Photo by Justin Briggs
Britt Orchestra presents world premiere song cycle inspired by Oregon Poet Laureate Peter Sears

July 8, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, OR — Music Director Teddy Abrams and the Britt Festival Orchestra will perform the world premiere of Bull Frogs Croon, a song cycle composed by Aoife O’Donovan, Jeremy Kittel and Abrams, on Friday, August 7. The piece is based on the poetry of Oregon Poet Laureate Peter Sears, and is written for orchestra and solo vocals, guitar and violin. This concert is part of Britt’s three-week Classical Festival, which takes place on the former hillside home of Gold Rush-era pioneer Peter Britt, in the historic and scenic town of Jacksonville, located in southern Oregon.

Aoife (pronounced EE-fah) O’Donovan says that she, Abrams and Kittel began working on the piece several months ago, and decided to use pre-existing text as their basis. She says, “When Teddy suggested Peter Sears, I was intrigued. I had seen his name before, but hadn’t spent time with his work. I purchased a copy of Small Talk, his latest collection, and was moved to tears. The songs basically wrote themselves, and we are so honored to be premiering this work at Britt, with Peter in the audience.”

Britt’s Music Director and Conductor Teddy Abrams says, “I’ve been tremendously fortunate to work with Aoife and Jeremy – they are some of the most talented and naturally gifted musicians I know. This is the kind of work that I want to take to every orchestra I conduct.”

Sears will be in the audience for the premiere, and will also participate in the pre-concert talk hosted by Jefferson Public Radio, along with O’Donovan, at 7 p.m. in the Performance Garden. The concert will begin at 8 p.m., and features an all-American program with other works by O’Donovan and Kittel, along with works by Charles Ives, George Antheil and Aaron Copland.

This world premiere is part of the three-week Classical Festival, which begins July 31 with the opening night performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana. Abrams will lead the Britt Orchestra in seven concerts, with highlights including the first Britt performance Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, the Dover Quartet performing John Adams’ Absolute Jest, with the composer in the audience, violinist James Ehnes, composer and electronic musician Mason Bates, a Symphony Pops concert with vocalist Morgan James, and an all-orchestral concert featuring Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe Suite. The Classical Festival also includes chamber concerts and free children’s concerts. For full program information, tickets and more, visit www.brittfest.org/classical.

About Peter Sears
Peter Sears was named the Oregon Poet Laureate in 2014. A graduate of Yale and the Iowa Writers Workshop, he has taught at Reed College in Portland, and has served as Dean of Students at Bard College, community services coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission, and director of the Oregon Literary Coalition. He currently teaches in the Pacific MFA department, and splits his time between Corvallis and Portland. Sears’ work has appeared in the Saturday Review, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor and Rolling Stone, as well as in literary magazines such as Field, New Letters, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Antioch Review, Ploughshares and Seneca Review.

About Aoife O’Donovan
Aoife O’Donovan (pronounced “EE-fah”) is known for her ethereal vocals and substantive songwriting. Her powerful performances continue to garner her praise in the folk and roots worlds. After graduating from the New England Conservatory, she spent the better part of a decade as the lead singer and principal songwriter of Crooked Still, which grew into an acclaimed progressive string group. She has appeared in many other collaborations, including the Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions alongside Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan.

In 2013, she released her solo debut, Fossils, which received critical acclaim and was declared a “must listen” by Rolling Stone. In 2015, she joined vocalists Sara Watkins and Sarah Jarosz for the “I’m With Her” tour.

About Jeremy Kittel
Jeremy Kittel has earned a reputation as one of the most exceptional violinists and fiddlers of his generation. With tremendous musicality; a rare mastery of styles as diverse as jazz, Scottish and Irish fiddle, bluegrass, classical music, and more; a unique compositional voice, and an “exhilarating stage presence” (Strings Magazine), Kittel inspires listeners and fans worldwide through his solo work and collaborations.

As a leader, he performs with his own Jeremy Kittel Band, as well as in intimate duo and trio formats, and also as a soloist with orchestras. In collaboration, he is frequently called upon by artists in a variety of genres, including My Morning Jacket, Jars of Clay, Mark O’Connor, Abigail Washburn, Camera Obscura, Béla Fleck and more. He also recently completed a five-year full time position in the Grammy-winning Turtle Island String Quartet.

Tickets for the August 7 concert are on sale now, along with the full 2015 Classical Festival lineup. For full information about Britt’s 2015 season and membership, visit www.brittfest.org or call 541-773-6077 or 1-800-882-7488. Britt’s box office is now open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday at 216 West Main St. in Medford.

Inspired by its intimate and scenic hillside venue, Britt Music & Arts Festival provides diverse live performances, an incomparable classical festival and dynamic education programs that create a sense of discovery and community. Since its grassroots beginnings in 1963, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival to a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week Classical Festival, and year-round education and engagement programs. For more information, visit brittfest.org.