While public interest in the life and works of composer Clara Schumann has increased over the past few decades, she still does not get the recognition that she rightly deserves.
Clara Schumann was a virtuosic pianist, composer and piano pedagogue. From the age of eleven, she maintained a sixty-one year concert career, touring throughout Europe. Her success as a concert artist secured essential income for her family, including her husband, the renowned composer Robert Schumann, who suffered from mental illness, and their eight children. She began composing as a child, and her compositions later included solo piano pieces, chamber music, choral works and Lieder.
For German Romantics: Clara, The Pleiades Project reconceptualizes the three Lieder of Clara Schumann’s Op. 12, which was originally part of a collection of twelve songs jointly published by Clara and Robert to poetry by Friedrich Rückert. In 1841, soon after their marriage, Robert urged Clara to collaborate on a project together. Clara began to work on the songs of Op. 12, although she found the compositional process challenging. As the set took shape, Clara was at the beginning stages of pregnancy, and was generally ambivalent about composing Lieder.
While these songs may have marked the beginning of Clara and Robert’s union, our protagonist navigates Op. 12 as she copes with the end of an important partnership. As she comes to terms with the conclusion of this cherished chapter of her life, her imagination travels to vibrant fantasy worlds of the past. In becoming the heroine of her own story, our protagonist reaches closure and enters a new world of possibilities.
The final installment of a song-trilogy grieving loss blends the transfiguring third act of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with the mysteries of his Wesendonck Lieder into a film about those who give physical comfort at the end of life becoming spiritual guides in the time of COVID as family and friends are unable to say goodbye.
Maribeth Diggle, soprano
Brian Arreola, tenor
Alexander Oliver, actor
Robert Ainsley, music director and pianist
Timothy Nelson, director and concept
filmed by Segei Shauchenka
The second installment of The Pleiades Project's German Romantics series features the Lieder of composer, pianist, teacher, and conductor Louise Reichardt (1779-1826). The well-educated daughter of professional musicians, Reichardt crafted an independent lifestyle and freelance career for herself, not unlike what is required of musicians and performers in today's classical music world. Featuring Baltimore-based soprano Hannah Alexandra, pianists Marina Iwao and Eric Sedgwick, and director of photography Elizabeth Van Os, German Romantics: Louise tells the fascinating biographical tale of Reichardt's life: how she overcame loss to successfully build a musical career supported by her many talents. Set to Reichardt's poignant and sensitive songs and with original dialogue by director Caroline Miller, German Romantics: Louise brings an often overlooked and underappreciated composer and her music to life, inspiring a new generation to reimagine the creative contributions of yet another remarkable nineteenth-century woman composer.
Composed in the wake of America’s Vietnam War, and telling the story of the 1066 Battle of Stamford Bridge, Judith Wier’s epic “opera in three acts and an epilogue” is a stunning and moving tour-de-force for one unaccompanied soprano. IN Series crafts this work into a unique film made in the evocative remains of the former power plant at The Parks at Historic Walter Reed.
By Judith Weir
filmed at The Parks at Historic Walter Reed
Directed by Timothy Nelson
Filmed by Sergei Shauchenka
Maribeth Diggle, Soprano
By Erin Garber-Pearson and Caroline Miller
Aber was conceived as an exploration of loss through the lens of aerial dance and classical music. The Brahm’s requiem strikes a balance between the grand and eternal concept of death, and the more personal concept of loss.
Movement 5, “Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit,” is the most intimate moment of the whole requiem, focusing on the soprano soloist and hope in loss. The text means roughly, your are sad now, but we will see each other again, have comfort.
As collaborators, we wanted the wonder of two people who once knew each other in life, finding each other again in a between-life state. Their connection across the distance is created by the physicality of vertical space, and the story of their meeting again. The lost loved one looms above, unknowable and unreachable in death. Through the song, the singer is able to summon her friend, glimpse her again, and acknowledge the loss face-to-face. In this interstice her lost one may support her again, emotionally and in our piece, physically.
An innovative approach to weaving music, film, and justice creates this virtual walking tour version of IN Series Resident Artist Carl DuPont’s musical recital exploring prolific voices of black composers and poets. That music combines with a guided tour of five of DC’s seminal sites essential to telling the story of African Americans in our nation’s capital, curated by Timothy Wright, founder of Attucks Adams Walking Tours.
Concept by Carl Dupont
Curated by Timothy Wright, Attucks Adams Walking Tours
Carl Dupont, baritone
Gregory Thompson, piano
KenYatta Rogers, speaker
Michelle Rogers, voice
German Romantics: Fanny is based on Op. 10 by composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847). The poetry of Op. 10, written by Romantic-era poets Nikolaus Lenau, Emanuel Geibel, and Joseph von Eichendorff, describes a pastoral journey. As the protagonist pauses under the evening sky, birds begin their migration southward. The reflection of stars dot the stream’s surface, and the protagonist follows her path into the mountains. Our film tells the story of a wanderer, historically male, but here a woman. She sets out into the unknown to chart her own course, rejecting the anxieties and strictures that have held her back.
Starring NYC-based soprano Kristin Young, German Romantics: Fanny also features appearances by sopranos Noelle McMurtry and Hannah Alexandra. Additionally, this series features poetry by Atabey, a Dominicana Bronx-based poet.
For the setting of this pastoral journey, we also partner with the gorgeous Olana State Historic Site, home to painter Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). This sprawling 250-acre estate was designed by Frederic Church (1826-1900) with panoramic views of the Hudson River valley.
Just in time for the election, a docu-opera of Melissa Dunphy’s brilliant setting of the transcripts from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s 2005 congressional hearings into the style of Handelian oratorio is art as satire – at turns funny, charming, moving, and always convicting. This new INVISION production features the premiere of a unique organ transcription by the composer as well as a special collaboration with the Capital City Symphony.
Directed by Corinne Hayes
Music Direction/Organ by Michael Lodico
Audio Editing by Joe Haughton
Film Editing by Adam Grannick
Julie Bosworth / Grassley
Kelly Curtin / Leahy
Joe Haughton / Feinstein
Noelle McMurtry / Cardin
Caroline Miller / Spector
Elizabeth Smith / Sessions
Cara Schaefer / Hatch
Melissa Wimbish / Gonzales
Released in 2014, SONGS OF THE FISHERMAN is a collaboration of composer Timothy Nelson (IN Series artistic director), poet Andrew Albin (ORPHEE ET EURYDICE, 2020), and tenor Brian Arreola(VIVA V.E.R.D.I., 2018, BUTTERFLY, 2019). The work is a ritualized meditation on the human life-cycle composed an evocative and culturally diverse texts. Praised by Opera News, the identities of the characters and the meaning of the narrative are created by the viewer.
Brian Arreola, tenor
Alison Mixon, dancer
Acis + Galatea
by GF Handel
filmed at the Baltimore Theatre Project
Stage Direction, Timothy Nelson
Music Direction, Adam Pearl and Timothy Nelson
Design by Kel Millione
Ignoti Dei Orchestra
Acis the mime, Aaron Sheehan
Galatea the trapeze girl, Rebecca Duren
Polyphemus the sad clown, Sumner Thompson
Damon the ringmaster, Tony Boutee
Coridon the dancing bear, Kristen Dubenion-Smith
Amidst the hum and drum of a post-modernity, a traveling troupe of singing circus folk gather to perform for you the story of "Acis and Galatea," an ancient tale that has been passed down among untold generations of street performers. The story of "Acis and Galatea" is the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy gets girl, one-eyed monster crushes boy with rock, and boy turns into fountain. This ground-breaking production turns the theatre into a circus tent, reknowned singers into mimes, trapeze girls, clows, and even a dancing bear, and turns traditional opera on its head.
What names come to mind when you think of German Romantic composers? Schumann? Mendelssohn? Schubert? If you mean Robert, Felix, and Franz, you may want to think again.
In German Romantics, The Pleiades Project presents three miniseries based on the Lieder of German Romantic composers Clara Schumann, Louise Reichardt, and Fanny Mendelssohn.
The Pleiades Project is challenging how we define the “German Romantics” by insisting that we not forget the women.
Pleiades | 24 is a video project adapted from a famous collection of twenty-four Baroque tunes which are often assigned as first songs to beginner voice students.
Although most singers regard this collection with a mixture of embarrassment and nostalgia, we believe that the 24 Italian Songs & Arias deserve to be re-considered and re-imagined as a timeless device for telling contemporary women’s stories through both music and film.
Ultimately, this project will include five seasons. At the conclusion of filming this series The Pleiades Project will have showcased the diverse work of 30 female artists, including singers, directors, editors, choreographers, and fine artists.
Don't forget to join us in the INcircle Lounge before the premiere at 4:30 PM!
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