OPERA America Announces Recipients of Opera Grants for Female Composers: Discovery Grants
Supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
Seven Composers Awarded Discovery Grants Totaling $100,000
OPERA America, the national service organization for opera and the nation’s leading champion for American opera, is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of Discovery Grants from the Opera Grants for Female Composers program, which is made possible through the generosity of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.
Opera Grants for Female Composers promote the development of works by women and raise the visibility of women writing for the operatic medium. The program consists of two components: Discovery Grants of up to $15,000 that are awarded directly to female composers to advance their work; and Commissioning Grants of up to $50,000 that are awarded to opera companies for commissions by female composers.
The most recent round of Discovery Grants attracted 50 applicants, and an independent adjudication panel selected seven composers to receive a total of $100,000 to support operas in development. The recipients are:
- Sarah Taylor Ellis for The Trojan Women
- Donia Jarrar for Seamstress
- Gina Leishman for Bird of the Inner Eye
- Carla Lucero for Juana
- Kristin Norderval for The Sailmaker’s Wife
- Niloufar Nourbakhsh for We the Innumerable
- Celka Ojakangas for Mirror Game
Over the past 30 years, OPERA America has awarded more than $18 million to support the work of opera creators, companies and administrators. However, until the launch of Opera Grants for Female Composers in 2013, fewer than five percent of the organization’s grants for repertoire development had been awarded to works by female composers. Opera Grants for Female Composers have helped to reverse that trend by investing nearly $1 million in operas by women to date, with future awards to come: Thanks to continued support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the program was recently renewed through 2021.
The Opera Grants for Female Composers program not only funds new works by women, but also provides female composers with opportunities for networking and mentorship, and promotes their work among stakeholders in the field. OPERA America invites and subsidizes all Discovery and Commissioning Grant recipients to attend its annual Opera Conference and its New Works Forum (an annual gathering of opera creators, producers and publishers) after receiving their awards — enabling them to develop relationships with potential collaborators. OPERA America has also engaged Peggy Monastra as a creative consultant to advise the grant recipients on the strategic planning and business aspects of new work development, including best practices for collaboration and workshops and how to engage and negotiate with potential producers.
“Opera is experiencing a groundswell of support for gender parity across all sectors of the industry, both artistic and administrative, and we are proud to be a part of that movement through Opera Grants for Female Composers,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Thanks to the generosity of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, these grants have invigorated our art form with new works that display the extraordinary skill of their composers, as well as a diverse range of artistic sensibilities.”
The independent panelists for the Discovery Grants were Lucy Arner, conductor and coach; Jing Jing Luo, composer; Emily Morse, artistic director, New Dramatists; Greg Pierce, librettist; Lauren Worsham, singer and actor; and Edward Yim, president and CEO, American Composers Orchestra.
Information about applying for the next round of Discovery Grants will be available this summer. The recipients of the next round of Commissioning Grants will be announced this summer, as well.