June 2019 Update: The American Prize, OPERA America conference, and more!

2019 has definitely gotten off to a great start - it’s now halfway through the year and after a really invigorating conference by OPERA America I am back in LA, thankful for the chance to decompress before I continue my hard-hitting opera-composing adventure. I have a few announcements that warrant a blogpost, so I’ll put these all in the same post.

News from May/June 2019:

Tony (David Castillo), Olivia (Emily Thebaut), Cybil (Maria Dominique Lopez), and Melody (Sherley-Ann Belleus) puzzle over the perfect game idea in “The Girlfriend,” the first collaboration between Amy Punt and me, produced with New Opera West. (May 2019)

Tony (David Castillo), Olivia (Emily Thebaut), Cybil (Maria Dominique Lopez), and Melody (Sherley-Ann Belleus) puzzle over the perfect game idea in “The Girlfriend,” the first collaboration between Amy Punt and me, produced with New Opera West. (May 2019)

  • I was very pleased to be selected for USC Thornton’s 2019 Hans J Salter Endowed Music Award for my symphonic piece Revival, which you can listen to here, or watch here.

  • in the same week, I was notified that I was selected to write a piece for yMusic, a very prestigious new music ensemble. The piece will be performed with dancers from the Glorya Kaufman School of Dance in early December as part of the dance school’s open house event.

  • New Opera West had a very successful inaugural performance, which included scenes by myself and my talented friends Timmy Peterson and Nick Benavides. Please check out New Opera West’s Facebook page for more information on this fantastic new opera company - exceptional talent all around, from the singers to the organizational efforts of the team. It was a delightful opportunity to workshop and for Amy and I to flex our creative chops before embarking on Mirror Game.

  • The Indie Opera Podcast put together an episode featuring the music of all of OPERA America’s 2019 Discovery Grant Winners. Great music; so lucky to be a part of the group! Listen to it to here.

  • OPERA America invited and flew all of the grant winners out to the 2019 OPERA America conference in San Francisco. I was humbled to meet many wonderful people, including grant winners from the past AND this year’s commissioning grant recipient, Jennifer Higdon, who is a HUGE role model to woman composers everywhere. I also enjoyed getting to know board members, directors, and others from opera companies across the nation. If we met and you are hoping to get in contact, please do so here.

Past and present grant winners got together to take a group photo at the 2019 OPERA America conference. From left to right: Mandy Fang, Kamala Sankaram, Donia Jarrar, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Jennifer Higdon, Celka Ojakangas (me), Kristin Nordeval, Sarah Taylor Ellis, Lisa DeSpain, Gina Leishman, and Carla Lucero.

Past and present grant winners got together to take a group photo at the 2019 OPERA America conference. From left to right: Mandy Fang, Kamala Sankaram, Donia Jarrar, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Jennifer Higdon, Celka Ojakangas (me), Kristin Nordeval, Sarah Taylor Ellis, Lisa DeSpain, Gina Leishman, and Carla Lucero.

Me, librettist  Amy Punt  and composer Mark Weiser at the 2019 OPERA America Conference

Me, librettist Amy Punt and composer Mark Weiser at the 2019 OPERA America Conference

  • (previous bullet point continued) I was also pleased to spend much of the conference with librettist Amy Punt, with whom I am collaborating on Mirror Game, the opera that received the grant. As the opera is currently looking for producers for a full production, having a two-person force to pitch it in the conference has been essential. Please visit her site here to learn more about her and her work.

  • During the conference, I learned after almost a year of anticipation that I received the 2018/2019 American Prize in Composition for the Band/Wind Ensemble (student division) with my (very) quirky piece Bonehead Fizzix, which you can listen to here, or watch here. (I recommend reading about it on my List of Works page; see how it pleasantly ties into the fact that I learned about the prize on Father’s Day!)

Whew! Now that’s a lot of news. Please stay tuned for more announcements, some of my musings, and more as the year progresses.

Best wishes,

Celka