Dinosaurs of a Feather

My last evolution-themed post was inexplicably super-popular, so I thought I’d try it again, especially since fellow science nerd Randall Munroe of xkcd is also getting in on the game:

Birds / Dinosaurs Evolution from xkcd

Copyright Randall Munroe

Dino-fan Dina from David Willis’ Dumbing of Age was a bird-as-dinosaur advocate even earlier though:

Birds / Dinosaurs Evolution Dumbing of Age comic

Copyright David Willis

Admittedly, it takes some mental reconfiguration to think of birds as dinosaurs, but then I see a sparrow hopping around on it’s scaly little legs, and I guess I can see it.  But there’s a certain TV nerd who’s been aware of the secret dinosaurs in our midst for even longer…

Also, check out Tuesday’s post for a one-act opera about Darwin by Justine F. Chen, who’s new opera about Turing is being performed tonight as part of the InsightALT festival of new opera.  It’ll be live-streamed here, at 7pm tonight.

Chen’s Sci-Operas

Continuing with this week’s InsightALT festival for new opera, first comes the news that all events, starting with tonight’s master-class with soprano Catherine Malfitano, will be live-streamed here, by Opera Music Broadcast.  Not sure what the relation between the two is, but American Lyric Theater‘s YouTube channel does have lots of full video of past events, so guess it’s legit!  On the other hand, you can still buy tickets here!

Anyway, the first opera performed this week is by Justine F. Chen, on Thursday at 7pm (PS: happy last week of APAHM!).  Her opera is The Turing Project, about computer science pioneer Alan Turing.  Any operatic depiction of science should be interesting, and Justine has actually gone to that well before for American Lyric Theater, as evidenced by this one-act opera, “On the Origin”, about Darwin:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycabM18s5lQ&w=350&h=300]

This was created as part of American Lyric Theater‘s Composer Librettist Development Program, pairing composers with writers for a pretty fun-sounding curriculum on the words & music collaboration…  If any of my readers are interested though, you’ll have to wait until next year to apply  : P

To prepare for Thursday, you can also visit Chen’s site for some audio samples of past works, including operas, monodramas, and songs.

AltOpera Fest, now actually accurate…

Next week is InsightALT, American Lyric Theater‘s mini-fest of new opera.  The centerpiece of the event are three concert readings of new operas, running the thematic gamut of Alan Turing, war vets returning home, and a Mexican drug “queenpin”.  Click here for full descriptions, and a special code for $5 off single tickets!

The composers being featured are Jeremy Howard Beck, Justine Chen, and Jorge Sosa (triple J’s, nice), a pretty diverse crew, which is nice to see in the world of opera.  Today I’ll start with Jeremy Howard Beck.

MASSIVE EDIT: Turns out there are two composers named “Jeremy Beck” and the one in InsightALT is Jeremy Howard Beck.  I feel like an idiot, but seriously, what are the odds!  Well as it turns out, they’re pretty high…  Anyway, here’s my revised post:

Based on the memoir of the same name by Brian Castner, former Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit member in Iraq, The Long Walk is about veterans’ struggles on adjusting to life back home after returning from war.  Should be interesting stuff…

Here’s a performance of Beck‘s 2009 piece Awakening, by it’s commissioners, trombone quartet The Guidonian Hand.  A trombonist himself, Beck says the piece was inspired by the then-recent passing of Proposition 8 in California (overturning the legalization of gay marriage there) and its concurrence with the Jewish high holidays, with their use of the shofar horn.

And here’s the InsightALT trailer, reproducing an interview with Castner by BBC.  Their YouTube channel, has features from past events too, so good way to get a feel for InsightALT generally.