The Struggle, The Opera, The Composer

As a composer I always find it interesting that often I hear the lament that classical music is dead, that opera is dying, that Western music as a whole has fallen into disarray and disrepair. Yet, the reality is that while large musical organizations have suffered during the global economic collapse, millions of classical musicians have risen from the ashes to create new works with very little in the way of support. 


Crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, twitter, technology, coding, animation, video, viral video, tweet, blog, facebook, social media, digital, virtual, second life, CGI, 3D, avatar, machinima....these are all wonderful 21st century terms that a composer like Mozart or Mahler never conceived of yet these terms are integral to the future of classical music. 

Maybe I am someone that thrives "outside of the box". I admit I secretly wish that I could stay in the box and maybe make a living writing string quartets and piano solos. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I had chosen to play flute instead of struggle as a female percussionist, or if I decided that being an elementary music educator made more sense than following my dreams in experimental music and media. I think sometimes I wonder at my musical existance, which for me seems more real in cyberspace than in reality where my day-to-day life revolves somewhere around teaching my daughter how to read and figuring out how to stretch this week's food budget one day further. 



So working outside the box and in cyberspace I found that, no, opera is not a dead art if we musicians used the new tools available to us. Our family was moving, so I chose my opera cast through virtual auditions and had them record their parts individually. I received 1000 takes from my cast and listened to each one, mixing them down for mastering by film composer Patrick Rundbladh. I couldn't afford a lavish set, so I used a program called Moviestorm to create a virtual stage for my cast, avatars for each character, and was able to find talented machinima animators to help bring the cast to life on the screen. I didn't have a concert hall, and my mentor and friend Clare Shore procured a hall for the premier as I submit Libertaria: The Virtual Opera to dozens, if not 100, film festivals throughout the world. I didn't have a budget, but I found new friends and talented artists to volunteer their talents and I worked hard at odd writing jobs and even had a Kickstarter crowdsource campaign to cover expenses. 

Would life had been easier if I had simply received a paycheck to create the opera of my dreams in the concert hall of my choice with a hundred musicians at my fingertips. Perhaps. But some artists thrive in the desert. Some artists know nothing else but the struggle up the ladder of success. Maybe someday someone will ask me to write an opera, all expenses paid, but that piece would never be another Libertaria.
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