Sean Hussey
Sean Hussey

A Roosevelt University music composition student has won top honors for his new opera about the misrepresentation of women in opera.

Sean Ellis Hussey, an aspiring composer whose music focuses on social justice issues, premiered …for the sake of a narrative closure recently during the University’s annual OperaFest celebration.

The chamber opera for six sopranos tells the story of six women watching a controversial opera that is being protested for its portrayal of women and minorities. The piece depicts how the six women respond to what they see on stage.

Hussey’s ...for the sake of a narrative closure also was inspired by the traditional misrepresentation of women in opera who are frequently portrayed as submissive and abused. His new opera touches on the problematics of such female representation. The piece was selected by opera and composition faculty in Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) through a unique initiative called OperaLab. Hussey worked in close collaboration with CCPA’s opera and composition faculty and six student singers to create a 14-minute piece inspired by Susan McClary’s foreword from “Opera: or the Undoing of Women” by Catherine Clément.

“Sean has exceptional skills as a composer. His opera was made on a very professional level and his work as a musician vividly represent his sincere dedication to social justice issues,” said Teddy Niedermaier, an associate professor of Core Music Studies at CCPA.

The Appleton, Wisconsin, native has been composing music since 2010. He was recognized as the best student composer at the 2017 Chicago Electro-Acoustic Music Festival and received the Cleveland Chamber Symphony Emerging Composer Award in 2014.

“The university’s social justice work is what attracted me to Roosevelt, first and foremost. There are many opportunities for composing at the University as well. All of the students are really engaged and active,” Hussey said.

Hussey recently received CCPA’s Performing Social Justice Seed Grant, which paved the way for the student composer to complete a residency at the InterArts Center in Malmö, Sweden in August. As a result of that experience, he got an opportunity work on an electroacoustic concert music documentary that will tell the stories of refugees who have recently migrated to Sweden.

Hussey collaborated on Concert Music Documentary: Refugees in Sweden along with Swedish vocal quartet Åkervinda and plans to continue his work with the Swedish band. The Roosevelt master’s music composition student will graduate in the spring of 2018.

Roosevelt University, a private institution founded in 1945 on the principles of inclusion and social justice, has more than 4,500 students in five colleges. With campuses in the Chicago Loop and northwest suburban Schaumburg, Roosevelt offers 70 undergraduate and 40 graduate programs across five colleges and online, including arts and sciences, business, performing arts, education and pharmacy. Roosevelt has been ranked the third most racially diverse private university in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report – Best Colleges Rankings. For more information, visit www.roosevelt.edu

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