03 May 2024

George Grella Interviews Mikel Rouse for The Brooklyn Rail

Mikel sat down for an interview with George Grella. George gives a brief description of Mikel: Mikel Rouse is one of the most important and accomplished contemporary American opera composers. Coming to New York out of Kansas City in 1979 with his rock band, Tirez Tirez, Rouse went on to pioneer polyrhythmic, post-minimal chamber music with his Broken Consort ensemble, and his 1984 album Quorum, a set of drum machine studies, was the first of its kind. His operas include Failing Kansas, based on the 1959 murder of the Clutter family; Funding, a set of personal stories about surviving when broke in New York City; The End of Cinematics, a loving critique of the evolution and devolution of film in mass culture; and his magnum opus, Dennis Cleveland, an opera that is also a talk show in the style of notorious ones from Richard Bey, Jerry Springer, and Geraldo Rivera, which had an institutional breakthrough in 2002 when it was staged at Lincoln Center. His operas are often presented as other media—TV or film—and his compositional method twines together complex and supple rhythmic and harmonic patterns with a spoken word and gentle crooning. He’s an avant-gardist with pop and deep humanist appeal. His memoir, The World Got Away, will be published May 21 by the University of Illinois Press. He sat down for coffee with the Rail on a bright, chilly March afternoon in Hell’s Kitchen. Read the full interview in The Brooklyn Rail HERE.