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Baltimore Citizen Artist

2015 was an intense year for Baltimore, and a spotlight was shone on the ugliness in our city that is present all throughout the country. I believe that through art, we can ask questions, search for new answers, and ultimately, become better. In the words of my favorite composer/philosopher John Luther Adams, "In the midst of the darkness that seems to be descending all around us, art is a vital testament to the best qualities of the human spirit. As it has throughout history, art expresses our belief that there will be a future for humanity. It gives voice and substance to hope. Our courage for the present and our hope for the future lie in that place in the human spirit that finds solace and renewal in art." Art in Baltimore is thriving, and I am grateful to have been a small part of a lot of the big things happening here. From the Transmodern Festival to leading a band for an opening exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art, from curating shows at the 5th Dimension in the H&H Building to working with the Baltimore Rock Opera Society (BROS), I am grateful to have been a small part of a lot of the big things happening here this year.

  • Artscape

    The various "scape" festivals in Baltimore throughout the summer are an important time for the arts community to gather and share what we have been working on, with each other and with festival attendees and passersby. Nudie Suits performed on two different stages at Artscape, on a pop-up stage outdoors called Neptunes Bloom, an indoors (pictured here) at the Worlds in Collusion event organized by the High Zero Collective. I also performed an Artscape set with Three Red Crowns in Falvey Hall at MICA. (photo by Dave Iden)
  • ScapeScape

    The various "scape" festivals in Baltimore throughout the summer are an important time for the arts community to gather and share what we have been working on, with each other and with festival attendees and passersby. Nudie Suits performed at ScapeScape on the Y Not Lot stage, accompanied by contact dancer Isa Leal. This part of the show is a cover of "Falling" from Twin Peaks.
  • 5th Dimension - resident and show curator

    During the past semester, as part of an American Studies class taught by Professor Nicole King at UMBC, students worked on the Bromo Speaks project to produce a radio series that highlights the voices of the residents, artists, workers, and business owners in the Bromo Arts District in the west side of downtown Baltimore. I was one of the artists interviewed, and I took one of the students, Adam Droneburg, on an audio tour of the 5th Dimension in the H&H Building. I live there and I also curate and book music shows that happen in our show space.
  • BMA Imagining Home Exhibition Jugband

    The Baltimore Museum of Art mounted a new exhibition called "Imagining Home" this year, and asked me to put together a jugband to perform at the gallery opening, on original instruments created by local instrument-builder extraordinaire, Neil Feather. Along with Baltimore musicians Jason Reed and Michael Shank, I performed an entire set of covers about the concept of home, ranging from Hank Williams, Sr. to the Beatles. In this photograph, I am playing on one of Neil's original instruments, the "cue-stick guitar." (photo by Max Franz)
  • Baltimore Rock Opera Society - The Brides of Tortuga

    The Baltimore Rock Opera Society is a passionate community of artists who create unforgettable experiences through live original rock theater. BROS was founded in 2007 by a small group of friends sitting in a basement dreaming of an impossibly enormous story that would be told through the awesome power of rock. Since that time BROS has become a powerhouse of Baltimore’s cultural landscape comprised of a highly energetic group of actors, writers, designers, builders, musicians, and artists with the mission of producing original, live rock operas.
  • Transmodern Festival - The Unbearable Lightness of Roy

    The Transmodern Performance Festival is a cultural phenomenon presenting radical, experimental, expectation-defying work from local, national and international artists. The festival represents communities and artists who defy cultural normative practices and disciplines. The theme of this year's festival was "In the Aether." I collaborated with artists Ali Clendaniel and Connor Kizer to create Roy Makker, an invented character whose identity was gradually formed by anyone who logged into his account on Facebook.

Director, Rhymes With Opera

Rhymes With Opera is a New York-based ensemble that commissions, develops and performs new chamber operas, encourages theatrical innovation through multimedia and interdisciplinary collaboration, fosters musical education and growth, and strives to create a dialogue between artists and audiences while adding to the repertory of contemporary opera.

Since 2007, RWO has commissioned more than 17 new operas, ranging from one-minute “signature” pieces to evening-length productions. New operas commissioned and produced by RWO include George Lam and John Clum's "Heartbreak Express," Anna Meadors and John Paul Carillo's "Manifesto on the Ledge", Travis Sullivan’s "Three Modern Pieces", Thomas Limbert’s "Numbers / Dates", Jenny Olivia Johnson’s "Book of Gazes", Kathleen Bader’s "Leads", Douglas Buchanan’s "Goblin Market", David Smooke’s "Criminal Element", Adam Matlock’s "Red Giant", and Erik Spangler’s "Cantata For A Loop Trail", an outdoor hiking opera set in Gwynn Falls Leakin Park in Baltimore and Inwood Hill Park in New York City.

RWO has performed in Baltimore venues including Area 405, the 2640 Space, the City Arts Gallery and the Windup Space, and in NYC venues including Roulette, the Cornelia Street Café, the National Opera Center, JACK, and York College CUNY. For the 2014-15 season, RWO will present its mainstage productions in the intimate 124 Bank Street Theatre in New York City. RWO’s productions have been covered by press outlets in both Baltimore and New York including The Baltimore Sun, City Paper, NewMusicBox, WhatWeekly, and The Sybaritic Singer.

  • Manifesto on the Ledge

    Anna Meadors’s Manifesto On The Ledge, with a libretto by John Paul Carillo, is a world-premiere chamber opera for three voices and a six-piece instrumental ensemble commissioned by Rhymes With Opera. The story centers around Melinda, a salesperson in a dead-end job, who has grown unhappy at work and fantasizes about her days in the Navy. Her lover Ronaire, a mysterious poet and thinker, is puzzled by her growing ennui. When Melinda decides to go on personal strike, forcing Ronaire to go to work instead, they each discover unexpected truths about their lover.
  • Heartbreak Express

    Rhymes With Opera opened our 2015-16 season with the world premiere of composer George Lam and librettist John Clum’s new opera "Heartbreak Express." Inspired in part by Tai Uhlmann’s documentary film "For The Love Of Dolly," the opera follows four Dolly Parton “superfans” waiting to meet their idol for the first time. Sisters Darlene and LuAnne entered an essay contest and won the chance to meet Dolly Parton in person. Darlene thinks that this encounter with Dolly will change their lives for the better, but LuAnne is not so sure.
  • Adams Run

    "Adams Run" is a large scale video opera project currently in production by Rhymes With Opera. I composed the music, with words by Baynard Woods. I wrote the music gradually over a period of about three years, and just spent the month of December orchestrating it at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida.
  • Rhymes With Opera in 2015

    I co-founded Rhymes With Opera in 2007 along with Elisabeth Halliday (soprano); George Lam (composer); Bonnie Lander (soprano); and Robert Maril (baritone). In 2015, we produced two mainstage events, "Heartbreak Express" and "Manifesto on the Ledge" and assembled a team for our next big project, a video opera called "Adams Run." (photo by Brooke Hall)

Performer

My philosophy about being in bands is simple - I play music with the people who I like and who I want to get a chance to spend time with once a week! I enjoy playing almost every genre of music. Current active bands include Nudie Suits, the Barnyard Sharks, and Three Red Crowns. I also performed and recorded in several special one-off projects this year. I am primarily an auxiliary player, performing on strings, horns, and synths.

  • Nudie Suits, House Cat

    Nudie Suits had a huge 2015. We released our first album ("Summer Fun" on Ehse Records), went on tour to the midwest and back, and created and recorded original music for a podcast (Kirsten Marie Walsh's Podcasts on Process) and a play (Annex Theater's Flatland, with sound design by Ali Clendaniel). "Summer Fun" was named in Baltimore City Paper's Best Albums of 2015, with a review by Shannon Gormley. She writes, "Who the hell needs a full band anymore? This is fucking 2015.
  • Barnyard Sharks Microshow

    Barnyard Sharks is a nine-piece band comprised of some of my favorite humans in Baltimore. We performed and recorded on the Mobtown Studios Microshow series in 2015.
  • Three Red Crowns, 19 Crescent

    Three Red Crowns, formed as a trio in 2009, has since expanded to a nine piece ensemble and combines the most exciting and catchy aspects of jazz, classical, and rock, playing the epic, exhilarating compositions of founding members John Paul Carillo and Anna Meadors. In This Light, the group’s first album, was completed in 2012 at Mobtown Studios with Mat Leffler-Schulman, and has been played by radio host Sam Sessa on Baltimore’s 89.7 WTMD, New Music USA’s online station Counterstream Radio, and featured on 88.1 WYPR’s The Signal with Lisa Morgan.
  • Dan Deacon Brass Band

    I got to play two special live shows with Baltimore synth pop wizard Dan Deacon this summer, in a brass band put together by Patrick McMinn. The photo is from Windjammer, a festival at Pier 6 which also included sets by Bond St District, Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Future Islands and Beach House. We played the same Dan Deacon with Brass set at the Landmark Festival in Washington D.C., which was headlined by Drake and The Strokes. (photo by J.M. Giordano)
  • Experiments in Traditional and Folk Music

    Amazing old-time musician Anna Roberts-Gevalt invited me to guest with her and composer Nate May (Cincinnati) on their set at the first annual Experiments in Traditional and Folk Music, held at the Windup Space. Co-founded by Anna, composer Erik Spangler, and flatfoot dancer Becky Hill, I was honored to be involved. (video shot by Tom Kessler)
  • Adam Lempel, Berlin

    One of the things I love about living in Baltimore is all the creative people everywhere making things all the time. Sometimes they invite me to guest on their shows or records. I recorded flugelhorn at Beat Babies studio for Adam Lempel for this charming song "Berlin," featuring Amanda Glasser. Other local bands I have worked as a session musician with in the past include Future Islands, Ellen Cherry and Soft Cat.

Composer-Traveler

The concert music I compose is frequently commissioned by new music performers who live elsewhere. One of my favorite things about being a composer is traveling to meet these cool cats all over the country, to hear them play my music. In 2015, I had performances in San Francisco; Brooklyn; Bowling Green, Ohio; and Burlington, Vermont, in addition to playing all over the eastern half of the country on tour with Nudie Suits.

  • All over! With Nudie Suits

    Nudie Suits went on an autumn tour with our friends The Creepers. We played shows in Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY; Cambridge, MA; Troy, NY; Ithaca, NY; Buffalo, NY; Detroit, MI; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL; Iowa City, IA; Omaha, NE; Cherokee, IA; Des Moines, IA; and Pittsburgh, PA. (tour poster designed by Kevin Sherry)
  • all night, all day, in San Francisco

    My 2 pianos, 8 hands piece "all night, all day" (excerpted above) was performed by San Francisco piano ensemble New Keys, alongside works by two composer heroes of mine, Philip Glass and Terry Riley. The concert took place at the San Francisco Center for New Music in October, 2015. Pictured is the concert program, which folded out into a poster, featuring a sketch of Terry Riley. The concert was in honor of his 80th birthday.
  • cycle loops, in Brooklyn

    "cycle loops" (2014, rev. 2015), excerpted above, for solo piano, electronics, and bicycle, is a piece I wrote collaboratively with pianist/improviser Julia Sheriff, and electronic music Robby Neubauer. The music is based around the concept of runner’s high, the transfer of pain into bliss: you push your body so hard that it can no longer register pain, and instead, you feel a tremendous sense of euphoria. In this case, it is not runner’s high but cyclist’s high, that we hear translated into sound. Sydney H.
  • The End, in Vermont

    I was really excited to be programmed on the TURN Music Series in Vermont this year. The mission of TURN is threefold: to perform music that is defined by quality - not by genre, to present professional music concerts in relaxed venue, and to offer affordable ticket prices. Legendary new music violinist Mary Rowell and TURN Music director Anne Decker performed my piece "The End", for ukulele, spoons, and voice, on their program in February, 2015. This video is from the dress rehearsal for the show. (video shot by Eve Beglarian)

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About Ruby

I am a Baltimore-based musician and composer who writes music which invites listeners to explore non-musical ideas through sound. My musical portfolio includes explorations of mental illness, Buddhism, philosophy, psychedelic drugs, addiction, and chess strategy; and profiles of iconic popular figures like... more

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