2016 - Postludes at Big Ears Festival

"Later, they rubbed bows across the bars of vibraphones for American composer Elliot Cole's Postludes, creating sparkling icicles of sound." Christopher Weingarten, Rolling Stone.

 

2016 - Hanuman's Leap with Roomful of Teeth at the Park Avenue Armory

"Mr. Cole, who narrated his music-theater work, focused on one part of the Ramayana legend: the story of Hanuman, the monkey who finds Sita (the kidnapped wife of Rama). The voices and percussion meshed to colorful effect, the story propelled by a high-energy blend of stylistic influences including reggae, hip- hop and rock, with Mr. Cole a charismatic contemporary bard.

He aptly harnessed the skills of these excellent vocalists in the score. At one point the men sung a low humming drone that blended with a gently syncopated percussion line to underpin Mr. Cole’s narration. " Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times.

"...the half-hour piece is a sophisticated hybrid of rap, drone, Indian music, and contemporary vocal techniques, and exploits the groups dedication to diverse types of singing from around the world – yodeling, throat singing, and styles from Korea and Persia.  Cole himself was the narrative lead, singing with entertaining presence and clarity.  Roomful of Teeth was impressively accurate, whether diving into rhythmic chanting or offering counterpoint to Cole's recitatives... [Teeth's] founder, Brad Wells, conducted the exhilarating ride, and any initial fears about not having any text, either printed or projected overhead, vanished when the music began."  Bruce Hodges, Musical America.

 

2011 - The Rake.  Le Poisson Rouge, MATA Festival

"I can’t imagine the confidence needed to make a new piece with a debt to Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, but Brad Balliett and Elliot Cole seem to have plenty. Their grin-producing conceit takes an isolated moment near the opera’s end, when Tom Rakewell realizes the sordid mess of his life and recalls the details in a stream of consciousness, blurting out words in “a burst of blinding clarity.” Balliett and Cole have created a short “hip-hop opera,” in which the verbal flood effectively communicates Rakewell’s sudden epiphany, with flashbacks, self-analyses, doubts and revelations all colliding, and poor Tom unable to do any more than allow the hemorrhage to occur. With precision timing by Mr. Balliett and his twin brother Doug – one dressed in a black suit with white vest, the other in white with black – they gave a vivid, very funny impression of the tormented Tom in furious dialogue with his dissolute doppelganger. Musically, the metric invention might have been greater; my beef with some hip-hop is that the rhythmic patterns tend to be conservative verging on dull. And despite the entertaining graphics projected on screens, the text whizzed by so quickly that I can’t even recall a snippet to quote here. But in an amusing way, The Rake made its point with beguiling slipperiness, and the packed crowd gave the creative trio – and the musicians – repeated ovations." Bruce Hodges, Seen and Heard.