Swimming Upstream, a chamber opera in four scenes, explores water, our emotional connection to water and rivers and streams. It is a reaction to what humans have done to the planet – dammed streams and rivers, upended ecosystems, contaminated drinking water. Composer Sheree Clement reached out to me in Fall of 2017. She read The President’s Salmon while conducting research for the piece, which focuses on the Androscoggin River, and wanted to use an excerpt. “I chose to focus on the Androscoggin because my father’s family is from around Rumford, Livermore Falls and North Turner and the river was kind of a backbone of the geography, as my grandfather described it,” Clement told me. “In the 1960s when we visited in summer, Grandpa who had grown up loving the river, now couldn’t bear to look at it because of the pollution.”
Swimming Upstream premiered on October 20, 2018 at The Church-in-the-Gardens in Forest Hills, New York, part of a Musica Reginae program, “a concert of new music by New York composers for voice and ensemble inspired by Catherine Schmitt, James Joyce, Duke Ellington and Thelonius Monk.” Pretty sure this is the one and only time my name and these names will ever be in the same sentence!
Check Sheree Clement’s website for upcoming performances.