With temperatures, and snow, falling across the region, what better time to conjure up images of soft summer breezes on a sunny afternoon, the crack of the bat and the story of a baseball 'Hall of Famer,' whose legacy has been creatively captured by a local composer and faculty member at the University of Southern Maine.   

Daniel Sonenberg is a composer, performer and educator living in Portland, Maine. He is best known as the composer of The Summer King, a two-act opera on the life of Negro League baseball great Josh Gibson. With the support of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the opera received its concert world premier at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium in a concert presented by Portland Ovations and co-sponsored by the University of Southern Maine. The opera has been in development for over ten years with the Brooklyn-based company American Opera Projects. In February, 2016, Pittsburgh Opera announced that it would present the staged World Premier of a revised Summer King in five performances at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center, beginning on April 29, 2017.

For the past several years, Mr. Sonenberg has divided his creative energy between works of concert music and recording and producing albums of his original rock music. In each domain, Mr. Sonenberg has allowed his involvement in the other to infiltrate his music making. His Machine Shop (2015) for marimba and recorded electric guitar was commissioned by the Utah-based percussionist Lynn Vartan, with the support of the Maine Arts Commission and premiered at the University of Southern Maine in April, 2015.  

Since 2013, Mr. Sonenberg has released new rock music each year. His band Lovers of Fiction released a debut E.P. The Bear in 2013 and a full-length album, Long Overdue in 2015. In between those two efforts, and immediately following the premier of his opera, Dan released a solo album, Peaks Island Ferry, for which he played all of the instruments. He was the principal mixer and recording engineer on all of the albums as well.

Dan is an Associate Professor of Music and Resident Composer at the University of Southern Maine, where he has taught since 2004. He is willing to admit that as a native New Yorker and he grew up as a Yankee fan. Ironically, his arrival at USM was followed quickly by a Red Sox World Series championship - more baseball history and perhaps a future opera?