Meet the composer, librettist, musical director, designers, and production team behind the new developing Asian opera.
About the Composer
Bora Yoon is a Korean-American composer, vocalist, and sound artist who conjures audiovisual soundscapes using digital devices, voice, and instruments from a variety of cultures and historical centuries to formulate a storytelling through music, movement and sound. Featured on the front-page of the Wall-Street Journal, WIRE magazine, TED and the National Endowment for the Arts podcast for her use of unusual instruments and everyday found objects as music, she evokes what George Lewis describes as “a kind of sonic memory garden” – using voice, viola, Tibetan singing bowls, vocoder, Bible pages, bike bells, turntable, walkie-talkies, chimes, water, and electronics.
Yoon has presented her work at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, BAM, Visiones Sonoras (Mexico), TED Conferences, Festival of World Cultures (Poland), MADE Festival (Sweden) and provided the live score for Haruki Murakami’s Wind Up Bird Chronicle– an interdisciplinary theatre adaptation, co-commissioned by Asia Society, Baryshnikov Art Center, Edinburgh International Arts Festival, and Singapore Arts Festival. Yoon has written for ensembles So Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, SAYAKA Ladies Consort of Tokyo, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Grammy-nominated Voices of Ascension Chorus; with select works published by Boosey & Hawkes, Guild of Carillonneurs of North America, W.W. Norton, and the Journal of Popular Noise. Yoon’s music has been featured on NPR, Jad Abumrad’s Dolly Parton’s America podcast, in addition to Apple TV+’s PACHINKO, based on the NY Times bestselling novel by Min Jin Lee.
Yoon’s last 2-person opera Sunken Cathedral (2015) premiered at NYC’s PROTOTYPE Festival co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE Arts Center.
About the Librettist
E. J. Koh is the writer for Pachinko (Apple TV+) and author of the memoir The Magical Language of Others (Tin House Books, 2020), Washington State Book Award Winner, Pacific Northwest Book Award Winner, Association of Asian American Studies Book Award Winner, and PEN Open Book Award Longlist. Koh is the author of the poetry collection A Lesser Love (Louisiana State U. Press, 2017), Pleiades Editors Prize for Poetry Winner. She is the co-translator of Yi Won’s poetry collection The World’s Lightest Motorcycle (Zephyr Press, 2021). Koh has received fellowships from the American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell, and Kundiman. Her poems, stories, and translations have appeared in AGNI, The Atlantic, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, POETRY, Slate, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. Koh earned her MFA at Columbia University in New York for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. Koh is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington in English Literature studying Korean American literature, history, and film. Her debut novel The Liberators is forthcoming from Tin House Books in 2023. www.ejkoh.com
MILA HENRY (Music director, Pianist)
Mila Henry is a music director, pianist and conductor, as well as Artistic Director of The American Opera Project. Hailed “a stalwart contributor to the contemporary opera scene” (Opera Ithaca), she provides musical dramaturgy to AOP works and serves as Head of Music for their Composers & the Voice training program. Outside of AOP, she maintains an active and versatile career, spanning folk operas to rock musicals to reimagined classics. She conducted the world premieres of Letters That You Will Not Get (AOP), Magdalene (PROTOTYPE) and Words on the Street (Baruch PAC), and coached as Vocal Director for The World is Round (Ripe Time, Obie-winner). A “terrific” pianist (Opera News), Mila doubled on synthesizer for We Shall Not Be Moved (Opera Philadelphia, The Apollo, Dutch National Opera), and was rehearsal pianist for Iphigenia (Real Magic, Octopus Theatricals). She has worked extensively with Beth Morrison Projects, HERE and PROTOTYPE, including as pianist for Looking at You (HERE, on Bright Shiny Things), Mata Hari, Persona (BMP) and Thumbprint (on National Sawdust Tracks, from the LA Opera tour), and répétiteur for Acquanetta, Anatomy Theater, Angel’s Bone, the difficulty of crossing a field (BMP) and p r i s m, among others. She has participated on panels for New Music USA and OPERA America, serves on the New Music Advisory Board for Brooklyn Art Song Society, and is a member of the band Opera Cowgirls. Mila holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and Elizabethtown College. She is based in New York. milahenry.com
SHAWN DUAN (video projection, dramaturg, co-director)
Shawn Duan is a New York-based Projections/Media Designer with a primary focus on new works spanning across opera, theatre, film, and concerts. His recent work in New York include the premiere of Letters of Suresh by Rajiv Joseph at 2nd Stage for which he received a Lortel Award as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination and The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh with Ma-Yi Theater Company at The Public, also nominated for both a Lortel and Drama Desk Award. Frequent collaborators include May Adrales, Kent Gash, Jaimie Hollmer, Seema Sueko, Tazewell Thompson and Eric Ting. Broadway Credits: David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish. Other NYC credits: Manhattan School of Music, MET Museum, New York City Opera, and The Public Theater. Regional: Arena Stage, The Alliance, Berkeley Repertory, Dallas Theater Center, Denver Center, Goodspeed, The Guthrie, The MUNY, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory, South Coast Repertory and Yale Repertory. Tour/Concert Design: An Evening with Pacino (US/international), HK Arts Festival, numerous US commercial entertainment tours and Las Vegas shows/concerts. Film: VFX Supervisor for the indie feature 16 Bars (2020).
TESS JAMES (lighting design)
Tess James is a freelance Lighting Designer and Associate. Her recent projects include Classic Stage Company’s Assassins, The Cradle Will Rock and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui; Roundabout Theatre Company’s productions of Machinal, Violet, The Real Thing and Noises Off, True West; BAM’s RadioLoveFest; and Monica Bill Barnes & Company’s national touring productions of The Running Show and 3 Acts, 2 Dancers, 1 Radio Host. Throughout her career she has working with a array of amazing intuitions including New York City Opera, BAM, Glimmerglass Opera, St. Ann’s Warehouse, New York City Center and the Sydney Opera House. She is currently a member for the faculty at Princeton University and a Master Teaching Artist with The Roundabout Theatre Company. She resides in Hopewell, NJ with her husband, a dog and a cat. www.tessjames.com
JULIAN SINGER-CORBIN (Production Stage Manager)
Juls is a champion for the next generation of story-makers. He believes in the sacred calling to bring about life-changing artistic experiences for creators and audiences alike. His most important accomplishments have been the memories he’s made with family, friends, and even strangers, traveling and exploring what it means to be human. Juls is the Founder of Let Me Help You Love You, through which he works as a creativity and wellness coach and consultant for artistic individuals and organizations. He was raised with music and theater as the family trade, and his experience at almost every position, on and off stage, makes him a powerful force for good in the world of the arts. His mandate across all ventures is saying yes to people and projects that feel true and authentic to his values.
For joy, he travels and performs under the moniker Julian Wild, a music producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, and experimental sound artist. NPR Music says he has a “Sultry, swoon-worthy voice,” and his original music has been streamed in over 50 countries. Currently, Juls is the Director of Production for The Why Collective, an interdisciplinary arts organization in residence at Nancy Manocherian’s the cell theatre, a Recording and Mixing Engineer at The National Opera Center of Opera America, and an Audio Technician and Crew Chief for Bentley Meeker Lighting and Sound in New York City. Recent clients include Rockefeller Center, World Wildlife Fund, HERE Arts, Gotham Hall and Emitha Records. His teachings, compositions, and talents have recently been featured at Santa Fe Opera, Detroit Youth Symphony, ArtPark, Collective Conservatory, Princeton University, and The University of New Mexico.
ALLISON SPANN (Production Assistant)
Allison Spann is a Brooklyn-based performance creator who believes in the power of voice and collaborative art-making as radical tools for healing. Winner of the 2020 Princeton Concerto Competition as a solo soprano, her work as a vocalist spans opera, jazz, theater, and contemporary/experimental spaces, and includes credits as a solo vocalist with Darcy James Argue’s Creative Large Ensemble, and her co-founded jazz big band, the Congregation Jazz Orchestra. Her work as a composer/playwright includes full-length pieces of music theater and one album, for which she earned a position as Semifinalist for the 2022 National Music Theater Conference, the 2020 Edward T. Cone Memorial Prize in Music Scholarship, Composition, and Performance, and the 2019 Richardson Auditorium Artist Residency. After graduating magna cum laude from Princeton University in 2020 with a Concentration in Music, and Certificates in Theater, Music Theater, and Vocal Performance, Spann has taken several production and design roles, and enjoys sliding into whatever role a collaborative project requires. Voraciously curious, Spann constantly seeks to expand her understanding of the world through new ways of storytelling and making.