“…One of the most distinctive American opera composers.” –The Washington Post, January 1998
COMMISSIONS, RECORDINGS: Newport Classic Ltd is currently beginning production on a full length feature documentary film, directed by Lawrence Kramer and written by David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Enquirer – The Face on the Barroom Floor: The poem, the place, the opera. The new film will show the history of Central City (Colorado), the Central City Opera Company, the poem, and a complete performance of the opera. Mr. Mollicone is also completing a cantata A Song for Our Planet, based on interfaith texts from various traditions, commissioned by Seattle First Baptist Church and Plymouth Church UCC (in Seattle) to premiered in March, 2012. Premieres in 2011 included the new song cycle for soprano, flute, and piano: Songs of the Human Spirit, commissioned by soprano Nancy Wait Kromm, and Fantasia Nostalgica for solo string quartet, string orchestra, and percussion commissioned by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra and premiered by them with Quartet San Francisco. Two new choral anthems were recently commissioned by the Stone Church of Willow Glen.
Major commissions in the past have come from several distinguished organizations, including The Central City Opera, The San Francisco Opera (and the Kurt Herbert Adler Award Foundation), The Houston Grand Opera, The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The San Jose Chamber Orchestra, The Minnesota Opera, The Long Beach Symphony, The Fremont Symphony, and The Santa Cruz Symphony, and the San Jose Symphonic Choir. Mr. Mollicone has received grants and awards from several organizations, including Opera America, The American Organ Historical Society, The Presser Foundation, The American Composers’ Alliance (recording award for the opera The Face on the Barroom Floor), Meet the Composer, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Leps Foundation of Brown University, and Santa Clara University.
Two of his operas are available on compact disc: The Face on the Barroom Floor (New World Records CRI), and Coyote Tales (Newport Classic), along with four art songs on soprano Erie Mill’s American song album, “Always: It’s Spring”. His Beatitude Mass is available from CD Baby.com and other sites. His music is published by ECS Publishing in Boston (formerly E.C. Schirmer), and Alfred Publishing (The Face on the Barroom Floor). A DVD will soon be available of the opera Starbird, produced by North Carolina Opera and conducted by the composer.
ADMINISTRATION: As an administrator, Mr. Mollicone is founder and music director of The Winchester Orchestra of San Jose. Past positions include music director of The South Valley Symphony. He was also associate director of The Ernest Bloch Music Festival until its closing, directing and administrating its composers’ symposium, where he invited and hosted distinguished composers Donald Martino, Paul Dresher, Joan Tower, Bernard Rands, David Del Tredici, George Tsontakis, and Chen Yi. He has also devoted time to community service in various capacities, from l969 to the present.
CAREER AS COMPOSER AND CONDUCTOR: Upon graduating from the New England Conservatory with an M.M. in composition in l971, Mr. Mollicone took a position as an assistant conductor with the New York City Opera, where he worked with Maestro Julius Rudel and many major singers, including Beverly Sills, Jose Carreras, Carol Neblet, Catherine Malfitano, Maria Spacagna, Gustavo Diaz, and Samuel Ramey. Besides coaching the standard literature, he specialized in preparing and coaching modern and unusual works such as Ginestera’s Beatrix Cenci, Korngold’s Die Tote State, and Menotti’s The Consul, playing piano for staging rehearsals under Mr. Menotti’s direction. Mr. Mollicone remained there until l975, when he became a musical assistant on the Bernstein-Lerner musical 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In this position, he worked with Leonard Bernstein on some of the dance music in the show. While in New York, he also composed the score for the feature film, The Premonition, starring Richard Lynch, Sharon Farrell, and Jeff Cory. Working with Leonard Bernstein and Julius Rudel were strong and positive experiences that helped shape the future of Mr. Mollicone’s career.
Between l976 and l985, Mr. Mollicone worked as a free-lance composer, conductor, and pianist while a resident of Los Angeles. He composed the one-act opera The Face on the Barroom Floor in l978 for the Central City Opera, and it has been produced there annually from l978 to the present; the work has received numerous productions in America, The Netherlands, Germany, and at the Edinborough Festival. Other works composed during this period include the one-act operas Starbird (for The Houston Grand Opera’s Texas Opera Theater), Emperor Norton (for San Francisco Opera’s Brown Bag Program), and The Mask of Evil (for the Minnesota Opera). Both Starbird and Emperor Norton have received several productions. During this period, Mr. Mollicone also worked as an orchestrator and composer for film and television, as a studio pianist, and as conductor for productions at well over a dozen American Opera companies, including Baltimore Opera, Portland Opera, Central City Opera, and The Lake George Opera Festival.
From l985 to the present, as a resident of San Jose, California, Mr. Mollicone has worked actively as a free-lance conductor of opera, symphonic, and new music while holding various university teaching posts. Music composed during this period include the operas Hotel Eden (premiered at Opera San Jose and later produced in New York and Baltimore), and Coyote Tales (premiering at Lyric Opera of Kansas City with a second production at Oberlin Conservatory), several orchestral works, songs, cantatas, and the music for the Studs Terkel musical Legacy (with composer Jeff Langley). Lyrics were written by Ronnie Gilbert (The Weavers). His one-act operas have received several productions during this time, often with the composer as music director/conductor. He has also been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow from l997, and has been on various panels and onsite visits for The National Endowment for the Arts. He is music director of The Winchester Orchestra of San Jose. Since 1998, he has been director of the Ernest Bloch Music Festival Composers’ Symposium, and associate director of the festival. Mr. Mollicone and librettist William Luce wrote the opera, Gabriel’s Daughter, commissioned by the Central City Opera. Premiered in July-August, 2003 under the baton of Maestro John Moriarty, all eleven performances of the work received standing ovations.
As a composer, pianist, and conductor, Mr. Mollicone has worked with actors Robert Horton, Jean Stapleton, David Ogden Stiers, Tovah Feldshuh, and Charles Nelson Reilly; writers John S. Bowman, Judith Fein, William Luce and Sheldon Harnick; singers Frederica Von Stade, Erie Mills, Maria Spacagna, Teresa Cincione, Marnie Breckenridge, and Jerry Hadley; and conductors Joann Falletta, Julius Rudel, Barbara Day Turner, and David Effron, among others.
EDUCATION: A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music (B.M. in composition and piano, M.M. in composition), Henry Mollicone did additional graduate study in music at Brandeis University, and has attended the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood for two summers. He studied composition with Donald Martino, Gunther Schuller, Daniel Pinkham, Seymour Shifrin, and Ron Nelson; piano with Robert Helps, Miklos Schwalb, Ivan Waldbauer, and Salvatore Fransosi; and orchestration with David Del Tredici. While studying in Boston, Mr. Mollicone had the opportunity to perform as pianist and harpsichordist under the baton of Gunther Schuller, William Steinberg, and Arthur Fiedler. Upon graduation, Gunther Schuller was influential, along with Julius Rudel, in obtaining a commission from the National Opera Institute for a full-length opera Dream Child. (The opera has been withdrawn from his catalogue.) Composer Daniel Pinkham arranged for Mr. Mollicone to receive a full tuition scholarship as an undergraduate from the Fanny Peabody Mason Music Foundation.
TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Henry Mollicone’s teaching experience includes part-time positions at Los Angeles Community College and a full-time position as artist-in-residence (as recipient of the Frank Sinatra Chair) at Santa Clara University. He has most recently taught at West Valley College, Gavilan College, and Notre Dame de Namur University. At Santa Clara University, Mr. Mollicone’s duties included building and conducting the university orchestra, composing music for plays, conducting productions of musicals, and teaching classes. In addition to music theory, orchestration, and conducting, he created several new classes: The Romance of Italian Opera, The History of American Popular Music, The History of Rock Music, The Symphony, and Composition for Non-majors. He also wrote and produced a video for recruiting music students. Mr. Mollicone served as visiting lecturer at the Eastman School of Music, heading the opera department for a five-week period. Presently, THE WINCHESTER ORCHESTRA (of which he is music director) is in residence at West Valley College in Saratoga, CA.
Mr. Mollicone is a regular member of The Gallup Poll Panel.