TERRA NOVA | Oracle Hysterical & Hub New Music

SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2021 | 4:00 PM

LIVE NYC PREMIERE | Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza


Co-produced by Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor


5BMF's events are 100% free this season.

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“[An] unexpectedly sophisticated new song cycle musing on the tangled history of exploration and colonization.” — The New York Times


5BMF marks a triumphant return to live concert performance and the grand finale of its 2020-2021 Digital Mainstage Season with the New York City and online premieres of Terra Nova, a concert-length song cycle composed by the members of Oracle Hysterical and performed in collaboration with Hub New Music.

Commissioned by Hub New Music and 5BMF, Terra Nova will be presented live in partnership with BPL Presents on May 15th in a free, outdoor performance on the steps at Brooklyn Public Library’s majestic Grand Army Plaza location, and also filmed at the historic Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor, Staten Island, for its online premiere on June 17th.


Terra Nova is inspired by a range of ambitious, gritty (and sometimes naive, cruel, and myopic) explorers: a fanciful view from Amelia Earhart’s cockpit by Majel Connery, a playful setting of John James Audubon’s descriptions of wood warblers by Brad Balliett, Dylan Greene’s speculative tone poem of the pre-Columbian exploration of North America by Chinese mariners, Elliot Cole’s haunting setting of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s final letter home, and Agamemnon, Doug Balliet’s tension-filled spoken-and-sung cantata depicting the ill-fated king’s reunion with Clytemnestra; plus many more. These adventurers, captivated by unchartered territory, share an often combustible mix of guts, ego, greed, and unwavering determination, their discoveries ranging from the beautiful to the terrible.

Both venues share deep connections with the musical material. Terra Nova will be in its element on the grounds of Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, one of the city’s great monuments to the printed word, whose collection contains all of the texts that inspired these new works. The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, by contrast, shares in the songs’ spirit and history; now a museum for contemporary art, it was once a dormitory for sailors, with frescoed walls that still read “Rest after dangerous Toil,” a 188-year-old space, existing then and now for intrepid explorers and explorations.


5BMF’s online events are 100% free – no paywalls, subscriptions or tickets!

We hope you’ll consider showing your support by donating to 5BMF’s digital presentations. Gifts made by our viewers are essential to our ability to continue engaging and supporting our artists, and to sustaining 5BMF as we return to live concert programming.

Gifts of any amount are greatly appreciated! Select a donation amount below, or choose “Custom Donation” to name your own amount.

Prefer to donate by mail? Click here for other ways to give.

Five Boroughs Music Festival, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.

Terra Nova is partially supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Howard Gilman Foundation, Anonymous.


Terra Nova

A collection of songs inspired by new lands, and the people who ventured into them

MAJEL CONNERY | All the way down
Inspired by the musings of Amelia Earhart

BRAD BALLIETT | Wood Warblers
Excerpts from the writings of naturalist John James Audubon

DYLAN GREENE | When China Discovered the World
Instrumental after the book by Gavin Menzies

DOUG BALLIETT | The Spanish Requirement of 1513
A Spanish government document declaring the divine right to colonize

MAJEL CONNERY | Fallen Angel
From Milton’s Paradise Lost

DOUG BALLIETT | The Gothic Pater Noster
Grom the Gothic Bible, ca. 390 AD

DOUG BALLIETT | Agamemnon Crosses the Line
Loosely based on Aeschylus’s Oresteia

ELLIOT COLE | Terra Nova
From the journals of Robert Falcon Scott

Click “Fullscreen” to view the digital program below, or download as PDFPDF


Oracle Hysterical

BRAD BALLIETT › bassoons
DOUG BALLIETT › double bass, viola da gamba
ELLIOT COOPER COLE › vocals, guitars, keyboards
MAJEL CONNERY › vocals, keyboards
JOE BERGEN › guest percussion

Part band, part book club, Oracle Hysterical combines eclectic musical influences with literary breadth. All members of the group perform and compose, with each project developed collectively. Oracle’s works occupy the fluid space between classically-inclined song-cycle and art-rock concept album. The group’s songwriting illuminates fragments of great literary works like a child in a dark forest with a flashlight. Text sources have ranged from Grimms’ Fairy Tales to Greek tragedy, and falsely-attributed Shakespeare, all in collections of songs that distill centuries-old writing through a unique contemporary lens.

The group’s recent past projects include Hecuba, released on the National Sawdust Tracks label in May 2018, a lush and experimental rock-leaning album based on Euripides’ 424 BCE tragedy of the same name that tells the story of the disgraced queen of Troy, her city razed and children murdered, as she descends from nobility to primal violence. In 2017, Oracle Hysterical collaborated with period-instrument ensemble New Vintage Baroque on Passionate Pilgrim, released on Naxos/Vision into Art, called “music that is unstuck in time” by the Wall Street Journal, and what it would sound like if “Belle and Sebastian were to cut a record of Baroque-inspired folk songs,” by the New Yorker. And in 2016 The Sea, a collaboration with the Grammy-nominated orchestra A Far Cry, premiered at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; a song-cycle weaving together texts by history’s greatest seafarers, explorers, and aquatic fabulists, from Shakespeare to Homer, and John Donne to the Book of Jonah.

Oracle Hysterical has appeared at the MATA Festival, the Berkshire Fringe Festival, The Stone (NYC), The Hideout (Chicago), (Le) Poisson Rouge (NYC), National Sawdust (NYC), the Toledo Museum of Art, and at the Lucerne Festival Academy, where they were Spotlight Artists in 2011.

Hub New Music

ALYSSA WANG › violin

Called “contemporary chamber trailblazers” by the Boston Globe, Hub New Music — comprised of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello — is forging new pathways in 21st-century repertoire. Through creative programming and ambitious commissioning projects, the quartet of “intrepids” (WQXR) celebrates the fluidity and diversity of today’s classical music landscape. Its performances have been described as “gobsmacking” (Cleveland Classical) and “innovative” (WBUR), and HNM was named one of WQXR’s “10 Cutting-Edge Artists that Have Captured the Imagination” in 2016.

Highlights for the 2020-21 concert season include performances presented by Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette College, Texas Performing Arts, Celebrity Series of Boston, Sacramento State Festival of New American Music, and a European debut at the Alba Music Festival (Italy). The season features premieres of new works by Christopher Cerrone and Eric Nathan; and multiple performances of recent commissions by Hannah Lash, Kati Agócs, Takuma Itoh, and Michael Ippolito.

Hub’s debut album, Soul House, released on New Amsterdam Records in 2020 was called “ingenious and unequivocally gorgeous” by the Boston Globe. The ensemble’s upcoming recording with Silkroad’s Kojiro Umezaki (shakuhachi) and Asia-America New Music Institute (AANMI) will be released on Tōrō Records.

Hub New Music brings its passion for adventurous and relevant programming to global audiences as both a quartet and as collaborative artists. Recent projects include The Nature of Breaking, a 30-minute collaborative work with composer/harpist Hannah Lash; and a choreographed production of Robert Honstein’s Soul House with Boston’s Urbanity Dance. Upcoming projects include Requiem for the Enslaved, an evening length mass by Carlos Simon supported by Georgetown University’s GU272 Project that honors the lives of 272 African American slaves and their descendants; a new ‘modular’ work by Sō Percussion’s Jason Treuting; and new works by composers Nina C. Young, Nathalie Joachim, and Laura Kaminsky.

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