In Residence: Eric Moe

While at VCCA, Eric Moe was working on two projects. The biggest one, his comic science fiction opera, The Artwork of the Future explores the question of whether individual artists’ work can survive into the future and also whether human beings will even be around, or will robots have taken over. Though the piece in intended to be humorous, it taps into the fear that most of us share about what lies ahead for humanity. The libretto is by Rob Handel who previously had collaborated with Eric on a 10-minute opera, Valkyrie Suite. “We had so much fun working together, we thought, let’s do it again, but make a larger project out of it.”

The Artwork of the Future  was work-shopped in New York at New Dramatists, one of the country’s leading playwright centers and a nationally recognized new play laboratory. “New Dramatists covered all the expenses,” says Eric. “So now we are trying to get a company to commit to the production, once we have that, then other things can fall into place. The opera world is a new world for me. I’ve written operas and operatic things before, including 
Tri-Stan, a collaboration with David Foster Wallace, but that was a virtual opera and not meant to be staged. The Artwork of the Future will be Eric’s first full-length opera slated for dramatic production.

Chamber music is Eric’s main purview. He composes works for various groups from individuals to full orchestras. These days, the standard mixed ensemble has six to seven players. It’s close to the maximum you can do without a conductor, so I have a lot of pieces for that rough number of instruments—five, six, seven players.” His work is not limited to traditional Western musical instruments; the last time he was at VCCA, he worked on a piece using traditional Chinese instruments.

Eric was in residence with his wife, visual artist Barbara Weissberger. “It’s great to be here together, focusing on our work without the pressures of daily life.”

Following a residency at the Hambidge Center again with Barbara, Eric will be in Alaska as part of the Denali National Park and Preserve’s Composition and the National Parks Field Course: Composing in the Wilderness. In October, a piece for saxophone and piano will be premiered in Freiberg, Germany. Eric will be playing the piano.


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