Composer Nicole Paiement Goes One-on-One with Steph Curry

Jeff Kaliss on May 3, 2016
Nicole Paiement Is a Champion | Courtesy of Opera Parallèle

There was a dramatic change of mood for artists and audience Saturday evening, following the splendidly stark San Francisco debut production of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, at Z Space. As flutes were filled with champagne, the theater lobby filled with chatter, until John Neuchterlein, president and CEO of the American Composers Forum, mounted a bench to focus the approbation. He lauded Opera Parallèle’s artistic director and founder Nicole Paiement, who had conducted the weekend’s run of the Davies opera, and he then awarded her a plaque as the Forum’s designated Champion of New Music. Neuchterlein referred to Paiement’s pioneering work with her opera ensemble, as well as with the San Francisco Conservatory’s BluePrint Project and “her many recordings of contemporary works, which have befitted living composers in significant ways, giving them a significant role in our cultural landscape.” In his own act of showmanship, Neuchterlein drew on his state of residence (Minnesota) and one of that state’s most prominent commercial enterprises (General Mills), declaring, “There’s no better way to honor our Champion than by putting her face on a box of Wheaties!” Paiement cheerfully and modestly received the giant cereal box, enclosed in plexiglass, with her lovely visage smiling under the familiar product name. “It’s a box associated with sports figures, the world over,” said Neuchterlein, “so we thought it’s time that arts people got on there.”