Axis of Beauty (2004-present) began as an ongoing answer to the George W. Bush administration's "Axis of Evil" wartime propaganda. That phrase was meant to reduce the people of an entire region to a faceless, undifferentiated mass of 'evil.' The Axis of Beauty project has been my response to that reductive notion — highlighting individual Middle Eastern voices by collecting and setting texts by journalists, poets, and everyday citizens. Axis of Beauty received initial development during my residency at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (supported by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council). The project now includes vocal, choral, and audio works that, collectively, have been performed in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Serbia, Spain, and 14 U.S. states. Its largest-scale manifestation so far has been the 20-minute cycle Gather These Mirrors.
Illuminated (2008-present) is an ongoing series of pieces setting texts about sex and sexuality by living writers from a wide range of world cultures. In part, the series is my response to the fact that when overt sexuality is represented in classical music, it's typically either comic or tragic and it's typically oversimplified. Sex and sexuality are much less commonly presented as rich, complex, positive, and a source of joy and power. One aim of this project is to collect and set first-person texts from as wide a range of cultures and experiences as possible.
Singing Stones (tour dates TBD) is a set of three site-specific audio installations to be installed outdoors at three sculptures in western Europe: the Omofuma Monument in Vienna, the Weiße Rose Monument in Munich, and the Homomonument in Amsterdam. The common thread among the three sculptures is that each honors either an individual person or a class of people who were targeted and killed by their own government, with a time span ranging from World War II to a single incident of police brutality in 1999. Singing Stones won the Ruth Anderson Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music.
Summer in Sombor (2007-2010) was a summer composition intensive for which I was a faculty composer and a co-founder/co-director, along with Aleksandra Vrebalov and three other composers. Officially held for four summers in northern Serbia (and now unofficially carried on each year, with its former Serbian students acting as leaders/mentors), this week-long intensive featured a professional resident ensemble — string quartet, wind quintet, or mixed ensemble — that worked closely with a group of advanced undergraduate and graduate composers from Serbia, the U.S., and other countries. An important part of the mission was to provide this experience at very low cost or no cost, for both the Serbian and non-Serbian composers. The 2010 PDF brochure.