Summer Labs: Alaina Ferris' "The Lydian Gale Parr"
6:30pm doors • 7:30pm show
Each year National Sawdust hosts an open call for emerging and established Brooklyn-based musicians to participate in the institution’s signature Summer Labs program, an opportunity for musicians to create and perform work in an inspiring space at a critical early stage in the journey of a work from concept to reality. Musicians who are selected to participate in the program are given time to develop and perform a 20–40 minute music-based work-in-progress in our state-of-the-art venue. Following their performances, artists will host a 15 minute audience Q&A to discuss their process and their new work on the National Sawdust stage.
Composer Alaina Ferris and librettist Karinne Keithley Syers present a selection from their oratorio The Lydian Gale Parr. A manifesto of migratory community, of slipping in and out of disparate webs of belonging, it follows the history of a wandering, shape-shifting hero named Lydian Gale Parr, who travels from ancient cities to present-day container ships and back again. Built from excerpts from Henry James’ novel The American, the work is caught somewhere between speech, recitation, and song, and is scored for eight vocalists, bass clarinet, bassoon, French horn, flute, piano, and bells.
Alaina Ferris is a theater composer and music educator whose work explores how multiplayer alternate realities (whether musically, digitally, or theatrically created) can foster trust and empathy in communities. She seeks to model kind and radically honest communication styles in her collaborative processes. Her work is inspired by a love of Renaissance chorales, video game soundtracks, and her daily practice of teaching piano, voice, and harp lessons. Alaina has worked with SoHo Rep, Barnard College/Columbia University, Abrons Arts Center, the Connelly Theater, and St. Ann’s Warehouse. She has worked with artists Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, Steve Earle, César Alvarez, Anne Waldman, Eliza Bent, Mia Rovegno, Mac Wellman, and more.
Her poetry chapbook While Listening was released by The Operating System in 2016. Her manuscript To Be Awake Means to Will was a 2015 finalist for the National Poetry Series and a 2018 finalist for Fence Modern Poets.
Alaina was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and later moved to Boulder County, Colorado. She earned her BA in Music and Creative Writing from the University of Denver and her MFA in Poetry from New York University.