Music Director: Alva Henderson
Alva Henderson completed his first opera Medea while supporting himself by singing in the San Francisco Opera Chorus. The 1972 production of Medea by the San Diego Opera with Metropolitan Opera star Irene Dalis in the title role brought him to national attention.
A commission from Opera Delaware to create an opera for the American Bicentennial and for the gala reopening of the restored Grand Opera House in Wilmington. The Last of the Mohicans was premiered there in 1976. The following year the work was produced by the Lake George Opera Festival and broadcast throughout the country on National Public Radio.
Among his other compositions are the operas West of Washington Square, premiered by Opera San Jose in 1988, Achilles and The Tempest ( both not yet produced), the cantata The Ancient Ones, premiered by the Schola Cantorum in 1983, and a dramatic musical, Far From the Madding Crowd.
In June of 2004 Schola Cantorum, a San Francisco Bay area chorus of 140 voices gave the premiere of Mr. Henderson’s Winter Requiem, poems by Dana Gioia. The work was performed, with orchestra, at St. Joseph’s Church in San Jose, and in San Francisco at St. Ignatius Church.
Also in 2004 Mr. Henderson’s opera Nosferatu, with libretto by Dana Gioia (after the film by F. W. Murnau) was given its World Premiere first at by the Rimrock Opera in Billings, Montana, followed by performances in by Opera Boise in Idaho.
For the opening of the City of Hope in Orange County, California, in September of 2008 he was commissioned to write From Greater Light, a cantata with baritone and tenor solos, chorus and orchestra. Carl St. Clair conducted the Pacific Symphony and the Pacific Chorale. The work was first performed with reduced forces in the chapel of the City of Hope, and the following evening with larger forces in the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
Mr. Henderson was director of music for two previous plays with music by Sharmon Hilfinger and Joan McMillen: Tell It Slant and Hanging Georgia.