Date of Submission

Spring 2013

Academic Program

Music

Project Advisor 1

Erika Switzer

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In working with my coach and teachers and in my own personal studies I discovered a wealth of suitable and challenging music. I chose music that I felt I could develop a personal connection with and perform to the best of my ability. My first program was a more concise, intimate study of two contrasting composers. I explored some of Franz Schubert’s later works, particularly his Schwanengesang cycle. This gave me a taste of the German romantic genre, which I hope to find myself singing in the future. The Henri Duparc set gave me a taste of the darker, more intense side of French song. I had studied music from both Schubert and Duparc prior to my first concert; therefore I was more familiar with their styles and comfortable with the material. I believe I performed well in my first concert, and achieved the goals I had in mind. This first performance gave me a good basis for my second senior concert, both in terms of material and specific goals. My second senior concert will be a more expansive look at tenor repertoire. I will include songs in German, English, and Italian. I will begin with two works by Henry Purcell. Singing Purcell is a change of pace from what I usually tend to sing. I have not performed many works from the baroque era, and I have enjoyed expanding my horizons in this way. Next, I will perform a song cycle by Ludwig van Beethoven titled An Die ferne Geliebte. Studying An die ferne Geliebte gave me the unique opportunity to compare and contrast song cycles from the same era. Schubert and Beethoven both wrote song cycles concerning the wayfarer; the favorite protagonist for composers of the early Romantic era. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Songs of Travel will be the first set of songs written in the familiar English voice that I perform as a part of my senior project. It is important to sing music in your own language; the natural connection you make with every word gives the music a special meaning. I will end with a couple of songs by Stefano Donaudy, followed by a set by Paolo Tosti. I have always found Italian music to be the most gratifying to perform and I can think of no better way to conclude such a project.

Selecting the music for my second senior concert was a challenging process. I originally planned to perform Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, but I could not foresee overcoming the challenge of coordinating a string quartet. It was a natural decision to switch to Songs of Travel from the same composer, but this came with its challenges too. Two of the songs in particular, Youth and Love, and In Dreams were difficult, as they tend to hang around just above the passagio, and often at a softer dynamic. At this point in my development I was struggling with that mode of singing especially. In order to make up for the time lost by cutting these two songs I added the Purcell songs. These are great to open with, as they sit in a comfortable range and they are not as sustained or precious as the Vaughan Williams can be. I discovered An die ferne Geliebte while listening to one of my favorite tenors, Fritz Wunderlich. The cycle has a range of dynamics and colors within, and it was a challenge rehearsing the German to a point where I could speak it without sacrificing vocal technique. My teachers suggested the Tosti and Donaudy songs. I found these to be the least challenging of the material. The language and style came more naturally to me.

From a technical point of view, my first recital was very strategic. I began with a fairly easy set of Schubert songs that I could sing with ease. This gave me a chance to relax my vocal facilities and focus on my use of language and color. In the next set I was able to unleash more, and sing more blatantly, more musically. In preparing for my second recital I encountered a particular problem with straining my voice and using too much muscle to produce sound. This was largely during the learning phase, when I spent more energy thinking about the words than simply singing unimpeded. In order to overcome my problems I had to become a student of my own development. This helped me pull off, what I hope will be a memorable final recital.

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