Oracle hysterical

HECUBA with Chicago Composers Orchestra


New Album: the passionate pilgrim


6 previously unreleased songs as a deluxe edition of passionate pilgrim

New Vintage Baroque (NVB) and Oracle Hysterical (OH) round out their 2016-17 series at National Sawdust with a very special closing show. New Vintage and Oracle present 6 previously unreleased songs from their album, “Passionate Pilgrim” (VIA Records). The set includes 4 original songs by composer Majel Connery (deemed “thoroughly Schubertian” by Allan Kozinn, Wall Street Journal) that set the course for the album more than a decade later. The June 3rd show also marks the release of the Passionate Pilgrim Deluxe Album on VIA Records. In addition to this special offering, other music on the program ranges from freshly-minted re-orchestrations by Timo Andres of Benjamin Britten’s Folksong Arrangements for baroque band (featuring tenor Owen McIntosh) and Elliot Cole’s striking living-room opera, Babinagar, based on a folktale from Afghanistan.

From the Program Notes,
"Shakespeare’s name is prominent on the title page of the second edition of The Passionate Pilgrim (the title page of the first does not survive). Its placement there is now widely considered to be an unscrupulous advertising gambit..."

-  Jeff Dolven, Professor of Poetry & Poetics at Princeton University


part band, part book club –


we turn great stories into unique concerts, weaving
bardic storytelling and baroque pop with the classical avant-garde.

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Oracle Hysterical is a collective of 4 composer-performers: twin brothers Doug Balliett (double bass, viola da gamba) and Brad Balliett (bassoons), Majel Connery (vocals), and Elliot Cole (guitars, vocals, harmonium). Half band, half book club, OH combines eclectic musical influences with literary breadth, adapting great works of literature through the medium of song. OH has created hip-hoperas, art-rock song cycles, rap cantatas, and other genre-bending works all over America and Europe, collaborating with a variety of ensembles to cultivate a unique sound palette for each project.  

Most recently, OH was commissioned by Grammy-nominated ensemble, A Far Cry, to create the orchestral song cycle, Tales of Lapham: The Sea, an adaptation of the "Sea" issue of literary journal, Lapham's Quarterly. Tales of Lapham debuts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston October 6, 2016. Preview performances of Tales were presented at Spectrum (NYC), Omaha Under the Radar Festival (Omaha), and in Chicago at The Hideout and High Concept Labs. OH's first album, "Passionate Pilgrim," will be released on Vision Into Art/Naxos December 2016 (with Ryan Streber, mix engineer). A collaboration with New Vintage Baroque ensemble, "Passionate Pilgrim" sets poetry once thought to be by Shakespeare. OH is also putting the finishing touches on its second album, Hecuba, after the eponymous tragedy by Euripides. Hecuba is commissioned and produced by Opera Cabal (with mix engineers Chris Botta and Alexander Overington). 

In its early years, 2009-11, Oracle Hysterical appeared at the MATA Festival (The Rake, with Metropolis Ensemble), the Berkshire Fringe Festival (Grimms’ Fairy Tales), and at the Lucerne Festival Academy (Billy Budd), where they were Spotlight Artists in 2011. In 2013, vocalist Majel Connery joined the group. The influence of her semi-operatic vocals fired a generation of chamber pop cycles for groups like the Marcel Trio (Afghani folktale "Babinigar") and Washington Square Winds (Grimms' "The Fisherman and his Wife"). OH has also performed at The Stone, Spectrum, Le Poisson Rouge, and National Sawdust in NYC, and at Constellation, The Hideout Inn, and High Concept Laboratories in Chicago. OH will be in residence at Millay Colony in Upstate NY November 2016.

full bios



We have written:

Tales of lapham (on lapham's quarterly)

CLEOPATRA (On Suetonius)

Passionate Pilgrim (on "shakespeare")

HECUBA (on Euripides)

Grimm's Tales (On the brothers grimm)

Billy Budd (On Melville)

De Rerum (On Lucretius)

The Fisherman and His Wife (On Grimm)

The Rake's Progress (On Auden)

Lucretia (On Shakespeare)

Dichterliebe (On Schumann)

Babinagar (On an afghani folktale)

Alcestis (On Euripides)

Bonnie Brae Tierkreis (On Stockhausen)



17 March 2017     Oracle Hysterical and New Vintage Baroque's Passionate Pilgrim drops on VIA Records! (iTunes.)

13 May 2017         Oracle Hysterical presented by Mainline Music/Starline Social Club (Oakland). Get tickets.

25-20 May 2017   Oracle Hysterical recording sesh! Big Blue North Studios (Utica, NY).

3 June 2017          Oracle Hysterical joins New Vintage Baroque at National Sawdust (NYC).


21 January 2017   "Passionate PIlgrim" album release party! With New Vintage Baroque at National Sawdust, NYC.

1-5 November   Residency at Millay Colony, Upstate NY.

21 October 2016    "Grimms Tales" with New Vintage Baroque, National Sawdust, NYC

6 October 2016      "Tales of Lapham" with A Far Cry, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

July 15 2016           "Tales of Lapham" preview, Hyde Park Salons, Chicago (FREE! email for an invitation).

July 14 2016            "Tales of Lapham" preview, The Hideout Inn, Chicago, with James Falzone and Cactus Tractor (get tickets).

July 13 2016            "Tales of Lapham" preview, High Concept Laboratories, 7p (get tickets).

July 11-16 2016      Residency at High Concept Laboratories / MANA Contemporary, Chicago.

July 10 2016           "Tales of Lapham" preview, The Commons LNK, Lincoln, NE, 1-3p.

July 7 2016             "Tales of Lapham" preview, Omaha Under the Radar, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, 5-7p (get tickets).

May 14 2016           "Tales of Lapham" preview at Spectrum, NYC.

Oct. - Feb. 2016      Passionate Pilgrim recording project with New Vintage Baroque, The Bunker Studio, Brooklyn.

Sep. - Mar. 2016     Hecuba recording project with mix engineers Alexander Overington and Chris Botta, Staplechest Audio, Brooklyn.

11 October 2015     Cleopatra (Premiere) at Le Poisson Rouge with Metropolis Ensemble, NYC.

9 May 2015               Passionate Pilgrim with New Vintage Baroque house concert - Mercer Street, Soho.

8 May 2015               Passionate Pilgrim with New Vintage Baroque at White Box Gallery, NYC.

7 March 2014           Fisherman and His Wife with Washington Square Winds at Center for Fiction, NYC.

7 November 2014   Grimm's Songs at Hyde Park Salon Series, Chicago.

6 November 2014   HECUBA (Premiere) with the Chicago Composers Orchestra at Constellation.

19 October 2014     Babinagar at Spectrum, NYC.

7 February 2014      Babinagar and Grimm's Songs at IBeam Gowns with Jordan Dodson, Gabriel Cabezas and Charlotte Mundy.

27 October 2013     The Fisherman and His Wife with Washington Square Winds, Spectrum NYC (121 Ludlow), 2pm

5 August 2013         Songs and Songes at Berkshire Fringe Festival (Great Barrington, MA).

17 April 2013            Babinagar with Trio Marcel at World Cafe Live, Philadelphia.

28 March 2013         Babinagar with Marcel Trio at Cornelia Street Cafe, NYC.

5 January 2013        Songs and Songes (Grimm’s Songs) at the Stone, NYC.

7 + 11 Sept 2011       Songs and Songes and Eleventh Night, two concerts of new works, as Spotlight Artists-in-Residence of the Lucerne Festival Academy.

15 May 2011              The Rake’s Progress with the Metropolis Ensemble at the MATA festival [NYC].

30 April 2011             Lucretia, a popera seria in three acts, at NYU.

21 March 2011          The Fisherman and His Wife with the Brentano Quartetat Princeton University [NJ].

15 January 2011       The Fisherman and His Wife, The Rake’s Progress and Babinagar, with the Franklin Quartet and Kevin Sims at Columbia University’s Remixing Opera conference [NYC].

9 January 2011         The Fisherman and His Wife, the Rake’s Progress, and Babinagar, with the Franklin Quartet and Kevin Sims, house concert NYC.

13 Dec 2010               Dover [Gloucester] with Peggy Kampmeier and Conor Hanick at Princeton University [NJ].

January 2010            Living room concert tour: over a dozen performances of Alcestis, Babinagar and Beatles reinventions in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Ft. Worth with Mollie Marcuson and Alison Fletcher [TX].

2009                            Bonnie Brae Tierkreis - 12 new pieces based on Stockhausen's Tierkreis

Hecuba with the Chicago Composers Orchestra at Constellation, 2014.

Passionate Pilgrim with New Vintage Baroque, house concert, Soho, May 2015.

Tales of Lapham, Spectrum NYC, May 2016. With Dylan Greene, Jocelin Pan, Libby Fayette and Thea Mesirow.

Tales of Lapham at The Hideout, Chicago, July 2016. With Peter Ferry, Kyra Saltman, Ellen McSweeney, and Brianne Lugo.