Patrick Dean Shelton likes to share his passion for singing through recitals, but an added bonus is getting to show his love for poetry.
“For me, recitals are something I’m really passionate about, especially as they become less popular in the classical music world,” said Shelton, a tenor and Chautauqua Opera Company Young Artist. “It’s nice when someone champions it because there are thousands of songs the audience wouldn’t get to hear if places didn’t champion recitals.”
Shelton will join soprano Natalie Trumm and baritone Ian Murrell at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, July 5, in the Athenaeum Hotel Parlor for an Afternoon of Song featuring four different languages: French, German, Spanish and English. Coach Jorge Parodi will accompany the Young Artists on piano.
The multilingual sets revolve around universal themes of life, love and longing.
“We’re bringing perspectives of cultures from all over the world,” Shelton said. “It’s kind of interesting to see how the French or the British or the Spanish experience these things through their poetry.”
Trumm will perform two songs from French-language composer Franz Liszt with the lyrics from works by Victor Hugo. “Enfant, si j’étais roi” is playful and expresses adoration toward someone, and “Oh! quand je dors” is a more intimate piece about a strong desire for someone, Trumm said.
“They’re both very beautiful, and stylistically, there is so much you can do with the interpretation of the piece,” Trumm said. “There’s all these ranges of color we can use because the setting of a recital is very intimate. You can sort of play around with your voice and certain things you can’t get with opera, whereas with song, it’s sweet and intimate.”
Trumm will also sing three pieces in Spanish from composer Joaquín Turina with text by Ramón de Campoamor.
The relationship between composer and poet is an aspect of art song the artists will display at the recital. Most of the composers formed an attachment to a certain poet and would set their words to music. Sometimes, the writer and composer are the same person. In those cases, the relationship between the writer and composer is “even stronger,” Parodi said.
That is the case with Shelton’s selections of “The Cage,” music and text by Charles Ives, and Ernest Charles’ “When I have sung my songs to you.”
Shelton’s other arrangement includes English texts from Thomas Hardy composed by Gerald Finzi, who often journaled about feeling a kinship with the poet whom he had never met, Shelton said.
“I think when a composer finds a poet that speaks to them, it unlocks something in their brain,” Shelton said.
Murrell will open the recital with Maurice Ravel’s “Cinq mélodies populaires grecques” with the French text by Michel-Dimitri Calvocoressi. The pieces all contrast in style, but they showcase aspects of Greek life through a French lens, Murrell said.
Murrell will also sing three art songs from Austrian composer Hugo Wolf. In 1888, Wolf set 53 poems by Eduard Mörike to music. Though some people may not have heard any of the German pieces, Murrell finds recitals to be well-received no matter what the artist is performing.
“I always find that giving recitals, you’re going to find an appreciative audience no matter where you go because you’re not only introducing new music to them, you’re just performing,” Murrell said. “I’ve done recitals in retirement communities where you could sing ‘Mary had a Little Lamb,’ and people would be really appreciative of it because you’re taking time to present who you are as an artist to these people who otherwise don’t get to hear that style all too often.”
Trumm said foreign languages can often express feelings better than a person’s native language, which makes this recital special.
“It’s put in words that you don’t necessarily have on your palette, so you get to connect to these pieces and say, ‘Those are the words I wish I could say to someone or this grand way of expressing my feelings,’ ” Trumm said. “That’s how you sort of connect your soul to it.”