The Source

ensemble 4 singers (SATB) with live electronics, 7 instruments (violin, viola, cello, electric guitar, electric bass, drums/percussion, keyboard/sampler)
duration 65 minutes
libretto Mark Doten
commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects, Judy and Allen Freedman, Justus and Helen Schlichting
premiere October 22-25, 2014, BAM Next Wave Festival (Daniel Fish, director)
publisher Unsettlement Music
recording The Source, New Amsterdam Records (2015)

Mellissa Hughes sings in  The Source , BAM Next Wave Festival 2014

Mellissa Hughes sings in The Source, BAM Next Wave Festival 2014

notes The Source is a modern-day oratorio, and a patchwork of songs based on American primary-source texts. The subject is Chelsea Manning, the US Army Private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. 

The text, culled and arranged by librettist Mark Doten, sets Manning's words and sections of the classified material known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary.
The music, like the text, draws from diverse sources. Auto-tuned recitatives, neo soul ballads, icy string trios and moments of cracked-out musical theater are peppered with (and sometimes structured around) samples that bridge sonic worlds. 

The Source was premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2014 - in a production by Beth Morrison, directed by Daniel Fish, with video designed by Fish and Jim Findlay - to four sold-out performances and rave reviews. (More about this production below). The Source was released as an album on New Amsterdam Records in October 2015. 

‘The Source’ prompts dinner table conversation. It offers a fresh model of how opera and musical theater can tackle contemporary issues: not with documentary realism - film and television have that covered - but with ambiguity, obliquity, and even sheer confusion.
— Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

Excerpt from the 2014 production of THE SOURCE at BAM Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn; directed by Daniel Fish, with video design by Jim Findlay and Daniel Fish

[S]ome of the most expressive socially engaged music in recent memory—from any genre.
— Seth Colter Walls, Pitchfork

notes on the text from librettist Mark Doten The central fact of the classified materials that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning leaked is their almost ungraspable scope. They include 483,000 Army field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and 251,000 diplomatic cables; these were released, along with video of a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, by WikiLeaks and its media partners in 2010. The reporting at the time focused less on what the leaks revealed about America’s conduct of wars and diplomacy, than on the personalities involved.

The libretto for The Source is made from a patchwork of primary-source documents, including: 

  • The US military documents leaked by Pfc Manning and released by WikiLeaks: these are known as the "Iraq War Logs" and "Afghan War Diary"

  • Internet chats between Manning and former hacker Adrian Lamo, later published by (see below for more information)

  • Tweets from Lamo regarding his decision to turn in Manning

  • an array of questions that journalists have posed to Julian Assange

  • selections of interviews, radio, social media and popular music, drawn primarily from the same time period as the leaks

And as the texts felt cut up, a la Naked Lunch, and reassembled, so did Hearne’s music sound like myriad influences exploded and roughly pasted back together, the work of a true twenty-first century polyglot.”
— Henry Stewart, Opera News

produced by Nick Tipp, Jesse Lewis and Ted Hearne
recorded by Jesse Lewis at Avatar Studios (Manhattan) and Systems Two Studios (Brooklyn)

Nathan Koci, music director
Ted Hearne, Mellissa Hughes, Samia Mounts, Isaiah Robinson, Jonathan Woody, vocalists
Courtney Orlando, violin
Anne Lanzilotti, viola
Leah Coloff, cello
Taylor Levine, electric guitar
Greg Chudzik, electric bass
Ron Wiltrout, drums

more information about the musicians



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Sound from the Bench (2014/2017, 40 min.)
mixed choir with 2 electric guitars and percussion
Coloring Book (for Roomful of Teeth) (2015, 30 min.)
vocal octet
The Source (2014, 65 min.)
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Partition (2010, 20 min.)
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Brass Tacks (2018, 6 min.)
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Miami in Movements (2017, 35 min.)
large orchestra with video
Dispatches (2015, 18 min.)
large orchestra
Respirator (2015, 13 min.)
chamber orchestra
Stem (2013, 25 min.)
large orchestra
Law of Mosaics (2012, 30 min.)
string orchestra
Erasure Scherzo (2012, 6 min.)
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Word for Word (2011, 10 min.)
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Shizz (2010/2017, 4 min.)
versions for large orchestra and chamber orchestra
Build a Room (2010, 20 min.)
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Patriot (2007, 9 min.)
large orchestra


DaVZ23BzMH0 (2016, 7 min.)
solo cello, with electronics
Parlor Diplomacy (2011, 20 min.)
solo piano
Nobody's (2010, 4 min.)
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string quartet
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voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
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Furtive Movements (2013, 14 min.)
cello and percussion
Interlude for Fingers (2013, 4 min.)
two vibraphones
Candy (2011, 8 min.)
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Thaw (2009, 12 min.)
percussion quartet
Ghostspace (2009, 8 min.)
mixed quartet (accordion, electric guitar, piano, drums)
Vessels (2008, 10 min.)
trio (violin, viola, piano)
Crib Dweller (2007, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (bass clarinet, elec. guitar, trumpet, trombone, horn)
23 (2005, 8 min.)
mixed quintet (flute, horn, elec. guitar, piano, drums)
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics
One of Us, One of Them (2005, 8 min.)
piano and percussion
Forcefield (2004, 5 min.)
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(6-13 instruments)

One Like (2016, 7 min.)
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For the Love of Charles Mingus (2016, 9 min.)
6 violins
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10 musicians
By-By Huey (2014, 10 min.)
sextet (fl, bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc)
"The Cage" Variations (2014, 20 min.)
6 instruments (fl, cl/bcl, vln, vc, pno, perc) with baritone solo
Crispy Gentlemen (2012, 15 min.)
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But I Voted for Shirley Chisholm (2012, 8 min.)
11 instruments+tape
Randos (2012, 8 min.)
7 instruments (L'Histoire septet)
Cutest Little Arbitrage (2011, 12 min.)
6 instruments (2 sax, trombone + rhythm section)
Is it Dirty (2010, 8 min.)
16 instruments with 2 singers
versions for 10 instruments and 6 instruments
Eyelid Margin (2009, 12 min.)
10 instruments (brass quintet + 5 double-reeds)
Snowball (2008, 6 min.)
8 instruments (bcl, tpt, tbn, vln, acc, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 7 instruments (bcl, bn, tpt, tbn, vln, db, perc)
Illuminating the Maze (2008/2016, 15 min.)
6 instruments (tpt, hn, tbn, egtr, pno, dr)
version for 11 instruments
Music from "Body Soldiers" (2008, 10 min.)
5 instruments + singer
Cordavi and Fig (2007, 8 min.)
13 instruments
Antiphon (2003, 8 min.)
9 instruments (3 cl, bcl, 3 tpt, tbn, pno)


Animals (2018, 9 min.)
Fervor (2018, 3 min.)
What it might say (2016, 5 min.)
Coloring Book (2015, 30 min.)
Consent (2014, 7 min.)
Ripple (2012, 10 min.)
Privilege (2009, 14 min.)
Mass for St. Mary’s (2008, 10 min.)

Music for youth choir:
Room for Something (2011, 8 min.)
Away (2010, 6 min.)
Because (2006, 6 min.)
Murder on the Road in Alabama (2003, 6 min.)


Like Glass (Dorothea Lasky songs) (2017-19)
voice and ensemble; versions for voice and piano
To Be the Thing (2017, 10 min.)
voice, electric guitar and percussion, with live electronics
Intimacy and Resistance (2010, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Charleston Songbook (2008, 20 min.)
voice and piano w/ lead sheets
I Remember (2007, 8 min.)
for three sopranos, or one soprano with electronics
I Carry Your Heart (2007, 5 min.)
voice and piano
Warning Song (2006, 7 min.)
voice and cello, with electronics


We Are Radios (2018)
Miami in Movements (2017)
The Answer to the Question That Wings Ask (2016,)
Hand Eye (2015)
New Dances for the League of David (2014) 
You're Causing Quite a Disturbance (2013)
R WE WHO R WE (2013)
Histories (2012)