Song will ring out in a diverse mix of genres, languages and vocal ranges when voice students in the School of Music perform their second concert of the season.
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 10 in Fletcher Music Hall, nine students will sing a mix of pieces by a wide range of composers, from Claude Debussy to Alban Berg.
The students who signed up for this concert were able to choose their own pieces to perform, giving them a chance to share their own passions and personalities.
“This is not a themed recital, but a real potpourri of music from a variety of our singers in a variety of languages,” said Donna Gill, head coach of the Voice Program.
French, German, Italian and Polish are among the languages to be featured in the pieces. Though there will be no written translations, voice instructor Joan Patenaude-Yarnell and student Evan Lazdowski will read each piece in English before it is sung.
It will be bass-baritone Daniel Loganbill’s first time performing at Chautauqua; he will be singing two pieces from Johannes Brahms’ song cycle “Vier ernste Gesänge” (Four Serious Songs). Of those four songs, each of which are based on a Bible verse, he will be singing the first and the last. The first is called “Denn es gehet dem Menschen” (As it is with men, so it is with the beast), which comes from Ecclesiastes 3:19-22. The piece ruminates upon the “vanity of vanities” that humans believe they are intrinsically different from animals and will go to a different, higher place after death.
“It’s focused on this idea of death,” Loganbill said. “Brahms composed the work in 1896, and in the five years before that, he lost seven friends, so he was really focused on death.”
The fourth piece in the song cycle is called “Wenn ich mit Menschen und mit Engelszungen redete” (When I speak with the tongue of men and angels), which comes from 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 12-13. This piece is much lighter in its subject matter; it is what Loganbill called a “love song” and an exploration of agape, the Greek word for the unconditional love between God and man.
“It’s basically a religious confession for Brahms,” Loganbill said. “He has these three really dark (pieces) focused on a dark vanity of life, and then he attaches this love chapter. … I think Brahms actually sees a lot of hope in that passage.”
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Zieba will be singing “Nocturne” by Samuel Barber, a poem by Frederic Prokosch set to music, and “Perduta ho la pace” by Giuseppe Verdi, which translates to “I have lost my peace.” The latter piece is about a woman whose lover has just left her, and explores the sadness, longing and anger that she feels.
“I love the lines,” Zieba said. “Verdi was really the master of melodies and making long, flowing lines.”
Zieba hopes to connect with the audience, even if they don’t understand the words she sings.
“The one thing that I think distinguishes singing from other types of music is that people can connect to words more than they can to just simply music, just because it’s more of a common language,” Zieba said. “And even if it is in a different language, the emotion in which I express those words — I hope to come across.”
Mezzo-soprano Erin Wagner performed in last week’s student voice concert and hopes to build upon that experience. She will be singing Berg’s “Sieben frühe Lieder” (Seven Early Songs). These seven short pieces are Romantic in style and theme, mostly focused on nature and emotion. They are titled “Nacht” (Night), “Schilflied” (Song Amid the Reeds), “Die Nachtigall” (The Nightingale), “Traumgekrönt” (Crowned in Dreams), “Im Zimmer” (Indoors), “Liebesode” (Ode to Love) and “Sommertage” (Summer Days).
“I picked them because the music really moved me whenever I listened to it previously before I had even sung it,” Wagner said. “It just kind of grabs you. … It sucks you in.”
Bass-baritone Marcel Sokalski will also be returning for his second voice concert of the season, and will sing a set of Polish songs by Stanisław Moniuszko, including three art songs and an aria from the opera Halka. One is about a seamstress with multiple suitors, one is a somber piece about a son gone to war, one is a nostalgic piece about a river and the aria is set during the singer’s wedding when he sees a woman he used to be with.
“I hope people enjoy it because it’s music that you rarely hear unless it’s a specific Slavic concert,” Sokalski said. “It’s like other languages like Hungarian, which isn’t done a lot, or Czech, not as much, or Russian. There’s such great repertoire out there and it’s nice to be able to just dive in and listen to it with open ears.”
Five other students will be performing: soprano Shan Hai, mezzo-soprano Meredith Smietana, tenor Nicholas Farrauto, soprano Merissa Beddows, and soprano Amanishakete Cole-Felder. They will be singing pieces by Debussy, Hector Berlioz, Paolo Tosti, Giacomo Puccini, John Adams and Brahms.
“It’ll be consistently interesting because there will be so much diversity in what people are going to be singing,” Loganbill said. “Lots of different voice types, lots of different types of genres, eras, musical styles, diverse composers, opera, art song — you’ll get a lot.”