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OUR Monthly NewsLetter - JULY 2023

What’s Ahead for Alliance for New Music-Theatre in 2023?

As we continue to develop major productions of new works in 2023, we work to amplify our commitment to foster professional development and collaborative opportunities of artists across cultures and to engage audiences in the creative process across all our programs to promote a deeper understanding of the transformative power of music-theatre in its many forms.

We are also embarking on a series of monthly community workshops and a Composer-Librettist Studio that can advance our projects and bring the greater community into the excitement of process and the art of collaboration.

         Ukrainian Play Readings   

              Alliance for New Music-Theatre        

Joins The Worldwide Ukrainian Play Readings Project

Featuring Music by Ken Burns’ collaborator Pianist Jacqueline Schwab

   Directed by Susan Galbraith and Matty Griffiths     

In May we launched the first of our planned series of public readings of selected short works by Ukrainian playwrights at Dumbarton UMC in the heart of Georgetown. The plays were translated from Ukrainian and co-directed by Artistic Director Susan Galbraith and Matty Griffiths.


The success of this debut reading earned the company an invitation to reprise the work as a special event and part of DC Capital Fringe Festival on Wednesday, July 19 at 8:00 p.m. at The Rind – 1025 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007. (This venue is located across the street from 1050 Thomas Jefferson St. NW which features three additional Fringe theatre venues. The entrance will be from the East entrance which is on 30th Street.)

Hope you can join us for this unique Fringe event!

Featured  actors in  this summer’s special performance include seven-time Helen Hayes Award nominee Michael Kevin Darnall (partially of Ukrainian heritage,) who has starred in most of the area’s major theaters, most recently in Arena’s Angels in America and Mosaic’s One in Two and Gyöngyvér Bognár, film and theater superstar from Hungary, who, newly immigrated with her husband Janos Szász, joins our growing community with other refugees from war-torn or otherwise repressed nations and she made her DC debut in this project, along with ten-year old son Jakob. Alliance company member Veronica del Cerro, returning to us from Spain, Emily Morrison, DC based actor and ED of the Studio Acting Conservatory, and Matty Griffiths, from a homegrown American military family, rounds out this international cast! He will also assist in co-directing the project with Artistic Director Susan Galbraith.

​In this project, Alliance for New Music-Theatre joins in solidarity with Phil Arnoult’s Center for International Theatre Development (CITD), which commissioned a host of plays since Putin’s army invaded Ukraine for their Ukrainian Hope Initiative, and John Freedman, a translator and friend of so many of the country’s leading theatre artists. We applaud their efforts to support playwrights in war-torn Ukraine. The event is free, but donations are encouraged, and all proceeds will go through CITD to support Ukrainian theatre artists directly.

Subsequent readings to follow in the fall. All readings will include a post-show conversation to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle more than a year into this war of Russian aggression and keep our Ukrainian friends and allies in our hearts.

To learn more about the project, including how you can support Ukrainian artists and to host an additional Ukrainian Play Readings event, go to Ukrainian Play Readings (


Composer-Librettist Studio

On Saturday, June 3, five composers, five librettists, five performers, two facilitators, and a handful of our skilled administrators met in the dance studio of the UDC Performing Arts Building for the first of a transformational 16 days together as participants in the inaugural DC Composer-Librettist Studio. With widely varying backgrounds, ages, experience levels, and interests, we sat in a circle and nervously fingered water bottles and coffee cups as we shared our assumptions about music-theater, nodding knowingly at the many overlaps and absorbing with appreciation jarring differences in our thoughts. Though none of us – not even creator and facilitator Ben Krywosz, Artistic Director of Nautilus Music-Theater nor experienced Music Director Sonja Thompson – could be certain what the next two weeks would hold, we had already found in each other a common drive to discover, name, and express universal experiences through the metaphor of music-theater, and the reckless vulnerability to strive for this in the critical gaze of our peers.

​The Studio focuses on the process of collaboration through a series of brief exploratory assignments for the writers and composers. Over the course of the Studio, each composer was paired with each librettist to form 25 discrete combinations of artists and create 25 original works of music-theater. Each is presented by a pre-determined performer (or group of performers) who is experiencing the work for the first time along with an audience of studio participants. This cold read, while daunting for the performer, reveals to the creators difficulties that performers encounter with their works, whether with text setting, a difficult melodic interval, scansion, or even setting a mood. Following a short work session with Sonja, performers present the piece to the studio, and all participants have the opportunity to share reactions, ask questions, and give suggestions. The participants rotate partners, and the process is repeated four more times. Within the two and half week period, all composers work with all writers and all performers.  With less than 48 hours to produce each piece, creators and performers alike understand that these are sketches, not finished works, and the focus remains on building skills of collaboration.


The final day centered around a public presentation of all the sketches produced in the Studio. As family members and supporters, ANMT board members, and Music-Theater aficionados packed the small dance studio, administrators had to bring in more chairs to accommodate all the attendees. After a performance that met with unmitigated enthusiasm, tears, and laughter, all of the participants met to debrief the weeks-long experience. Each had a unique perspective to share, but the longer we talked, the more central themes emerged of growth, community, and support.

One participant commented “If I had been part of the original CLS in 1994, I would have been a better writer and collaborator. It has changed my life.”

Another offered “I never realized I’d learn these things and absorb so many great concepts.”

Performers shared “I have gone from being simply a singer to a performer and storyteller. You don’t learn this in other conventional programs and conservatories… It was a magical experience.”

All participants emerged with a renewed commitment to the craft, as well as the confidence of a committed network of sustaining supporters, energized and well equipped to advance the field of New Music-Theater.

“This studio wonderfully destroyed my preconceptions of all art, entertainment, and storytelling,” summarized one participant, “The tools [I learned here]. were craft-changing for me.”


The Afghan Women’s Project continues with

Afghan Women: In Our Own Voices

A Performance at the One Journey Festival in Celebration of Afghan Women and their Arts

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Some of our company dancers performed as part of the

 One Journey Festival at the Washington Cathedral on Saturday, June 24. 

Afghan singer, musician and educator Humayun Khan accompanied the group on the harmonium with several dances and songs, including The Pomegranates of Khandar, a new composition from our original music-theatre work, Women of Troy: Voices from Afghanistan.

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For many, practicing and preserving these art forms seem out of reach, certainly for women in Afghanistan who are forbidden to attend  school and many even to go out of their homes. New Music-Theatre wishes to support Afghan women and here, in the diaspora, to give a platform for their voices and stories to be celebrated and shared. These workshops are specifically designed as a cross-cultural experience for Afghan women and local female artists who wish to support and learn more about the traditional music of Afghanistan.


We invite Afghan women living in the DMV, who want to reconnect with their cultural roots to join us as we support keeping the music alive in this series of free workshops. 



Tribute to Robert Darling: A Man of Distinction and Many Firsts

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In Spring of 1994, Robert Darling joined with his friends and colleagues Opera Stage Director Wesley Balk, Conductor and Music Director Henry Holt, and Director and Master Teacher Ben Krywosz to offer in the nation’s capital its first Composer-Librettist Studio. Fifteen artists were invited to participate in what would become for many a life-changing experience. Out of this, Alliance for New Music-Theatre was born. Darling became its de facto inspirational head and joined the Board of Directors to serve as Vice President. He rolled off this summer to be voted in unanimously as our first named Emeritus member and will continue to assist in the development of the company’s strategic plan. (Photo on right with Board President, Melinda Murray and Artistic Director, Susan Galbraith at our annual Board Meeting in June.)

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Our company is not the only beneficiary of Robert’s vision and meticulous acumen. His work both as a Designer and Director of opera has been featured in Europe and across the US since the late 1950’s. His designs have included collaborations with Weiland Wagner and production of Salome and Lohengrin, both of which were mounted later both at San Francisco and Chicago’s Lyric Opera. He designed sets for Francis Ford Coppola’s foray into opera and was a friend and collaborator with Sheldon Harnick, one of America’ most successful Broadway musical lyricists, with whom he collaborated on Coyote Tales and a long-time project that was to feature Lady Bird Johnson and her trip through the South.

Robert also served with Steve Sondheim, Hal Prince, and Conrad Sousa on a panel of the then robust National Endowment of the Arts, when these singular gentlemen took up the battle cry to force the institution to break down the barriers between those working in the opera and musical worlds as well as the new multi-media experiments of music-theater. 

Darling was ever a radical, pushing boundaries for what opera could be. In 1978 and his first year as Artistic Director of Central City Opera, he announced he wanted to feature more living composers than dead ones.  He made good on that promise and also pushed opera outside of the traditional vast halls as one of the first to produce site-specific opera. The Face on the Barroom Floor with composer Henry Mollicone, staged in the Face Bar of downtown Central City, has become the stuff of legends.


This past Spring, another of his shepherded works, Floral Arrangements, by the composer Alva Henderson, received its second production, remounted by Alliance for New Music-Theatre. A “Pocket Opera” of only five minutes in length brought people outside in the April sunshine to the Spanish Steps in the heart of Dupont-Kalorama in a splendid ode to spring, daffodils and love. 

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Ukrainian Play Reading - Wednesday, July 19  @ 7:30 pm at the Capital Fringe Festival

Live & About 2023 Fall Season

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