A Vocal Collective

Hyperextension is a vocal collective founded in 2016 by Hillary LaBonte. The group is dedicated to presenting new, dramatic, fully and semi-staged works for voices.

Staged Works

Ophelia Forever – Amy Beth Kirsten

Ophelia Forever is a chamber opera exploring the myth and madness of the Shakespeare’s beloved character, Ophelia. The text is constructed of fragments of poetry by Shakespeare, Elizabeth Siddal, Christina Rossetti, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and the composer.

By representing Ophelia in not one, but three performers, Kirsten amplifies her voice and expands her reach. Each character is well-defined – Kirsten uses three distinct styles to distinguish Ophelia’s three personalities. The Violated Saint’s solos reference medieval chant, and sultry tangos illustrate the Faithful Seductress. For the Mad Mermaid, Kirsten chose modernist idioms, with unstable tonality and greater use of extended vocal techniques. 

Hillary LaBonte

Here Be Sirens – Kate Soper

Here Be Sirens presents the daily life of three sirens, who kill time on their island as they await an endless procession of doomed sailors. Peitho revels in the luxurious sensuality of their rite; Phaino stonily enacts the ritual with no inner feeling; and Polyxo longs for escape into the world of the real, delving into centuries of scholarship and research on her species in an attempt to untwist their circumstances. As the opera goes on, the sirens re-enact the abduction of Persephone, encounter (and battle) their favored sisters the Muses, and leave no rock unturned to plumb the depths of their own origins in this work of ‘audacious, genre-bending music theatre (Wall Street Journal).

An erudite, hilarious, furiously inventive meditation on the siren myth…

Alex Ross

Dark Sky Project

The Dark Sky Project came together with one goal in mind: to commission three new song cycles from women composers that reclaim narratives that history glossed over. Four composers and two vocalists will bring the voices of undersung characters to life in a contemporary idiom — through texts both old and newly-commissioned.

Three new song cycles for voice and string quartet, written by three of today’s most exciting American composers — Stephanie Ann BoydFrances Pollock, and Tina Tallon.

A premiere performance by two peerless new music specialists — mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen and soprano Hillary LaBonte, under the umbrella of Ypsilanti’s ÆPEX Contemporary Performances

Four sets of songs that place well-known Shakespeare characters alongside newly-commissioned texts that ask: what do these overlooked characters have to say about the time in which they were written — and what do they say about today?

Dark Sky Project Performances

September 14, 2019

ÆPEX returned to New Music Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music Marathon for the first time since 2016 where we will present “The Dark Sky Project” in its entirety, featuring world premieres of Tina Tallon’s Teeth and Frances Pollock’s I Am The Man, along with our second performance of Stephanie Ann Boyd’s Even A Woman.

The performance features vocal soloists Megan Ihnen and Hillary LaBonte accompanied by a string quartet of ÆPEX Artists under the baton of music director Kevin Fitzgerald. Our set begins at 7 PM on Saturday, September 14 at the DSO Cube in the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit, MI.

May 22, 2019

ÆPEX Contemporary Performance closed its fourth season with the enthralling “Dark Sky Project”, a concert featuring award-winning vocal soloists Megan Ihnen and Hillary LaBonte. Ihnen gave the world premiere of a new work for voice and string quartet by Ann Arbor-native Stephanie Ann Boyd.

This concert will marked Megan Ihnen’s second performance with ÆPEX, her first since April 2017, and Hillary LaBonte’s debut on our concert series. Megan and Hillary were joined by violinists Dana Johnson and Janet Lyu, violist Caleb Georges, cellist Joshua DeVries, and conductor Daniel Brottman.