Cycle 2, Round 2 
Produced and presented 
by Beth Morrison Projects
@ National Sawdust on June 23 & 24, 2022

Cycle 2, Round 2 
Produced and presented 
by Beth Morrison Projects
@ National Sawdust on June 23 & 24, 2022

Composers Elizabeth Gartman & Niloufar Nourbakhsh return as finalists from round 1 to premiere two 30-minute chamber pieces

One composer will be announced as the winner and will receive a full length opera commission by Beth Morrison Projects

For Immediate Release - May 11, 2022 - (New York, NY) - Responsible for “changing the face of opera” (The Wall Street Journal), BMP: NEXT GEN returns for the final round of its second cycle, as Beth Morrison Projects’ leaders set out to discover the next generation of boundary-pushing composers. Chosen from a group of ten finalists during Round 1 in 2021 for their “haunting” (Christopher Koelsch, President & CEO at LA Opera) and “stunningly beautiful” (Pulitzer Prize winning composer, Du Yun) work, composers Elizabeth Gartman and Niloufar Nourbakhsh return with their BMP commissioned 30-minute vocal-theatre works, It is a Comfort to Know and Threshold of Brightness respectively. Following the concert, one of the composers will receive a commission for the development and world premiere of a full-length opera. 

Each piece will be performed both nights with Kamna Gupta as music director and the Contemporaneous music ensemble. It is a Comfort to Know by Gartman has a libretto by Susan Bywaters, is directed by Madeline Whitesell, and follows the leader of a death cult and their followers as they anticipate the end of days. Threshold of Brightness by Nourbakhsh has a libretto by Lisa Flanagan, is directed by Shadi Ghaheri, and follows a famous and controversial Iranian poet, Forough Farrokhzad, as she is seriously injured in a car crash and enters a dream-like state where she reckons with the ghosts of her past. The winner will be announced immediately following the concert on June 24.

Produced by Beth Morrison Projects and presented by Beth Morrison Projects at National Sawdust, BMP: Next Gen was made possible through commissioning and underwriting support from Elizabeth & Justus Schlichting. Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts–Art Works. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

Tickets go on sale 5/11/2022 and can be purchased HERE.

Full Listing Info

BMP NEXT GEN, Cycle 2, Round 2
Produced and Presented by Beth Morrison Projects
@ National Sawdust
June 23 & 24, 2022 

Elizabeth Gartman, Niloufar Nourbakhsh
Music Director: Kamna Gupta
Lighting Designer: Krista Smith
Stage Manager: Lindsey Turteltaub
Featuring: Contemporaneous

It is a Comfort to Know
Composer: Elizabeth Gartman
Librettist: Susan Bywaters
Director: Madeline Whitesell
Asst. Director: Anne Ruhland

Threshold of Brightness
Composer: Niloufar Nourbakhsh
Librettist: Lisa Flanagan
Director: Shadi Ghaheri
Asst. Director: Anne Ruhland

About Beth Morrison Projects

Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) is one of the foremost creators and producers of new opera-theatre and music theatre, with a fierce commitment to leading the industry into the future, cultivating a new generation of talent, and telling the stories of our time. 

Founded by “contemporary opera mastermind” (LA Times) Beth Morrison, who was honored as one of Musical America’s Artists of the Year/Agents of Change in 2020, BMP has grown into “a driving force behind America’s thriving opera scene” (Financial Times), with Opera News declaring that the company, “more than any other… has helped propel the art form into the twenty-first century.” 

Operating across the US and internationally, with offices in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, BMP’s unique model offers living composers the support, guidance, and freedom to experiment, allowing them to create singularly innovative and impactful projects. Since forming in 2006, the company has commissioned, developed, produced and toured over 50 works in 14 countries around the world, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning chamber operas Angel’s Bone and p r i s m

In 2013, BMP co-founded the PROTOTYPE Festival with HERE Arts Center, which has been called “utterly essential” (The New York Times), “indispensable” (The New Yorker), and “one of the world’s top festivals of contemporary opera and theater” (Associated Press).

About BMP: Next Gen

First launched in 2017-18, the BMP: Next Gen program was established to help BMP stay connected to a new generation of composers, singers and artists just coming out of school. Aspiring composers from coast to coast are invited to submit vocal works up to ten minutes in length. BMP Creative Producer Beth Morrison and Executive Director Jecca Barry select ten first-round finalists from these applicants and then produce an evening of new music out of these submissions. Two composers are then chosen by a panel of invited professionals in the field for a second-round competition, returning the following year to each showcase a new and original 30-minute work commissioned by BMP. Ultimately, one of these two finalists will receive a commission for an evening-length work, including the development and World Premiere production of their project.

The panelists who selected Gartman and Nourbakhsh to continue on to round 2 were: Christopher Koelsch, CEO, LA Opera; Du Yun, Pulitzer-prize winning composer; David T. Little, Grammy-nominated composer; Beth Morrison, BMP’s President and Creative Producer; and Jecca Barry, BMP’s Executive Director.

About Elizabeth Gartman

Elizabeth Gartman (b.1996) is a composer and soprano currently based in New York City. Her compositions call attention to the implications behind the vocal instrument paired with the physical body. Her work also explores themes of process in performance, as well as active listening and response. Elizabeth’s compositions have been received in New York at venues such as National Sawdust (Beth Morrison Projects Next Gen 2021), the Mark Morris Dance Center (New Chamber Ballet), and the Manhattan School of Music. Her work has been featured across the country at events such as Songfest in Los Angeles, New Music on the Point near Burlington, the Music by Women Festival at the University of Mississippi, as well as in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, and near Sheboygan, Wisconsin - Elizabeth’s hometown.

As a performer, Elizabeth is dedicated to the contemporary dramatic stage, with a background in classical voice and a current emphasis on new works. She has been received as both a principle and ensemble singer on the dramatic stage, and as a concert soloist. In 2018, Elizabeth was featured as the principle role of "Bibi" in a workshop production of p r i s m; a three-act opera written by Ellen Reid and produced by Beth Morrison Projects. Elizabeth has also been seen in the Lyric Theater @ Illinois productions and Vivace Summer Opera's 2018 production in Vancouver.

Elizabeth received the William Schuman Prize for the Most Outstanding Composition in the 2021 BMI Student Composer Awards, and has been twice recognized as a finalist in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Competition (2021, 2018). Upon graduating with her Master’s Degree in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music in May of 2021, Elizabeth was awarded the Carl Kanter Prize for Orchestral Composition (first place) and the Giampaolo Bracali Composition Award. At the Manhattan School of Music, Elizabeth studied with Susan Botti (composition) and Lucy Shelton (voice). Elizabeth previously received Bachelor’s of Music Degrees in both Composition and Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois in 2019, where she worked with Dr. Reynold Tharp (composition), Dr. Carlos Carrillo (composition), and Dr. Ollie Watts Davis (voice). Elizabeth serves as a faculty member in composition and theory/ear training at the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Division, and teaches voice and beginning piano with Harrison School of Music.

About Niloufar Nourbakhsh

Described as “stark” by WNPR, and "darkly lyrical” by the New York Times, winner of 2nd Hildegard competition, recipient of 2019 Female Discovery Grant from Opera America, and a finalist for Beth Morrison Projects’ NEXT GEN Competition, Iranian-American composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh’s music has been commissioned and performed by Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Library of Congress, I-Park Foundation, National Sawdust Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Center for Contemporary Opera, Women Composers Festival of Hartford, PUBLIQuartet, Forward Music Project, Calidore String Quartet, Cassatt String Quartet, Akropolis Reed Quintet, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and Ensemble Connect at numerous festivals and venues including Carnegie Hall, Washington Kennedy Center, Mostly Mozart Festival, Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music, and many more. A founding member and co-director of Iranian Female Composers Association, Nilou is a strong advocate of music education. In 2014, she worked as the site coordinator of Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She is currently an adjunct faculty at Molloy College, a co-director of Peabody Conservatory Laptop Orchestra, and she regularly performs with her ensemble, Decipher.

Nilou is a music graduate and a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from University of Oxford. Among her teachers are Lisa Weiss, Laura Kaminsky, Daniel Weymouth, Matthew Barnson, Margaret Schedel and Daria Semegen. She received a Ph.D. in music composition from Stony Brook University under the supervision of Sheila Silver.


Andrew Ousley
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