An anarcho-syndicalist artistic collective dedicated to eradicating pretentiousness and bad rhythm from classical music.
Table Top Opera is a chamber ensemble that focuses on multi-media projects.
The ensemble brings together a group of distinguished Eastman faculty and alumnae whose expertise covers music of all types, classical, contemporary, and popular. Its members include Federico Agostini (violin), Matthew Brown (computers), Griffin Campbell (alto saxophone), Albert Kim (piano), Michael E. Ruhling (baton), Jim Thompson (trumpet), Dariusz Terefenko (piano/keyboards), James VanDemark (double bass) Christopher Winders (computers), and David Ying (cello). Each project combines powerful visual images drawn from comic books, photographs, and film with newly composed music or new arrangements of existing music. Through the use of cutting-edge computer programs, those images are presented and manipulated in real time, thereby allowing the musicians to respond spontaneously to what they see. The overall experience is further enhanced with an array of electronic sounds and with appropriate staging and lighting. By integrating these disparate elements into a unified whole, Table Top Opera not only hopes to create coherent aesthetic experiences, but it also to redefine the relationships between high and low art, written and improvised music, and composers and arrangers.
Based at the Eastman School of Music, Table Top Opera collaborates directly with award-winning artists from around the globe and with other institutions from Rochester. In October 2012, the group produced Pelléas Redux, a chamber version of Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande accompanied by comic book images of the drama by P. Craig Russell. Russell not only assisted in the production, but he also discussed his work at the Memorial Art Gallery.
Since 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the Rochester Race Riots, the ensemble combined Paolo Pellegrin’s 2012 photographs of Rochester’s inner city with a music score based on J.S. Bach's Violin Sonata, BWV 1016 and works performed by Duke Ellington at Eastman Theater in August 1964. The work was performed at the Rochester Fringe Festival in September 2014.
On October 8 and 10, 2014, Table Top Opera collaborated with P. Craig Russell on another comic book: Salomé, based on the play of the same name by Oscar Wilde with music adapted from the opera by Richard Strauss. Thanks to a generous grant from the Humanities Project at the University of Rochester and support from the Eastman School of Music, the Department of Religion & Classics, Program of Dance and Movement, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, the performances were accompanied by a conference The Veils of Salomé at the University of Rochester and screenings of relevant films at the George Eastman House.