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Ashley, Robert: eL / Aficionado (2021) (Lovely Music)

A group of scenes from the life of an "agent" in composer Robert Ashley's 1987 work, revived in 2021 with this new studio recording featuring mezzo soprano Kayleigh Butcher taking over the role of The Agent formerly inhabited by baritone Thomas Buckner, plus Brian McCorkle as Interrogator No. 1, Bonnie Lander as Interrogator No. 2 and Paul Pinto as Interrogator No. 3.

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product information:

UPC: 745295500421

Label: Lovely Music
Catalog ID: LCD 5004CD
Squidco Product Code: 31051

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded at Robert Ashley's studio, in New York, July 2021, by Tom Hamilton.


Robert Ashley-composer

Kayleigh Butcher-voice

Bonnie Lander-voice

Brian McCorkle-voice

Paul Pinto-voice

Tom Hamilton-director

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Artist Biographies:

"Robert Ashley (1930-2014)

Robert Ashley, a distinguished figure in American contemporary music, holds an international reputation for his work in new forms of opera and multi-disciplinary projects. His recorded works are acknowledged classics of language in a musical setting. He pioneered opera-for-television.

The operatic works of Robert Ashley are distinctly original in style, and distinctly American in their subject matter and in their use of American language. Fanfare Magazine calls Ashley's Perfect Lives "nothing less than the first American opera...", and The Village Voice comments, "When the 21st Century glances back to see where the future of opera came from, Ashley, like Monteverdi before him, is going to look like a radical new beginning." A prolific composer and writer, Ashley's operas are "so vast in their vision that they are comparable only to Wagner's Ring cycle or Stockhausen's seven-evening Licht cycle. In form and content, in musical, vocal, literary and media technique, they are, however, comparable to nothing else." (The Los Angeles Times).

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1930 Robert Ashley was educated at the University of Michigan and the Manhattan School of Music. At the University of Michigan, he worked at the Speech Research Laboratories (psycho-acoustics and cultural speech patterns), and was employed as a Research Assistant in Acoustics at the Architectural Research Laboratory.

During the 1960s, Ashley organized the ONCE Festival, the annual festival of contemporary performing arts in Ann Arbor which, from 1961 to 1969, presented most of the decade's pioneers of the performing arts. He directed the highly influential ONCE Group, a music-theater ensemble that toured the United States from 1964 to 1969. During these years Ashley developed and produced the first of his mixed-media operas, notably That Morning Thing and In Memoriam...Kit Carson, and he composed the sound tracks for films by George Manupelli.

In 1969, Ashley was appointed Director of the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College (Oakland, California), where he organized the first public-access music and media facility. From 1966 to 1976 he toured throughout the United States and Europe with the Sonic Arts Union, the composers' collective that included David Behrman, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma. With the support of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, Ashley produced and directed, Music with Roots in the Aether: video portraits of composers and their music, a 14­hour television opera/documentary about the work and ideas of seven American composers, which premiered at the Festival d'Automne à Paris in 1976 and has since been shown worldwide in over 100 television broadcasts and closed-circuit installations.

The Kitchen (New York) commissioned Perfect Lives in 1980, an opera for television in seven half-hour episodes. The opera was co- produced with Great Britain's arts network, Channel Four, in August 1983. First broadcast in Great Britain in April 1984, Perfect Lives has since been seen on television in Austria, Germany, Spain and the United States and has been shown at film and video festivals around the world. It is widely considered to be the pre-cursor of "music-television."

Staged versions of the operas Perfect Lives, Atalanta (Acts of God), and the tetralogy, Now Eleanor's Idea, have toured throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Ashley and his company have been presented at the Avignon Festival, the Festival d'Automne à Paris, Musica Strasbourg, the Almeida Festival (London), the Festival de Otono (Madrid), New Music America (New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia), the Inventionen Festival and the Hebbel Theater (Berlin), by the Gaudeamus Foundation (The Netherlands), the USIS Interlink Festival (Japan), the Next Wave Festival (New York) and Site Santa Fe.

The Florida Grand Opera, Miami-Dade Community College and the South Florida Composers Alliance commissioned an opera, based on the experiences of the Cuban "rafters"). Balseros, was premiered at the Colony Theater, Miami Beach, on May 16, 1997.

Other commissioned works include operas Now Eleanor's Idea (1993) and Foreign Experiences (1994) for his own opera ensemble, with funds from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and Meet the Composer's Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program; Van Cao's Meditation (1992), for pianist Lois Svard; Outcome Inevitable (1991), for chamber ensemble, by Philadelphia's renowned Relâche Ensemble; Superior Seven (1988), for flute with orchestra and chorus, by Barbara Held and the Bowery Ensemble; eL/Aficionado (1987), opera, by Mutable Music for Thomas Buckner; Atalanta (Acts of God) (1985), by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, for its anniversary celebration; Odalisque (1984), for orchestra, solo voice and chorus, by The Arch Ensemble, Musical Elements, Alea III, and The Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago; Music Word Fire (1981), for television, by Channel 13/WNET.

Ashley's When Famous Last Words Fail You, for voice and orchestra was commissioned and premiered by the American Composers Orchestra on December 7, 1997. Your Money My Life Good-bye, a radio production for Bayerischer Rundfunk, in English and German, has been completed and will air in early 1999. Dust, an opera commissioned by the Kanagawa Arts Foundation, Yokohama, Japan, premiered on November 15, 1998.

Ashley has also provided music for the dance companies of Trisha Brown (Son of Gone Fishin', 1983), Merce Cunningham (Problems in the Flying Saucer, 1988), Douglas Dunn (Ideas from The Church, 1978) and Steve Paxton (The Park and The Backyard, 1978.)

Robert Ashley is the subject of a film by Peter Greenaway, one of a series entitled Four American Composers, Transatlantic Films (London) and Mystic Fire Video (New York). Perfect Lives was published by Burning Books (San Francisco) with Archer Fields (New York), October 1991. Ashley's recorded music and videotapes are available on Lovely Music, Ltd., Nonesuch/Elektra, New World Records, Mainstream, CBS Odyssey, O.O. Discs, Koch International and Einstein Records."

-Lovely Music (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Described as a singer with "commanding interpretive depth" (New York Times) as well as having a "pure vocal talent" (Opera Wire Magazine), Kayleigh Butcher (mezzo soprano) has gained critical and audience acclaim as a soloist and contemporary chamber musician.

Kayleigh is also a founding member and the director of Quince Ensemble, an all-treble, acappella vocal quartet that explores experimental vocal techniques and improvisation. She is also a founding member of Shepherdess with Hajnal Pivnick, an NYC-based violin and voice duo. And lastly, she is a member of LOVELERVLUV, a musical, performance art trio with Paul Pinto and Bonnie Lander.

Kayleigh received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory, where she studied with Dr. Anne DeLaunay and Dr. Denise Knowlton. She was a graduate teaching assistant to Dr. Jane Schoonmaker Rodgers at Bowling Green State University, where she earned her Master of Music. She currently resides in Kensington, Brooklyn with her fat cat, Cherubino."

-Kayleigh Butcher Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Dr. Bonnie Lander is an adventurous, virtuosic soprano, composer, and improviser specializing in classical and avant-garde music performance. With a "signature ability to embody a seemingly endless supply of vocal timbres and personalties," Dr. Lander is a favorite among composers, songwriters, and improvisers. Frequently featured in collaborative performance with Rhymes With Opera, The High Zero Foundation, Mind On Fire, Performing Arts Services NYC, and with Love Love Love.

Based in the Bromo Arts District of Baltimore, Bonnie teaches online individual and group voice lessons. Dr. Lander uses her technical expertise to help amateur and professional students across all genres find confidence and ease in their singing. Bonnie received her Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) from UC San Diego, Master of Music from the Peabody Institute, and a Bachelor of Music from The University of Miami Frost School of Music. With over 15 years of professional performance and teaching experience, Bonnie is an excellent instructor for any student who seeks knowledge, freedom, and ease in their singing voice.

Dr. Lander currently works as Co-Artistic Director at Rhymes With Opera, Assistant Director for the Community Chorus of Peabody under Director Kristen Toedtman, as cantor at Mt. Calvary Roman Catholic Church, and as collective member for social justice events space 2640 Space."

-Bonnie Lander Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Brian McCorkle (King Hrothgar/ Piano) is a composer, sound artist, and musician. He is the Co-Director of the Panoply Performance Laboratory (, creating interdisciplinary work that operates in the performance art, music, and experimental theatre fields. With PPL, Brian has composed the operas On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians (Dixon Place, ABC No Rio, The Manhattan Theatre Source and elsewhere), The Last Dreams of Helene Weigel or How to Get Rid of The Feminism Once and For All (ABC No Rio, Surreal Estate, Cabinet Magazine Event Space and over PostTV), Institute_Institut (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, the cell), NATURE FETISH (University Settlement, City Reliquary, Grace Exhibition Space, and in Berlin at: KuLe Theater, ACUD, BLO Ateliers, Sucked Orange Gallery) and incidental and interactive music, sound design, and technological set-ups for other projects like The Silviculture Museum (chashama installation with Pine Thumbs sound software) and Calmly Engaged (Flux Factory and Wilderness Gallery). Brian and PPL also collaborated with new music ensemble thingNY to create TIME: A Complete Explanation in Three Parts (The Brick Theater) and Brian's projects with PPL have been a part of SUPERFRONT's Public Summer at Industry City, BOB the Pavilion at Columbia University, the BABEL exhibition in a QMAD pop-up gallery, IV Soldiers Gallery, the Delancey, Vaudeville Park, BARTERTOWN, and FIGMENT on Governor's Island. With PPL, he has been the beneficiary of Swing Space from LMCC (14 Wall Street for Workforce/Forced Work), two residencies through chashama, the LAB Residency at LPAC, and a residency through the Performance Project at University Settlement. Brian's works, collaborations, and compositions have been covered by the New York Times, the Freize Magazine, Time Out New York, the Village Voice, L Magazine, the Detroit News, New York Arts, Flavorpill,, the Guardian UK, online music blogs, and elsewhere."

-American Repertory Theater (

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"A.R.T.: Debut. Paul Pinto creates and produces experimental music and theatrical works, and is the founder and co-director of ensembles thingNY and Varispeed. Opera: ADDDDDDDDD; TIME; Patriots; This Takes Place Close By; Perfect Lives (praised in the Los Angeles Times; Wall Street Journal; Time Out New York, where Steve Smith named it on his "Best of 2011" List; and in the New York Times "Standout operas of recent decades"). He is currently working on his new operas Thomas Paine in Violence (HERE Arts Center, The Industry) and an untitled opera for Iktus Percussion about boxers."

-American Repertory Theater (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. 1. Personal (4:04)

2. 2. My Brother Called (a) (4:30)

3. 3. My Brother Called (b) (4:30)

4. 4. A Simple Border Crossing (17:03)

5. 5. My Brother Called (c) (4:30)

6. 6. My Brother Called (d) 4:30)

7. 7. An Answer Is Expected (18:05)

8. 8. My Brother Called (e) (4:00)

9. 9. Viva's Boy (6:16)

10. My Brother Called (f) (4:19)
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Robert Ashley's eL/Aficionado is a group of scenes from the life of an "agent". The scenes are a kind of "debriefing" to a jury of Interrogators, in which the Interrogators (chorus) challenge the Agent (soloist) in various forms of musical dialogue. The mood of the opera owes much to our fascination with espionage and with the character of those people who lead double lives. The opera was performed many times between 1987 and 1993, and Lovely Music released a recording of the opera in 1994 (LCD 1004CD).

This new studio recording features the cast of the 2021 production (October 21-23 at Roulette, Brooklyn), with mezzo soprano, Kayleigh Butcher, taking over the role formerly inhabited by baritone Thomas Buckner. Recorded at Robert Ashley's studio in July 2021. Orchestration by Robert Ashley and Tom Hamilton. Recorded and mixed by Tom Hamilton. Produced by Tom Hamilton and Mimi Johnson. Personnel/Credits: Music and Libretto by Robert Ashley; Kayleigh Butcher - The Agent; Brian McCorkle - Interrogator No. 1; Bonnie Lander - Interrogator No. 2; Paul Pinto - Interrogator No. 3. -Lovely Music, Ltd.

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Quartet Recordings
Spoken Word
Unusual Vocal Forms
Song Based Music
New in Compositional Music

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