Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Little Things

I got a call this morning from our magnificent orchestrator, as I do every morning before she begins work on another tune. Even though we’ve gone though the score, she always takes the time to ask any questions that may clarify her orchestral ideas about the particular song she sets out to work on that day. Now I should preface this, I come from a background heavily weighted and influenced by music theory. She, in addition to being a brilliant musician, having studied as a classical pianist, is no stranger to analysis. But her question about a particular harmony really struck a chord (bad pun).

The Memory Show is not necessarily characterized as a conventional Musical Theatre score. Some songs have pan-tonal aspects and some use straightforward harmonic progressions. The piece as a whole uses and develops themes to drive the dramatic arc of the show. However, sometimes when I write I: 1) write without knowing what the hell it is theoretically and 2) over complicate. On the former, I think that’s ok sometimes. You like the sound, write it down. But this was unnecessarily weird and unstable in a song that is dramatically and tonally stable.   Also, interestingly enough, this is a song that has been performed many times outside the context of the show and hasn’t changed a note since our first draft and no one ever mentioned this particular harmony (not that it was any one’s responsibility to, just was interesting).  On the phone she patiently waited while I figured out how it was supposed to function and I, unsurprisingly, discovered that she was totally correct. It was a pretty thin and unfulfilled (or I suppose unresolved) tritone substitution (so that the two bars should be acting as II-V that deceptively resolves to IV as the tune continues).

In order to make this not only more stable and clear, but also to complement the overall goal of creating a more groove based tune I decided to simplify and go straight from II-V(susb9) and then walk the bass down to Ab through an altered Am7.

Nothing groundbreaking, just a small example, not only of how great collaboration can be, but how a piece is never done, just finished for now.







Roopler at NYU

Posted: May 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past Friday, May 11th, Sara and I had the extraordinary pleasure of presenting a staged reading of our first triptych of chamber operas.

Breakfast, A Light Lunch and Dinner began when director Noah Himmelstein approached us about a possible operatic collaboration. Noah and I met whilst working on Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s grand opera The Grapes of Wrath (Noah was the assistant director and I was assisting Ricky and producer Ed Barnes). Shortly after Noah read about Sara and my musical The Memory Show and we met again at a benefit for The Transport Group and we began to discuss a possible collaboration. At first it was only supposed to be one opera (Breakfast) but soon we discovered an idea for a companion piece (Dinner) AND THEN whilst attending the John Duffy Institute at the Virginia Arts Festival to work on Breakfast, Michael Korie (who happened to be there too) said, “but what about Lunch?” Thus the triptych was born. The trick would be to find a place to work on these pieces and present them to an audience.

For the past eight years or so my life has pretty much centered around Washington Square Park, that is, NYU. Without going into too much detail, I received my undergraduate degree in historical/theoretical musicology from NYU’s College of Arts and Sciences, my Masters in Musical Theatre Writing from Tisch and am now adjunct at Steinhardt as a vocal coach and accompanist in addition to teaching a few classes at Tisch. NYU is where I met my wife and where Sara and I began working together. So naturally, I figured I might as well start my search there.

I approached Bill Wesbrooks, head of the Vocal Performance Department at Steinhardt about the idea, he loved it, and Sarah Schlessinger at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program agreed to house the performance in their black box. After some scheduling issues and some technical details worked out, Sara and I signed on as Adjuncts to teach an “Advanced Opera Workshop” focusing on teaching a select group of extremely talented students how to approach new work. The idea of workshopping/producing new operas is an extremely recent (and yet extremely old) and not very widely dispersed phenomenon. The “Canon” is so pervasive and dogmatic that Universities and, more unfortunately, young artist programs at opera houses have become inefficient factories, pumping out singers on conveyor belts with little to no regard for Opera as an evolving or newly created art form. Of course there are many exceptions and oases of support for new work (Minnesota, Santa Fe, Houston, Indiana University, University of Colorado at Boulder and most pervasively, at least in training for writing both musical theatre/opera, NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program to name a few). However, I digress. (I plan on writing in more detail on this in a future article.) The point is, NYU Steinhardt took a bold chance in hiring Sara and me to work on these operas with their students and the outcome was a complete success.

Not only did the students feel that they were offered an experience they had never had either in their tenure at NYU or at their respective undergraduate universities, but the faculty loved the opportunity for their students. Most were extremely impressed with the students growth in the areas of musicality and acting ability, but even more so in the idea that a new piece could be written to support their teaching of healthy vocal technique and appropriate and accurate casting, other traits so rarely thought about in new work both on the composition and performance level. (This will be covered in yet another article I have planned on the training, or lack there of, of composers in the art of writing for the voice and writing for the stage.) On the flip side, Sara and I learned from and were inspired by their eagerness to work, grow and explore their untapped creativity.

More Universities should take NYU’s lead in including this kind of training for their vocalists and opportunities for professionals looking to workshop their material! We are very happy and honored to say that Steinhardt’s New Music Ensemble will be collaborating with the Voice Faculty on our set of monodramas, Windows, for their premier on December 5th, 2012!


Roopler at AOP!

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Composers & The Voice peeps. That's us all the way on the right, Zach sitting and Sara looming strangely above.

Our 2011-2012 fellowship at American Opera Projects has been a blast!! And now for the delicious, delicious fruits of our labor: First Glimpse! We’re very excited–this event will premiere two of the pieces from Windows, our brand new monodrama set about unrequited love from unstable individuals.

To quote American Opera Projects:

“American Opera Projects presents


Five emerging composers – Sidney Marquez Boquiren, Mikael Karlsson, Robert Paterson, Rachel Peters, and Ronnie Reshef – and one composer/librettist team, Zach Redler and Sara Cooper, present the first public performances of music they have created during AOP’s latest season of Composers & the Voice.  The seven artists were chosen by AOP to spend a year creating new works focusing on the operatic voice under the guidance of C&V Artistic Director Steven Osgood.

Performing the selections will be the AOP Resident Ensemble of Singers for the 11-12 season: sopranos Andrea Arias Martin (Chautauqua Opera) and Amy Shoremount-Obra (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera), mezzo Rebecca Ringle (Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera), tenor Brandon Snook (Cincinnati Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Sarasota Opera), baritone Jorell Williams (New York City Center Encores!, Caramoor International Music Festival, Ravinia Festival), and bass Justin Hopkins (Fort Worth Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia). MEET THE 2012 C&V ARTISTS

Supporting on piano will be Composers & the Voice Music Directors Jeanne-Minette Cilliers, Mila Henry and Kelly Horsted.

Composers & the Voice is made possible in part by a generous multi-year award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Fellows in the C&V program are supported by funding from The New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund and Musical Arts Fund.


Sunday May 20 & Monday May 21, 2012 – 8:00PM
South Oxford Space
138 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217

$15 General Admission, $10 Students/Seniors w/ valid ID”

Join us, won’t you?