My Lai
Composer: Jonathan Berger
Composer Bio: Jonathan Berger’s “dissonant but supple” (New York Times) compositions integrate science and human experience, i.e. what does a cancer cell or golf swing sound like? And why does a song make us cry? Berger is the Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music at Stanford University, where he teaches composition, music theory, and cognition at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He was the founding co-director of the Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts (SICA, now the Stanford Arts Institute) and founding director of Yale University’s Center for Studies in Music Technology. Referred to as “lush and inviting” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Berger’s music ranges from vocal, orchestral, and chamber works to electroacoustic constructions. He was featured as composer-in-residence at Spoleto Festival USA (2010) with a version of the harrowing and chilling Theotokia (written for Dawn Upshaw), based on Berger’s recent research into auditory hallucinations. His chamber opera, Visitations, premiered in April, and Livia Sohn’s performance of his violin concerto, Jiyeh, paired with that of Benjamin Britten, was released in June on Harmonia Mundi’s Eloquentia label.
Librettist: Harriet Chessman
Librettist Bio: Harriest Scott Chessman is the author of the acclaimed novels The Beauty of Ordinary Things, Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, Ohio Angels, and Someone Not Really Her Mother. Her fiction has been translated into ten languages. She has taught English and creative writing at Yale University, Bread Loaf School of English, and Stanford University. She lives in Connecticut.
Premiere Date: January 29, 2016
Producing Company: Harris Theater
Description: My Lai, an operatic monodrama for voice, traditional Vietnamese instruments, and string quartet, is an artistic portrayal of and response to the infamous 1968 civilian massacre by U.S. troops during the Vietnam War, which approaches the story from U.S. Army helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson’s perspective. In lieu of a linear narrative, the story emerges in fragments as the aging and infirm Thompson reflects on the war and on decades of being maligned as unpatriotic and traitorous for attempting to stop the slaughter. 
Comments: The Kronos Quartet received an $80,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the premiere of My Lai, in which they will be performing.
Length: Length is not available.
Total Acts: Not Available
Orchestration: String Quartet
Contact: Not Available
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