Meet the Composer: Joel Puckett
Joel Puckett is one of the most performed composers in America. Hailed as “visionary” (Washington Post) and “an astonishingly original voice” (Philadelphia Inquirer), his music has been performed by the leading artists of our day and is consistently recognized by organizations such as the American Composers Forum, BMI, Chorus America, National Public Radio, and the American Bandmasters Association. Currently a Department Chair at The Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Puckett presents workshops nationwide and frequently serves as an adjudicator at competitions for rising composers. The Fix is his first opera.
MN Opera: Why did you feel this story was important to tell through opera?
Joel Puckett: This story has everything one expects from grand opera: legendary heroes with massive character flaws, villains, love, greed, betrayal. In short, this story was already an opera, it just needed some music!
MNOp: How would you describe the music? What can audiences expect to hear?
JP: This show’s music, like its story, is filled with hope and melancholic poetry mixed with hints of nostalgia appropriate for these tragic figures.
There are moments of intense intimacy, with only a few instruments accompanying the singers, and there are also huge, majestic and cinematic moments. As much as this music is a love letter to these characters, it is also my love letter to opera, in general.
MNOp: Who are some of your musical influences in this piece?
JP: I have always loved the operas of Mozart, Puccini, and Britten. More recently I have fallen in love the works of our modern masters: Bolcom—with whom I studied, Puts, Higdon, Sondheim, and Benjamin, just to name a few.
MNOp: Do you have a favorite baseball team or cherished baseball memory?
JP: July 4, 1985. My hometown Atlanta Braves were playing the New York Mets and my father took me to the game. The game was wild. It featured several rain delays, went 19 innings, a relief pitcher hit a homer in the 18th inning, and it ended at 3:55AM. And, as promised, the Braves shot off 4th of July fireworks after the last out.
What makes this even better is that ESPN Classic shows this game every year on July 4th. And at the end of the game, you can see my Dad and me sitting right behind home plate for the last pitch.