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THE RAT LAND (2003-08)

A chamber opera in four scenes plus a prologue, interlude and epilogue, 2 hours

Libretto by Charlotte Jackson

Instrumentation: flute/picc, Eb/Bb clar, Bass/Contrabass Clar, Alto/Bari Sax; Horn, Trombone; Percussion; Piano; Accordion; Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass

Cast: soprano (2), mezzo-soprano, countertenor/alto, tenor (2), baritone, bass-baritone

Stage premiere: The Industry, Los Angeles, 2014-15 season

Premiere of Prologue and Scene 1 on April 1, 2006 at the Improvised and Otherwise Festival in Brooklyn, NY, by Anti-Social Music and soloists. Concert performance of Prologue and Scene 1 by the New York City Opera / VOX 2007 Showcase, May 12, 2007; Scene two premiered at New York City Opera VOX 2009.

Laurie Rubin as Karen

Martha Sullivan as Louise, Michael Douglas Jones as Theodore



Hailed as “Four Recorder Virtuosos” by The New York Times, QNG—Quartet New Generation mesmerizes its audiences through innovative programming that juxtaposes contemporary and early music, presented with a dynamic and often theatrical stage presence. On this, their first recording, they perform Gordon Beeferman’s Passages, written for them in 2006.


“The Rat Land” is the first operatic collaboration between Gordon Beeferman and librettist Charlotte Jackson. The two-and-a-half hour chamber opera chronicles the disintegration of a troubled and eccentric family in tragi-comic fashion. The plot centers on the adolescent daughter, Karen, coming of age as best she can amidst a post-Cold War American Grotesque. Caught between her nightmarish home life and a near-psychotic fantasy world of her own devising, she faces grown-up problems of violence, isolation, madness, and death. The opera is scored for eight singers and a thirteen-piece instrumental ensemble.

Read more about and listen to excerpts from “The Rat Land”

Scenes from “The Rat Land” were previewed at New York City Opera’s VOX showcase (2009, 2007) and the Improvised and Otherwise Festival (2006), under the direction of Beth Greenberg. Read the NY Times review of the 2007 performance.

 Laurie Rubin as Karen


Jeff Arnal (percussion) and Gordon Beeferman (piano) synthesize avant-garde jazz/improv and contemporary classical traditions of the 20th century into a unique “energized ritual of free expression…music with muscle and appeal” (Cadence Magazine). For more information, visit Generate Records, or click here.

“A collection of concise yet substantial duo improvisations that demonstrate substantial power and an impressive range of expression.” -Time Out New York

Jeff Arnal (percussion) and Gordon Beeferman (piano) synthesize avant-garde jazz/improv and contemporary classical traditions into a unique “energized ritual of free expression…music with muscle and appeal” (Cadence Magazine). Since forming their duo in 2000, Arnal and Beeferman have become an integral part of the creative music scene in New York and beyond. Their duo has performed at the Knitting Factory, Music at the Anthology, Improvised and Otherwise (Brooklyn), San Francisco Alternative Music Festival, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Tremont Theater and Zeitgeist Gallery (Boston/Cambridge), and other venues for experimental and improvised music. Their first recording Bodies of Water (2001) was praised for its “near-perfect synchronicity… these two have talent to burn” (All Music Guide). In addition to working as a duet, they have collaborated with many other musicians and dancers, including choreographer Estelle Woodward (in the dance/music ensemble Loophole) and saxophonist Seth Misterka (as Rara Avis).


Limited edition 7″ released by Generate Records on its 10th anniversary. Pressed on green vinyl with a cover by Ian Crowther.

Gordon Beeferman’s IMAGINARY BAND is a (real) 7-piece group that explores the territory where classical ‘new-music,’ jazz and free improvisation intersect. Beeferman’s compositions range from the gnarly to the operatic, and are both incredibly detailed and very free; the band’s improvisational explorations are tethered to highly structured frameworks.

“[A] commanding avant-jazz ensemble…” Time Out New York

Read more about “The Imaginary Band.”


The debut album of RARA AVIS, a trio joining the fiery and focused talents of Gordon Beeferman, Jeff Arnal, and Seth Misterka. A highly structured but entirely improvised tour de force for electric piano, percussion, and saxophones, the recording traverses a rich musical territory from fierce and highly rhythmic complexity to evocative long-lined lyricism. For more information, visit Generate Records.


Expressive and virtuosic, the music of New York composer-improvisers Jeff Arnal (percussion) and Gordon Beeferman (piano) springs from avant-garde traditions, both classical and jazz. Their work is a synthesis of the highly defined compositional elements of contemporary classical music and the spontaneity and energy of free-improvisation. “Bodies of Water”, their debut recording, was released in November, 2001 on Generate Records.