Active Dates: April 2015 - May 2017
Principal Investigator: Thomas TSANG
Funding body: Mellon Visiting Artist Residency at Wellesley College
Sound and Space. Architecture and Music. Building as Instrument. This project aims to exchange knowledge between the Department of Architecture and the Department of Music in the design and production of new musical instruments as inspired by the theory and practice of architectural furniture; and to offer the public a different experience of musical performance and the utilization of objects.
Aeolus is inspired by the epic meeting between Odysseus and Aeolus, the keeper of the winds in Homer’s Odyssey who lives on a floating island in the sea. The opera reimagines these mythic personalities through a series of abstract performance diptychs pitting Keno Ueno’s extended vocal techniques (as Aeolus) against Majel Connery’s fluid, lyrical mode (as Odysseus). Thomas Tsang’s fluid, mobile scenic design evokes the features of Aeolus’s windswept island. Robert Hass’s libretto features the voice of the author and consists of haiku-like bridging texts, meditations on the connection of breath to body and to death.
“Aeolus” (formerly “Hong Kong Graft”) is the second opera by Rome- and Berlin-Prize winning composer/performer, Ken Ueno, and is written in conjunction with librettist Robert Hass (2008 Pulizer Prize and 1995-97 U.S. poet laureate), architect Thomas Tsang, and vocalist Majel Connery. Originally commissioned by Opera Cabal, the first module of “Aeolus” was workshopped during a residency at High Concept Laboratories/Mana Contemporary (Chicago) in April 2015.
Working in bold, experimental paradigms, on the possibilities and limitations of real-time collaborative work, and the pragmatics of developing performance with stakes in the professional art world. Exploring topics on artistic that include 21st-century opera; modern experimental vocal and compositional techniques; site-specific fabrication in modern architecture; sound/space installation; political art in China since 1997; and the collaborative artistic process in multimedia.
A music preview of the entire opera will be presented at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston) with string ensemble A Far Cry on April 20, 2017.
Newhouse Center at Wellesley College (Spring 2017)