In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, Alliance for New Music-Theatre commissioned a series of “Short Gems” and assembled six teams of composers and librettists to respond to works in The Phillips Collection, America’s First Museum of Modern Art, in celebration of its 2021 Centennial. Alliance invited each team to compose for one to three singer-actors and a single instrument and to come in around 20 minutes. The economy of means was carried through into production with a skeletal crew recording in The Phillips galleries to create high-quality filmed music-theater pieces. The completed works showcase a diversity of artists, cultures, and sound worlds across the spectrum of music-theatre, and were in response to the political, racial, gender, and social divisions that created such enormous heat last year. They also demonstrated the ability of different art forms to be “in conversation” with The Phillips Centennial Exhibition “Seeing Differently” with a music-theater call for hearing differently. Having premiered mid-July 2021, the “Short Gems” series is being released one every two weeks. “Short Gems” kicks off Alliance’s 2021–2022 season with digital on-line performances and discussions. The project was supported in part by DCCAH.

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