From the Chair of SIO: Dr. Isai Jess Muñoz
This December issue highlights three new operas sponsored by the SIO that focus on injustices caused by systemic social issues. We first begin by giving you a glimpse into our upcoming SIO convention session in Santa Barbara which will discuss and present excerpts from composer Andrew Barnes Jamieson’s avant-gospel chamber opera, Heaven Down Here. This work explores contemporary racial and religious conflict through the lens of the Jonestown Massacre—the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act prior to the events of September 11, 2001. We then offer you a look back on the success of Joachim Schamberger’s production of William David Cooper’s Hagar at the 2016 NOA National Convention in Indianapolis. Hagar is an opera based on the oppressed female protagonist found in Judeo-Christian, Islamic, and Baha’i traditions whose story offers an allegory on the difference between law and grace. Finally, we highlight the upcoming world premiere of Upon This Handful of Earth by Norway's foremost composer, Gisle Kverndokk. In honor of the publication of "Laudato Si," Pope Francis' recent encyclical about the environment, Kverndokk’s opera tells the stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably altered by environmental catastrophes: Chernobyl, the tsunamis, pollution and climate change.
We hope these articles reflect our team's commitment to provide you with robust dialogue and respectful discourse that models what it means to produce sacred opera in an increasingly diverse world. As we look with despair at many of today's ongoing global calamities charged by religious conflict, the SIO Initiative will continue working in line with its mission statement and vision that welcomes all faith traditions, to create a positive awareness of religious and spiritual diversity—overcoming prejudice, violence, and misunderstanding for the betterment of society as a whole.
If you have yet to do so, we invite you to make your hotel and plane reservations and register for the 2017 NOA Convention in Santa Barbara (January 4-8, 2017). This year’s Sacred in Opera Session, which will take place on Thursday, January 5 from 2:30-3:20pm alongside all other convention events focused on this year’s theme, Fostering Change: Performance and Pedagogy in Opera’s New Millenium, is bound to engage the senses in game-changing ways.
Lastly, please take a moment to read through notes on our Editorial Board. The SIO Committee has refined our language on peer reviewed article submissions. We are always interested in hearing from potential contributors, and we have drawn up a few points on why and how our web-based format might just be one the best high-impact publications to showcase your ideas and work.
As you prepare to join us this coming January in Santa Barbara, be sure to tell your colleagues, music directors, and all those interested in aspects of the divine, that we are here, spreading the Sacred in Opera!
Reflecting on all that good ol’ opera can do in the world,
Dr. Isai Jess Muñoz
The Sacred in Opera Initiative of the NOA
Chair and Senior Editor