Augusta Read Thomas


May 2018
Sweet Potato Kicks The Sun – Opera for All Ages
Composer - Augusta Read Thomas, Librettist - Leslie Dunton-Downer
American Music Theater For Small Ensemble and Special Guest Artist
Nimbus Music Publishing is delighted to announce details of a new opera by Augusta Read Thomas. America’s most performed living composer according to ASCAP, Augusta accepted the commission to write an “Opera for All Ages” by a consortium of companies led by Santa Fe Opera in association with San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera Of Kansas City, Minnesota Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Sarasota Opera, and Seattle Opera. The first performance will be given by Santa Fe Opera in 2019. The Melville Hankins Family Foundation and The Andrew Mellon Foundation made this project possible with generous funding.
"Composing for voice is a huge passion and as a result the largest part of my catalogue is music for voice(s). The human voice as the most subtle, complex, and fragile yet forceful, flexible, seductive, and persuasive carrier of musical ideas and meanings. It has always been an inspiration for and influence upon my entire musical thinking. I sing as I compose. When musicians ask me a question, I sing the answer." Augusta Read Thomas
This is a one-act opera lasting approximately 65 minutes. This work ideally utilizes 4 principal vocalists plus once special guest vocalist in the form of a beatboxer, jazz singer, scat or other guest artist whose singing voice is beautiful but not traditionally associated with opera. Ideal instrumentation: Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano and a small percussion set up. Option 2: Flute, Harp, 4 Percussion, Option 3: Chamber Orchestra
A famous beatboxer begins a dazzling solo show and is alarmed to discover that an opera is about to start on the same stage. Before the mix-up can be sorted out, the opera gets under way. At first the Beatboxer only attends and reacts to the opera, but eventually cannot resist stepping ‘across the line’ to participate in the action. The Opera story: An urban rooftop garden family faces a crisis when one of its members, the adorable and beloved yet trickster-like Sweet Potato, kicks the sun out of the galaxy. The family hopes its prayers will call the sun back. But when Sweet Potato also cuts the Cosmic Cord, the sacred string that conveys their prayers beyond the sky, all seems hopeless. Misery only grows when Grandmother Seed-Keeper leaves for her secret cellar and explains why she may never return. All are furious at Sweet Potato for causing so much trouble. Grandfather Beekeeper sends Sweet Potato away to gain wisdom. Sweet Potato’s friend and fellow rooftop garden family member, the caring and at times hyper-vigilant “88”, joins for the journey. In the end, their individual strengths and teamwork, and the unexpected intervention of a Beatboxer, result in the return of Grandmother and the sun to the garden. Sweet Potato, changed by the journey, is welcomed home as a hero, and the Beatboxer is invited to join the family.
The opera organically unfolds a sound world where different musical traditions crisscross and are deeply integrated. The role of a Special Guest Artist is designed to involve performers not normally associated with opera including jazz, country, scat and other vocal traditions.

The Process:Nicole Paris is a world-class talent. I am inspired by her beatboxing and, for the past year we have been collaborating whilst I am composing. Our time together is energized and creative and we laugh a great deal.  Because we trust each other, we are able to explore sound and work hard to find just the right atmosphere for each scene. In the opera Nicole beatboxes and sings. The other vocalists sing and, from time to time, develop a wide variety of vocalizations akin to beatboxing. As such the opera organically unfolds a sound world where different musical traditions crisscross and are deeply integrated. I see this opera embracing diverse musical traditions, artists, and audience members.” Augusta Read Thomas

“After meeting Augusta Read Thomas, I knew we would awaken the Universe with new music." Nicole Paris

For more information please visit these links:

Augusta Read-Thomas

Nicole Paris (3.6 million YouTube views)

Santa Fe Opera

Nimbus Music Publishing

To discuss performances contact Antony Smith, Business Director
Nimbus Music Publishing
Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, NP25 3SR
Tel: 01600 890 007

18 January 2017

Augusta Read Thomas is nominated for the 36th Annual Chicago Music Awards

Augusta Read Thomas has been nominated for the upcoming 36th Annual Chicago Music Awards (CMA) in the category, BEST CLASSICAL ENTERTAINER


Augusta Read Thomas wins Lancaster Symphony Orchestra's Composer Award for 2015-16

This is the oldest award of its kind in the nation, intended "to recognize and honor living composers who reside in the US who are making a particularly significant contribution in the field of symphonic music, not only through their own creative efforts, but also as effective personal advocates of new approaches to the broadening of critical and appreciative standards."

For more information click here 

8 July 2015

Of Being is a Bird - Wigmore Hall World Premiere 

Aurora Orchestra / Claire Booth soprano

Claire Booth 

'...with the smoothly contoured, long-limbed vocal lines [gives] a shimmering halo of sharp instrumental attacks and splinters', wrote Andrew Clements of Augusta Read Thomas's world premiere Of Being is a Bird. The piece, premiered at the Wigmore Hall on Tuesday 7 July 2015 was dedicated to composer-in-residence, Julian Anderson and showcased the remarkable talents of the Aurora Orchestra and soprano, Claire Booth.

Of Being is a Bird will be released on Nimbus Alliance in 2016. 


8 April 2015

Composer Spotlight: Augusta Read Thomas featured on WFMX Radio

 WFMX Radio devote an hour to the music of contemporary American composer Augusta Read Thomas.

To listen to the complete broadcast click here 



11 March 2015

Augusta Read Thomas has topped the list of most frequently performed living composers 2013 - 2014

According to statistics released last year by ASCAP, an American Society for composers, authors and publishers, Augusta Read Thomas's music is performed most frequently among living composers.


 For more information simply click here



11 February 2015

Juggler of the Day by Augusta Read Thomas to be featured on BBC Radio 3

The BBC Singers are delighted to be performing Juggler of the Day on Friday 20th February at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, London. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 7:30pm UK time.

BBC Radio 3

To listen live visit the BBC Radio 3 website:

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