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Supreme Justice: The Battle for Gay Rights

  • Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts 3 Spruce Street New York, NY, 10038 United States (map)
 Supreme Court Justice concert, full on view

Supreme Court Justice concert, full on view

About Supreme Justice: The Battle for Gay Rights

A new work for soprano, tenor, vocal ensemble and orchestra, "Supreme Justice: The Battle for Gay Rights" tackles one of the landmark issues of our time—the struggle to expand the definition of equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, and is a tribute to the extraordinary friendship of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.

This musical drama is based on the arguments and decision in last year’s Supreme Court gay rights cases, and features portrayals of Justices Scalia and Ginsburg, two of the most prominent individuals in opposition to, and in support of, respectively, the expansion of equal rights. Tenor John Duykers, best known for originating the role of Chairman Mao in John Adams’ Nixon In China, portrays Antonin Scalia; legendary soprano Lucy Shelton sings Notorious RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The libretto includes the passionate, often colorful words of the two justices, who were good friends up until the day Mr. Scalia died on February 13, yet frequent antagonists on the bench. The contrast of their respect for each other, and their affectionate barbs often aimed at each other, offers the opportunity for a riveting musical portrayal.

An oratorio, Supreme Justice opens and closes with a chorale, and follows a dramatic arc in a concert setting. A four-person vocal ensemble serves as a chorus commenting on the action, with each member of the chorus assuming different roles throughout the piece. There are recitatives and arias; duets; trios; quartets—and even a Notorious R.B.G. Tango!

In anticipation of this groundbreaking work, The New York Times and Out magazine published articles:

Schimmel Center Season to Feature Musical Work About Gay Rights Battle
The New York Times, July 31, 2015

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sings!
Out magazine, August 3, 2015

Gary S. Fagin is the founder and music director of the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted, composed, orchestrated and arranged music for symphony orchestras across the country, ballet, Broadway and Off-Broadway, Public Radio, regional and repertory theaters and university and conservatory orchestras. 


Directed by David Schwittek Composed by Michael Bacon Christine Kim on cello Cinematography by Chris Thaler Production Manager: Brendan McGibney Studio Director: Jerry Barnard Sound Engineer for the Concerto: Steve Buonanotte Camera Operator: Miguel Gallardo Production Assistance: Keren Plowden Stylist: Soyeon Kim

About Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra

"I think of my soloist as an individual trying to hear and be heard amidst a complex orchestral framework," says composer Michael Bacon. "The secondary character—a solo trumpet—has many different interactions with the cellist, ranging from sadness to joy."

A new work receiving its world premiere, Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra will be performed by Christine Kim and musicians from the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra.

“Michael Bacon's style is witty, vibrant and conversational, combining a warm sense of lyricism with a punchy, playful, rhythmic propulsion,” says Jo-Ann Sternberg of the Princeton University Music Performance Faculty. “Throughout the work, the singing solo cello engages in colorful dialog with the various instrumental groups of the ensemble (winds/brass/strings/percussion). The orchestration is meticulous and transparent; the harmonic language is an appealing mélange of some crunchy contemporary chromaticism mixed with a healthy dose of folk/pop charm and wit, rendering a vivid clarity to this fresh narrative.”

Michael Bacon is an accomplished composer for film and television, with numerous awards to his credit. He and his brother, actor Kevin Bacon, perform music live as “The Bacon Brothers.” He is a Distinguished Lecturer teaching film scoring at Lehman College.

Christine Kim is a versatile cellist whose talent and sensibility have allowed her to thrive across a diverse musical landscape from art music to hip-hop. She has toured with major international acts including Sheryl Crow; has an ongoing collaboration with singer/songwriter Dar Williams; earned a Grammy nomination for her work with the East Village Opera Company’s release of Olde School and is a recurring presence on numerous national television shows and specials.