The Passionate Spirit - Program Notes

Page 1

THEÂ PASSIONATE SPIRIT Graduate Recital Kimberly Feltkamp, mezzo-soprano Bethany Pietroniro, piano May 15, 2016

Program Notes My time at Bard has encouraged me to ponder why I pursue music – why I’m a performer, a singer, and a professional musician. In the end, my answer is simple: passion. My love for opera and music, and especially their power to connect people, catapulted me onto this career path. Therefore, I’ve decided to explore the theme of passion in this recital. The specifics of the program came about through an exploration of a few passionate people throughout history. Each individual ­­ either a poet, composer, historical figure, or otherwise ­­ wields a strong voice and a fiery spirit. Through their voices, I find the ability to express my own ardent love for music and the connection between performer and listener.

Special Thanks: Dawn Upshaw, Kayo Iwama, Edith Bers, Bethany Pietroniro, Ernie & Erika Steubesand, Gwen Ellison, Erika Switzer To all my incredible classmates, past and present, who have been there with me through thick and thin, and especially my graduating class: Adanya, Corey, Zoe, Liz, Andrew, Kelly, and Matt To my friends and family members who show their unending support, especially Gma Pauline, Gma and Gpa Hart, Maayan, Devony, and Michael To all who came to my recital today: thank you for supporting my artistry I’m overflowing with gratitude. My time at Bard has been a great gift. I have found my first artistic home here in this place, with these people, and that has changed me forever. Thank you for the unending encouragement. Keep in touch!

Texts & Translations All English Translations by Kimberly Feltkamp “Disprezzata Regina” from L’incoronazione di Poppea Music: Claudio Monteverdi (1567­1643) Text: Giovanni Francesco Busenello (1598­1659), after the Annals of Publius Cornelius Tacitus (56­117) Written in 1642 Ottavia, the Empress of Rome and wife of Nero, introduces herself with this dramatic aria. Forced into a young and loveless marriage with the selfish Emperor Nero, she laments her husband’s disgraceful love affairs and asks the gods for revenge. Ottavia realizes that if Poppea, Nero’s new lover, convinces him to put her on the throne, Ottavia will lose her husband and her kingdom. The aria comes from Act I of Monteverdi’s final opera and serves as one of the musical climaxes of the work. Ottavia’s music remains emotionally driven yet regal throughout the opera, almost always set in a commanding recitative style and distinctly set apart from the lush lyricism of Nero and Poppea’s arias and duets. Monteverdi remained at the forefront of the Baroque opera world to his death, propelling the new art form forward with his progressive compositional style.

Disprezzata Regina, Despised Queen, del monarca Romano, afflitta moglie. afflicted wife of Rome’s monarch. Che fò, ove son, che penso? What can I do? What am I thinking? Ò delle donne miserabil sesso: Oh, women of this miserable sex: se la natura, è’l cielo libere ci produce, if nature and Heaven gives us our freedom, il matrimonio c’incatena serve. marriage puts us into slavery. Se concepimo l’huomo, al nostr’empio tiran If we conceive a man of this tyrannous empire and formiam le membra, we form his limbs, allattiamo il carnefice crudele, we breastfeed our cruel executioners che ci svena; that will only drain our blood; e siam costrette per indegna sorte we are constrained to our shameful fate a noi medesme partorir la morte. and we ourselves give birth to our deaths. Nerone, empio Nerone (ò Dio!), Nero, ungodly Nero (oh, God!), marito bestemmiato pur sempre, the ever­blasphemous husband e maledetto dai cordogli miei. and the cursed cause of my grief. Dove ohime, dove sei? Where, alas, where are you? In braccio di Poppea, tu dimori felice e godi. In the arms of Poppea! You dwell happily, satisfied. E intanto il frequente cader de’ pianti miei. And in the meantime, my tears always fall. Pur va quasi formando un diluvio di specchi, Their downpour forms a sort of mirror in cui tu miri dentro alle tue delitie i miei martiri. in which you can see all my martyrdom. Destin, se stai là sù! Destiny, dare you stay the same? Giove, ascoltami tu! Jove, listen to me! Se per punir Nerone fulmini tu non hai If you don’t punish Nero with your lightning bolts, d’impotenza t’accuso, d’ingiustitia t’incolpo. I’ll accuse you of impotence and injustice. Ahi, trapasso tropp’oltre e me ne pento. Ah, I’ve stepped too far and I repent. Supprimo e sepelisco I’ll repress my torment in taciturne angoscie il mio lamento. and press into silent anguish all my laments.

Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart Music: Robert Schumann (1810­1856) Text: Mary, Queen of Scots (1542­1586); German Translations by Gisbert, Freiherr von Vincke (1813­1892) from Rose und Distel, Poesien aus England und Schottland (published in 1853) Written in 1852, published in 1855 (Op. 135) Schumann’s compositional style has always intrigued me, but I am especially taken by his Rollengedichte. David Ferris describes these as “dramatic poems in which the singer takes on the role of a character” and notes that they are more theatrical than their counterparts. For example, “In the 1840 songs Schumann almost always respects the metrical regularity of the lyrical poems which he sets, but in his later songs he frequently distorts the poetic metre in order to create a more declamatory and dramatic effect." Schumann dabbled in this form early on, in his Frauenliebe und –Leben, and then returned to the style in his later songs. He employs this form masterfully in his Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, weaving together the emotional underpinnings of the doomed Queen’s life. Mary, Queen of Scots ascended to the throne of Scotland only six days after her birth when her father, James V, passed away. Through her grandmother, Margaret Tudor, she held the strongest claim to the throne of England, second only to the children of King Henry VIII. In order to cultivate peace, she was promised in marriage to the French Dauphin and sent to live in France at the age of five. Schumann chose primary source texts for his songs; Mary, Queen of Scots wrote all of the texts, in varying languages, save “Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes,” which was misattributed to her at the time of Schumann’s composition. Schumann chooses pivotal emotional points in Mary’s life, starting with her departure from Scotland and ending with her execution by the English Queen, Elizabeth I. He exposes the full scope of Mary’s personality, touching upon her passion, compassion, and unfaltering regality.

I. Abschied von Frankreich ­ Farewell fo France Ich zieh' dahin! Ade, mein fröhlich Frankenland, Wo ich die liebste Heimath fand, Du meiner Kindheit Pflegerin. Ade, du Land, du schöne Zeit ­­ Mich trennt das Boot vom Glück so weit! Doch trägt's die Hälfte nur von mir: Ein Theil für immer bleibet dein, Mein fröhlich Land, der sage dir, Des Andern eingedenk zu sein! –

I’m moving on to somewhere else! Goodbye, my carefree France, where I found my most beloved home: you, my childhood caretaker. Goodbye land, goodbye beautiful age— this boat separates me so far from all happiness! But it only takes half of me: a part of me will always remain yours. My happy land, this part says to you please don’t forget me!

II. Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes ­ After the Birth of Her Son Herr Jesu Christ, den sie gekrönt mit Dornen, Beschütze die Geburt des hier Gebor'nen. Und sei's dein Will', lass sein Geschlecht zugleich Lang herrschen noch in diesem Königreich. Und alles, was geschieht in seinem Namen, Sei dir zu Ruhm und Preis und Ehre, Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, who they crowned with thorns, guard the birth of this child born to us. And if You will it, also let his line reign this kingdom now and for a long time. And everything that happens in his name, may it be to Your glory and honor and praise,

III. An die Königin Elisabeth ­ To the Queen Elizabeth Nur ein Gedanke, der mich freut und quält, There’s one thought that gladdens and tortures me: Hält ewigwechselnd mir den Sinn gefangen, it holds my senses captive in an ever­changing state, Sodaß der Furcht und Hoffnung Stimmen klangen, so that the voices of fear and hope rang out Als ich die Stunden ruhelos gezählt. while I counted the hours: restless, without peace. Und wenn mein Herz dieß Blatt zum Boten wählt, Und kündet, Euch zu sehen, mein Verlangen, Dann, theure Schwester, fasst mich neues Bangen, Weil ihm die Macht, es zu beweisen fehlt.

When my heart chooses this page as its messenger and proclaims my desire to see you, then, beloved sister, new worries capture me because this page lacks the power to prove my feelings.

Ich sah den Kahn, im Hafen fast geborgen, Vom Sturm im Kampf der Wogen festgehalten, Des Himmels heit'res Antlitz nachtumgraut. So bin auch ich bewegt von bangen Sorgen, Vor Euch nicht, Schwester! Doch des Schicksals Walten Zerreißt das Segel oft, dem wir vertraut.

I saw the boat, almost sheltered in the harbor, held captive by the battling waves of the storm, the merry face of the heavens dimmed to twilight. So I am also moved by anxiety, but not for fear of you, sister! No, it is the tyranny of fate that so often tears the sail that we had trusted.

IV. Abschied von der Welt ­ Farewell to the World Was nützt die mir noch zugemess'ne Zeit? Mein Herz erstarb für irdisches Begehren, Nur Leiden soll mein Schatten nicht entbehren, Mir blieb allein die Todesfreudigkeit.

Of what use is this time still left to me? My heart has faded to worldly desires; only suffering is left to my shadowed being— all that remains to me is the happiness of death.

Ihr, meine Feinde, lasst von eurem Neid: Mein Herz ist abgewandt der Hoheit Ehren, Des Schmerzes Uebermaß wird mich verzehren, Bald geht mit mir zu Grabe Haß und Streit.

You, my enemies, let go of your envy! My heart has drifted away from its sovereign place and an excess of pain eats me alive. Soon, hate and strife will pass with me into the grave.

Ihr Freunde, die ihr mein gedenkt in Liebe, Erwägt und glaubt, daß ohne Kraft und Glück Kein gutes Werk mir zu vollenden bliebe.

You, my friends who think of me lovingly, believe that without strength and good luck, no good work remained for me to complete.

So wünscht mir bess're Tage nicht zurück, Und weil ich schwer gestrafet ward hienieden,

So do not wish for those better days of yesteryears; instead, since my punishment was so severe down here on Earth, beseech God that I might have my portion of eternal peace.

Erfleht mir meinen Theil am ew'gen Frieden.

V. Gebet ­ Prayer O Gott, mein Gebieter, Stets hofft’ ich auf Dich! O Jesu, Geliebter, Nun rette Du mich! In hartem Gefängniß, In schlimmer Bedrängniß Ersehnet’ ich Dich; In Klagen, Dir klagend, Im Staube verzagend, Erhör', ich beschwöre, Und rette Du mich!

Oh God, my Lord, I always place my hope in You! Oh Jesus, beloved, save me now! In this cruel prison, In this distressing predicament, I long for you. With sorrow I lament to you, despairing in the dust, please grant my request and save me!

All Children Except One Music: Griffin Candey (b. 1988) Text: Laura Attridge (b. 1988), based on the Peter Pan stories by J. M. Barrie (1860­1937) Composed for Kimberly Feltkamp & the Bard College Conservatory of Music Premiered May 4, 2016 This piece was a true collaboration from the very start. I became acquainted with Candey’s music last summer when I created the lead role of Elizabeth in his opera, Sweets by Kate. I immediately fell in love with his conversational rhythms, witty undertones, and gorgeous harmonic landscape. After the opera finished, we talked about further collaborations and decided to create a chamber piece to be premiered at Bard. Candey recruited UK poet Attridge and the three of us began to brainstorm a theme for our song cycle. Eventually we all enthusiastically agreed upon the story of Peter Pan and “All Children Except One” came into being. Attridge comments, “[The story of Peter Pan] has suited our respective and joint styles so wonderfully, and provided rich resources for creativity and play.” Candey explains the piece in this way: “J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan tells the story of a boy who never grows old, but, within that context, also never remembers the unending history that he's creating. The tragic culmination of these qualities is Peter's flashes of understanding the dire hellishness of his condition. This cycle intends to show Peter and Wendy, side­by­side, in order to illustrate the natural progression of Wendy and the unnatural and tragic stunting of Peter Pan, his inability to learn and grow.” We will be performing the piano reduction of this piece today, but it was originally written for mezzo­ soprano, clarinet, bassoon, viola, and cello. The world premiere occurred, with the original orchestration, on May 4, 2016, as part of the Vocal Arts Program Chamber Music Concert at Bard College. Griffin Candey is an American opera composer dutifully committed to creating vocal and theatrical works that, in approaching forward­looking subject matter, aim to both expand and preserve these genres. Trained as a vocalist, Candey’s vocal music retains a level of practical vocal finesse that its interpreters praise for its “prosody that showcases both the words and the singers,” its "intuitive rhythm,” and its “lyricism and emotional depth." Laura Attridge is a London­based director and writer of opera and theatre. Her song cycles have been premiered at prestigious venues including Glyndebourne Opera Festival and the National Gallery. Her first short opera, 'Now' (premiered 2014), is currently in development into a full chamber opera for performance in 2017. She is Artistic Director of And So Forth Productions, and directed/co­wrote their inaugural production, Damsel/Wife/Witch in 2015. Laura is also a published poet. Nathaniel Sullivan is a New­York­based performer of vocal music and theatre. Sullivan has received two recognitions from the Nebraska District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and has been the recipient of the Orpheus Vocal Competition’s Bizet Award. His opera roles have included Sid (Albert Herring), Papageno (Magic Flute), and the Count (Marriage of Figaro). He is currently working with Sanford Sylvan at the Bard College Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, led by Dawn Upshaw.

NARRATOR: All children, except one, grow up. I. Wendy & The Open Window I remember. I remember: Mother left the night lights burning. They were dark too soon, sleepy as us; yawning. Then, waking to the cold of an open window, the sound of sobbing, neither Michael nor John stirring from slumber. You must know the rest: 'I am Wendy Moira Angela Darling' 'I am Peter Pan'. And how gallantly he bowed. It was an ordinary shadow, if a little crumpled. Needle, thread, a boy clenching his pearly teeth without a sound. And then – A lap of victory around the nursery: conceited, cocky, beautiful and bold. A little fairy dust, and ­ we three were flying; we flew! 'Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!' In the end, it was easy: the window was already open. John grabbed his hat; Peter took my hand.

II. Peter & The Open Window How, how, how clever I am! I am! Shadow meets heel seamlessly. Shadow takes on boy­shape again – Pan­shape. How clever!

Boy, why are you crying?' she asked, I think, but anyway it doesn't matter because she takes my hand and – there – the window is already open.

She helped, a little – perhaps. This Wendy­lady – Wendy­girl. Onto my palm, here, she drops a kiss: a silent silver bell.

NARRATOR: Which of their adventures shall we choose? The best way will be to toss for it. The lagoon has won. This almost makes one wish that the gulch or the cake or Tink's leaf had won. Of course I could do it again, and make it the best out of three; however, perhaps fairest to stick to the lagoon.

Only – the sound of bells does ring and it's – Tink! There, in the chest! Furious, fluttering fairy – untranslatable. No, Tink, don't pull the lady's hair – it was only a thimble.

III. Wendy & The Lagoon

And here, boys – two of them – Ha! I have kicked that one out of bed! Wendy­girl tells me their names – I try to listen. I do.

It grew cold.

I will teach you how to fly, boys! It's so easy! Look! How clever I am! Wendy, now you try – take my hand – yes, yes, how easy!

The shadows growing, how quickly they submerged themselves, tails flipping.

Michael wants to go a billion miles, John to see pirates – Wendy, mermaids. There on the Neverland, with taking your shoes off, roundabouts and rock pools, days that start out sunny, dreamless sleep, toffee that sticks in your teeth, pennies, parrots, spelling mistakes and counting to one hundred. (If you don't believe me, look at the map of the island – the Neverland – the map you made when last you landed. Yes, you too have been there.)

There, the mermaids had been languidly combing their hair under a noon sun.

The boys were stretched out on the rocks like flotsam, eyes closed to a gathering dark. I stitched on, shivering a little, watching for the glint of my needle, dimming. It grew cold. And what was I to do? A mother must stick to her rules: half an hour's nap after lunch; no more, no less, no matter how frightened you are. But Peter was never one for regulations: hearing the pull of oars on water, he awoke. 'Pirates!' and we dove ­

IV. Peter & The Lagoon Tigerlily! There! On the rock! And – there – how unsporting: two against one! How unfair. How like grownups. 'Ahoy there, you lubbers!' cry I, and it works! Hook's voice from my mouth across the lagoon falls on pirate ears.

NARRATOR: Years rolled on. Wendy was married in white with a pink sash. Michael is an engine­driver. The bearded man who doesn't know any story to tell his children was once John.

V. Peter & Time 'Set her free, ' cry I, but all too soon the owner of the voice himself is in the water, swimming to the boat, eyes turned forward. Am I not a wonder? Oh, am I not a wonder? Wendy holds her hand over my mouth to stop me crowing but I, I... 'I am James Hook, captain of the Jolly Roger!' And he – 'If you are Hook, then who am I? Stifled laugher, 'A codfish! A codfish!' His eyes glint darker than shadows – he turns left, right, seeking me out, this man, this enemy, this Hook. Who am I? Vegetable, mineral, animal? Boy? ordinary boy? Wonderful boy! Peter! Peter! I am Peter Pan!

There ­ ! Light and open window: I see it past the stars, past the clouds, past the trees. The frame rushes up towards me; soon my bare feet are on the sill, and I drop silently in. She has been waiting for me. Where is John? Is Michael asleep? She is in her nightgown but she has not been waiting. Have you forgotten spring­cleaning time? She rises. Wendy­girl, Wendy­lady. Too tall, too beautiful, too ­ No! Don't turn up the light! The head on the pillow is not Michael. You promised not to! No, you are not! No, she is not! No, no, no!

VI. Wendy & Time Jane wakes to the sound of sobbing. 'Boy, why are you crying?' How gallantly he bows. She will fly with him to Neverland to tidy the tops of the trees. Her feet will leave the floor – easily. After her, there will be Margaret to cross the threshold of an open window when it is spring­cleaning time. One after another will tell him stories about himself, and he will listen eagerly for he has forgotten them all. 'I am Peter Pan.' 'I know,' says Jane, 'I have been waiting for you.'


11 Songs for Mezzo­Soprano Music: George Rochberg (1918­2005) Text: Paul Rochberg (1944­1964) Written in 1969 The texts of these pieces drew me to the cycle instantly, and George Rochberg’s sensitive and creative portrayal of the poems drew me in even further. I became intrigued by the personhood of Paul Rochberg, George Rochberg’s son and the poet. Paul obviously harbored a unique depth of insight for his young age and an impeccable ability to create mood with words. I was also drawn to the tragedy of his death – to how he spent two years bedridden and yet continued to write poetry with an ever­increasing virtuosity. Having spent almost two years bedridden myself, I relate to his struggle and the words of his poetry in an unspeakably personal way. In particular, the third piece of this cycle, “I am baffled by this wall,” so succinctly and accurately displays the anguish and confusion that comes with a long­term and unexplained illness. George Rochberg was moved in more than one way by his son’s unexpected death. After Paul’s passing, he discarded his previous style of composition, serialism, completely. He began to introduce more traditional gestures and styles into his writing, making it less restricted and much more universal in nature. He later went on to write String Quartet No. 7 (for strings and baritone) on Paul’s texts. I’m always a bit awed by the courage George Rochberg shows by setting the texts of his late son. Immediately one hears G. Rochberg’s extreme attention to detail and the rigorous vigilance to bringing Paul’s words to life in the most truthful manner possible. At the beginning of the published set of songs, he writes, “…I have attempted to reveal through each setting the particular world of each poem, however brief some of them may be…As always when dealing directly with someone else’s work, one hopes that he has not interfered with or obscured the essence of it, but rather projected it in a new and clear light where its integrity remains intact.” It is a work of passion and utmost grief. That dichotomy and complexity gives these pieces their fire and will drive me to perform them over and over again.

I. Sunrise, a morning sound

XI. How to explain (Ballad)

Sunrise, a morning sound Strikes my window pane And I may look back again In time. A mirror, my window pane.

How to explain what cannot be told in words? What is known between two quietly. I’ve tried to tell, but always ended breathless wordless. With nothing more to do but close our eyes.

III. I am baffled by this wall I am baffled by this wall that I batter against With my fists as fragile As dandelion seed, and My cries silent as the passing of the moon. This wall That I never built Or wished To build.

VII. Black Tulips No sound garden path I can’t see and the road on which I walk is covered with black tulips.

Zigeunerlieder Music: Johannes Brahms (1833­1897) Text: German Translation by Hugo Conrat (unknown), on traditional Hungarian texts Written in 1887­1888 The fiery and ardent texts of the Hungarian traditional poems speak to my own artistic inclinations. The question of who wrote these original texts is up for some debate. Bozarth, of the Grove Music Dictionary, claims it was Fräulein Witzl; another reputable source, Carol Kimball’s book, claims the poems belong to Zoltán Nagy. The inconclusiveness around the original source of the texts, however, makes more sense when you consider the nomadic existence and strong emphasis on oral tradition in the culture of the Rroma people. Brahms remains famous for his Lieder, but few realize his interest in folksong. Brahms asked Conrat, his merchant friend, to translate the Hungarian texts for him. There is no proof that Conrat had any training to qualify him for this job. However, Conrat translated twenty­five of the texts, though Brahms only set eight for this cycle, which he published in 1887. He later arranged eleven texts for vocal quartet and piano in 1888. Kimball describes his settings in the following way: “Indigenous Hungarian vocal music lacks upbeats; all the words are accented on the first syllable. Brahms’s settings preserve this quality; all the songs begin on the beat.” I’m presenting the first two and the last two of the cycle, showing the general musical and emotional spectrum of Brahms’ settings. I. He, Zigeuner He, Zigeuner, greife in die Saiten ein! Spiel das Lied vom ungetreuen Mägdelein! Laß die Saiten weinen, klagen, traurig bange, Bis die heiße Träne netzet diese Wange!

Ho, Rroma, strike the strings! Play the song of unfaithful maidens! Let the strings cry, complain their sad worries, until hot tears wet my cheeks!

II. Hochgetürmte Rimaflut Hochgetürmte Rimaflut, Wie bist du so trüb; An dem Ufer klag ich Laut nach dir, mein Lieb!

High towering river Rima, how are you so muddied? On your shores I moan loudly after you, my love!

Wellen fliehen, Wellen strömen, Rauschen an dem Strand heran zu mir. An dem Rimaufer laß mich Ewig weinen nach ihr!

Waves flee, waves gush, they rush to the shore, to me! On Rima’s bank let me forever cry for her!

VII. Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn, mein susses Lieb, was du einst mit heil’gem Eide mir gelobt? Täusch mich nicht, verlass mich nicht, du weisst nicht, wie lieb ich dich hab’, lieb’ du mich wie ich dich, dann strömt Gottes Huld auf dich herab!

Does it sometimes come to mind, my sweet beloved, how you once promised yourself to me with heavenly vows? Don’t trade me in for someone else; don’t leave me! You don’t know just how much I love you! Love me as I love you and God’s crown will rest upon your head.

VIII. Rote Abendwolken Rote Abendwolken zieh’n am Firmament, sehnsuchtsvoll nach dir, mein Lieb, das Herze brennt. Himmel strahlt in glüh’nder Pracht, und ich träum’ bei Tag und Nacht nur allein von dem süssen Liebchen mein.

The night’s red clouds hang in the sky, filled with yearning for you, my love; my heart burns. Heaven shines with its glowing splendor, and I dream by day and night only, alone, for you, my beloved sweetheart.

Traditional African­American Spirituals Arranged by Moses Hogan (1957­2003) and H.T. Burleigh (1866­1949) Until I met esteemed operatic mezzo­soprano and social activist Barbara Conrad, I avoided singing African American spirituals for the same reason that most people of non­African descent do – we feel that we can’t because we are not African American. But, as Ms. Conrad pointed out to me, this doesn’t matter. These themes and messages, like the themes and messages of German Lieder, are universal and should be shared with everyone, regardless of race or ancestry. We don’t tell non­ Germans that they can’t sing Lieder. So, why, she asked us, should spirituals be any different? Caroline Helton and Emery Stephens support this idea in their article, “Singing down the barriers,” writing, “Thus began our journey toward investigating the barriers singers face when they attempt to perform spirituals and art songs by African American composers. However, finding out about the barriers is useless unless we can break them down and allow all students to benefit musically, artistically, and socially from the experience of singing this repertoire." I have chosen these three songs because I resonate with the texts. I chose Moses Hogan’s arrangement of “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” because I love the haunting counter­ melody that he adds in the accompaniment. His arrangement highlights the feeling of longing and loss. I decided to sing “Were you there?” a cappella because I feel this song needs the starkness and freedom that can only happen when the singer is alone. I finish with “Ride on, King Jesus!” because, when all is said and done, I believe that we need to hear a clear message of hope. This arrangement comes from the pen of H.T. Burleigh, a multi­talented man who had a direct link to the oral tradition of the African American spirituals through his maternal grandfather, who lived most of his life as a slave in Maryland. The heavy emotions of the first two songs are alleviated by the excitement and promise of the third. It is the underlying hope that runs through every spiritual, no matter how dark the text, that really draws me to this repertoire. When these people sang, they gave themselves hope so they could make it to the next dawn. I have not included texts for these songs in an effort to encourage the audience to listen fully to the words as they happen and remain completely absorbed in the present moment. This repertoire focuses on personal interpretation and spontaneous ornamentation; the performer may choose to change the words or notes in performance, if moved to do so.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.