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Academic Programs and Concentrations
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“An Old German Song Cyle and Some New American Music” is, at its core, a straightforward art song recital. As to its form, the only thing that could be considered even remotely revolutionary was my decision to perform the small collection of unrelated pieces in the second half, following the large, segmented work—an order that, in most traditional concert settings, is reversed.
The project was comprised of preparing and performing Robert Schumann’s (1810-1856) Liederkreis, Op. 39, and four modern American songs I have collected over the years. The Liederkreis is a song cycle consisting of twelve unrelated vignettes, each a setting of a poem from Joseph Eichendorff’s Intermezzo, and represented the bulk of the preparatory challenge that was this project. The four American songs consisted of the first scene of Lothar Klein’s (1932-2004) Six Scenes from the Old Man and the Sea; “The Moon is distant from the Sea”, a setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem of the same name by recent Bard graduate R. Luke Koenig (1995-); “Look Down, Fair Moon”, a setting by Ned Rorem (1923-) of Walt Whitman’s text of the same name; and Kyle Gann’s (1955-) “Alba (En un vergier sotz fuella d’albespi)”, a troubadour song from his 2016 collection Songs from Proença. The American songs were chosen to contrast the song cycle—indeed, the cycle was written around 150 years ago, while none of the American songs are even old enough to retire. They differ drastically in content, form, and compositional intent, and so presented challenges that were different and distinct from those of the Schumann.
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Mildner, Jonathan Allen, "An Old German Song Cycle and Some New American Music" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 163.