GWENDOLYN BROWN, Contralto
Tennessee-native contralto Gwendolyn Brown earned a bachelor's degree in music from Nashville's Fisk University and began studies for a master's in vocal performance at the University of Memphis, completing it at the American Conservatory of Music in Indiana. Afterwards, she continued honing her voice in the Des Moines Metro Opera Young Artist Program and at the Ryan Opera Center of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and she has since appeared with many opera companies in the United States as well as in Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Brown recently appeared as Azalia in William Grant Still's Troubled Island with the South Shore Opera Company, the first group to perform the work with an all-black cast as the composer intended since its 1949 premiere. She has also recently created two leading roles: the title character of Ethan Gans-Morse's The Canticle of the Black Madonna and, with the Los Angeles opera company The Industry, Marie Laveau in Anne LeBaron's Crescent City. Brown earned critical acclaim for her portrayal of Maria in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with the Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, and New Orleans Opera, as well as the Boston Symphony Orchestra and several companies overseas. Her credits also include covering Queenie for productions of Show Boat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington National Opera, where she took the stage for two performances, as well as performing several Wagnerian roles -- including Fricka in Das Rheingold, Waltraute and the First Norn in Gollerdiimmerung, and Erda in both Das Rheingold and Siegfried -- and appearing as Baba in Menotti's The Medium, Kabanicha in Janacek's Ka1'aKabanova, and Filippyevna in Tchaikovsky's Yevgeny Onegin. She was a featured soloist during the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's 2009 "Beyond the Score" focus on Dvorak's ''New World" Symphony.
DAVID FULMER, Conductor
A leader in his generation of composer-performers, David Fulmer has garnered numerous international accolades for his bold compositional aesthetic combined with his thrilling performances. The success of his Violin Concerto at Lincoln Center in 2010 earned international attention and resulted in immediate engagement to perform the work with major orchestras and at festivals in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, and Australia. Fulmer made his European debut performing and recording his concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Matthias Pintscher in 2011. That same year, Fulmer made his debut at Tanglewood appearing with the work. A surge of new commissions have led to recent and upcoming performances by the Berlin Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, New York Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. A new violin concerto for Stefan Jackiw commissioned by the Heidelberg Festival and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus was premiered this season. Other recent commissions include Carnegie Hall, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Salzburg Foundation, Concert Artists Guild, BMI Foundation, Washington Performing Arts, Kennedy Center, and the Fromm Music Foundation.
As conductor, Fulmer recently led the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Elision Ensemble, Sydney Modern Music Ensemble, and numerous ensembles and orchestras throughout the United States and Europe. He made his debut appearance last spring on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series at Walt Disney Concert Hall. This past summer Fulmer led concerts at the Chamber Music Northwest Festival, and Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival.
He was recently the recipient of both the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Carlos Surinach Commissioning Award from BMI in 2013. Fulmer is the first American recipient of the Grand Prize of the International Edvard Grieg Competition for Composers. He has also received the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the BMI Composer Award, the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a special citation from the Minister of Education of Brazil, the Hannah Komanoff Scholarship in Composition from The Juilliard School, and the highly coveted George Whitefield Chadwick Gold Medal from the New England Conservatory. Fulmer appears regularly and records often as conductor and violinist/violist with the premiere new music ensembles including the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Argento New Music Project, Speculum Musicae, the Group for Contemporary Music, and the New York New Music Ensemble. His large-scale, hour-long cycle for saxophone and ensemble was released last season on the Tzadik label, featuring Eliot Gattegno, and the Argento Ensemble with the composer as conductor. He has appeared recently on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, and Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts. He holds a doctorate from The Juilliard School, and joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2009.
OTIS HARRIS, Ensemble
Otis Harris' mission in life is to inspire others through his movement and passion for the Arts. Born in Columbia TN, he received his BFA in dance at Marygrove College in Detroit MI. Otis came to visit Chicago almost two years ago and ended up training under Homer O’Bryant, Pia Hamilton, Robert McGee, and William Gill. Since he has performed for several operas, Nutcrackers, fashion shows, flash mobs, carnival, World National Jazz Congress Convention in Pittsburgh at Point Part, and even some hip-hop showcases.
JOELLE LAMARRE, Soprano
Joelle Lamarre is delighted to be working in George Lewis’ new opera Afterword: The AACM. She’s known for her powerful performance in the role of Sister Rose, in Dead Man Walking. She’s made her debut as Lady on the Levee in Show Boat and covered the role of Lily in Porgy and Bess both with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. With the American Chamber Opera, she debuted as Cio Cio San in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Ms. Lamarre is known for her extensive background in classical concert works and her talents in musical theater. Her awards include the Bravo award from Bel Canto Foundation, the Anna Marie Gerts Award from the Musicians Club of Women and several vocal scholarships for VoicExperience. Joelle Lamarre (Playwright) is currently working on her new one woman show, The Violet Hour, The Life of Leontyne Price. www.joellelamarre.com
ZACHARY NICOL, Ensemble
Zachary Nicol is an actor and performer based in Chicago. He is a recent graduate of Northwestern University. Northwestern credits include: Hit the Wall, Melancholy Play, Trouble in Mind, and Doctor Faustus. Zach has studied in London at the British American Drama Academy. He is an ensemble member of Voyeur Theatre Collective, a Chicago collective of performance and multimedia artists creating immersive theatre for the millennial generation, and performed in their recent show Entrainment.
JULIAN TERRELL OTIS, Tenor
Julian Terrell Otis is proud to be part of “this trio of impressive vocal soloists” (New York Times) in Afterword. This young singing actor has given very strong operatic performances at the Glimmerglass Festival (USA). Versatile in many musical genres, he has performed Kurt Weill’s The Three Penny Opera, and Handel’s Judas Maccabeus with Stephen Alltop. He has become an enthusiastic interpreter of contemporary music, lending his ringing tenor sound to the choral works of Ted Hearne, James MacMillan, and Sebastian Currier under the baton of Donald Nally. His vocal improvisations have been called ‘instrumental’ and highly sensitive to the ensemble’s texture. Julian wishes to explore the limitless possibilities of his instrument’s expressive capacity.
NINAH SNIPES, Ensemble
Ninah Snipes is delighted and thankful to join the Afterword cast and make her debut at the Museum of Contermporary Art, Chicago. An Oak Park native, Ninah studied at Columbia College majoring in Musical Theater. She has competed regionally and nationally as a classically trained vocalist with ACT-SO and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. She studied/performed with regionally recognized dance companies including Matter Dance, Visceral, and Hubbard Street/Lou Conte. Ninah is also a BTAA recipient. Some of her stage credits include Queenie Pie (Chicago Opera Theater), Jeff Award nominated for The Color Purple (Mercury Theater), One Name Only (Black Ensemble Theater), and Dreamgirls (Theater47). Ninah would like to give thanks to the Lord above and to family and friends for continued support and love.
THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), described by the New York Times as “one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music,” is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 35 leading instrumentalists, performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century. Since its founding in 2001, ICE has premiered over 500 compositions––the majority of these new works by emerging composers––in venues spanning from alternative spaces to concert halls around the world. The ensemble has received the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award for its contributions to the field, the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, and was most recently named Musical America Worldwide's Ensemble of the Year in 2013. From 2008 to 2013 ICE was Ensemble-in-Residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through 2013. ICE musicians serve as Artists-in-Residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival of Lincoln Center, curating and performing chamber music programs that juxtapose new and old music. In 2014 ICE began a partnership with the Illinois Humanities Council, the Hideout in Chicago, and the Abrons Art Center in New York to support the OpenICE initiative.
ICE has released acclaimed albums on the Nonesuch, Kairos, Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, New Focus, New Amsterdam and Mode labels. Recent and upcoming highlights include headline performances at the Lincoln Center Festival (New York), Aspekte (Austria), Acht Brücken Music for Cologne (Germany), Festival de Música de Morelia (Mexico), Teatro Amazonas (Brazil), and performances with the Nagoya Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony. ICE has worked closely with conductors Ludovic Morlot, Matthias Pintscher, John Adams and Susanna Mälkki. Since 2012, conductor and percussion soloist Steven Schick has served as ICE's Artist-in-Residence.
In 2011, with leading support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ICE created the ICElab program to place teams of ICE musicians in close collaboration with six emerging composers each year to develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration. ICElab projects have been featured in more than one hundred performances from 2011–2014, and are documented online through ICE’s blog, and DigitICE, an online venue. In 2014 ICE launched the OpenICE initiative to bring the full scope of ICE's programming and educational activities for free to broader audiences around the world. Read more about ICE at iceorg.org.