Mid-Study Presentation – Raphael Fusco

Making (Non)Sense:
Exploring Phonemes, Neologisms and Extended Vocal Techniques through Composition

Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem Jabberwocky has charmed and confused audiences since its first publication in 1855. Made famous through their appearance in Alice in Wonderland, Carroll’s neologisms and “portmanteaux” create a fantastic sound world ripe for the exploration of new sounds through composition. When setting this poem to music several questions arise: How do the abstract phonemes of nonsense words influence their translation into music? Where do instrumentality and vocality overlap? To what extent can music make sense of nonsense?

This interdisciplinary artistic research project explores possible answers to these questions across the domains of music composition, linguistics, and contemporary performance practice. This keynote presentation will unpack the collaborative processes and research methods involved in creating the original work NONSENSE!: A fantasy for voice and ensemble and conclude with a live performance by guest mezzo-soprano soloist Sarah Alexandra Hudarew of the Semperoper Dresden.

Internal Supervisors and External Advisors: Ulf Bästlein (KUG), Andreas Dorschel (KUG), Tom Cipullo (SUNY), Michael Edgerton (Malmö Academy of Music).

Raphael Fusco

Composition, Piano

Italian-American composer, keyboardist and conductor Raphael Fusco has been hailed by the international press as “one of the most outstanding composers of his generation (El Mundo),” and “a leader in the opera world today (Operawire).”
His genre-crossing compositions have been commissioned by Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Cecilia Chorus of New York, I Cantori New York, Hartford Chorale, Opernfestival Oberpfalz, Forum Neue Kunst, Opera Lucca, Classic Lyric Arts Festival, The German Forum, I Porporini and members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras. His works have been premiered in esteemed venues such as Carnegie Hall, Kimmel Center Philadelphia, Lincoln Center, St. Bavo Kerk Haarlem, Gaudì’s Casa Milà in Barcelona, Église de Saint Séverin in Paris, Dvorak House in Prague and Teatro Titano in San Marino.
In 2023 his song cycle Quarantine Camp was awarded 2nd Prize in NATS Art Song Composition Competition and he conducted the world premiere of Le parole dei mesi in Novafeltria, Italy. In 2022 he conducted the world premieres of his An American Requiem in the Herz Jesu Kirche of Graz and his cantata La contesa canora in Lucca, Italy. In July 2021 he conducted the premieres of his operas Der Telefonist in Oldenburg, Germany and inSOMNIA in Amberg, Germany (“a multifaceted, atmospheric sound-painting” Mittelbayerische Zeitung). His debut album REMIXED featuring original compositions for solo piano praised for their “stunning sonic ideas” (Jazz Corner) was released in 2019. In 2016 he premiered his concerto for saxophone Alternate Routes with GRAMMY Award winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis. In 2012 Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra premiered Divis Cetera in Carnegie Hall (“a wise piece…simply wonderful” Theaterscene). In 2010 The New York Repertory Orchestra premiered his Sinfonia Drammatica. In 2007 Raphael made his Lincoln Center Debut conducting his Concertone from the harpsichord with Bachanalia Festival Orchestra. His oratorio Lamentations of Jeremiah was premiered by Barbara Dever and I Cantori New York at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in the 2004.
Mr. Fusco has received awards from the American Prize for Music, NATS Art Song Composition Competition, Fyfe Choral Composition Competition, Aliénor International Harpsichord Competition, Padre Martini Fugue Award, Bohuslav Martinū Composition Award, as well as grants from the National Italian American Foundation and Exploring the Metropolis. His works are published by Universal Edition Vienna and Verlag Ries & Erler Berlin. Since 2019 Raphael Fusco has served as Senior Artist in the Institute for music theater at the University for Performing Arts in Graz, Austria where he is pursuing a doctoral degree in artistic research.