Synopsis

Music by Erin Huelskamp, Libretto by Christie Lee Gibson.  The Ten-Block Walk follows Mrs. Otis across town as she journeys from her home to the local senior center.  This is a piece about being present.  About taking time and taking in your surroundings, and responding to them.  About persistence in the face of pain and obstacles and handicap.  About understanding that when you achieve your goals, often after great physical and mental exertion, it doesn’t always look or feel like you think it’s going to.  It’s about learning to accept that disjuncture and to pursue goals regardless and to enjoy the journey and what ends up happening through the continuous results of the effort. 


Through her journey,
The Ten-Block Walk addresses a number of “Scylla and Charybdis” human fears: fear of death and fear of the wearing down of the body that comes with aging, fear of the other and fear of being alone, fear of being taken advantage of and fear of not giving enough, of being in the way and of not being noticed.  Our central character experiences all of them, but does not let them cripple her. 

Each block is a world and movement unto itself:


The Neighbor
The Major Intersection
The Pan-Handlers
The Playground
The College Students
The Pigeons
The Graveyard
The Dunkin’ Donuts
The Busker
The Arrival
Cast

Still in the midst of development, The Ten-Block walk can be performed with 5-19 performers, depending on doubling choices. Mrs. Otis is the only part that cannot be doubled as she is on-stage during the entire opera.


Mrs. Otis, mezzo-soprano
Neighbor, soprano
Pan-Handlers, a quartet: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone
Young Girls, two sopranos and one mezzo-soprano
Students, a quartet: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone
Dunkin’ Donuts Worker, tenor
Receptionist, soprano
Instructor, mezzo-soprano


Instrumentation

The piece will be orchestrated for a small ensemble, including:

Violin
Double Bass
Clarinet
Accordion
Percussion

Creators

Erin Huelskamp, composer/director Erin Huelskamp,
composer


Energetic, hardworking and enigmatic, Erin Huelskamp, composer/director, creates dramatic and comical music that often reflects a philosophical twist on her daily experiences. Co-founder and executive director of the Juventas New Music Ensemble, Ms. Huelskamp voraciously promotes new music – especially by amazing unknown composers – and she strives to draw ever new audiences to the sounds of the 21st century. Marked by Chamber Music Today as “the only realistic response” to the “the state of affairs in this country”, Ms. Huelskamp combines entrepreneurship, theatre and music to motivate change.

Ms. Huelskamp’s compositions elicit numerous awards and performances. Noted as “startling revelatory” and “electrifying”, recent accolades include the Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Prize, special recognition from the New York Youth Symphony First Music 23, and third place at the Music Teachers National Association Student Composition Competition. Ms. Huelskamp has had the privilege of performances both nationally and internationally, including such venues as L’Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, France, Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College in Maine, the Interlochen Acadamy of the Arts in Michigan, Bard University in New York, the University of Missouri-Columbia, Harvard University, and many more.

Shortly after the completion of her first opera, Ms. Huelskamp delved into directing theatrical works. Her production of Little Women with the Wakefield Reportory Theatre won a DASH award for Best Actress, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change with the TCAN Players was nominated for a DASH award for Best Ensemble. Her staging of the world premiere opera Light and Power won second place in the Professional Division of the National Opera Association’s video competition, and her setting of Der Zwerg with OperaHub took special notice in The Boston Globe. Additional, favorite directing credits include Candide with Harvard University’s Lowell House Opera, Aida with the Performing Arts Connection, and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown with Beyond the Fourth Wall.

Trained as a classical dancer for 16 years, Ms. Huelskamp began composing at the age of ten with no musical training. In 2000 she pursued studies in music at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she earned a Bachelor of Music in both composition and flute performance; she studied composition with Thomas McKenney and Stefan Freund and flute with Steven Geibel. In 2007, Ms. Huelskamp completed a Master of Music in Composition from the Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Andy Vores, Dana Brayton, and later Ken Ueno. She currently studies acting with Bobbie Steinbach.

Ms. Huelskamp maintains a private teaching studio in addition to serving as a certified teacher at the Performing Arts Connection in Sudbury and professor of music theory at Boston College. Currently, she resides in Brighton, Massachusetts. (www.ErinHuelskamp.com)
Christie Lee Gibson, 
librettist
 
Christie Lee Gibson is an actress, opera singer, and creator / producer / director / coach of musical-theatrical happenings.  Her favorite pieces to work on are ones that blur the boundaries between different performing genres, especially ones that move the audience to tears of sorrow or tears of laughter.  

Ms. Gibson’s primary artistic affiliations are with the Fort Point Theatre Channel, where she regularly acts in, directs, and produces events, and OperaHub, of which she has been a resident company member.  Highlights in performing with those groups have been the dance theatre evening Memories and Fantasies, the play Sunday with Joy, the farce for opera singers The Four-Note Opera, and the opera Der Zwerg.  This past holiday season she worked in her first Equity production with the Hanover Theatre’s annual A Christmas Carol.  Other recent performances have been with the Falmouth Chorale, Juventas New Music Ensemble, Apollinaire Theatre, Opera Providence, and 11:11 Theatre.  She has sung numerous times with the First Works Providence Festival, in the main-stage event Seven Veils, and on concerts with Pixilerations and FirstWorks Kids.  Last summer she was invited back to the Franco-American Vocal Academy to assistant direct La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein.  The previous year there she played the title character in Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers and sang in concerts of music by Saint-Saëns, Gounod, Poulenc, and the contemporary composer Isabelle Aboulker.  Ms. Gibson has enjoyed creating roles in workshops of the new musicals College/BoundThe Caitlin County Hemp Wars, Molasses Panty Town, and the rock-infused Pentacostal Church opera Holy Ghosts, as well as re-creating the role of Avigail in a new English translation of the Yiddish operetta Shulamis.

Ms. Gibson received her B.A. in Theatre Arts from Brown University and interned at the Paris Opera’s Atelier Lyrique through the study abroad program Internships in Francophone Europe.  Once-upon-a-time she was the editor-in-chief of her high school’s literary magazine and participated in the Wang Center’s prestigious Writer’s in Residence program.  (www.ChristieLeeGibson.com)