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Run AMOC! Festival Returns

NOV 27, 2018

by Robert Duffley

An exceptionally talented group of young artists is rethinking opera for the twenty-first century. Comprising seventeen singers, dancers, and instrumentalists, American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) collides genres and forms in their growing repertoire of original works. After debut performances at the A.R.T. last season, AMOC returns to Cambridge this December with a selection of new pieces in the second installment of their Run AMOC! Festival.

The festival continues existing creative partnerships between A.R.T. and AMOC’s Co-Artistic Directors. Composer, conductor, and pianist Matthew Aucoin (recipient of a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and a Harvard College alumnus) wrote Crossing, an opera based on diaries Walt Whitman kept as a Civil War nurse, which premiered at the A.R.T. in 2015 and went on to be featured in the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2018 Next Wave Festival. Zack Winokur, a choreographer and director, made his A.R.T. mainstage directorial debut this season with The Black Clown. The company also features internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Davóne Tines, who performed in Crossing and The Black Clown, which he co-adapted from the poem by Langston Hughes with composer Michael Schachter.

“A.R.T.’s fabulous creative team and I have already shared the epic journey of bringing an opera from conception to production, so it feels natural for my newest endeavor to make its public debut at the A.R.T.,” said Aucoin. Unlike a traditional opera company, which features a constantly-changing roster of artists housed in a single institution, AMOC focuses on deep, long-term artistic relationships among its core members. The company’s goal is to create a body of new, interdisciplinary music-theater works conceived, developed, and performed by its artists.

Matthew Aucoin and Conor Hanick in Cage Match at the 2017 Run AMOC! Festival.

Last year’s festival featured three performances: A Study on Effort, an intimate, cross-disciplinary duet featuring dancer Bobbi Jene Smith and violinist Keir GoGwilt; Were You There?, a meditation and abstract memorial to victims of police brutality featuring Tines and Schachter; and Cage Match, a multi-round face-off between instrumentalists Miranda Cuckson, Keir GoGwilt, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Aucoin, and Conor Hanick. This year, the ensemble will present new works featuring Bobbi Jene Smith and Keir GoGwilt, Or Schraiber, Miranda Cuckson, Conor Hanick, and more.

Run AMOC! marks a three-year commitment by the A.R.T. to present the company’s work. “We’d worked with Davóne and Matt since their undergraduate years at Harvard, and we knew that this was a group of artists with great potential,” said A.R.T. Executive Producer Diane Borger. “We knew this was a company that we would like to help launch, to support in any way possible.”

In addition to pieces on the Loeb mainstage and at OBERON, the December 2017 festival featured work at the Harvard Dance Center and was followed by a February residency with Harvard’s Office for the Arts: AMOC members spent a week in Harvard’s undergraduate houses, leading discussions and workshops with current students. This year, AMOC will perform for an evening at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum in addition to performances in Cambridge.

“We’re thrilled to give A.R.T. audiences the opportunity to get to know AMOC just as this exciting new collective bursts onto the scene,” says A.R.T. Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus. We’ve experienced the passion and virtuosity of many of these visionary artists firsthand, and I have no doubt that they will redefine opera through their new model of interdisciplinary collaboration.”

Robert Duffley is A.R.T. Editor and Assistant Dramaturg.


Image Credits
Matthew Aucoin and Conor Hanick in Cage Match at the 2017 Run AMOC! Festival. Photo: Liza Voll Photography

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