PUSH Physical Theatre and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon Present "Comala"

PUSH Physical Theatre and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon Present "Comala"

Sat, 01/18/2014 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Chair of the Composition Department at the Eastman School of Music and Darren Stevenson, Founding Director and Company Member of PUSH Physical Theatre, join host Robert Hammond to discuss COMALA, the scenic cantata by Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Alongside musicians from New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Lexington -- in addition to current students at the Eastman School of Music -- PUSH Physical Theatre performs Comala with music by Mexican-born composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon in Rochester on January 24.  Alia Musica Pittsburgh and the Eastman BroadBand perform an opening instrumental act featuring two world premieres.  The event is the final in a series of touring performances featuring PUSH Physical Theatre’s Comala.  This season, the work has been mounted at the Rialto Theatre (Atlanta, GA), the Degollado Theatre (Guadalajara, Mexico), and at the Cervantino Festival (Guanajuato, Mexico).

Based on Pedro Páramo, the celebrated novel by Juan Rulfo, Comala stages scenes from one of the most influential literary works of magical realism. Fulfilling a promise made to his mother Doloritas on her deathbed, Juan Preciado travels to Comala on an errand to meet his father, the powerful patriarch Pedro Páramo.  He seeks to claim “what is owed to him”, as Páramo’s legitimate heir. However, upon arriving to Comala he finds a desolate village that bears no resemblance to the idyllic recollections of Doloritas. His encounters with the spirits, murmurs, and memories that now haunt the village, and with two of its only remaining inhabitants, unveils to him the tragic history of the village and his family, but at the cost of his own life.

The event will take place at the Eastman School of Music in Downtown Rochester.  The program is produced jointly by Alia Musica, the Eastman School of Music, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and the University of Kentucky.  The event receives additional support from the The Heinz Endowments and the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

The program opens with a performance by the musicians alone, to include an additional work by professor of composition at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Michael Fiday, and the premiere of two compositions commissioned for the occasion from Pittsburgh composers John Arrigo-Nelson and Federico Garcia.

Comala:  the staged cantata by Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon

featuring PUSH Physical Theatre

Tony Arnold, soprano, and Rob Frankenberry, tenor

Federico Garcia, conductor

Friday, January 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music (26 Gibbs St.)

$15 general / $10 Eastman students, faculty, and staff with ID


A finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music, Zohn-Muldoon’s Comala features legendary new-music soprano Tony Arnold with the Pittsburgh-based tenor and polymath Rob Frankenberry.  Performers include also University of Kentucky professor, guitarist Dieter Hennings; professors from Georgia State University and members of the Atlanta-based new music ensemble Bent Frequency, percussionist Stuart Gerber and saxophonist Jan Baker; and members of the world-touring Eastman BroadBand, a collective of students and recent graduates of the Eastman School of Music formed in 2007 by Zohn-Muldoon and fellow professor of composition Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez.  This ensemble of musicians will be conducted by Federico Garcia, Artistic Director and conductor of Alia Musica Pittsburgh.


PUSH Physical Theatre.  Seeing award-winning PUSH Physical Theatre is like watching a live action-movie. This talented group of performers inspires awe with physical illusions and gravity-defying, dance-infused, acrobatic high-jinx. You have NEVER seen anything like this before -- it’s cool, it’s athletic, it’s entertaining, it’s impossible to resist.  Founded in Rochester, New York in 2000 by husband-and-wife team Darren and Heather Stevenson out of a desire to “push” the boundaries of traditional theatre, the company has performed for theatres, festivals and events in the U.S., England, and Malta. They have been profiled on PBS and NPR. They received the Anton Germano Dance Award from the “Community of Color” and the Artist of the Year Award from the Arts & Cultural Council of Greater Rochester. It’s all about the stories. The narratives of our lives played out with hope, strength and optimism --- the strength of the human soul expressed by the power of the human body. PUSH’s repeated sold-out performances have established them as the masters of physical storytelling.

Choreography Concept

Darren Stevenson

Choreography Development and Performance

Darren Stevenson

Heather Stevenson

Jonathan Lowery

Avi Pryntz-Nadworny

Tom Ohl

Darren Stevenson, founding director/company member, PUSH Physical Theatre.  Darren Stevenson was born and raised in England and studied physical theatre at The Center in St. Louis, MO.  He co-created International Expression with his partner and wife Heather Stevenson. They toured the US and England and continued studying with Several Dancers Core in Atlanta, Pilobolus collaborator; Bill Wade in Cleveland and The Goldston & Johnson School for Mimes at Kenyon College. In 1997, the Stevensons founded the Studio School of the Arts. In 2010 Darren was invited to speak about PUSH’s unique artistic process at TEDx. Darren currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Rochester Fringe Festival

Heather Stevenson, founding director/company member PUSH Physical Theatre.  Heather Stevenson, a New Jersey native, co-created International Expression with partner and husband Darren Stevenson. In 2000, they founded PUSH Physical Theatre. Heather has been a teaching artist for the Monroe BOCES, Rochester and Buffalo school districts, Young Audiences, New Jersey’s Project Impact and Atypical Entertainment. In 2002, Heather developed PUSH Pins as the children’s division of PUSH and from a week-long pilot program for children ages 5-8, the camp has grown into an annual event.

Tony Arnold, soprano.  John Von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune writes “anything sung by soprano Tony Arnold is worth hearing.” Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold and powerful interpreter,” she has gained international acclaim for sparkling and insightful per- formances of the most daunting contemporary scores. In 2001, Ms. Arnold was thrust into the international spotlight when she became the only vocalist ever to be awarded first prize in the Gaudeamus International Interpreters Competition. On the heels of that triumph, she claimed first prize in the 15th Louise D. McMahon International Music Competition. Since that time, Ms. Arnold has established a reputation as a leading specialist in new vocal repertoire, receiving consistent critical accolades for her many recordings, as well as performances with groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, New York New Music Ensemble, Ensemble 21, eighth blackbird, Contempo, Orchestra of St. Lukes, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Fulcrum Point, and many others.

Rob Frankenberry, tenor.  The Pittsburgh-based tenor, pianist, and conductor Robert Frankenberry was born and raised in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where both his parents made music.  Robert holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Mercyhurst College and a Master’s Degree in Voice performance from Carnegie Mellon University.  His vocal instructors have included Louisa Jonason, John Shirley-Quirk, Judith Natalucci and Diana Walters.  At the piano, Robert Frankenberry is a member of the Pittsburgh-based IonSound Project, and has worked in various pianistic capacities for Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham College, the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.  As a pianist, he performs both standard and contemporary chamber music and has premiered more than 150 works by living composers.  Robert Frankenberry has filled faculty positions at several colleges and universities, most recently as instructor of voice and bassoon and director of orchestral studies at Mercyhurst College.  He lives in Lawrenceville and frequently travels for rehearsals and performances across the USA.

Federico Garcia, conductor.  Born in Colombia in 1978, Federico Garcia moved to the US in 2001 to pursue graduate studies in Composition and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh.  He has been Artistic Director of Alia Musica Pittsburgh since its inauguration in 2007, and is also Music Director of the East Liberty Community Engagement Orchestra and of Ensemble Ripieno.  His music has been performed throughout the world, from his native Colombia to Thailand, across the US, and most recently in Bulgaria and Mexico. He has shared stages with new music artists of the stature of Cliff Colnot, Lisa Kaplan, Robert Dick, George Tsontakis, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. His "Passacaglia on a theme by Bach" won first prize in the Colombian composition competition for symphony orchestra in 2001, and is recorded in the 2013 album "Orchestral Masterworks" of ABLAZE Records.

Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, composer.  Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon is Chair of the Composition Department at the Eastman School of Music, Zohn-Muldoon has in the past held positions at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of Guanajuato. Zohn-Muldoon’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center (Omar del Carlo Foundation), Camargo Foundation, Endowment for Culture and the Arts of Mexico, a Mozart Medal from the Embassy of Austria in México, and commissions from the Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer, the Barlow Foundation, and the US / Mexico Fund for Culture.