Second Instrumental Unit

Cracked Orlando

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cracked_orlando4Jonathan Dawe's CRACKED ORLANDO is a delicate mini opera/ballet running approximately forty minutes and designed specifically for performance in a museum. Recasting energies and sounds of the Italian Baroque, this composition reforges references to early eighteenth century music through compositional workings based upon fractal geometry. A truly miniature work, aspects of the music and drama are distilled into crystallized moments, ranging from shimmering stasis to mercurial flashes. In keeping with these ideas, the text has been extracted from the libretto originally used by Vivaldi, and regrown using fractal methods as well.

Cracked Orlando from the epic fantastic tale by Ariosto, tells the story of Orlando, who in love with Angelica, pursues her to the island of the sorcerer Alcina, only to discover that she truly loves Medoro. Trapped within Alcina’s enchanted realm and distraught with profound jealousy and despair he is taken by great madness. His sickness resolves only when Alcina’s power is broken, all illusions are lifted, and her lush island is revealed as the barren desert it truly is.

Cracked Orlando

Dramma per Musica e Fractals



DAVID FULMER, director




Cosi Potessi from Cracked Orlando

Rachel Calloway, mezzo-soprano

About Jonathan Dawe

The youngest composer to be commissioned by James Levine, Jonathan Dawe has emerged as an exciting and original composer of the 21st century. Cited for his innovative sound, involving the recasting of early music through compositional workings based upon fractal geometry, his music has been described as “skillful”, “sparkling” (New York Times) and “envelope-pushing” (Boston Globe).
The Flowering Arts, a new orchestral work, commissioned by James Levine and The Boston Symphony Orchestra, premiered January 2006 in four performances in Symphony Hall. Hailed as “a powerful premiere” (Boston Globe) the work was commissioned to celebrate the Orchestra’s 125th-year anniversary.

In 2009, scenes from Armide, a new opera set in the future of post-war Iraq, was presented in the New York City Opera’s VOX program. The previous season, Ballet Music from this new work were premiered by The American Composers Orchestra at Zankel Hall (at Carnegie Hall) and the Annenberg Center for the Arts, Philadelphia.

"His contemporary take on that older music is extraordinary."
James Levine, Music Director The Boston Symphony Orchestra Program Book 1/15/06

Next season Cracked Orlando, a chamber opera/ballet, will receive its premiere at the Teatro Theatre at the Italian Academy in New York City. Included in the production will be the dance ensemble Company XIV and the performing ensemble The Second Instrumental Unit.
Additional recent premieres include Dawe’s third string quartet, Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman performed by The Miró Quartet at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Michigan, and Symphony of Imaginary Numbers for small orchestra, premiered by The Manhattan Sinfonietta under the direction of Jeffrey Milarsky at Merkin Hall, NYC.

February 2005, a fully-staged production of Prometheus a new opera featuring countertenor Derek Lee Ragin and The New York Baroque Dance Company was premiered at the Guggenheim Museum. The work, produced by Mary Sharp Cronson and Works and Process, was commissioned by Cygnus Ensemble and The New York Council on the Arts.

Pianist Robert Taub premiered his Piano Concerto, a four-movement work commissioned by the Wharton Center of Performing Arts and based upon Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and fractal geometry in 2003.

Jonathan DaweOther recent premieres include Pluto in the Underworld: A Monteverdian Hip-hop at the Cornelia St. Cafe, Concerto for the First Sunday of New Year and Super Mozart Fractals at Weil Recital Hall and Gibbons, Gongs, and Gamelan at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.

Awards he has received include two recording grants from The Copland Fund for New Music, a Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission (Library of Congress), a NYSCA commission grant, a Fromm Foundation Grant (Harvard University), a Presser Award (Presser Foundation), The Charles Ives Scholarship (American Academy of Arts and Letters), The Bearns Prize (Columbia University), two ASCAP prizes, two BMI awards, a grant from the David Cinnamon Prize, and the Herbert Ellwel Prize (Oberlin College) 1987.

The recipient of commissions from the The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The American Composers Orchestra, The Brentano String Quartet, Cygnus Ensemble, The Manhattan Sinfonietta, The New Juilliard Ensemble, The New York New Music Ensemble, The New York Miniaturist Ensemble, The Second Instrumental Unit, The Manhattan School of Music, Phoenix Ensemble, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Dawe’s works have also been recently performed by the Washington Square Chamber Players and the Manhattan Percussion Ensemble.

A recipient of a 2008 recording grant from the Copland Fund for New Music, his anticipated second full-length CD featuring recent works id currently in production. In July 2006, the Furious Artisans label released the first recording including the premiere recording
of The Siren, Horn Trio, Fractal Farm, and Tow’rd Trumpets.

Jonathan Dawe was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1965 and studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School with Milton Babbitt. Upon receiving his Doctorate in 1995, he joined the doctoral faculty at the Juilliard School.