Opera Philadelphia

Published23 Jun 2015

Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Music-Theatre Group Appoint David Hertzberg as Fifth Composer in Residence

Opera Philadelphia, in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group in New York, is proud to announce that composer David Hertzberg, whose music “demonstrates that a gifted young composer can be inspired by masters and still speak with a vibrantly personal style” (the New York Times), has been selected as its fifth Composer in Residence (CIR). Hertzberg was chosen from over 150 applicants for the position and now has the opportunity to follow a personalized development track focused on the advancement of his skills as an operatic composer.

Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program fosters tomorrow’s American operatic masterpieces through personalized creative development and intensive, hands-on composition opportunities for today’s most promising opera composers. The Composer in Residence position combines its individualized plan of study with a living stipend and health benefits.

Of his appointment, Hertzberg said, “I am very much looking forward to spending the next three years working closely with such dynamic and creative companies as Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Music-Theatre Group.  Opera is, for me, coterminous with music, and has completely shaped my aesthetic world. I look forward to delving as deeply into this medium as I can.”

Hailed as “opulently gifted” (Opera News) and “utterly original” (the New York Times)  the music of David Hertzberg (b. 1990, Los Angeles) is swiftly garnering recognition, with recent seasons seeing performances at the festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, and Santa Fe, and on the stages of Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall.

David Hertzberg
David Hertzberg Credit: Adam Moskowitz

“David Hertzberg has a virtuosic quality to his writing that begs for opera and we couldn’t be more thrilled to foster that development within the Composer in Residence program,” said David B. Devan, General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia. “He is already so inspired by and steeped in the operatic world that you can anticipate his powerful and passionate voice within it. This is a composer who has something to say!”

I am delighted that David Hertzberg will be our CIR for the next few years,” said Neal Goren, Artistic Director of Gotham Chamber Opera. “He was the winner of Gotham's Doctorow Prize last year, and I love his music. He possesses the rare opera gene: he knows how to write for the voice in addition to knowing how to write for the orchestra, and he possesses acute dramatic instincts. With our guidance, I believe that he can develop into an excellent, important opera composer for the 21st century.”

“David Hertzberg joins us at an important juncture ―the merging of his knowledge and love of the operatic repertoire with the myriad opportunities he'll have as a composer in residence to learn-in-process and contribute his own works to the canon,” said Diane Wondisford, Producing Director of Music-Theatre Group.

Highlights of Hertzberg’s 2014-2015 season included premieres of new works for Young Concert Artists, the PRISM Quartet, Network for New Music, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, with performances at Merkin Hall and Symphony Space, as well as performances at the Kennedy Center, features on APM’s Performance Today and Hong Kong's Intimacy of Creativity festival, and performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the American Composers Orchestra. Other upcoming projects include new works for pianist Steven Lin and violinist In Mo Yang, both of which will premiere on the 2015-16 Concert Artists Guild series at Carnegie Hall, and a large-scale concert work for Gotham Chamber Opera, to be premiered at (le) poisson rouge in the spring of 2016.

Among his recent distinctions are the ACO’s 2015 Underwood Emerging Composer Commission, the Catherine Doctorow Prize from Gotham Chamber Opera, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an Aaron Copland Award from Copland House, the William Schuman Prize and the Carlos Surinach Commission from the BMI Foundation, two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, a Jerome Fund Commission from the American Composers Forum, the Arthur Friedman Prize from the Juilliard School, fellowships from Yaddo and the Tanglewood Music Center, and the appointment of Composer-In-Residence for Young Concert Artists, a post which he held through the 2014-2015 season. 

Herztberg began his musical studies in violin, piano, and composition at the Colburn School and received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees with distinction from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Samuel Adler. At his commencement, he was awarded the John Erskine Prize for outstanding artistic achievement throughout the course of his studies. He holds an Artist Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Hertzberg’s appointment began on June 1, 2015. He joins Composers in Residence Andrew Norman, who was appointed in September 2013; and David T. Little, who was appointed in June 2014. Missy Mazzoli, who was appointed in September 2012, and Lembit Beecher, who was the first composer appointed to the program in September 2011, have both completed their three-year residencies.

The Composers in Residence continue their creative development this season with Opera Philadelphia, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Music-Theatre Group. Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek have written a chamber opera based on the Oscar-nominated 1996 film Breaking the Waves, written and directed by Lars von Trier, which makes its World Premiere in Philadelphia in 2016. Little’s opera JFK, which looks at the 12 hours leading up to John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, is scheduled to have its world premiere at Fort Worth Opera on April 23, 2016. Andrew Norman’s Play, a sprawling orchestral cycle of three large movements recorded by Boston Modern Orchestra Project, has been described as “a sprawling, engulfing, furiously unpredictable piece” by Alex Ross (The Rest is Noise) and “ the most important long orchestral work of the 21st century” (Boston Globe).

About the Composer in Residence Program

Since 2011, Opera Philadelphia, in collaboration with Music-Theatre Group and Gotham Chamber Opera in New York, has offered the nation’s first comprehensive, operatic Composer in Residence program. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program provides a highly individualized professional development path for today’s most promising opera composers, selected on a competitive basis. The goal of the Composer in Residence program is to foster tomorrow’s masterpieces of American opera through individualized creative development. The composers in the program are eager to step beyond his or her musical comfort zones, and challenge preconceived notions of what opera and music can be. They work zealously with the resident companies to take this timeless art form and infuse it with the technological, creative, and collaborative sensibilities most relevant to our time.


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