EPK: Christopher Corbell








Solo performance:
poetry and passion


The Sonnets project is devoted to the alchemy of music and words – how they can reinforce one another and transcend what each does alone. At home equally on an indie-music venue stage, in a concert hall, or at a literary event, Corbell brings to performances of Sonnets an immersion in meaning and a devotion to the craft of melody that is as rare as it is welcomed by audiences seeking more from the art of songwriting.

“Kundalini” – lyrics are listed on the Sonnets page.

“On her walk” – a song about beauty in urban decay, inspired by a Portland photographer’s work.

Original opera:
notes from the classical underground


Corbell’s first original opera, Viva’s Holiday, premiered to full houses and won the praise of fans and press alike. “It’s a Christmas opera about a stripper!” wrote Meghan Burbank in The Portland Mercury – a witty and poignant intersection of the classical with the underground, based on a local memoir.

Scored for four singers and chamber orchestra, the successful premiere was produced by Corbell, leveraging contacts made as a champion of the Portland alt-classical scene. By popular demand Viva’s Holiday will return in 2016 to become an annual holiday-season theater offering.

In this Scene 4 excerpt, Viva shows Mom some of her stripper clothes. Viva is sung by soprano Helen Funston, Mom by mezzo-soprano Sadie Gregg.

from the page to lyrical life


The poetic is a different dimension of language – one that has echoes of incantation, heartbeat, music, and dream. Whether it is the playful Latin of an ancient Roman or the erudite jazz of 1920’s Grenwich Village, Corbell has a knack for finding the musical strand that lies hidden in a great poem and fully realizing it as a song.

I’ve always been drawn to the lyrical. I want to honor the text and the poetic spirit, not empty or deconstruct it. I think that’s how we bring the poetic into ourselves, in a transformative way – we have to get past the surface and understand its generative DNA. Nothing does that better than music, which is in essence the language of transformation, of becoming.

Corbell’s setting of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Only until this cigarette is ended” is sung here by mezzo-soprano Hannah Penn, with pianist Mitchell Falconer.

projects and availability

To see confirmed upcoming performances and productions please visit the Events page.

In 2016, Corbell will be working on new opera projects, recording a full-length solo album, producing two more Cult of Orpheus art-song shows (May 1, August 18), going on a fall solo tour, and producing the second run of Viva’s Holiday: An Opera in One Act (December) which will include a cast recording project.

He is always interested in:

  • new partnerships for recording and publishing
  • solo and small-ensemble performance booking
  • performing with local Portland bands, ensembles, and poets
  • discussing new music commissions (esp. art-song / choral / opera)
  • licensing his music for performances, broadcasts, recordings, and film
  • consulting/teaching

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