Buzz around young composer Nico Muhly gets louder by the minute
If you haven't heard the name Nico Muhly yet, you haven't been paying attention. He is not just the hot composer de jour; he may well be the hot composer de la decennie and beyond.
Even Baltimore, a place some people unfairly lump together with the provinces, has had exposure to Muhly's music, thanks in large measure to Mobtown Modern.
I am hoping that more local organizations will take note of this remarkable American composer, who is about to gain some amazing exposure this week, when English National Opera presents the premiere of "Two Boys." This work, inspired by a creepy event that happened in England some years ago, is also scheduled for a Metropolitan Opera debut during the 2013-14 season.
To quote Nadia Sirota (the fine violist and, incidentally, daughter of former Peabody Conservatory director Bob Sirota): "I'll pause for a minute to let the full awesomeness of that sentence sink in: A new opera by a composer under 30. A FIRST opera done by ENO and already slated to hit the Met."
Sirota's comments come from an entry she wrote on the Web site of ...
New York's WQXR, which has just launched a week-long Muhly festival to celebrate the composer. Should be fun tuning in (via streaming, for those of us out in the, um, provinces).
You can also check out recent recordings of Muhly's music, including a fascinating disc from Decca titled "Seeing is Believing" -- that's the name of a a concerto for electric violin included on the recording, which will be released Tuesday. The repertoire also includes Muhly's hauntingly beautiful arrangements of vocal pieces by William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons.
As for "Two Boys," the plot is based on the bizarre 2003 case of a 14-year-old in Manchester who, using fake personalities online and the promise of sex, gradually induced a 15-year-old boy to syab him him -- a kind of suicide wish (the kid survived). The issue of what can happen when people enter the largely uncontrollable online world of sex and fantasy seems even more timely in the wake of the Weiner scandal.
A lot is riding on "Two Boys." English National Opera is providing what looks like a major production, directed by Bartlett Sher. There has been heavy promotion, including via a cheeky video of a guy going up to strangers asking them to "friend" or "follow" him. When I first looked at the video a week or so ago, it had been seen by maybe 200 people; the number if over 800,000 now -- a viral video pegged to an opera premiere, how unusual is that? You can bet the British music press is chomping at the bit for Friday's premiere.
I've posted the WNO's Web trailer for the opera below, along with that offbeat can-I-be-your-friend promo.
Whatever the outcome of this particular venture, it seems likely that Muhly's star will only get brighter.
PHOTO (by Samantha West) FROM NICOMUHLY.COM