Oracle hysterical

HECUBA with Chicago Composers Orchestra


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, autoharp), 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, a collaboration with literary journal, Lapham's Quarterly, which debuts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston this fall. Over the past year, OH premiered several new works including Doug Balliett's "Cleopatra" cantata with Metropolis Ensemble (le Poisson Rouge); Hecuba with Chicago Composers Orchestra (Constellation, Chicago); and "Passionate Pilgrim," a commission from New Vintage Baroque (White Box Gallery, NYC). Currently, it is putting finishing touches on Hecuba the album, commissioned by Opera Cabal, and recorded with mix engineers Chris Botta and Alexander Overington (Radiolab, Q2 Music) and Jason Treuting (So Percussion). The group is also recording "Passionate Pilgrim" at Bunker Studios (Brooklyn; with Ryan Streber, mix engineer) this winter. 

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 whispery, semi-operatic vocals fired a new 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, National Sawdust and the White Box Gallery in NYC, and at Constellation and High Concept Laboratories in Chicago, where they will be ensemble in residence summer of 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)



Oct - May 16-17      Residency with New Vintage Baroque at 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 at the Hyde Park Salon, Chicago.

July 14 2016            "Tales of Lapham" preview at The Hideout, Chicago.

July 10-17 2016      Residency at High Concept Laboratories / MANA Contemporary, Chicago.

July 7 2016             "Tales of Lapham" preview at Omaha Under the Radar, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha.

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, 2015.