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The Sea: Tales of Lapham

A Far Cry sets out with Oracle Hysterical and Lapham's Quarterly

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Reminiscences and Next Steps

Posted on February 21, 2017 by A Far Cry

The week of The Sea being the whirlwind that it was, our debrief to you here is much belated; an indication only of the resulting exhaustion in the days following, and then it was on to the next project, and the next. Nevertheless, months later, we are still singing the tunes, drumming the hooks, and quoting the lines that made up this incredible show. We are in love.

This project was one of the riskiest endeavors A Far Cry has undertaken: our first feature-length commission, with all of the unknown factors that came along with it. It became evident very quickly, however, that our risk had paid off and that, far beyond being merely a “successful” commission, we had a classic on our hands. 

As composers and collaborators, the members of Oracle Hysterical brought something truly special, composing brilliantly, performing eloquently, and collaborating thoughtfully. Elliot Cole’s Deep Sea Dive is nothing short of a masterpiece; a musical depiction of an oceanic depth chart, depicting various landmarks, creatures, and discoveries along the way. It was lovely, moving, and… informative. Majel Connery’s vocals throughout the program transfixed the audience, so much so that we still hear raves many months later: “loved the Bach tonight! When’s Majel coming back? She’s amazing!” Finally, the Balliett brothers, Brad and Doug, brought so much genius, as we knew they would; Brad’s pieces were by turns edgy and lovely, brilliantly setting text by Shakespeare and the Book of Jonah; and Doug’s contributions closed out the program resoundingly, a ballad about drowned sailor, and a depiction of a scene from Homer’s Odyssey that seamlessly ranged stylistically from sea shanty to Queen to The Beastie Boys.

In the immediate follow up we received an excellent review from one of our most demanding critics, and have since been cobbling together video clips, which we are able to distribute privately for promotional use [please ask us! info@afarcry.org]. Already in our rehearsal period there was much talk about mounting further productions, and that is the stage in which we currently find ourselves, working to mount a project website that will support future touring and recording.

This concert hit so many of the right notes in many respects, multi-disciplinary in scope, drawing on the visual, literary, and musical arts, with an overall feeling that was fresh, exciting, and new, friendly yet edgy. It is our firm belief that this is a piece that needs to be shared with a wider audience, and we look forward to doing so! Stay tuned!

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One month to go!

Posted on September 7, 2016 by A Far Cry

The countdown is on to the official premiere of The Sea: Tales of Lapham, October 6th at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Oracle Hysterical, the work’s creators have been busy over the summer, mounting chamber-sized previews at Spectrum in NYC, as well High Concept Labs and The Hideout Inn in Chicago (photo above).

On A Far Cry’s end, the music’s pouring in, the rehearsals are set, and the players are poised and ready. We can’t wait to get on this!

And the show’s been picked up by ArtWeek Boston for a special ticket offer. Hoping to pack the house!

Great news

Posted on July 2, 2016 by A Far Cry

We are so thrilled and honored to have been awarded an NMUSA grant for this project. The Oracle Hysterical gang have already held a very successful first preview at Spectrum last month — more upcoming at the Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha) and High Concept Laboratories (Chicago) — and before we know it,  it’ll be October!

More news and updates to come. This is going to be a fun one!


October 6, 2016, A Far Cry will premiere “The Sea: Tales of Lapham,” an evening-length symphonic song cycle by composer collective Oracle Hysterical. The project takes its name from Lapham’s Quarterly, a modern literary anthology. Using Lapham’s Volume VI, Number 3, “The Sea,” as a libretto, the piece sets to music texts by history’s greatest seafarers, explorers, and aquatic fabulists, including Christopher Columbus, Homer, Herman Melville, Jules Verne, Jacques Cousteau and the Epic of Gilgamesh. From the fragility of solo violin to the shattering fortissimo of full unison, the work cycle explores the sea through changing states of musical extremity, evoking violent floods and the proverbial calm before a deadly storm. The premiere will take place in Calderwood Hall at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where AFC has been an ensemble in residence since 2010.

Approaching its 10th season, A Far Cry is among the great success stories breathing new life into the classical music scene. Democratically operated on all levels, the ensemble has received rave reviews for its powerful performances and innovative programming. Presenting 10+ concert cycles annually in Boston as well as frequent national and international touring, the ensemble is deeply dedicated to collaborative projects and to the creation of new works, with nearly 20 commissions to its credit.

Oracle Hysterical, A Far Cry’s latest collaborative partner, is the brainchild of performer-composers Doug and Brad Balliett, Majel Connery and Elliot Cole. OH partners with a variety of ensembles and venues to cultivate site- and sound-specific worlds for each new project. Recent work includes “Cleopatra,” a “cabaret cantata” for Metropolis Ensemble/le poisson rouge and an upcoming neo-Baroque opera for New Vintage Baroque/National Sawdust.

The performance will occur at an especially literary moment at the Gardner Museum, which will be participating in Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections, a special three-venue collaboration, developed in partnership with Boston College and Harvard University, including 250 rare and seldom-exhibited medieval and Renaissance books. 

AFC’s past new music programs at the Gardner have led to two albums, Dreams and Prayers, a GRAMMY nominee in 2014, and Law of Mosaics, listed on Alex Ross’s Top 10 of 2014, both of which featured AFC-commissioned work, by Mehmet Sanlikol and Ted Hearne, respectively. Also, a 2015 collaboration with Roomful of Teeth will be on tour next year, featuring Caroline Shaw’s Music in Common Time, also commissioned and premiered by AFC.

“The Sea” will also receive preview performances at Spectrum (NYC); Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha); and High Concept Laboratories (Chicago).


Project Media

Beauty Is
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Features: Oracle Hysterical

“Beauty Is” is a track from the album “The Passionate Pilgrim,” co-created by Elliot Cole, Majel Connery, and Doug & Brad Balliett and performed with New Vintage Baroque. “Beauty Is” was written by Doug Balliett. On poetry once thought to have been by Shakespeare, but now unknown.

A Far Cry with Urbanity Dance: Capriccio from Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV826
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Features: A Far Cry

On January 11, 2014, the self-conducted orchestra A Far Cry teamed up with Urbanity Dance for a performance entitled Chemistry.

Ted Hearne: Law of Mosaics: Beats
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Features: A Far Cry

From the AFC commission, premiered at the Gardner in 2014 and listed in Alex Ross’s Top 10 recordings of the year.

Start and End Dates



Boston, Massachusetts

3 updates
Last update on February 21, 2017

Project Created By

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
A Far Cry stands at the forefront of an exciting new generation in classical music. According to The New York Times, the self-conducted orchestra “brims with personality or, better, personalities, many and varied.” A Far Cry was founded in 2007 by a tightly-knit collective of 17 young professional musicians, and since the beginning has fostered…

In Collaboration With

New York, New York


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