New Year, New Songs: Art Songs for Studio, Performance, and Study
Contributing Editor: Jonathan Campbell
Whatever your new year will be, singers need to remain active. Art songs provide an opportunity for a single voice to either perform with a collaborative pianist, or to create a relatively simple, virtual performance. Either way, Graphite has a wide variety of art songs useful to the soloist, student, or voice teacher.
Timothy C. Takach’s “Mantra,” from his cycle “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” is unusual for its contemporary text as well as portions of audience participation. The humorous poem engages the audience with texts such as, “…actually exercise, instead of just Googling it.” Several call and response passages make the song a communal experience. “Mantra” forges a deep connection between poet, singer, pianist, and audience.
Tegan Miller performs ‘Mantra’ by Timothy Takach and Sierra DeMulder, accompanied by Assaf Gleizne. 2020 American Traditions Vocal Competition; February 17-21, 2020; Savannah, Georgia.
Jenni Brandon’s ten-minute song cycle “Imperceptible” is an exotic window into the mysteries of love and loss seen through the lens of Japanese poetry translated into English. Brandon incorporates some extended musical effects, such as singing into sustained piano strings. “Imperceptible” offers moments of eerie silence, haunting sounds, and intense drama.
In “We’ll Find a Way,” Paul John Rudoi has crafted a more experimental song with elements of aleatoric rhythm and a chant-like melody. A pedal point—played with the right hand—contrasts with the left, which fills in the harmony. It’s a clever musical construction that draws attention to the text and the message of love and hope. Available for soprano or alto or tenor.
“Arise, Shine,” an aria extracted from Timothy Hoekman’s oratorio “Prophet Songs,” is appropriate for the concert stage, or for a liturgical service. A tour de force for soprano, “Arise, Shine” could be paired with a variety of Baroque arias. Clear, consonant harmonies and passages of coloratura evoke “Rejoice Greatly” from “Messiah,” or even arias by Mozart. High notes are prepared well, and Hoekman understands where the best colors of the voice lie.
About the composers
Reviewed as “gorgeous” (Washington Post) and “stunning” (Lawrence Journal-World), the music of Timothy C. Takach has risen fast in the concert world. Applauded for his melodic lines and rich, intriguing harmonies, Takach has received commissions from various organizations including the St. Olaf Band, Cantus, Pavia Winds, Lorelei Ensemble, The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists, VocalEssence, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, The Rose Ensemble, and numerous high school and university choirs. His compositions have been performed on A Prairie Home Companion, The Boston Pops holiday tour, multiple All-State and festival programs and at venues such as the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center and Royal Opera House Muscat. Takach has received grants from the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, Minnesota State Arts Board, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and ASCAP.
Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) is a composer of solo, vocal, choral, chamber, and orchestral music. Her music has been described as “some of the most imaginative, ingratiating recent chamber music for winds” (Steve Turpin, Morning Musicale, WBST), and her style is often influenced by nature and her surroundings. Ensembles and organizations that have commissioned, performed, or broadcast her work in venues across the world, including Carnegie Hall, include Voices of Ascension, The Singers-Minnesota Choral Artists, the Yale Glee Club, Conundrum, Sistrum, the Definiens Project, Sister Singers Network, California Association of Professional Music Teachers, and the Young New Yorkers Chorus. As a resident composer, she has worked with the Vientos Trio in Los Angeles and is in demand as a guest composer.
Paul John Rudoi is an award-winning composer, conductor, tenor vocalist, and arts entrepreneur. Deemed “indisputably unique, confident, and innovative” through the American Prize, Paul’s award-winning compositions have been commissioned and performed by various ensembles and artists throughout North America and Europe. Garnering grants and support from the Jerome Foundation, the ACF, MRAC, MSAB, the NEA, and ASCAP, his music is published through PJR Music alongside Graphite, Santa Barbara, Walton, Morningstar, and ECS music publishers. Paul holds degrees from The Hartt School and the University of Oregon, and his teachers have included Sharon Paul, Craig Phillips, Robert Kyr, Libby Larsen, and Edward Bolkovac.
Composer Timothy Hoekman has written in many genres, but most of his works include the voice. His works have been published by Theodore Presser, Colla Voce, Plymouth Music Company, Recital Publications, and Classical Vocal Reprints. He was named the 2002 MTNA-Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year for his song cycle To Make a Prairie, commissioned by the South Dakota Music Teachers Association. Other commissions have come from the Rawlins Piano Trio, the Coastal Carolina Chamber Music Festival, Georgia Southern University, and First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee, among others. His works have been recorded for Albany Records, Azica Records, and Mark Records.
Our Contributing Editor
Jonathan Campbell received his B.A. from Luther College in 1998, a Master of Sacred Music degree from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota in 2002, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting in 2015 at North Dakota State University. As a composer, Jon has received numerous awards and commissions, including a Faith Partner’s Residency through the American Composer’s Forum, as well as first place in the Morningstar College Choral Composition Festival. From 2004-2012, Jon conducted the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota Chorale and in the spring of 2011, served as interim director of choral activities at Winona State University. At Augsburg University, Minneapolis, MN he recently served as faculty conductor of the Cedar Singers male chorus and the Masterworks Chorale. Jon is founder and was artistic director of the Minnesota Renaissance Choir, and is currently Director of Music and Fine Arts at Claremont United Church of Christ and Lecturer in Music at Pomona College, both in Claremont, CA.