William Harper

Commissioned Work With Premiere Date
Recorded Works
Published Works
AcademicExperience
Production Experience
Education
Press Materials

whharper@aol.com

Commissioned Work with Première Date
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Operas

1994Mescal Manna New Music Theater Ensemble, Minneapolis
1993El GrecoINTAR Hispanic American Arts Center, NY
1989Snow Leopard Minnesota Opera Company, Minneapolis
1987Tantracidal Mania Minnesota Opera Company, Minneapolis
1983John Ball Shot Them All N.A.M.E. Gallery, Chicago
 

Musicals & Music Theater Works

1997The Bacchae Music Theater Group, New York
1996Requiem Mass Harle & Ken Montgomery Foundation
1995Extraordinary Measures Music Theater Group, New York
1992Martin Guerre (Orchestrations) Hartford Stage, Hartford
1992Cooking the World Music Theater Group, New York
1986Peyote Roadkill ARTCO, Chicago
 

Dance Works

1985Light Kanopy Dance Theater, Madison
1984Crimson Cowboy (Opera/Dance Work) ARTCO, Chicago
1983Dead Birds (Opera/Dance Work) ARTCO, Chicago
1983Calyx Columbia Dance Center, Chicago
1983I've Known Rivers (Dance/Opera Work)MoMing, Chicago
 

Film Scores & Incidental Music

1992Words Divine INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center, NY
1987Waiting in the Dark For Bay Area Playwrights, Mill Valley
1986Changing Habits WTTW-TV, Chicago
1986Macando Dreiske Performance Ensemble, Chicago
1985Illinois Ted Turner Broadcasting, Atlanta
1984Julius Caesar Alliance Theater, Atlanta
1984Red River The Goodman Theater, Chicago
1983No Harm in Harmony CBS-TV, Chicago
 
 
 
 

Recorded Works Top of the Page


1993 El Greco(Opera)
Music by William Harper
Texts by Bernardo Solano
Recording by Great Blue Heron Music in Association with AT&T and INTAR
Broadcast by National Public Radio September, 1994

1984Crimson Cowboy (Dance/Opera Work)
Music and Texts: William Harper
Recording by ARTCO Music

1983 Dead Birds(Opera/Dance Work)
Music : William Harper
Libretto: Armand Schwerner & William Harper
Recording by ARTCO Music

1983 I've Known Rivers (Dance/Opera Work) - MoMing Dance & Arts Center, Chicago
Music & Texts: William Harper
Recording by ARTCO Music
 
 
 
 

Published Works Top of the Page

All works published by the Great Blue Heron Corp. Glerncoe, Illinois

1990 Snow Leopard
Opera with General Midi or DAT Accompaniment. Piano Vocal Score available.
Libretto by William Harper and Roger Nieboer.

1994 El Greco
Opera with General Midi or DAT and Orchestra. Piano Vocal Score, Orchestral Score and Parts Available. Libretto by Bernardo Solano.

1990 I've Known Rivers
Suite from the Dance/Opera Work. Strings, Percussion, Soli: SA and Chorus SSAA
Piano Vocal Score, Orchestral Score and Parts Available. Libretto by William Harper.

1994 Seasons of the Heart
Song for Soprano Solo and String Orchestra. Texts by Bernardo Solano.

1980 Snow Leopard
Piece for brass ensemble and percussion.

·Chorus

In Paradisum Chorus: SATB
O Vos Omnes Soli TB and Men: TB
Going Home Soli SA and Chorus: SATB
The Annunciation Soli STB and Chorus: SATB
The Holy Name Soli TB and Chorus: SATB
Love is Leaving Chorus: SSA
Libera Me Chorus: SSA
John Ball Shot Them All Chorus: SATB

·Miscellaneous

1989 War in Heaven
Oratorio for Soli TB and Chorus SATB.

1987 Marouska Variations
Variations for Orchestra.

1982 Scenes from the Valley of the Black Pig
Suite of five pieces for double reed orchestra and percussion.

1979 Ladies of the Tapestries
Song Cycle for Soprano Solo and String Orchestra. Texts by Eleanor McQuilken.

1978 Down Deep, Down Deep: The Well
Oratorio for Chorus SATB, Bagpipes, Drum Corps and Bass Solo.

1977 Memorial Day Parade Entry
Parade entry with Carillon, Carillon Truck, Bell Choir, Children's Choir, Organ Horns, Misc. Percussion and Goats. Variations on Dies Irae.

·Organ Solo


Chi Mi Na Morbhenna - Processional
The Ladies Hornpipe - Recessional
Jennies Bawby
Dead Trees

·Songs

Standing There Texts: Douglas Post
The Hopes I Had Texts: Ted Shank
The Beacon Texts: Ted Shank
Ladybirds Texts: Ted Shank
Dreamplace Texts: Ted Shank
Barbershop Daydreams Texts: Ted Shank
Fly To The Stars Texts: Ted Shank
The Mowers Song Texts: Andrew Marvel
Rivers in Loss Texts: William Harper
Blinding When The Heart Texts: William Harper

·Arrangements

Will the Circle Be Unbroken A cappella Chorus SATB
Mountain Railway Chorus SSA and Tenor Solo
I'll Fly Away Chorus SSA and Tenor Solo
I Never Will Marry Alto solo and Guitar
 
 
 
 

Academic Experience Top of the Page


Adjunct Professor - School of the Art Institute of Chicago 1989-96

·Introduction to Sound
A studio course in which pieces are created using tape. Recording, mixing, tape manipulation, acoustics, and the vertical and horizontal structure of sound composition are taught. Classes consist of demonstration of and hands on practice with equipment and tape manipulation techniques and of discussions of works created by the students.

·19th Century Music History
A survey of 19th century music with a detailed study of five pieces exploring the musical substances and structures with from each piece is fashioned and the musical, social and historical context in which each piece was created and performed.

·20th Century Music History
A survey of 20th century music with a detailed study of five pieces exploring the musical substances and structures with which each piece is made and the musical, social and historical context in which each piece was created and performed.

·Contemporary Music Theater Seminar
An investigation of contemporary American music theater including opera, musical theater, performance art, dance, functional and commercial pageantry and hybrid forms. Students are asked to invent concepts for pieces in the various forms.

·World Music Seminar
A study of world music. Students investigate musics from cultures of their choice. They are encouraged to investigate music from their own ethnic backgrounds.

·Latin American Music
A survey of Latin American.Students investigate musics from Latin American Countries and make presentations in a seminar setting.

·Introduction to Art & Technology
A team taught course which introduces students to computer imaging, computer programming and electronically controlled kinetic sculpture.

Private Instruction


·Music Composition
Counterpoint, harmony, structural techniques and critical examinations of the student's work. The student's work is examined on its own terms.

·Midi Techniques: Sequencing & Notation
Sequencing, copying and sound manipulation software is learned and applied.

·Sound Synthesis
Various synthesizers and samplers are studied and applied.
 
 
 
 

Production Experience Top of the Page


Artistic Director of The American Ritual Theater Company 1980-1993

I founded The American Ritual Theater Company (ARTCO) to commission and produce new works of music theater. With ARTCO I have been involved on every administrative and artistic level of music theater production. In addition to creating various pieces for the company I was also involved in:

·Bookkeeping & Budget Management
·Fundraising
·Cast recruitment and auditioning
·Production Staff Management
·Stage Direction
·Music Direction
 
 
 
 

Additional Professional Experience

·Panels
1989National Endowment for the Arts, New American Works
1991National Endowment for the Arts, New American Works
1993National Endowment for the Arts, New American Works
1993AT&T OnStage
1993AT&T OnStage

·Fellowships
1994 Composer Librettist Workshop: New Music Theater Ensemble
1993Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois
1993 National Endowment for the Arts
1991 Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois
1988 National Institute for Music Theater
1987New Dramatists: Composer Librettist Workshop
1985 Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California
1984Great Lakes Arts Alliance
1983 Yaddo Foundation in Saratoga Springs, New York
1983Illinois Arts Council
 
 
 
 

Education Top of the Page


1971-74Composition: Jan Meyerowitz
1970-73Organ: Walter Baker
1971-74 Music Courses at Mannes, Manhattan & Juilliard Schools
1976 - Bachelor of Music Eastman School of Music
1979 - Master of Music Eastman School of Music
1983 - Ph. D. Eastman School of Music
 
 
 
 

PRESS MATERIALS Top of the Page

El Greco Press
Snow Leopard Press
Peyote Roadkill Press
Crimson Cowboy Press
Dead Birds Press


"There are composers and there are opera composers. The latter hear not in measures, but in quarter hours. Like Richard Wagner and Robert Ashley before him, William Harper paints in long bold strokes, balancing scenes instead of motives, and propelling the ear on voyages of emotion."
Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"Harper has the singular ability to be able to write long - seemingly unending - legato musical lines of extraordinary beauty, and to be able to compose for the human voice as well. In this sense his writing reminds me of that of Belini."
Patrick Smith, Opera News

"A typical Harper score is an amalgam of rock, romanticism, minimalism, jazz, reggae, atonality, electronic music, new age music and a hint of Broadway which sounds surprisingly natural when merged together... By fusing these disparate elements into a unique and powerful new form of opera, the composer creates works of music-theater which happily defy categorization."
Joe Banno, Opera Monthly


"William Harper the composer is richly inventive and resourcefuland has a fine ear for music and deep insights into the power of sound."
Hedy Weiss, Chicago Tribune

Press Materials



EL GRECO

AN OPERA
MUSIC BY WILLIAM HARPER
LIBRETTO BY BERNARDO SOLANO
DIRECTED BY TOM O'HORGAN
PREMIERE: SEPTEMBER, 1993 IN NEW YORK

William Harper paints in long, bold strokes, balancing scenes instead of motives, and propelling the ear on voyages of emotion. Elegant counterpoint interwoven with Gregorian Chant joyous ensemble pieces break out at every dramatic juncture. The tonality is postminimal, but the ways textures alternate and recur provides an effective, Stravinskian illusion of perpetual forward motion.
Kyle Gann, Village Voice

The Inquisitor's music is magnificently eerie, the mystic's aria pristine the major sequences surged thrillingly. Harper allows himself an unembarrassed neo-renaissance grandeur, wild around the edges.
Alex Ross, New York Times

Press Materials
 
 

SNOW LEOPARD

AN OPERA
MUSIC BY WILLIAM HARPER
TEXTS BY WILLIAM HARPER & ROGER NIEBOER
DIRECTED BY RHODA LEVINE
PREMIERE: NOVEMBER, 1989 IN MINNEAPOLIS

Harper's most impressive achievement is that he's found a way to divorce rock opera from song form, to make vernacular music continuous without falling into the staticness of Ashley or Glass.
Kyle Gann, Village Voice

Harper has the singular ability to be able to write long - seemingly unending - legato musical lines of extraordinary beauty, and to be able to compose for the human voice as well. In this sense his writing reminds me of that of Bellini. Bravo for this premiere!
Patrick Smith, Opera News

Harper's sensual, electronic score adds resonances and nuances that confound the literal and specific. Instead of the expected local color - Oriental Idioms - he uses American pop: gospel, rock and rap recitations. Rather than a series of stop and go numbers, the music flows organically and dramatically from one idiom to another, highlighted and supported by the inventive electronic instrumentation.
Michael Anthony, Minneapolis Star Tribune

A seamless blend of choral music, dialogue, and strong visual imagery, Snow Leopard presents a dark night of the soul that succeeds not only as music but as theater. This is terrific to look at and to listen to.
Robert Collins, Twin Cities Reader
Press Materials
 
 

PEYOTE ROADKILL

A MUSICAL
MUSIC & LIBRETTO BY WILLIAM HARPER
DIRECTED BY DAVID ZAK
PREMIERE: JUNE, 1986 IN CHICAGO

If there can be such a thing as a Chicago style of serious music theater, Harper embodies it.
Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader

Peyote Roadkill is one of the most elaborate displays of theatrical spectacle I've seen in Chicago (and that includes Cats ). Some of the visual effects are weirdly beautiful, like a Chicago Imagist canvas come to life.
Albert Williams, Chicago Reader

The most innovative work on Chicago's burgeoning entertainment sceneit captures a surreal, otherworldly quality that makes this production a must seeEveryone should experience a unique work like Peyote Roadkill just once in their lives.
Fred Nuccio, Lerner Newspaper

William Harper the composer is richly inventive and resourcefuland has a fine ear for music and deep insights into the power of sound.
Hedy Weiss, Chicago Tribune

Press Materials
 
 

CRIMSON COWBOY

AN OPERA/DANCE WORK
MUSIC AND LIBRETTO BY WILLIAM HARPER
DIRECTED BY WILLIAM HARPER
CHOREOGRAPHED BY GIGI BUFFINGTON & POONIE DODSON
PREMIERE: FEBRUARY 1985 IN CHICAGO

Crimson Cowboy was a brilliantly conceived and well integrated piece of genuine multimedia, its striking symbolism is carried out on an alarming number of levels.
Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader

Harper is a gifted composer, comfortable in styles ranging from liturgical chant to rock.
Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times

Crimson Cowboy, a collaborative work mixing music, dance, performance art and drama is many things: audacious, dazzling, beautiful, fascinating, amusing, mournful and elegiaca bold experiment.
Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune
Press Materials
 
 

DEAD BIRDS: A WAR RITUAL

AN OPERA/DANCE WORK
MUSIC AND LIBRETTO BY WILLIAM HARPER
DIRECTED BY D.W. MOFFAT
CHOREOGRAPHED BY JAN BARTOSEK
PREMIERE: FEBRUARY, 1984 IN CHICAGO

Dead Birds is an incredibly powerful exploration of what war does to human beings.
Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-times

ARTCO is dedicated to generating a new American musical theater. Dead Birds confirms Harper as a dynamo in that process.
Camille Hardy, Dance Magazine

Harper's music has a variety and power which carry the evening through. Dead Birds is an evening of excitement.
Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune

The originality and momentum of William Harper's music, and the energy it imparts to Jan Bartosek's choreographygave promise that Chicago may soon have the answer to New York's "new opera" composers Robert Ashley and Laurie Anderson.
Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader

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