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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Music, Opera, Performing Arts

Mission: To create, produce and present music theatre works and events through our unique collaborative method that reflects the many facets of our world; to bridge cultures by bringing artists from around the world together to create these events.

Results: Moo, Squeal & Scratch: in the garden of shadows. A performance art piece performed at the Chelsea Art Museum (August 2006) and at the Stone (October 2007) in Manhattan. Based on ancient Persian poetry with music by American composers Haleh Abghari and Ben Kreith and scored for narrator, soprano, violin, percussion and bass, this piece explores the popular and classical musical traditions of Europe, America and the Middle East, combined with the theatrical traditions of story-telling, narration and singing. This piece incorporates both the Farsi and English languages and is an illustration of the shared common ground that exists between American and Persian culture as well as all mankind. Dream Seminar. A new opera/interdisciplinary performance piece incorporating poetry of 2011 Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer and music of Ellen Lindquist; created by a team of 22 artists from 7 different countries through collaboration and improvisation. We are exploring the ways in which we can use our artistic mediums to contribute to a new way of working in classical music composition and performance and that reflects our world today. Through the next year we continue to develop the score and libretto, designs and choreography for this piece. The premiere is scheduled for Västerås and Stockholm,Sweden August/September 2013. Odin. A unique and altogether different innovation in pushing the boundaries of music theatre-a combination of hip hop and rap street culture and the high art of opera- is explored in this new piece by environmental activist and composer/percussionist Donald Knaack. The 13 players of the percussion ensemble play instruments constructed entirely from recycled materials to accompany the 18 person cast as they rap and hip hop in classical style. From the Dance of the Valkyries to the Attack of the Frost Giants we are graced with a rhythmic drive and movement that kindles excitement. This piece will be produced by Companion Star in 2015. Based on the Poetic Edda and the story of Odin the God of war and knowledge we see the devastation of today’s world through the lens of Odin’s struggle for power and control. Under Milk Wood. A live radio opera experience that is a coproduction of Companion Star Inc, the Taliesin Arts Centre in Wales, Welsh National Opera and Le Chien qui chante in Montréal of Welsh composer John Metcalf’s seventh opera. Under Milk Wood is based on the literary classic of the same name by Dylan Thomas. This piece features a live radio broadcast setting complete with “foley” artists and recorded sounds. This project will be the third collaboration of Companion Star’s Founder and Director Michael Douglas Jones with John Metcalf and Stage Director Keith Turnbull. Premiere in 2014 at the Dylan Thomas Centenary Festival. The Illumination Initiative. Companion Star operates a performing arts educational program for the Boys & Girls Club of Bellport, NY which is our local community. Begun in July 2007, this project develops performance skills and recognizes and nurtures talent in these beginning artists. Through workshops that are built on the philosophy of our creations for the stage, we provide an outlet for these predominantly African-American participants aged 8-18 to explore their creativity through word, song and movement. We also offer vocal study scholarships to exceptionally talented participants in this program. The average number of participants in the workshops is 14. Both on Long Island and in the rural area of Västerås, Sweden (an hour and a half northwest of Stockholm) we operate educational workshops and chamber music events that coincide with our development workshops. By offering these workshops to local artists and students, we generate interest in our work as well as provide a different perspective to the creation of works for the stage. In June 2009 we began a workshop to guide collaborations of artists in Västerås. Artists created short pieces composed through their improvisations together.

Target demographics: Art lovers of all ages, poetry and music lovers,

Direct beneficiaries per year: 500

Geographic areas served: New York, Sweden, Wales

Programs: We are engaged in creating work that penetrates the boundaries of the established art forms of opera and music theatre. Our performance projects take 4-5 years from beginning to completion. This length of process is crucial for the research and development of our work. We believe that investing time and deep collaborative work in a project will yield world-shattering results.

Community Stories

41 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Peter13

Donor

Rating: 5

One just has to see one of the performances of the Companion Star troupe to understand the highly professional and inspiring expertise that Michael Jones pours into preparing these young performers to excel. At a time when so many of our educational institutions are cutting back arts programs, Companion Star has the vision to boldly fill a need among populations which cannot afford to attend specialized arts training programs. Further, Mr. Jones creates an atmosphere wherein ca sense of community is developed among the participants. It is encouraging to see an organization dedicated to the development of the whole individual.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Michael Douglas Jones is a creative visionary and a man with deep concern for artistic integrity and for art as a communal and non-hierarchical endeavor. He has been my voice teacher for the past 7 years and over that time I have watched him pour every ounce of his energy into this project because he believes so strongly in equal participation in and equal access to musical expression and empowerment. Companion Star's productions reflect this ethos, and supporting them can only help to improve our world.

Laure M.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known Michael Jones for over 20 years, and experienced his work as a singer, collaborative performer, and as the founder of Companion Star. Performing with him has been a joy, as his passion and commitment to new music theater always shines through and never fails to inspire. Highly recommended!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having worked as a harp player with companion star over the last 5 years i would like to share the uniqueness of the experience that performers get from it. Never have I been so involved in the creating process of a piece. Working with companion star is an life time experience : it connects you again with the core of what it means to create a work of art.Mickael Douglas Jones is so dedicated to helping this company and making each workshop and performance a life changing experience that i can only recommend it unreservedly.

Donor

Rating: 5

Companion Star has produced some truly original and moving music through its imaginative artistic collaboration. Listening to Michael Jones sing the words of poet laureate and Nobel prize winner TomasTranstromer transports you directly into a world of intense feeling, sorrow, joy and magic. Jones has brought together musicians from around the world to produce innovative music that is still lyrical and very fresh. I salute them!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have watched Companion Star grow over the past few years thanks to the efforts of Michael Douglas Jones and his dedicated colleagues. I have collaborated closely with Michael and have known him since 1997. He is an artist of great integrity and true talent. I’m most impressed the unique works that are produced by Companion Star, the high level of artistry and community involvement. I hope this organization can continue to grow and bring us projects that enrich our lives and challenge the limits of our imagination.

Walter Arnts

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I know Ellen Lindquist for several years. She has an amazing quality of tuning into the world of music. She is also very gifted to compose different kinds of people into one palpable soul without the loss of every ones input. Walter Arnts Netherlands

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 4

I know Ellen Lindquist and her heart is realy into composing music which does appeal to and awake consciousness and love. She does this together with very special people who have this same goal.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known Michael for many years and I am so impressed with the work he has done with Companion Star. He has the vision to enrich the musical scene and broaden the horizons of those who participate.Lois Alba

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have known Michael Jones and Companion Star for almost six years now. Their special project involving the musicians and artists through improvisation is excellent. Their performances in contemporary opera/music theater is wonderful. The company also gives free improvisation classes for young people at the local Bellport Boys and Girls Club.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have worked with Companion Star now for almost 6 years. It is something new and different in the Contemporary Opera Scene, both in its method and its productions. Process and productions this unique are rare and must be experienced. Dreamseminar is ready to debut in Sweden. Based upon the poetry of Nobel Laureate Tomas Transtrommer and music composed by Ellen Lundquist, it is a beautifully uplifting piece; . All the musicians are part of the cast and their instuments " act". Other works in progress include Under Milkwood- based upon Dylan Thomas' radio play and Odin, an opera with instuments made completely out of recycled materials. Companion Star is good for your soul, good for the earth and good for music worldwide.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have known Michael Jones and Companion Star for almost five years now. I attended the second workshop for Dream Seminar in Bellport, NY in January 2007. I was completely enthralled: With the music, the musicians and artists and the entire concept of developing a musical work through improvisation.
Even my comments as an audience participant were considered as the unique process evolved.
While the process is complex, the results are amazing. There is nothing else like this in contemporary opera/music theater.
The company also gives back to the community with free improvisation classes for young people in the Local Boys and Girls club.