Conrad Cummings: Photo Op
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR627     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Cummings Ensemble: Dora Ohrenstein, soprano; James Longacre, tenor; Larry Adams, baritone; Gregory Fulkerson, violin; Daryl Goldberg, cello; Andrew Sterman, woodwinds; Conrad Cummings, keyboard; David Lawton, conductor;


In writing new works for his ensemble, composer Conrad Cummings sought out collaborators to offer him lyrics “rich in intellectual and emotional connections to an audience.” His subsequent musical settings are tonal and direct, relying on a self-imposed economy of means. Though comparisons to the music of Philip Glass, John Adams, and Virgil Thomson are obvious, Cummings’s true predecessors are Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein, socially conscious composers who wrote theatre works in an individual and accessible idiom...

Photo-Op lies somewhere between song cycle and opera. It is a setting of original texts by performance artist and painter James Siena that explore the problems of current political discourse in America. Inspired by the less-than-inspirational Presidential campaign of 1988, the work seeks to reveal the implicit and the unspoken thought behind the public positions of two imaginary political figures. In the course of the piece, their inner, skewed passions are gradually and unintentionally revealed.

Insertions, a 1988 collaboration of Cummings and Siena, is a song cycle dealing with the subjects of love and war using the language of one to describe the other. “In the Department of Love” uses bureaucratic language about love and “Midgetman” passionate language about war. Such juxtapositions recall artist Barbara Kruger’s “Your Body is a Battleground,” a simple work combining worked and image in support of abortion rights.

The American Way groups together three scenes from a new opera about Vietnam [Tonkin], under development by Opera Delaware with a production anticipated for 1993. The opera spans the interaction of the two nations from 1945 to the present, interweaving history with enactments of traditional fables from the two cultures.


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Cummings Ensemble

Conrad Cummings: Photo Op

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Photo-Op: I. A New Direction
Conrad Cummings
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Photo-Op: II. I Believe in Something
Conrad Cummings
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Photo-Op: III. By Keeping Things Exactly The Way That They Are
Conrad Cummings
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Photo-Op: IV. Will You Die for Me?
Conrad Cummings
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Insertions: I. In The Department of Love
Conrad Cummings
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Insertions: II. Soon
Conrad Cummings
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Insertions: III. Midgetman
Conrad Cummings
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American Way: I'm Johnny Appleseed
Conrad Cummings
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American Way: A Fast Plane Out
Conrad Cummings
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American Way: The Green Berets
Conrad Cummings
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