October 8, 2019

The Art of Song press release

Contact: Suzanne DuPlantis
Lyric Fest to premiere new song cycle by Daron Hagen, notable among America’s premiere art song composers.
Co-commissioned by Lyric Fest and The Brooklyn Art Song Society.
Lyric Fest presents
The Art of Song
Monday, November 4th, 2019 at 7:30 PM
at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square
Pre-Concert Composer Talk at 7PM
Premiere American composer and Curtis graduate Daron Hagen has been commissioned by Lyric Fest and The Brooklyn Art Song Society, who together will present his new concert-length song cycle, The Art of Song. Hagen’s music has been described as “dazzling, unsettling, exuberant, and heroic” (The New Yorker). Hagen has more than 40 song cycles to his credit, including two previously commissioned by Lyric Fest. This new work features the verse of poets that for him have fueled a lifetime of song composition. It is scored for vocal sextet in various solos and ensemble movements, accompanied by two pianists. The performance takes place on Daron Hagen’s birthday, Monday, November 4th, 2019.
Hagen shares the following about his new work,The Art of Song, a song cycle that he believes might just as easily have been called a 60 minute opera in four acts:
Nearing the age of sixty, I’ve been taking stock of how I began composing, what I’ve done, where I am, and whether there is somewhere still for me to go.[…] Decades ago I shed the orthodoxies that shaped my first musical responses to words. I reach now without limitation toward whatever makes me hear music and helps to tell a story that connects. As I grow older, the line between what constitutes art song and lyric theater has all but disappeared […] In the end—after writing a dozen operas and as many big song cycles—it seems to me that the narrative that a composer contrives when choosing to sequence poems by various poets into a cycle is pretty much the same as the process of writing a treatment for an opera without sword fights and the need to show rather than tell.
Co-commissioned by Philadelphia’s Lyric Fest and the Brooklyn Art Song Society to provide an evening-long work for six singers and piano four hands that will inevitably be perceived as a summation of what I am about as a serious vocal composer, I’m skeptical about offering a “play by play” in the form of how I collected the poems and what sort of psychological narrative I’ve constructed. I offer instead that The Art of Song is sort of a sixty minute opera in four acts for dozens of characters set in lots of locales and eras. Part One struggles with the difference between “speaking out” and politics, and the intersection between citizenship and art in pursuit of peace between people; Part Two seeks inner peace through mindfulness and love; Part Three essays aloneness and death; Part Four centers on the everyday human struggle to find rebirth in the processing of dreams lost, regained, and treasured. – Daron Hagen
The concert features sopranos Justine Aronson and Gilda Lyons (also a composer, and Hagen’s wife); mezzo-sopranos Elisa Sutherland and Meg Bragle; tenor James Reese; baritone Steven Eddy; and pianists Laura Ward and Michael Brofman. The Philadelphia world premiere is followed by the Brooklyn premiere on June 5, 2020.
Lyric Fest has been hailed in the press as “An irresistible mix of high art and humane feeling…As entertaining as a well-managed party.” It was founded in 2003 with the goal of celebrating and revitalizing the song tradition and is the only performing arts organization in the Mid-Atlantic region with a primary focus on song and art song in all its varied expression. Now in its 17th season, Lyric Fest has produced and presented over 90 distinctly crafted and curated concert programs featuring more than 250 local, regional and national performing artists. Lyric Fest has brought programs to Washington DC, Moorestown, NJ, Wilmington, DE, Pittsburgh, PA., NYC, NY, and this season, Lyric Fest will debut in Brooklyn, NY; San Jose, CA and in Silicon Valley, CA.
Commissioning and performing new works has become an integral part of Lyric Fest’s mission and programming philosophy. Since its founding, Lyric Fest has commissioned and premiered over 40 new works (solo songs, full cycles and arrangements) by local, regional and nationally recognized composers. LF generates and facilitates partnership with composers, providing them opportunities for creating and mounting performances of their work.
For tickets and information, visit www.lyricfest.org
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