Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mid-week update

Both my lectures at Lasell Village this week were very interesting.

For my "Modern Music: Why It's Not That Horrible" class, we delved into song literature, and I played my students Hundley, Cipullo, Heggie, Larsen, and Golijov among others. (Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs are their listening homework this week.) I had expected that the great poetry all those composers set would be a door into the music, not to mention the beautiful lyricism that so many song composers employ, but most of them didn't seem too impressed by most of the settings. I got several comments that they loved the poetry, but that the music didn't seem to reflect the text. These are some of my favorite songs, so I was somewhat taken aback! In contrast, last week was symphonic works week, and while I had expected that they might find a lot of the symphonic works impenetrable, we started off with a discussion of color and texture, and listened to different composers' colors and textures, and I guess that gave them the tools to be intrigued and interested in everything, from Murail to Gubaidulina to Higdon. I think this is a reflection on the fact that I need to give them listening tools in every lecture; I had thought poetry and words would be enough of a listening tool, but apparently not so much!

Then in my "Ten Greatest Choral Works" lecture we tackled Britten's War Requiem. Which is about WWII, and pretty heavy, if you don't know it (if you google the piece, however, there is a lot of wonderful writing about it on the web, more so than most other pieces.) Particularly humbling was the moment when I asked, "Who here fought in WWII?" and almost every single man in the room raised his hand. It also turned out that one of the women had worked in the Nuremberg Trials. There is nothing to make you feel like a pipsqueak more than lecturing TO a bunch of WWII vets about Britten's War Requiem; it felt ridiculous to be trying to teach them anything when they could teach me so much. And at the same time I could see how valuable it was to present this piece; but it's a big thing to be discussing why Britten made the dramatic choices he made, and his pacifism, and what kinds of catharsis he was hoping to achieve to people who have lived what he was writing.

In other news I participated in a recording session that I would love to tell you all about but since I signed a non-disclosure agreement I have to wait a while to do that. My voice lessons (that I'm taking) this summer are going extremely well; so are my sight-singing lessons (that I'm teaching); Anthology is plotting our next big program for late September; and I am taking salsa classes this summer and LOVING it! Oh, and last night I turned in my programs for Cantilena's upcoming season. More on that later!

[Edited to add: I also saw the BOC's production of Falstaff on Saturday! Great performance; all the singers acted and sang impeccably, and the stage direction was a great deal of fun. I hope they stay in the Somerville Theatre in the future, so I can continue to eat popcorn, drink wine, and watch opera all at the same time.]

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