Opera Philadelphia has a new composer-in-residence — Dallas native and Curtis Institute graduate Rene Orth. Selected from a national field of applicants, her music draws from a range of influences including electronic and the musician even professes her love for artists at the top of the pop charts like Drake and Beyonce. We got the chance to chat with the 31-year-old about what to expect from her stint as Opera Philadelphia's newest composer-in-residence, during Orth's recent visit to Europe.
Where are you calling from today, Rene?
I just got into Spain today. I’m with my boyfriend and he is from Valencia so we are on our way to Valencia from Aix-en-Provence in France.
How does it feel to be named composer-in-residence?
Oh my gosh. I’m still having a hard time addressing it. It’s really kind of amazing. I mean it’s such an honor. I just wanna write opera so it’s just the perfect opportunity for me. I’m just super excited to get started and just work as hard as I can for the next three years. To learn everything I can.
What does the program entail?
It’s super open-ended. I think they want to make it kind of a personal track for each composer-in-residence so that it can be tailored to whatever their strengths are and whatever their interests are. I haven’t had my first meeting yet. I think we are going to wait until I got back in the next couple of weeks to discuss more specifics. I got a grant from Opera America, the Discovery Grant, to workshop a new opera — so I really want to focus on that the first year.
Where do you find inspiration?
The short answer is everywhere, but I’m really interested in relationships between people. Family relationships are really interesting to me. I love to travel so I am really inspired by a lot of experiences. I think every moment in life can be inspirational.
Does Philly inspire you?
Yeah, I love Philly. There is so much going on. I’m from Dallas so the Northeast was kinda scary for me to move to and it was the first city I moved to without a car, but there is so much going on. I love how much art is happening. The food in Philly is really incredible. I’m friends with a chef and we talk about collaborating a lot.