Ricky Ian Gordon
|Ricky Ian Gordon|
Ricky Ian Gordon
|Birth name||Ricky Ian Gordon|
May 15, 1956 |
Oceanside, New York, United States
|Origin||New York City, United States|
|Genres||Musical theatre, Opera|
Gordon was born in Oceanside, New York. He was raised by his mother, Eve, and father, Sam, and he grew up on Long Island with his three sisters, Susan, Lorraine and Sheila. Donald Katz based his book, Home Fires: An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-Class Family in Postwar America, on Gordon's family life. Gordon attended Carnegie Mellon University.
The death of his lover from AIDS inspired Dream True (1998), Orpheus and Euridice (2005) and the song cycle Green Sneakers for Baritone, String Quartet, Empty Chair and Piano (2007). He has composed several operas and had his music performed by Audra McDonald, Dawn Upshaw, Renée Fleming, Todd Palmer and others.
In 1992 Gordon set ten of Langston Hughes's poems to music for Harolyn Blackwell. In February 2007, Gordon's opera, The Grapes of Wrath, premiered in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The opera was co-commissioned and co-produced by the Minnesota Opera and the Utah Symphony & Opera. In 2011 he wrote the music for Rappahannock County, a staged revue of twenty one songs about the Civil War, commissioned by the Virginia Arts Festival.
He was commissioned by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for what became Twenty-Seven (2014), an opera about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas and their life at 27 Rue de Fleurus, as a work to star mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe. Royce Vavrek wrote the libretto.
Gordon's songwriting is steeped in the traditions of cabaret and musical theater, while his choice of themes has been idiosyncratic. Green Sneakers for Baritone, String Quartet, Empty Chair and Piano has been described as "a significant contribution to the culture sprung from the AIDS crisis", notable for its elegiac quality as well as its restraint. His opera The Grapes of Wrath, based on the novel by John Steinbeck, has been cited for achieving "instant success that is rare for an American opera."
- Gene Lyons, Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Jul 10, 1992
- Rule, Doug. Short Rounds, Metro Weekly, March 31, 2011.
- Holden, Stephen. MUSIC REVIEW; Composer's Happy Leap Into the Beauty of Poetry, The New York Times, April 30, 2002.
- I Hear America Singing, PBS
- Anne Midgette, "Ricky Ian Gordon sets the Civil War to music", The Washington Post, April 01, 2011]
- "A Coffin in Egypt: Houston". Opera News 78 (12). June 2014.
- The Washington Post, April 01, 2011
- Remnant of Grief: A Cycle Inspired by a Death From AIDS, Stephen Holden, The New York Times, April 7, 2013
- John von Rhein, NU 'Grapes of Wrath' is justice delayed for composer Gordon, Chicago Tribune, February 25, 2013