Alice Shields (born Alice F. Shields, Manhattan, New York, February 18, 1943) is an American classical composer. She is a respected electronic composer particularly known for her cross-cultural work in opera.
|Born||February 18, 1943|
Manhattan, New York, United States
|Genres||Electronic, Opera, instrumental, classical|
As a performer, Shields has been a professional opera singer, performing both traditional and modern roles with the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera At-The-Forum, Washington National Opera, Clarion Music Society, Wolf Trap Opera, the Lake George Opera Festival and other opera companies.
During the 1990s she intensively studied and performed South Indian Bharata Natyam dance-drama as a vocalist, performing nattuvangam, a form of South Indian rhythmic recitation with the Swati Bhise Bharata Natyam Dance Company, at venues including the United Nations, Asia Society and Wesleyan University. All Shields' compositions since 2000 reflect her immersion in Indian classical music and drama. Since 2016 Shields has been involved in the study of Noh theater.
Shields earned three degrees from Columbia University including the Doctor of Musical Arts in music composition, studying with Vladimir Ussachevsky, Jack Beeson, Otto Luening and Chou Wen-Chung. She served as Associate Director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and Director for Development of the Columbia University Computer Music Center. She has taught the psychology of Music as Professor of Psychology at New York University and lectures on the psychology of music at institutions including the Santa Fe Opera, CUNY Center for Developmental Neuroscience, International Society for Research on Emotion, American Psychological Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.
Shields' 2018 environmental opera "ZHAOJÜN - The Woman Who Saved the World" for soprano, baritone and seven instruments was performed in concert in November, 2018 by the Association for the Promotion of New Music at the Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City. In this opera, to end environmental destruction and create universal peace, Zhaojün steps out of ancient times into the 21st century to confront a character called The Emperor.  Shields' 2010 feminist opera Criseyde is a radical re-write of Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, and is sung in Middle English. It was performed in concert at the New York City Opera VOX Festival in May 2008.
Shields' work is published by the American Composers Alliance: composers
- JACK DUNNE'S’ REVENGE (1966) - opera in 1 act, for 2 singers & chamber orchestra; libretto & choreography by the composer in Middle English and Renaissance English, on the death-obsessed writings of John Donne & medieval English plays
- The ODYSSEY of ULYSSES the PALMIPED (Odyssey 1) (1968) - opera in 1 act for 2 singers, male chorus & 4 instruments; libretto by the composer based on Roger Gilbert-LeConte’s Dada play The Odyssey of Ulysses the Palmiped
- ODYSSEY 2 (1970) - opera in 1 act for 2 singers, male chorus, piano & percussion; libretto & choreography by the composer in Noh Theater style; based on the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Roger Gilbert-LeConte's Dada play "The Odyssey of Ulysses the Palmiped": two men aggress against each other
- ODYSSEY 3 (1975) - opera in 1 act for 2 singers, male chorus & 21-piece chamber orchestra; libretto & choreography by the composer in Noh Theater style; on language from the Homeric Odyssey: Odysseus meets his son Telemachos without recognizing him, and tricks him
- SHAMAN (1987) - opera in 1 act for 4 singers, chorus, 4 instruments & fixed audio media; libretto by the composer & Edward Barrett based on Native American shamanism
- WRAECCA (1989) - opera in 1 act for 3 singers, cello & piano, based on Gregorian Chant & Anglo-Saxon poems; libretto by the composer, in which the god Odin manages to sacrifice himself
- KOMACHI AT SEKIDERA (1990) - opera in 1 act for soprano, alto flute & koto; libretto by the composer based on the Noh play Sekidera Komachi
- MASS FOR THE DEAD (1992) - opera in 1 act for 4 singers, chorus, 4 instruments & fixed audio media; libretto by the composer set in Latin, Greek and English, based on a ghost story & the Requiem Mass
- SHIVATANZ (1993) - opera in 1 act for mezzo-soprano and fixed audio media; libretto by the composer based on traditional Sanskrit hymn to the god Shiva, and poem to Devi in Hindi by Shields
- APOCALYPSE (1994) - opera in 2 acts for 3 singers, chorus, dancers, electric guitar, electronic keyboard & fixed audio media; libretto by the composer based on Greek, Gaelic, and Sanskrit texts; choreography by the composer in Bharata Natyam style
- CRISEYDE (2010) - opera in 2 acts for 4 singers, ensemble of 3 singers & 14 solo instruments; the libretto by the composer is a feminist reworking of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, sung in Middle English.
- ZHAOJÜN - The Woman Who Saved the World (2018) - opera in 1 act for soprano, baritone & 7 instruments; libretto by the composer, inspired by ancient Chinese poetry & plays: to stop environmental destruction & create universal peace, Zhaojün steps out of ancient times into the 21st century to confront the Emperor, the modern ruler of the world.
Instrument and ElectronicsEdit
- Azure (2003) for flute, violin, viola, cello & fixed audio media, in Todi raga
- Mioritza — Requiem for Rachel Corrie (2004) for solo trombone & fixed audio media, with poem by Shields
- Kyrielle (2005) for solo violin and fixed audio media, based on Gregorian chants associated with the Virgin Mary.
- The River of Memory (2008) for solo trombone & fixed audio media
Vocal and InstrumentalEdit
- Two Amerindian Poems (1965) for 2 unaccompanied voices, on Native American poems
- Three Songs on Poems of Samuel Beckett (1965) for voice & cello
- Sow (as in“pig”) (1966) cantata for mezzo-soprano, baritone, 2 choruses & chamber ensemble, based on Medieval English mystery plays
- Wildcat Songs (1966) for soprano & piccolo, in English, based on Native American shaman's song
- Spring Music (1967) for soprano, trumpet & oboe, on poem of Ronald Johnson
- The Storyteller (1967) cantata for bass-baritone and orchestra, on Native American story
- Richard III: Speeches for Male Actor, Trumpet and Drum (1968) incidental music for Shakespeare’s “Richard III”
- Incidental Music for Solo Singer in Strindberg’s “The Father” (1968) incidental music for theater
- Neruda Songs (1981) for soprano & cello, in English, on poems of Pablo Neruda
- Levertov Songs (1986) for mezzo-soprano & viola, on poems by Denise Levertov
- Aurora (1987) for violin & oboe
- Ave (1989) music-drama in one act for unaccompanied mezzo-soprano & baritone
- Rani tero (2002) for alto, four viols & tambura, on traditional poem in Hindi, in raga Puria Dhaneshri
- From the Ocean of Beauty - Saundarya Lahari (2006) for flute, viola & harp
- Hindustani Songs (2013) three songs for soprano & piano, on traditional Indian melodies
- Namasté (2013) for mezzo-soprano & piano, on traditional Indian poem
- Larynx (2018) for piccolo, piano & three percussionists
- The Wind in the Pines (2018) for soprano, alto recorder, alto flute, Renaissance bray harp, oud & percussion(1), based on the Noh play Matsukaze; commissioned by Chamber Music America
Electronic / Fixed Audio MediaEdit
- Electronic Cues for Sam Shepard’s Radio Plays “Icarus” and “4-H Club" (1966) directed by Sam Shepard & Omar Shapli, with featured actor Joseph Chaikin, for Riverside Radio (WRVR)
- Electronic Cues for Robert Ward’s opera “The Crucible” (1966) composed assisting Vladimir Ussachevsky, with Shields’ electronically-manipulated singing voice, for performances at the Lake George Opera Festival
- Walking on the Surface of the Sun (1967) electronic music
- My Feathers are Growing Longer (1967) electronic music for modern dance
- Electronic Cues to Marvin Levy’s opera “Mourning Becomes Electra” (1967) composed assisting Vladimir Ussachevsky, for the Metropolitan Opera premiere at Lincoln Center of Marvin Levy’s opera “Mourning Becomes Electra”, using Shields’ electronically-manipulated singing voice; conducted by Zubin Mehta
- Line of Apogee (1967) electronic film score composed with Vladimir Ussachevsky & Pril Smiley for the psychedelic film “Line of Apogee” by Lloyd Williams
- Incredible Voyage (1967) the first feature-length electronic music score for television; composed with Vladimir Ussachevsky, Otto Luening & Pril Smiley for CBS-TV documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite
- The Witches’ Scenes from Macbeth (1968) electronic incidental music for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Conn.), directed by John Houseman
- Study for Voice and Tape (1969) Shields' recorded voice sings; on poem by Shields
- The Transformation of Ani (1970) Shields' recorded voice chants and sings from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
- We (1970) electronic score for radio play of Yevgeny Zamiatin’s 1920’s futurist novel, for the Canadian Broadcasting System, composed with Vladimir Ussachevsky
- Farewell to a Hill (1975) bells, the cries of mallard ducks and electronic sounds; the first quadraphonic recording of electronic music (released by Atlantic Records)
- Incidental Music for “Woyzeck” for Four Actor-Singers (1988) theatrical incidental music for Georg Büchner’s play “Woyzeck"
- The Red Woman (An Bean Rua) (1993) for female actor & fixed audio media; English & recorded Irish poem by Shields
- The Lament of the Fairies (Port Na bPucai) (1993) fixed audio with recorded voice singing in Irish; from the West Coast of Ireland
- Snow (1993) for male actor & fixed audio media; on the poem “Snow,” by Greg Muirhead; the live narrator speaks of a homeless man frozen to death in the snow
- Hier Spukt Es, Fragile Breakfast, and Sparkling Brains: Three Animations created on Macromedia Director and KPT Bryce" (1995-1996) poems and graphics by Alice Shields
- Vegetable Karma (1999) in Todi raga, with sounds sampled from hiphop
- Dust (2001) in Madhuwanti raga & Todi raga, with traditional Bharata Natyam jethi-s (rhythmic cycles
- Shenandoah (2002) for modern dance, based on oral histories of recent immigrants to the Shenandoah Valley
- The Mud Oratorio (2003) for modern dance, on two Nature Conservancy swamps
- White Heron Dance (2017) for Noh Theater dancer, based on the Japanese Sa-gi Mai ritual: a human being experiences a moment of union with the sounds of nature
- Farewell to a Hill, Atlantic Records (Finnadar), the first quadraphonic recording of electronic music - 1975
- Wildcat Songs, Opus One Records #13 Stephanie Kurash, soprano; Paul Dunkel, piccolo - 1976
- Neruda Songs, Opus One Records #83 Johanna Arnold, soprano; Andre Emilianoff, cello - 1983
- Coyote, Composers Recordings Inc. CRI#495 From the electronic opera SHAMAN, with Shields' voice - 1984
- Voices, Tellus #22 Created on the SUN computer, using sampled Gregorian chant - 1988
- Rhapsody for Piano and Tape, Opus One Records #94 Yolanda Liepa, piano - ?
- Line of Apogee, New World Records #80389, composed assisting Vladimir Ussachevsky - 1991
- El's Aria, Opus One records #90, aria for soprano, flute and fixed audio media from the opera SHAMAN - ?
- Apocalypse - An Electronic Opera New World Records #NWCR647, with Michael Willson, baritone; Alice Shields, mezzo-soprano & Jim Matus, electric guitar - 1993
- Study for Voice and Tape, Dance Piece No.3, New World Records #80521, sung by Shields - 1997
- Komachi at Sekidera", Koch International Classics #3-7503-2111 - ?
- The Transformation of Ani", New World Records #80644 (digital re-issue from 1970)- 2006
- Organ Screaming & Dawn Wind, New World Records #NWCR670, from the opera Apocalypse, sung by Shields - 2007
- Shenandoah - Three Electronic Works Albany Records #TROY699 - 2004
- The Transformation of Ani, New World Records #NWCRL268 - 2010
- Kyrelle, Albany Records #TROY1305, for violin & fixed audio media, with Airi Yoshioka, violin
- White Heron Dance, ACA Recordings #USA-ACA193428351646; based on the Japanese Sa-gi Mai ritual: a human being experiences a moment of union with the sounds of nature - 2018
- "America's Women Composers: Up from the Footnotes". Author(s): Jeannie G. Pool. Source: Music Educators Journal, Vol. 65, No. 5, (Jan., 1979), pp. 28-41. Published by: MENC: The National Association for Music Education. Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3395571. Accessed: 27 June 2008 16:44.
- "Columbia Composers". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved July 5, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "American Music Center". American Music Center. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Spotlight on VOX: Alice Shields". New York City Opera. 2009. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved May 23, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Alice Shields official site
- Alice Shields page from American Music Center site
- Video Archive
- "Women in Sound Art: Seven Musical Micro-Portraits"
- "Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States: Crossing the Line " by Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner
- "The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center"
- "Women and music technology: pioneers, precedents and issues in the United States"