Majel Connery is a vocalist, composer, producer, and musicologist. Connery is currently Mohr Visiting Artist 2016–17 at Stanford University as part of a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw and the Saint Lawrence String Quartet. She is also Mellon Visiting Artist (with Ken Ueno and Thomas Tsang) at the Newhouse Center at Wellesley College. Current projects include a vocal quintet (voice + string quartet) with the St. Lawrence String Quartet composed by Caroline Shaw and directed by Christopher Alden (Apr. 21, Bing/Stanford Live) and a new opera by Ken Ueno with FLUX Quartet (Apr. 7, National Sawdust). Recent honors include a USA Artist Fellowship nomination, and a New Music USA Award (with Oracle Hysterical and A Far Cry). Connery is co-founder and Executive & Artistic Director of avant-garde opera company Opera Cabal, and has commissioned, produced, and performed in projects with the company including works by Caroline Shaw, G.F. Haas, and Lewis Nielson. She graduated from Princeton University with an A.B. in music composition and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in ethnomusicology and musicology.
Majel Connery is co-founder, vocalist and artistic director for pathbreaking Chicago-based company Opera Cabal. Exhibiting the “audacity and daredevilry rarely found in anything calling itself ‘opera’ these days” (Time Out Chicago), the group is an arts think tank for the conjunction of academic and creative work on opera. Under her leadership, the company commissioned and produced operas by Lewis Nielson (usw, 2010), Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw (Ritornello, 2012), and the world stage premiere of George Friedrich Haas’s ATTHIS with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (The Kitchen, 2014), a production the New York Times called “one of the most searingly painful and revealing operatic performances in recent times.”
Connery is producing and performing in current Opera Cabal projects including “Passionate Pilgrim,” an album of “Shakespearean” poetry composed and performed by Oracle Hysterical, Connery’s composer-performer collective, and baroque band, New Vintage Baroque (Vision into Art/NAXOS Feb. 14); “Aelous,” a new opera by Rome- and Berlin Prize-winning composer Ken Ueno, and performed by Ueno, Connery and FLUX Quartet (National Sawdust, Apr. 7); and Mainline Music, a residency and concert series for uncommon artists and adventurous audiences hosted by Starline Social Club (Oakland, CA).
Connery graduated with a degree in music composition from Princeton University. She went on to complete a Masters in Ethnomusicology and a PhD in Musicology from the University of Chicago. Having completed a position as Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2013-15) she is currently Mohr Visiting Artist at Stanford University where she is co-teaching with St. Lawrence String Quartet a seminar entitled “Theatricality and the String Quartet.” Her residency at Stanford concludes with a staged workshop of a newly commissioned vocal quintet by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, performed by Connery and the St. Lawrence, and staged by opera director Christopher Alden (Bing/Stanford Live, April 21).
With her composer-performer collective, Oracle Hysterical, Connery co-wrote and sings on forthcoming concept albums “Passionate Pilgrim” on texts by Shakespeare, and “Hecuba” on the original play by Euripides. Oracle Hysterical recently composed and performed “The Sea,” a new commission from Boston-based, Grammy-nominated string ensemble A Far Cry (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, October 2016), supported by a grant from New Music USA.