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WEDS@7 Susan Narucki, soprano

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 7:00 pm

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall

General Admission: $15.50
UCSD Faculty, Staff, Alumni: $10.50
Student Rush: Free with ID
MUSIC Box Office: 858-534-3448
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Event Program (PDF)

"..grander far the unseen soul"

Music by Nadia Boulanger, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Viktor Ullmann, Ingrid Stölzel, Christopher Cerrone, Nina C. Young, Aaron Helgeson and Charles Ives.

Are songs a distillation of life's experience, for those who compose them and those who perform them? In their latest recital program, longtime collaborative partners soprano Susan Narucki and pianist Donald Berman explore works of a distinct group of composers drawn from different generations and diverse personal histories, in songs with a wide range of musical expression from the folk-like and minimal to lush echoes of late Romanticism and multilayered textures of the modern.

Susan Narucki, soprano
Donald Berman, piano

Nadia Boulanger:   Au bord de la route (1922), Chanson  (1922), Cantique (1909), J'ai frappé  (1922)
Nadia Boulanger:   Vers la vie nouvelle (1918), for piano solo
Ruth Crawford Seeger:  From Five Songs (1929), Home thoughts, White Moon, Sunsets
Viktor Ullmann:  Three Hölderlin Lieder (1943), Sonnenuntergang, Der Frühling,  Abendphantasie
Ingrid Stölzel:  Grand is the Seen  (2014)
Christopher Cerrone:  That Night with the Green Sky (2013)
Nina C. Young:  Swan Song (2018)
Aaron Helgeson: Through glimpses of unknowing (2012), for piano solo
Charles Ives: From 114 Songs - Ann Street, At Sea, The Greatest Man, West London, Down East

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Additional Description:

Nadia Boulanger  (1887-1979) was best known as one of the 20th century's most important and influential pedagogues and taught a number of celebrated composers and musicians.  She was also an active composer, though her works are infrequently performed; the songs and piano solo on the program date primarily from 1918-1922 and are notable for their concise, clear form and direct - in some cases - brutal, emotional expression.

Three of American composer Ruth Crawford Seeger's evocative settings of poems of Carl Sandburg, dating from 1929, are included as well.  Crawford Seeger's compositional language is rooted firmly in the modern, yet she creates a delicate, variegated sound world that lifts and envelops Sandburg's candid imagery.

The Three Hölderlin Songs (1943) of Viktor Ullmann were written during the composer's internment at Terezin. The poems speak to the possibility of transcendence through our relationship to the natural world; these little known masterworks of the song genre are luminous and achingly beautiful. 

The second half opens with music from a younger generation of composers: Ingrid Stölzel, Christopher Cerrone and Nina C. Young.  Stölzel's Grand is the Seen captures Whitman's resplendent text, with a deft use of instrumental color and sweeping vocal lines. Cerrone's The Night with the Green Sky builds an atmosphere of almost suffocating fragility through the simplest of means.  And in Swan Song, Nina C. Young  creates a fusion of word and sound in which time seems suspended.  Aaron Helgeson's piano solo, Through glimpses of unknowing explores the knife edge between sound and silence, with writing of delicacy and restraint.

The program concludes with songs by Charles Ives. Narucki and Berman have collaborated on music of Ives for decades, as their critically acclaimed recording The Light that is Felt: Songs of Charles Ives (New World) attests.  The songs presented on this program include vignettes of an America that is long past, with a notable exception: West London.  "ill, moody and tongue tied"  is the description that Matthew Arnold applies to the homeless woman with her child, who seek help from the few to whom they are visible. Ives' song, nearly one hundred years old, illuminates what still surrounds us.   

Are songs a distillation of life's experience, for those who compose them and those who perform them?  ..."grander far the unseen soul" is full of music of great audacity, if we consider the audacity it takes to be immersed in the intimate. 


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