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Spotlight Sunday Feature - Timothy Peterson and Sara Fetherolf

Hello HOTOpera Fans! We hope you've enjoyed the return of our Spotlight Sunday series. We can't believe that our 10th annual New in November festival is almost ONE MONTH away. We hope you've purchased your tickets and plan to join us for our festival performance on Sunday, November 17 at the Cathedral House at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Hartford. Today we're happy to introduce the creative minds behind our next NIN opera: The Séance. We hope you enjoy learning about composer, Timothy Peterson, librettist, Sara Fetherolf, and what Opera for the 22nd Century means to them.


Driven by a constant curiosity, composer TIMOTHY PETERSON (b. 1994) draws on a kaleidoscope of influences. Finding inspiration in sources ranging from impressionist, jazz, and classical Arabic styles to literature from the French- and Spanish-speaking worlds, he aims to welcome audiences into musical narratives of genre-crossing expressivity.

Timothy’s music has been performed in the US, Europe, and Australia at venues ranging from art galleries and distilleries to concert halls such as Lincoln Center.

Ensembles that have presented Timothy’s music include the New York Philharmonic, yMusic, Sō Percussion, Duo Cortona, ThreeForm, One Ounce Opera, and Hartford Opera Theater. His Duet for Body Percussion (2015), which features an original notational system, is incorporated into introductory composition classes at the Mannes School of Music and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Timothy has been awarded residencies at Blue Mountain Center, Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and is a frequent participant in festivals including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, the Silk Road Ensemble’s Global Musician Workshop, and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. Timothy holds a MM in Composition from the University of Southern California and undergraduate degrees in composition and comparative literature from the University of Michigan, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Timothy has studied under Sean Friar, Frank Ticheli, Kristin Kuster, Evan Chambers, Paul Schoenfeld, Erik Santos, Andrea Mazzariello, David Conte, Narcís Bonet, and Kyle Blaha. As a pianist, he has studied under Alan Smith, Martin Katz, Christian Matijas-Mecca, Matthew Bengtson, Amy I-Lin Cheng, and Wilma Machover. Timothy has also studied Carnatic (South Indian) singing in Mysore under Rajalakshi Kamala, Afro-Cuban batá drumming in Havana under Octavio Rodríguez Rivera, and the qanun (Arabic zither) in Tangier under Mohamed El Harzli. His studies in Morocco were generously supported by the University of Michigan Honors and Islamic Studies Programs. Timothy is a self-publishing member of ASCAP.

Here is what Timothy wants you to know about his opera: The Séance

The Séance is my first opera scene, and my second collaboration with poet Sara Fetherolf. (Our first was a song cycle for soprano and piano entitled Harp My Bones.) Our scene is set in an era when Spiritualism was in vogue and the wealthy enjoyed experimentation with the occult. During our writing process, Sara and I were interested in exploring the following questions: what would it mean if we viewed death as something that concerns more than humans in the present, especially our loved ones? What if we considered the deaths of strangers from the distant past and honored death as a phenomenon that affects the natural world as well, especially due to human activity? How might we change if we thought of our inheritance as broader than our immediate family tree?

Here's what Timothy had to say about Opera for the 22nd Century:

As a composer, I’m excited by the rising popularity of chamber opera. I’ve always loved chamber music. When an ensemble of performers is small enough that you can focus on each member – so closely that you can see their facial expressions – I think you start to feel a personal connection not only to the musicians onstage but also the composer’s message or voice. When this kind of intimacy is paired with the storytelling power of vocal music, I think the result is incredibly engaging and meaningful. I’m also excited by contemporary opera’s interest in interdisciplinarity and cross-genre work. When I go to see an opera today, I’m thrilled knowing that I may well be equally awed by music, light design, projections, and choreography.


SARA O. FETHEROLF is a poet, essayist, storyteller & witch. She was born in Southern California, raised in Tornado Country, and came of age amidst the back roads and abandoned factories of western New Jersey. She is the winner of an Academy of American Poets University Prize and the Cloudbank Poetry Prize, and she was recently a runner up for prizes from Able Muse, Gulf Coast, and Crab Creek. She holds an MFA degree from Hunter College, and is currently a Dornsife Fellow in the PhD for Literature and Creative Writing at University of Southern California. She lives in Long Beach, next to a half-tamed stretch of the Pacific Ocean.

To learn more about Sara, please visit her website:


Thank you so much for tuning in to our Opera for the 22nd Century blog! We hope you enjoyed Timothy Peterson and Sara Fetherolf's spotlights this week! Watch our social media pages this week for more fun facts about our composer, librettist, and our second opera: The Séance. We hope to see on Sunday, November 17 for what is sure to be the HOTTEST opera event of the season. Purchase your tickets and tell a friend about NIN10 today.

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