July 10, 2017

A Conversation with Matt Donovan

July 1, 2017

"Inheritance" in residence at Banff Center for the arts

The creative team of Inheritance enjoyed a week long residency at theLeighton Artist's Colony at the Banff Center for the Arts during late June, 2017.   Composer Lei Liang, artist Ligia Bouton, librettist Matt Donovan and soprano/producer Susan Narucki spent a week in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, meeting daily in order to discuss aspects of the composition, production and libretto at a crucial stage of development.  Team members also met with music director Steven Schick, who currently serves as co-director of the Summer Music Program at Banff- a happy confluence of events.  "Our project grew by leaps and bounds during this week, "said Narucki.  "There is no substitute for spending time together and so many remarkable ideas emerged from our discussions." 

"After our discussions, I have so many more ideas about how to bring this complex and moving story to life through my music." said Liang.  "Being in a setting of incredible natural beauty, we have space to think and dream about what this opera can be." 

The Inheritance team recorded their reactions to the week in a series of individual short films: the first is a conversation with librettist Matt Donovan.  Follow us on social media and the blog, which includes reflections from the team about the process of creating the opera and opens up conversation on the broader issues that Inheritance confronts and explores. 

Banff Center for the Arts

Banff Center for the Arts

January 17, 2017

"Inheritance" Earns residency at Banff Center for the arts

The creative team of Inheritance has been awarded a June 2017 residency at the Leighton Artist Colony at the Banff Center for the Arts. Composer Lei Liang, designer Ligia Bouton, librettist Matt Donovan and soprano Susan Narucki will enjoy a week-long residency in order to discuss and workshop aspects of the opera at a crucial stage of development.


January 1, 2017


We're pleased and proud to announce that critically acclaimed conductor Steven Schick has joined the production of Inheritance, as music director, respectively.  We are so pleased that this exceptional artist has joined us as an essential member of our project. 

Percussionist, conductor, and author Steven Schick was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family. For forty years he has championed contemporary music by commissioning or premiering more than one hundred-fifty new works. Schick is music director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and artistic director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He was music director of the 2015 Ojai Festival. He maintains a lively schedule of guest conducting including recent appearances with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Modern and the Asko/Schönberg Ensemble. Among his acclaimed publications include a book, "The Percussionist's Art: Same Bed, Different Dreams," and numerous recordings of contemporary percussion music including a 3 CD set of the complete percussion music of Iannis Xenakis (Mode) and a companion recording of the early percussion music of Karlheinz Stockhausen in 2014 (Mode). Steven Schick is Distinguished Professor of Music and holds the Reed Family Presidential Chair at the University of California, San Diego.

December 13, 2016

"Inheritance" at UC San DIEGO awarded 2017 NEA Artworks Grant

La Jolla, CA —National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $30 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017.  Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to the Department of Music at UC San Diego for the development of "Inheritance" a chamber opera collaboration between UCSD Professors Lei Liang and Susan Narucki, as well as New Mexico based artist Ligia Bouton and poet Matt Donovan.  The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as the Department of Music at the University of California at San Diego, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

"We are so delighted that Inheritance has earned an Artworks grant," said Liang and Narucki in a joint statement.  "The entire creative team is committed to creating an opera that will open a space for dialogue and reflection about a critical issue in American society. We are immensely grateful to have earned the support of the National Endowment for the Arts."

The NEA Artworks grant will help to support the commission, development, and premiere of a multimedia chamber opera "Inheritance". Entering its second year of development, the opera is scheduled to premiere at the University of California at San Diego in the fall of 2018, in conjunction with a campus conference about gun violence in America. Inheritance is the recipient of a 2016 Creative Capital Award.   

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.


August, 2016

"Inheritance" at 2016 Creative Capital Retreat

January 21, 2016

Gun Violence Focus of Upcoming UC San Diego Chamber Opera Project

Cynthia Dillon, This Week at UCSD

..."Our goal is to create a work of high artistic values that can spark conversation about a very complicated and critical issue,” said Narucki, who will serve as the soprano and producer on the project.

Liang, interim chair of the UC San Diego music department and composer for Inheritance, will work in collaboration with Narucki; poet/librettist Matt Donovan, from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and production designer/artist Ligia Bouton, from the University of New Mexico. According to the four artists, through investigating this woman trapped in circumstances she inherited, by portraying the ways in which Winchester is reduced to perpetual acts of ineffectual penance, by interrogating a far-reaching history that extends from 19th-century massacres of Native Americans to contemporary school shootings in America, Inheritance is a work that hopes to raise questions about complicity, atonement and gun violence in this country.

“This is yet another project that demonstrates that there is a relevant place for new music in the on-going dialogue on important social issues,” said Liang.

Read the entire article

January 20, 2016

Los Angeles Times

Carolina A. Miranda, Arts and Culture

Six Los Angeles artists and collectives -- along with four others from other parts of California -- are among the 46 recipients of the 2016 Creative Capital awards, grants aimed at supporting emerging artists at crucial junctures in their careers.  Read the entire article

January 12, 2016

Creative Capital Announces 2016 Grantees

Lei Liang/Matt Donovan/Ligia Bouton "Inheritance"

Inheritance is a chamber opera designed for a lead soprano plus three female voices and a chamber ensemble. This opera’s production will be housed within a multimedia environment that examines gun culture in America through the lens of Sarah Winchester’s life. According to popular belief, Winchester was an eccentric widow self-imprisoned in her labyrinth-like home and seeking refuge from the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. The legend surrounding her life, impossible to extract from her actual history, is indicative of America’s inability to separate fact and fiction within gun-debate discourse. Although the libretto for Inheritance is anchored in Winchester’s biography, this work explores her life and home as a metaphor for America’s violent legacy and deeply complex relationship with guns.

January 12, 2016

New York Times: Creative Capital ANnounces Nearly $4.4. Million in Grants

Artistic projects that aim to reflect broad cultural conversations about gender, gun violence and race are among those chosen for nearly $4.4 million worth of grants awarded by Creative Capital, the organization announced on Tuesday.

The winning projects, 46 in all, each receive $50,000 in funding, as well as $45,000 worth of career development services provided by Creative Capital, a group known for applying principles of venture capital to arts financing. Winners were selected from a batch of 2,500 applications that represented both established and emerging artists. Past winners have included the documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, the choreographer Kyle Abraham and the polymath Meredith Monk.

Chris E. Vargas, a Washington-based artist and executive director of the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, won this year for his proposal, “Transgender Hirstory in 99 Objects,” which will take the form of an exhibition and a book. Ligia Bouton, Matt Donovan and Lei Liang received financing for their chamber opera, “Inheritence,” about Sarah Winchester and the United States’s relationship with guns.