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Masque of the red death

Produced in association with the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet, Jordan Kuspa's ballet Masque of the Red Death is a 45-minute journey through decadence, decay, and ultimately death. The premiere on April 7, 2016, at the Majestic Theater in Downtown Dallas, brought together Kuspa's score, choreography by Emilie Skinner, film projections by Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe, and musicians from Southern Methodist University's SYZYGY New Music Ensemble, under the musical direction of Matt Albert and conducted by Hannah Threlkeld. The following is taken from Kuspa's program notes for the premiere:


"The Masque of the Red Death" is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most evocative gothic tales. When Emilie Skinner approached me about doing a larger project after the success of our first collaboration, “Whirlwind,” I immediately thought of “The Masque” as a perfect story to be realized through dance. I felt that Poe’s suspense-filled and enigmatic story seemed particularly appropriate for today’s societal climate. In the story, Prince Prospero seeks to shut out the problems of the world and distract himself and his guests from the real and pervasive suffering of his own people. In the end, distraction and apathy inevitably lead to tragedy for those who are so nearsighted. And no matter how isolated we may think we are, no matter how sheltered from suffering, ultimately we are all connected. We share the same fate.

I could never have written this music without the help and support of so many people, and I want to acknowledge a few of them here. First, I want to thank Emilie Skinner for asking me to collaborate on a project of such scope, and for her energy, effort, and vision in bringing this whole production together. Matt Albert has been indefatigable, incredibly enthusiastic, encouraging, and accommodating. He, and the brilliant, beautiful musicians of SMU’s SYZYGY have given me the priceless gift of their time, talent, and artistry, and I cannot thank Matt and all the musicians enough. 

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