Operation Opera Festival Coming to Campus in June

Gonzaga University music professor and composer Shuying Li (first row, fourth from left) is shown at the first Operation Opera Festival at the University of Michigan in 2018.

May 13, 2022
Gonzaga University News Service

SPOKANE, Wash. – The second season of Operation Opera, a seven-day festival and institute presenting high-caliber performances of contemporary chamber operas and art songs, will be held at Gonzaga University beginning June 7.

Four Corners Ensemble, founded in 2017 by Gonzaga music professor and composer Shuying Li, organizes the event. It first was held in 2018 at the University of Michigan and featured the premiere of eight contemporary operas by musicians from across the globe. COVID-19 precluded follow-up until this year.

The festival collaborates closely with GU’s music department and the Myrtle Woldson Performing Art Center on campus.

During Operation Opera’s first season at its new home in Spokane, three concerts will be presented, four operas composed for chamber ensembles will be performed, and 12 composers will create art songs or song cycles with paired singers selected through an international call.

Four Corners Ensemble features instrumentalists from around the country: Erika Boysen, flute faculty at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro; Joshua Anderson, clarinet faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno; and Christina Adams, violin/viola faculty at the University of South Florida.

Invited composers and singers will participate in career-enhancing activities while at Operation Opera, including seminars, master classes, lectures by festival faculty, and interactive rehearsals with Four Corners Ensemble musicians.

The three concerts during the festival will be Li’s opera “When the Purple Mountains Burn,” June 10 at 7:30 p.m.; an Art Songs Recital, written by the participating composers for the vocal participants, June 11 at 7:30 p.m.; and four mini-chamber operas written for the Four Corners Ensemble, a premiere on June 12 at 2 p.m. All events will be in the recital hall of the Myrtle Woldson Performing Art Center.

The premiere of the ensemble version of Li’s opera will see Operation Opera Festival singers join the Four Corners Ensemble, baritone Hidenori Inoue, soprano Yvette Keong and conductor Glen Adsit of the Hartt School at the University of Hartford, Connecticut.

Adsit and Robert Spittal, Gonzaga music professor, are the two conductors-in-residence at the festival. They each will conduct two of the chamber operas on June 12.

Inoue and Keong will give master classes to participant singers alongside Operation Opera voice faculty Amy Porter and Jadrian Tarver, Gonzaga; and Nick Klein, Eastern Washington University.

Composition faculty, both from The Hartt School, are Ken Steen, professor of composition, and guest lecturer Robert Carl, chair of the composition department. Faculty and guest artists will present one-hour lectures every day at 1 p.m. in the Woldson recital hall. The lecture series is free and open to the public.

Besides initiating the first Operation Opera festival, Four Corners has collaborated with the Hartford Opera Theater, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and has been ensemble-in-residence for the International Chopin & Friends Festival in New York.

The group has performed in multiple venues, including Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and, as part of its international outreach, the inaugural Jimo Ancient City International Classical Music Festival in Qingdao, China, in May 2019.

The ensemble also has had residencies at the Hartt School, the University of Michigan, Qingdao University of Science and Technology and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China.

Four Corners’ debut album, “World Map,” has received acclaim in Gramophone, American Record Guide, Pizzicato and Take Effect.

Interested in learning more about the Four Corners Ensemble and Operation Opera?
Book your spot at the festival.