For his Commission at Roulette, composer Alex Weiser presents an evening of songs culminating in a work-in-progress performance of the complete first act of his opera-in-progress, State of the Jews, with librettist Ben Kaplan. State of the Jews follows Theodor Herzl in the last year of his life, as his efforts to secure a Jewish homeland become increasingly desperate. It includes scenes from the Sixth Zionist congress, in which Herzl proposes Uganda as a possible land for Jewish settlement, and Herzl’s visit with Pope Pius X, in which he seeks the Pope’s support for a Jewish State. Interwoven with this public historical narrative is the more intimate story of Theodor’s conflicted relationship with his wife, Julie Herzl, and the toll his political views and activities took on their family life.
Mario Diaz-Moresco – Baritone
Augusta Caso – Mezzo
Chad Kranak – Tenor
Adrian Rosas – Bass
Marika Bournaki – Piano
Julian Schwarz – Cello
Avi Nagin – Violin
Bixby Kennedy – Clarinet
OS Ensemble – Choir
Raquel Acevedo Klein – Choir Director
Broad gestures, rich textures, and narrative sweep are hallmarks of the “compelling” (New York Times), “shapely, melody-rich” (Wall Street Journal) music of composer Alex Weiser. Born and raised in New York City, Weiser creates acutely cosmopolitan music combining a deeply felt historical perspective with a vibrant forward-looking creativity. Weiser has been praised for writing “insightful” music “of great poetic depth” (Feast of Music), and for having a “sophisticated ear and knack for evoking luscious textures and imaginative yet approachable harmonies.” (I Care If You Listen). An energetic advocate for contemporary classical music and for the work of his peers, Weiser co-founded and directs Kettle Corn New Music, an “ever-enjoyable,” and “engaging” concert series which “creates that ideal listening environment that so many institutions aim for: relaxed, yet allowing for concentration,” (New York Times) and was for nearly five years a director of the MATA Festival, “the city’s leading showcase for vital new music by emerging composers.” (The New Yorker). Weiser is now the Director of Public Programs at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research where he curates and produces programs that combine a fascination with and curiosity for historical context, with an eye toward influential Jewish contributions to the culture of today and tomorrow.
Alex Weiser: State of the Jews is made possible, in part, by the Jerome Foundation.
The Jerome Foundation, a long-time supporter of young composers, was a mainstay in Roulette’s early development and continues to help us fulfill our mission by presenting ambitious work by promising artists. Each year, the Jerome Foundation supports five artist residencies and four commissions at Roulette.