Sunday, December 4, 2016

American music highlights from Mason Jarboe's recital

Mason Jarboe
For those of you who missed the live video feed of barihunk Mason Jarboe's senior recital at the University of North Texas Recital Hall on Friday, you're in luck. We're posting some of the hightlights of the recital, where he was joined by accompanist Boeun Kim.

The program featured works by Barber, Bach, Chausson, Mahler, Rossini and Massenet. In our tradition of promoting American music, we're sharing the performances by Samuel Barber, Clint Borzoni and Sam Sweet. 

Composer S.K. Sweet's Sommerlieder is a 21st century take on the romantic German song cycle. Its texts, written by Jarboe in the Summer of 2014 at Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake, NY, are part of a larger collection titled "Texts you never got from me," a collection of actual text messages that he tried to send that were mostly not delivered due to the poor cell service.

This site has been a huge proponent of the music of Clint Borzoni, who has written over seventy pieces, including two full-length operas, two one-act operas, a piano concerto, percussion quartet, work for orchestra, two string quartets, several works for chamber orchestra and over forty art songs.

Much of his vocal writing prominently features baritones, including the two lead roles in his recent opera When Adonis Calls, a leading bass role and baritone role in Antinous and Hadrian, two recent works for String Quartet and Baritone (Stufen and Margere Kost) written for Marco Vassalli, a set of Walt Whitman songs for baritone, the song cycle Awake the Dawn written for baritone Seth Kershisnik, and the song cycle Live Oak Growing written for baritones Tim Hill and Randal Turner. He's also working on a new piece for barihunk Edward Nelson, which will be performed with Musica Marin this year, where he is composer in residence.

Here is what Mason Jarboe said about the Borzoni songs:
"The songs 'I Dreamed in a Dream' and 'That Shadow, my Likeness' are right up there with my favorite English language songs ever written. If I had time I would've thrown in 'Tired' from Vaughan Williams' Last Four Songs, but some other time. For me, those three songs in the final set of my recital paint such a poignant picture of the realization, really the epiphany, I had towards classical vocal music, and Clint's songs perfectly show the progress I have made within my own life; the thankfulness of the first piece in which I can recognize everyone who has so warmly embraced me on my journey towards true artistry as well as the sense of community I have felt; truly a 'city of friends,' and the second, the acceptance of myself. The understanding that every perfectly imperfect aspect of me comes together in such a funny and beautiful way to create a human, a man, an artist, that I am proud to present today, no matter how many high G's he has to put out in a recital (11, and four F#s) and no matter what anyone around him thinks. Thanks to such perfect settings of such perfect texts by Mr. Borzoni, I know that my art matters, that I matter as an artist, and, most importantly, that what I and my brilliant colleagues do as musicians has such an important role in so many people's everyday lives that I will never stop striving to show to them. I just adore his music, and I really can't wait to get to work on my next Borzoni project."
Samuel Barber's music, masterfully crafted and built on romantic structures and sensibilities, is at once lyrical, rhythmically complex, and harmonically rich. His writing is lyrical with expressive and nuanced shadings and a keen connection to the text. Songs like "Sure on this shining night" have become standards on song recital programs. Barber wrote his first piece at age 7 and attempted his first opera at age 10. At the age of 14 he entered the Curtis Institute, where he studied voice, piano, and composition. Later, he studied conducting with Fritz Reiner.

St Ita’s vision is the third song of Hermit Songs op.29, which premiered on October 30, 1953 at the Library of Congress with soprano Leontyne Price and the composer at the piano. The cycle is based on anonymous Irish texts from the eighth to the thirteenth centuries written by monks and students, commenting about daily life, nature and God. The piano part, mainly in arpeggios, contributes also to the sense of motion and the sweetness and dreamy atmosphere.

Samuel Barber wrote numerous songs set to some of the world's greatest poets, including James Joyce, Matthew Arnold, Rainer Maria Rilke, A.E. Housman, James Agee and James Stephens. Some of Barber’s greatest music stemmed from these poetic inspirations, including the Hermit Songs, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, the three powerful James Joyce settings and Rilke's texts for Mélodies passagères.

At Curtis, Barber met Gian Carlo Menotti with whom he would form a lifelong personal and professional relationship. Menotti supplied libretti for Barber's operas Vanessa (for which Barber won the Pulitzer) and A Hand of Bridge.
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