(That’s just a taste of the music of Joshua Armenta performed by the Great Noise Ensemble led by Blair Skinner with tenor Joshua Diaz.)
I’m George Walker
The Indianapolis Opera showcases the world premiere of Armenta’s Ice Shall Cover Nineveh in their Chorus in Concert program Saturday evening at seven-thirty and Sunday afternoon at three, February 9th and 10th in the Koch Hall of the Basile Opera Center.
Joshua Armenta was born in California, lives in Mexico City and still calls the Indiana of his boyhood, home. He’s a Latino-American composer who writes music of and about our time. Armenta is also a conductor, published author, software developer and speaker. His Ice Shall Cover Ninevah is part of a healing process from loss and love inspired by a reading of poems by Kenneth Rexroth.
Armenta says, “I was looking for an Indiana author. I love James Whitcomb Riley, but I didn’t find anything there. Kurt Vonnegut was an obvious choice, but the opera’s been done so recently. Kenneth Rexroth was next and I found him in a worn out library volume in Silicon Valley.” Rexroth was born in South Bend, but soon moved to Chicago and later spent much of his life in San Francisco. Thomas Sanchez, a Rexroth student described him as a "longtime iconoclast, onetime radical, Roman Catholic, Communist fellow traveler, jazz scholar, I.W.W. anarchist, translator, philosopher, playwright, librettist, orientalist, critical essayist, radio personality, newspaper columnist, painter, poet and longtime Buddhist.” The spirituality and Buddhist aspects of Rexroth’s poetry, the flow of the language, the vividness of the pictures and the overall attitude appealed to Armenta.
Armenta has worked with the Indianapolis Opera’s General Director David Starkey and this led to the commission of a piece to honor the Opera’s Chorus Master John Schmid. “The Ninevah of Rexroth’s title isn’t the town that Jonah tries to avoid in the Bible,” says Armenta.” It’s part of a story of the three Wise Men on their journey after viewing the Christ Child. They come to Ninevah, a town in the mountains and ask for food and shelter. The town turns them away and it’s then, that in retribution the ice covers it.” Rexroth is very much a believer that even when tragedy occurs the earth, the trees, the grass regenerate and the animals return as well, time and nature can heal the pain. Along with the Indiana connection that’s what attracted Armenta to his works. “
Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon’s Chorus in Concert is in Koch Hall at the Indianapolis’s Basile Opera Center. The concert repertoire takes a journey though the eras of opera, with choruses from C.W. Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Arthur Sullivan’s The Mikado, and Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot. Indianapolis Opera Resident Artists will perform solos in the newly commissioned piece, Ice Shall Cover Nineveh by Joseph Armenta. This world premiere piece was created in honor of the Opera’s long time Chorus Master John Schmid.
I’m George Walker