Opera Reviews:

452 Jamestown Place

Of the opening three operas, Katherine Saxon’s 452 Jamestown Place held the most potential for development. She chose to write an opera about a woman with multiple personality disorder because the several personas would allow the soprano – Heidi Moss, in this case – to use a number of vocal techniques.

– Jamie Robles, bachtrack

Santa Barbara composer Katherine Saxon above, with conductor Jonathan Khuner above, does know how to write gracefully for the voice, and her scene from 452 Jamestown Place, depicting a woman with Multiple Personality Disorder having a meltdown, was an unexpected delight. I was expecting something much more shrieky than the very pretty music given to the various personalities embodied by soprano Heidi Moss, who was in great voice.

452 Jamestown Place, music and libretto by Katherine Saxon, followed. Her description of the relatively brief excerpt was slightly hampered by an almost self-deprecatory delivery. The piece itself was a disturbing and musically inventive portrayal of a young woman with multiple personalities. Soprano Heidi Moss navigated the demands of the part with strong vocal technique and convincing acting. Jason Sarten listened to her unhinged outbursts with understandable concern. Jonathan Khuner conducted.

– Philip Campbell Bay Area Reporter

452 Jamestown Place, by Santa Barbara-based composer Katherine Saxon, is considerably more alive — because the main character (Heidi Moss’s Bekah), who has dissociative identity disorder, acts so erratically. We meet her alters: a young child, an angst-ridden teen, a boy. They’re all vehicles for the composer to dabble in different styles, and Moss seamlessly commanded them. There are several pretty moments — Sarten’s entreaties, as the supportive friend, for Bekah to “stay with me” — and I’d give the show a chance.

– Steven Winn Cal Alumni Association

Katherine Saxon’s 452 Jamestown Place used a pulsing, febrile score to burrow inside the mind of a woman with multiple-personality disorder.

– Rebecca Wishnia Classical Voice

ALBUM Reviews:

Nunatak on Prisma Vol. 5

Nunatak by Saxon has a glorious sort of hushed mystery about it, then an emergence.

– Grego Applegate Edwards Gapplegate

Deeper still, Nunatak resides in calmer territory via sophistication and elegance as the ensemble does justice to the Katherine Saxon original

Tsuki ga dete / the moon rises on New Choral Voices Vol. 3

Written as an engagement present for her husband-to-be, Katherine Saxon’s The Moon Rises is a setting of her then-fianceé’s poet, which was written for their first Valentine’s Day. Influenced by the poet’s love of trance and Minimalist musics, and set in both Japanese and English, this is a complex and sophisticated work, ending with a composed fade, beautifully realized here.

– Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine volume 43:4


Sea Fever in Vocal Repertoire for the Twenty-First Century, Volume 2

There is a chapter devoted to the cycle in Vocal Repertoire for the Twenty-First Century, Volume 2: Works Written From 2000 Onwards. This chapter discusses American composer Katherine Saxon’s Sea Fever (2008). In this piece, the musical style is straightforward, uncluttered, and accessible, with elements of neoclassicism, and the four songs are well contrasted. The second has space-time notation, but the others are written conventionally, with key and time signatures. The relationship between voice and piano is well gauged, but there may be a few balance problem for lighter voices, especially when lines are low-lying. Verbal clarity is a crucial requirement. Words and music teem with watery images, and the sonic palette of John Masefield’s resonant poetry, full of alliteration and onomatopoeia, is a gift for composers, to which Saxon responds with empathy and panache. Some very fast articulation is called for, especially in the last song. The composer’s succinct instructions for mood and character are always pertinent.