Oblivion. 2022. 70′
Opera in One Act
Libretto by John Aylward, Dante Alighieri & Book of Daniel, trans. / adapt. Aylward
For Soprano, Tenor, Two Baritones,
Viola, Cello, Contrabass, Electric Guitar, Electronics
Produced by Ravensodd Productions and Ecce Arts
with funds from the Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Foundation.
The spiral aspects of Ovid as discerned by Calvino can be heard throughout Aylward’s suite, which is so varied in atmosphere and activity that the ear is constantly drawn to some expressive flourish or instrumental combination or conversation. The music demands active listening to appreciate the arc of each piece’s flights of fancy…
It is well worth paying close attention. Aylward’s suite is at turns mysterious, iridescent and daring, and the virtuoso players of Klangforum Wien are alert to every nuance and volatile utterance.”
Angelus. 2019. 45‘
For soprano and ensemble.
Recorded by the Ecce Ensemble.
June 19th, 21st and 22nd, 2019.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters. New York, NY.
Released on New Focus Recordings, April 2020.
Produced with support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Cynthia and John Reed Foundation & the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
It was a trip to Europe that was the starting point for John Aylward’s monodrama Angelus. In 2014, his father had just died and the American composer had decided to take his mother in the footsteps of her roots and her youth in Germany, which Nazism had forced her to flee and to which she had never returned since. One painting particularly caught their attention, Angelus novus by Paul Klee, exhibited at the Center Pompidou and reproduced on the album cover. Framed by two poems… Angelus brings together a kaleidoscope of great metaphysical texts, from Plato to Walter Benjamin, to outline a path at the conjunction of intellect and emotion. In a vast palette of means and expression, from narration to virtuoso melismas, Nina Guo chisels the subtle textual and musical canvas of John Aylward, which declines, with an obvious sense of intimate accuracy, the different possibilities of the relationship between the verb and sound sieve. This miniature drama, which renews, with perhaps a hint of intellectualism that never sacrifices sincerity of sensitivity, is carried by the hushed shades of Ecce Ensemble.
— Victoria Okada. Toute La Culture
“Switch makes an amalgam of almost every possible aspect of the theater, subtly transforming speaking into singing, instrumentalists into actors, ideas into dialogue… In the end, it becomes all Aylward: a tour-de-force presentation with genuine integrity and lots of comedy as well.
The fact that Molly and Anne are performed by the same singer — the galvanizing soprano Amanda DeBoer Bartlett — not only adds to the breathless quality of “Switch,” but increases the dramatic tension and layers the action.
Because of Aylward’s integrated approach, Switch has a real chance to become a work that other ensembles embrace as well. Not only is this production compelling, but it leaves open many other interpretive possibilities.”
–Keith Powers. National Public Radio