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Program for Story & Song

Friday, October 7, 2022 at 8 pm

download a copy of this program here.

Story & Song

new short operas and other delights

Winnie Nieh, soprano
Nikola Printz, mezzo-soprano
Sidney Chen, bass-baritone
Doug Machiz, cello
Monica Chew, piano
Chesley Mok, piano


S. A. Workman
Vocalises – premiere
        I. Winnie Nieh and Doug Machiz
        II. Nikola Printz and Doug Machiz
        III. Sidney Chen and Doub Machiz

Monica Chew
The COVID Bake-Offpremiere
Libretto by Sandra Flores-Strand
        The Vendetta
        I’m Bobby V.
        Suck it up, buttercup!
        What’s that smell?
        Rosé Glasses
        Ready, set, BAKE!
Winnie Nieh, Nikola Printz, Sidney Chen, Doug Machiz, and Monica Chew


Davide Verotta
Earth Journeys premiere
  In a Universe
        Carbon Explosion
        Portrait of an Interior
        From Fiery Dust to Fiery Dust
Winnie Nieh, Nikola Printz, Sidney Chen, Doug Machiz, and Chesley Mok

S. A. Workman
Simpler Things for 3 Voicespremiere
Winnie Nieh, Nikola Printz, Sidney Chen, and Chesley Mok

About the music

The COVID Bake-Off
music by Monica Chew, libretto by Sandra Flores-Strand

Act 1 Scene 1 (Lilly’s Bedroom)
Lilly wakes up and she still has no taste or smell. She sings about wanting to regain her senses before the big competition. She reads an article that makes her feel encouraged that she might get her taste back by tomorrow. She decides to call Eve, her sous chef, to help her come up with a plan to get her taste back. As she goes to call Eve, Bobby, her nemesis, calls to antagonize her.

Act 1 Scene 2 (The Competition)
On the day of the competition, Lilly and Eve try a variety of methods to help her regain her taste. Lilly worries that Bobby might sabotage her again and Eve confirms her suspicions about Bobby and his cheating family. Before the competition begins, Bobby unintentionally confesses that he sabotaged Lilly’s ingredients in the first round. It’s announced that Bobby’s Sous chef, Vinny V., failed his covid test, so Bobby will have to compete on his own. Lilly and Eve rejoice and delight in making jabs at Bobby throughout the competition. Lilly wins the competition.

Monica Chew is an Oakland pianist and composer. In 2017 she released her first solo album, Tender and Strange, featuring works by Bartók, Janáček, Messiaen, Takemitsu, and Scriabin. A “gifted player with an affinity for deeply sensitive expression” (Whole Note), she has been featured on radio stations worldwide. She started composing in 2017 and couldn’t be happier about it. Prior to 2015, she worked nearly a decade as a principal software engineer on security and privacy at Mozilla and Google. She lives in Oakland with her husband, an 1899 Steinway B, a clavichord, and a disused violin.

Librettist Sandra Flores-Strand is based in the US and Canada. She writes on a variety of topics but feels compelled to tell stories with a focus on marginalized communities, particularly Latin American representation on stage. Sandra has an extensive background in classical singing and theatrical production and her works have been featured by Opera America, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Arizona Women’s Collaborative, Really Spicy Opera, and more. Sandra is currently working on an opera commission for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as projects with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, her opera La Alcaldesa, about Doña Fela, the first female Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and other projects.

Earth Journeys
music and text by Davide Verotta

Earth Journeys is a fast-paced tale that takes us through a few billion years. It is divided in four sections. The first, In un Universo (In a Universe), narrates the forming of earth; the second, Carbon Explosion, is about the bizarre explosion of carbon-based life on earth. The third, Quadro d’interno (Portrait of an interior), narrows down from the cosmic and planetary to the human, in a portrait of a woman ravaged by loss; it is inspired by The Trojans, the proto-feminist, pacifist tragedy written by Euripides in 415 B.C.E. The last section, Of Fire, takes us back to the cosmic—to the fiery end of the solar system and the beginning that emerges from the fire.

Davide Verotta was born in an Italian town close to Milano and moved to San Francisco as an eager twenty-six-year-old. A professor at UCSF in biomathematics and statistics (gasp) for thirty years, he has been actively involved in the San Francisco music scene for a good twenty five, and eventually left math behind to concentrate exclusively on composing. He studied piano at the Milano Conservatory ages ago. Composition is more recent, with studies at SFSU, where he earned an MA, and UC Davis. Davide teaches piano and composition privately and at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. He has received numerous local commissions, international competition prizes, and composition grants. For more information, please visit his web site at

Shawne Workman
Vocalises I–III

These three short pieces were inspired by the beauty and skill of the voices you’ll hear, and of all the artists performing tonight. The central hope is to provide a few uncomplicated moments to relax and enjoy the flow, the feel, and just a tiny sampling of the sound these people can create.

Simpler Things for 3 Voices
text and music by Shawne Workman

This set of brief, simple tunes is meant as a reminder, in essence a note-to-self that in repudiation of conflict, cruelty and life’s other nasties, small things we experience every day can provide points of focus – and that as we relax and look closer, these smallest events might reveal startling beauty and surprising moments of peace that are anything but simple.

A longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, concert and media composer Shawne (S. A.) Workman enjoys creating new music with a sense of story and place, through varied combinations of notated material, original text, virtual instruments, and audio manipulation. She studied composition and media composing with Elinor Armer and Lennie Moore at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she currently teaches courses in music production and hybrid acoustic/electronic orchestral composition.

About the musicians

Soprano Winnie Nieh graduated from Harvard and received Associate diplomas from Trinity College London in piano, violin and voice. Gifted with perfect pitch and a “well-focused”, “impeccably pure and heart-breaking” voice, she has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Austrian Embassy, and in Germany, Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong. She made her European solo debut with Maestro Helmuth Rilling in Bach’s Cantata BWV 147. She won First Place in St. Andrews Arts Council’s International Aria Competition, Third Place & Audience Favorite in Madison Early Music Festival’s Handel Aria Competition, was a National Finalist in New York Lyric Opera’s Competition, and a Runner-up in two consecutive San Francisco Classical Voice Best of the Bay polls. She serves on the Board of Trustees of Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer.

Nikola Printz, mezzo-soprano, is a multifaceted performer whose talents occupy many fora. Not only can they be seen on the operatic stage, but they are also an accomplished circus artist with a concentration being on static and dance trapeze. Nikola has performed many roles in the standard repertoire, including the titular roles of Carmen, L’italiana in Algeri, Orfeo ed Euridice, as well as Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro (Cherubino), The Rape of Lucretia (Lucretia) and much more. Nikola is honored to be a 2021 and 2022 Merola young artist with the San Francisco Opera, with whom they recently debuted their Schwabacher recital to rave reviews. Nikola was also a participant of the 2020/2021 BANFF Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century program—focusing on diversity and inclusion in the opera world. Nikola will be returning as a resident artist for the Opera San Jose 2023 season. Nikola has studied under the tutelage of Patricia Craig and Sheri Greenawald.

Bass-baritone Sidney Chen, whose voice has been described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “expressive and richly mellifluous,” is passionate about creating new work through collaboration with artists of all disciplines. Current projects include touring with ODC/Dance as a guest performer in KT Nelson’s Path of Miracles, and creating the roles of Apollo in Anne Hege’s laptopera The Furies with Stanford Laptop Orchestra and Alex in Lisa Mezzacappa’s serial podcast opera The Electronic Lover. As a member of Meredith Monk’s Vocal Ensemble, he has performed internationally and recorded for ECM Records. At home in San Francisco, he performs regularly with the new-music chamber chorus Volti and the nine-voice ensemble Clerestory. His solo performances often include DIY music boxes, which have been featured in a Chronicle Datebook cover story.

Cellist Doug Machiz is in high demand as both a classical and contemporary musician. He co-founded the Friction Quartet, a nonprofit performing arts organization whose mission is to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. The group has recorded two full-length albums and, through the Friction Commissioning Initiative, has funded the creation of 12 new works for string quartet. Doug is on faculty at The Crowden School, where he teaches private cello lessons and ensembles. With his quartet, Doug has also performed at every public elementary school in San Francisco.

Pianist Chesley Mok graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and received a Master of Music at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying Collaborative Piano with Timothy Bach. A diverse pianist, Chesley works with both vocalists and instrumentalists across a wide range of genres, from standard classical repertory to new music. A Bay Area native, Chesley has performed with many local organizations including the Golden State Youth Symphony, California Youth Symphony, and Crystal Children’s Choir. Currently, she is the pianist for the SF Girls Chorus Premier Ensemble. Aside from her collaborative work, Chesley also enjoys teaching piano and violin to youth across the Bay Area.

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