Kevin March is an award-winning Melbourne-based composer whose first full-scale opera, Les Feluettes, with libretto by Michel Marc Bouchard, premièred in Montreal in May, 2016. A co-commission and co-production between Pacific Opera Victoria and Opéra de Montréal, Les Feluettes is being staged again in Victoria in April, 2017, and in Edmonton in October, 2017.
Kevin has previously written three chamber operas, Razing Hypatia (2010); Leading Lady (2003-04); and www.love: A 21st Century Romance . His works have been performed in North America, Australia, and Europe by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, the Ironwood Ensemble, Halcyon, The Arcko Ensemble, ASTRA Chamber Music Society, Chronology Arts, Brave New Works, and The New York City Opera. His works have been featured in the Metropolis New Music Festival and the 7th Sydney Biennale.
Numerous performances of his works have been broadcast on ABC and 3MBS radio. Most recently, a performance of Une Petite Sonate, written for PLEXUS, was broadcast on ABC Classic FM and a performance of Ouvre-moi la Porte, commissioned for Neal Perez de Costa and Daniel Yeadon, was broadcast on ABC Classic FM’s Sunday Live. In 2011, Kevin was one of three composers featured in the ABC national documentary Modern Muses: The Greeks and New Music, which included excerpts from his song cycle Mythweaver, based on the poetry of Sappho.
Songs from Mythweaver are soon to be published in Voices of Australia II, a second volume of Australian art song published by Wirripang.
Kevin received first Prize in the 2010 3MBS National Composer Awards for his orchestral work Kambarang, and the 2009 Dorian La Galliene Prize for his chamber work Ophélie. Recent commissions include Beautiful Apocalypse, a multi-media chamber opera based on the life of Joachim of Fiore and the 2012 apocalypse, for the Arcko Symphonic Ensemble; Ouvre-moi la Porte, commissioned for Neal Perez de Costa and Daniel Yeadon by The Sydney Conservatorium and Ars Musica Australis for the 100th anniversary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music; and Tango & Terror, written for violinist Sarah Curro. In April, 2014, a concert comprising his Catalogue des Papillons (a large cycle for solo piano) and Mythweaver (a song-cycle for soprano and piano based on the poetry of Sappho) was included in the Melbourne Metropolis Festival.
Kevin was born and raised in the United States and completed his Master’s and Doctorate at the University of Michigan before moving to Melbourne in 2004. While at the University of Michigan, his principal composition instructors were William Bolcom, William Albright, Michael Daugherty and Curtis Curtis-Smith. Since his move to Australia he has been mentored by or has studied under notable Australian composers Richard Mills, Gerard Brophy, Maria Grenfel, and Paul Stanhope. He currently teaches composition and music theory at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
The score also managed to be various and cohesive at once. Within the first 20 minutes, March had found room for tough expressionism, comic relief and melting lyricism. Credit Debussy for the best music of all, from Le martyre de Saint-Sébastien, which is extensively quoted.
Elsewhere, we heard dance tunes evocative of the Gilded Age, a brief flare-up of down-home folk music and many diaphanous textures to remind us of Bernstein and Copland, whose influence March (a U.S.-trained resident of Australia) does not deny. Yet the opera did not sound like pastiche, and while tender was the dominant mode, there was a remarkably subtle evocation of dissonance (and menace) in the solo by Simon that leads to the climactic arson.
Arthur Kaptainis, Special to Montreal Gazette, Review of Les Feluettes, Opéra de Montréal, 2016
The music, by composer Kevin March, grabbed the audience from the beginning with a huge explosion of sound, so much so that people actually applauded right off the bat. Mr. March is very much a singer’s composer, with beautifully constructed lines, dazzling orchestral effects, and huge changes of tempo, texture and style that always felt connected to what we were seeing on the stage.
Mr. March’s composition and orchestration skills are superb, from the startling opening orchestral exclamation through to beautiful lines featuring just the upper strings playing plaintively ... Besides the Debussy quotations and inspiration I heard similarities to Ravel, Ligeti’s avant-garde opera La Danse Macabre, and Ravel’s La Valse, as there were a lot of exhortations of “faites-moi danser” (“dance with me”) and those dances were usually waltzes. The story-within-a-story also made me think of Strauss’ Ariadne Aux Naxos.
Composer Neil Weisensel, Review of Les Feluettes, Opéra de Montréal, 2016
Styles range from contemporary atonal to plainsong, yet most of the harmonic language is reminiscent of Debussy, Ravel and even Copland. What makes it feel like Romantic opera are the beautifully lyrical vocal lines with the feel of 19th century French opera composers Gounod and Massenet. Still, what gave this opera its musical power was that these disparate styles were folded together into a cohesive whole.
... a beautiful and powerful opera experience.
Vermont Times Argus, Review of Les Feluettes, Opéra de Montréal, 2016