Part Band, Part Book Club
Oracle Hysterical is twin brothers Doug Balliett (double bass, viola da gamba) and Brad Balliett (bassoons), Majel Connery (vocals, keyboards), Elliot Cole (vocals, guitars, keyboards), and Dylan Greene (percussion). Part band, part book club, Oracle Hysterical combines eclectic musical influences with literary breadth. All members of the group perform and compose, with each project developed collectively.
Oracle’s works occupy the fluid space between classically-inclined song-cycle and art-rock concept album. The group’s songwriting illuminates fragments of great literary works like a child in a dark forest with a flashlight. Text sources have ranged from Grimms' Fairy Tales to Greek tragedy, and falsely-attributed Shakespeare, all in collections of songs that distill centuries-old writing through a unique contemporary lens.
The group’s newest project, Hecuba, will be released on the National Sawdust Tracks label in May, 2018. Hecuba is a lush and experimental rock-leaning album based on Euripides’ tragedy of the same name. Written around 424 BCE in Athens, Hecuba is a savage story of revenge in which the disgraced queen of Troy, Hecuba, with her city razed and her children murdered, descends from nobility to primal violence.
Other touring projects include The Sea, a collaboration with the Grammy-nominated orchestra A Far Cry, which commissioned and premiered the work at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2016. In the song-cycle, Oracle Hysterical weaves music from texts by history’s greatest seafarers, explorers, and aquatic fabulists, from Shakespeare to Homer, and John Donne to the Book of Jonah. In 2017, Oracle Hysterical collaborated with period-instrument ensemble New Vintage Baroque on Passionate Pilgrim. The album, released on Naxos/Vision into Art, was called “music that is unstuck in time” by the Wall Street Journal, and what it would sound like if “Belle and Sebastian were to cut a record of Baroque-inspired folk songs,” by the New Yorker.
Other ongoing projects include Cleopatra with the Metropolis Ensemble, and The Brothers Grimm with New Vintage Baroque. Oracle has appeared at the MATA Festival, the Berkshire Fringe Festival, The Stone (NYC), The Hideout (Chicago), (Le) Poisson Rouge (NYC), National Sawdust (NYC), the Toledo Museum of Art, and at the Lucerne Festival Academy, where they were Spotlight Artists in 2011.
Part band, part book club, Oracle Hysterical creates song cycles that double as art-rock concept albums, and vice versa. Inspired by sources from Greek tragedy to Grimm's fairy tales and misattributed Shakespeare plays, their concerts are a heady and satisfying mix of lustrous atmospherics and literary inspiration.
The program features Hecuba, the narrative song cycle that unites Euripides’ tragedy of the grief-stricken and vengeful Queen of Troy with Baroque instrumentation and contemporary pop. The recording, out on the National Sawdust label last spring, was an Opera News Critic's Pick and was called "delightfully bonkers" by BBC Radio 3.
Musicians from Boston's own self-conducted chamber new music collective A Far Cry lend their talents and their adventurous spirit to a work that they commissioned: “The Sea,” inspired by an issue of the literary magazine Lapham’s Quarterly, and texts by seafarers, explorers, and aquatic fabulists.
Concert Artist Guild Semi Finals
HECUBA live at the Toledo Museum of Art, OH
DELUXE Passionate Pilgrim album release & Babinagar, with New Vintage at National Sawdust, NYC.
Recording Session at Big Blue North Studios (Utica, NY)
Oracle Hysterical presented by Mainline Music/Starline Social Club
Passionate Pilgrim drops on VIA Records!
Passionate Pilgrim album release party! With New Vintage Baroque at National Sawdust, NYC.
Residency at Millay Colony, Upstate NY.
The Brothers Grimm with New Vintage Baroque, National Sawdust, NYC
The Sea with A Far Cry, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
The Sea preview, Hyde Park Salons, Chicago
The Sea preview, The Hideout Inn, Chicago, with James Falzone and Cactus Tractor
The Sea preview, High Concept Laboratories, 7p
Residency at High Concept Laboratories / MANA Contemporary, Chicago.
The Sea preview, The Commons LNK, Lincoln, NE, 1-3p.
The Sea preview, Omaha Under the Radar, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, 5-7p (get tickets).
The Sea preview at Spectrum, NYC.
Oct. - Feb.
Passionate Pilgrim recording project with New Vintage Baroque, The Bunker Studio, Brooklyn.
Sep. - Mar.
Hecuba recording project with mix engineers Alexander Overington and Chris Botta, Staplechest Audio, Brooklyn.
Cleopatra (Premiere) at Le Poisson Rouge with Metropolis Ensemble, NYC.
Passionate Pilgrim with New Vintage Baroque house concert - Mercer Street, Soho.
Passionate Pilgrim with New Vintage Baroque at White Box Gallery, NYC.
Fisherman and His Wife with Washington Square Winds at Center for Fiction, NYC.
Grimm's Songs at Hyde Park Salon Series, Chicago.
HECUBA with the Chicago Composers Orchestra at Constellation.
Babinagar at Spectrum, NYC.
Babinagar and Grimm's Songs at IBeam Gowns with Jordan Dodson, Gabriel Cabezas and Charlotte Mundy.
27 October Eleventh Night as Spotlight Artists-in-Residence of the Lucerne Festival Academy.
The Brothers Grimm as Spotlight Artists-in-Residence of the Lucerne Festival Academy.
17 April The Rake’s Progress with the Metropolis Ensemble at the MATA festival [NYC].
28 March Lucretia, a popera seria in three acts, at NYU. The Fisherman and His Wife with the Brentano Quartetat Princeton University [NJ].
5 January 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].
4 January The Fisherman and His Wife, the Rake’s Progress, and Babinagar, with the Franklin Quartet and Kevin Sims, NYC
11 Sept 2011
Dover [Gloucester] with Peggy Kampmeier and Conor Hanick at Princeton University [NJ].
13 Dec 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].
Bonnie Brae Tierkreis - 12 new pieces based on Stockhausen's Tierkreis