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Atypical Chronicles

Program Notes

Program Notes by Melanie Holm:

Atypical Chronicles is a collaborative composition of music, vocals, video, and the spoken word that engages with the nonverbal world of Autism via the performative exploration of alternative modes of communication. Through sound, image, movement, and language, Atypical Chronicles seeks to explore Autism from two opposing ideals: Isolation and Integration, both for those diagnosed with autism and those who care for them. Atypical Chronicles is performed by "converging" poetry, music, and movement together to tell stories about the complexities and nuances of difficult issues that impact our everyday lives. The piece is made up of 5 movements that explore the content of the 5 poem collection originally composed for this piece. Atypical Chronicles is a product of the ASU Women’s Collaborative Project, and is made up of Composer/Videographer Ashlee Busch, Spoken Word Artist and City of Phoenix Poet Laureate Rosemarie Dombrowski, and Soprano Melanie Holm.


Rosemarie Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of rinky dink press, and the faculty editor of the ASU/Phoenix-based journal Write On, Downtown. Additionally, she is the founder/host of both the Phoenix Poetry Series and First Friday Poetry on Roosevelt Row. She is the recipient of five Pushcart nominations, a 2017 Arts Hero Award, and a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics for her Community Poetry Gardens project. She was also the winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook. She has published three collections of poetry, one focusing solely on the culture of nonverbal Autism. She teaches on ASU's Downtown campus, for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and at Changing Hands Bookstore.

Ashlee T Busch (b. 1986) is a composer, performer, arranger, and educator based in Mesa, Arizona. Ashlee is currently pursuing her DMA in music composition from Arizona State University where she also works as a graduate teaching assistant in the Theory/Composition department. She received her Master’s degree in music composition from Michigan State University and her Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University. Ashlee has also enjoyed teaching privately in the areas of composition, piano, flute, and voice for the last 10 years. Ashlee finds the most compositional satisfaction in collaborating with other art forms—poetry, dance, installation art, video. Such collaborations have included residencies with several East Coast and Midwest universities, remixing and arrangement albums with video game remixing label Materia, composer/choreographer collaboratives, and premieres of her works across the United States.

Melanie Holm, soprano: Hailing from Nebraska, Melanie Holm is a charming and versatile performer currently based in Phoenix, Arizona. This summer she will debut the role of Amy in Little Women and cover Blonde in The Abduction from the Seraglio with Opera in the Ozarks as an Emerging Artist. She has recently performed in the Phoenix valley as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel as an Education Teaching Artist with Arizona Opera. Melanie’s passion for contemporary opera and art song led her to form the Convergence Trio with composer Ashlee Busch and poet Rosemarie Dombrowski in 2018 in order to create new music that gives voice to topics rarely discussed in standard classical music. Atypical Chronicles, the first collaboration for the trio, is the product of a commission from the Arizona Women’s Collaborative, and was premiered at the 2019 Oh My Ears New Music Festival, where she also premiered music by OME Guest Composer-in-Residence Sarah Gibson.

In the contemporary opera world, Melanie has premiered the following roles; Silvia in Behold the Man (Paul Fowler/Andrew Flack), an operatic retelling of the botched Ecce Homo fresco internet meme sensation with Arizona State University, Lynn in The Halloween Tree (Theo Popov/Tony Asaro) in a collaboration with Arizona State University and American Lyric Theater, Lillie in Babe: An Olympian Musical (Andrea Jill Higgins/Carolyn Gage) at Arizona State University and the National Women’s Music Festival, and La Babette in Big Red Sun (Georgia Stitt/Jon Jiler) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additional selected roles performed include; Mrs. Julian; Owen Wingrave, Papagena, The Magic Flute; Arsean, The Gypsy Baron, and Belinda Dido and Aeneas. An Encouragement Award Winner at the Metropolitan Opera District Auditions, Melanie holds a Master ofMusic, Opera Performance from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Vocal Performance from Arizona State University under the tutelage of Stephanie Weiss.

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