When we were presented with the opportunity to craft something special for USUO audiences, we immediately began to explore the idea of sharing art song. Almost every day, while engaging with secondary school students across the state, we present about the magic of art song. We speak about its origins in salons and about its modern performance, typically in intimate recital halls. We share how art song allows singers to take short musical vignettes as an opportunity to give audiences a closer glimpse into who we are as individuals. A project focused around art song not only granted us the opportunity to share incredible music, possibly unknown to our audiences, but also to create an artistic experience and execution wholly “us” in its message and expression.
Once it became clear that art song was going to be our medium, we began to think about how we wanted to share the music and its message. Would it be best to film full recitals or to create a short music film? Would we want to do separate recitals for each singer or collaborate on group ideas? We had many questions, but we knew unanimously that we desperately wanted to expand outside the walls of our traditional performance venues. A majority of us moved to Utah in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and hadn’t had the ability to meet our patrons, to gather in community spaces, or to explore the values and traditions that make our community special. We knew this was our moment to not only introduce ourselves and our art to our community, but to also learn about this place we now are able to call home.
We present each episode of this series from a different space in our community and are grateful for the collaborative and welcoming spirit of The City Library, the Natural History Museum of Utah, and Huntsman Cancer Institute. Each space not only provided a fantastic musical and community venue for this series, but also fully captured the essence of our messages of Nature, Community, and Hope. Through our visits and time shared in these spaces, we learned so much about each of these venues, their terrific work to benefit our communities, and their missions. We invite you to take a moment to learn about them as well.
Musically, “Songs for Our Time,” has been molded by each of our hands, as well as by the guiding hands of our incredible team. Its music reflects the varieties of sound, color, and tone of each of us, telling our “songs” both individually and collectively. It was important for us to explore new composers and poets, recognizing them as artistic equals to their predecessors. We specifically aimed to lend our voices to the work of Women and Black artists, whose contributions to classical music have long been overlooked and systematically omitted. We regard them and place them on equal footing and commit to recognizing them and their art as true works of excellence.
We entered this project asking our audience to join us in answering the question, “what is your song?”
We leave not only expressing our collective answers, but encouraging those who watch to:
find harmony within the nature that provides us life, protect and uplift all people in our communities, and embrace the things that bring us joy and hope.