Song Genesis is an initiative I’ve embedded in my Graduate Art Song Survey curriculum at the Jacobs School of Music. For it, I curate teams of one singer, one pianist, one poet, and one composer to work collaboratively in planned phases throughout the spring semester towards the premiere of an Art Song—within the classroom, and also in a public venue.
As a survey course, the mandate is broad by definition— indeed, in a time when efforts to re-think inclusivity are invigorating academia, a curriculum that explores a range of relatively brief artworks is especially primed for adaptability! Rather than implying that this is a genre to be studied retrospectively, I am passionate about offering these young professionals an example of how they can be an engine towards the creation of new song. That the canon has always been a living, evolving body is crucial to understanding this course as relevant and practically beneficial for the students’ performing careers.
All members of the team are called on to contribute; the final product is meant to be a unique (and uniquely balanced) creative effort. The video recording of the premiere becomes part of their individual portfolios, and attests to their fearlessness, curiosity, and awareness of collaboration as a key creative mode for the coming century.
Thanks to Remote Learning, here’s a Zoom recording from the 2021 virtual premieres. That class period includes observations from poets, singers, pianist and composers from nearby, and all the way from Hong Kong!
Recorded performances of the two songs can be viewed below.
A New Comfort
Music by Daniel Niberg. Text by Hannah Keeler.
Savanna Webber, soprano. Lucas Nogara Mourao, piano.
Don’t Be Obsessed with my Intestines
Music by Yi-De Chen. Text by Hippocrates Cheng Ching Nam.
Steven Warnock, baritone. Lucas Nogara Mourao, piano.
Workshopping with all team members, Spring 2019.