Innova label on July 1. It will be available at record stores and online retail outlets throughout North America and beyond, as well as through download stores like iTunes and AmazonMP3. You can download Innova’s press release here

 


4/2008
I have just signed with Schott, one of the leading publishers of classical music, where I’ve joined the company of composers like Hindemith, Ligeti, Orff, Penderecki, and Takemitsu -- not to mention Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Strauss. Schott Music’s website ran an announcement and interview, which you can read here. Schott will be putting a number of my compositions into print, both existing pieces and forthcoming works. I’m looking forward to a long and productive relationship with the company.


3/2008
The Young People’s Chorus of New York City is premiering my new choral piece, Fortune, at the 92nd St. Y in New York on April 27 at 2 pm. The text is based on a traditional Taoist tale that illuminates a basic truth about life: that "good luck" and "bad luck" are not always what they seem! Francisco Nuñez will lead the YPC, an internationally acclaimed, multicutural chorus of young singers, in a concert featuring new pieces by Michael Gordon, Joan Tower, and Bora Yoon as well as myself.


2/2008
Crazy Love just won the 2008 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. My score for the film, which is available on DVD, features trumpeter Chris Botti and pianist Billy Childs.


2/2008
On Feb. 27, Indian vocalist Amit Chatterjee and tenor Tony Boutté sang some excerpts from Arjuna’s Dilemma at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. They were accompanied by pianist Alan Johnson, violinist Joyce Hamann, and tabla player Naren Budhakar. The audience was riveted by Tony and Amit’s performance of the climatic section of the work, "The Vision," in which Krishna shows Arjuna the true nature of reality, in all of its terrifying glory.


1/2008
My chamber opera Arjuna’s Dilemma, performed by singers from Anonymous 4, Ethel string quartet, pianist Kathleen Supove, Indian singer Amit Chatterjee (Zawinul Syndicate) and tabla player Badal Roy (Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman), among others, will be released this summer on the Innova label, home to an eclectic and impressive mix of artists from the worlds of new classical music, jazz, electronic, experimental, and world music.

We now have cover art for the disc, a remarkable image of a rope fraying – a fitting visual metaphor for the title character’s state of mind as he contemplates the seemingly hopeless choice that gives the piece its name.

John Schaefer of WNYC-FM’s New Sounds program has written an insightful essay for the CD booklet, which you can read here. Watch this space for further details on the disc and upcoming performances of Arjuna’s Dilemma.


1/2008
I’m working on a new solo piece for cellist Maya Beiser. No title yet, but it will be part of a program called Provenance that she’ll be touring throughout 2008. She'll give the premiere at the Arts & Ideas festival in New Haven on June 24, and then she'll take it to the Ravinia Festival (July 22) and finally, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on October 30.

Provenance is inspired by the Golden Age of Iberian civilization, lasting from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries, in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in Spain, giving rise to a flowering of commerce, culture, art, and architecture.

For Provenance, Maya has commissioned young composers from Israel, Palestine, Algeria, Morocco, Iran and the US (including myself) to create music inspired by this Golden Age. For some of the pieces, she’ll be joined on stage by the Lebanese-American master Oud player Bassam Saba and hand drummer virtuoso Jamey Haddad. The different pieces will be united by Iranian-American sound designer and computer specialist Shahrokh Yadegari, who will create a sonic space, in real time, for the musicians to perform in. I’m very excited to be part of this project.


12/2007
I’ve been meeting with the creative team that will be working with the Music-Theatre Group to produce my chamber opera Arjuna’s Dilemma, which will be toured to various venues during 2008. It’ll be staged by noted opera director Robin Guarino. Along with the stage action, there will be still images and video projections on a variety of visual backgrounds. The whole project is being coordinated by Diane Wondisford of the Music-Theatre Group, who has been working with me for nearly seven years to make this piece a reality.


10/2007
The documentary film Crazy Love, about the bizarre and dysfunctional relationship between Burt Pugach and Linda Weiss, is now available on DVD. My score for the film features trumpeter Chris Botti and pianist Billy Childs.


6/2007
Chanticleer’s And On Earth, Peace CD is getting some great reviews:
"Chief among the mass’s attractions is the Kyrie of Tucson-born Douglas J. Cuomo. Bay Area-raised, the New Yorker’s equal facility with the sacred and the profane (his oeuvre extends from a sacred cantata on the Bhagavad Gita to the theme for the TV series Sex and the City) has created an irresistible work that moves from heavenly simplicity to contrapuntal complexity." —San Francisco Examiner (Jason Victor Serinus)

"In the Kyrie it was Eric Allatore whose rich bass practically set the basillic vibrating. A fine spun backdrop that evoked the slow melting of a brilliant pane of glass, the effect was rather awesome." —San Jose Mercury News

"Cuomo’s Kyrie is one of the most musically striking of the newly commissioned movements. His eclectic use of speech juxtaposed with tightly chromatic clusters is hugely effective musically, as well as awe-inspiring for the security with which Chanticleer performs it." —All Music Guide (Stephen Eddins)


5/2007
A Warner Classics recording is now available for And On Earth, Peace, the Mass commissioned by Chanticleer, for which I composed the Kyrie. It can be ordered directly from the group’s website, or downloaded here. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have both run extensive articles on the disc.

The New York Times says, "Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based choir, has commissioned a new Mass, And on Earth, Peace, whose very conception raises these and other questions about music and religion. Joseph Jennings, the music director of Chanticleer, a 12-man a cappella chorus, asked five composers each to set one of the five standard sections of the Roman Catholic Mass: Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, Gloria and Agnus Dei…. The Kyrie by the American composer Douglas J. Cuomo (who also wrote the theme song for HBO’s Sex and the City) [sounds] distinctly of this century. But a reverent spirit infuses the whole."

In the WSJ, Barrymore Laurence Scherer wrote, "The Mass is both beautiful and deeply moving. But most surprising about this ’score by committee’ is its overall stylistic cohesion and sense of historic continuity."


2/2007
The Chanticleer vocal ensemble has commissioned five contemporary composers to write sections of And On Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass, premiering at the Temple of Dendur at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on April 26. I am composing the Kyrie portion. This will be a unique opportunity to hear a collaborative work between composers with distinct cultural and musical backgrounds.

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djc

upcoming events

Saturday, Jan 23, 8pm
Only Breath at National Sawdust

Sunday, Jan 24, 7pm
Winter's Journey at U of Miami