Katie Martin performs Lori Laitman’s “If I…”

SV_Taso_Katie_portrait_2_color_webLori Laitman is recognized today as one of the America’s most successful and creative living composers. She has composed three operas, an oratorio, and other choral works. In more than 250 songs, she is revitalizing the fusion of poetry and music in song, and helping to continue the tradition of of American art song in the twenty-first century.

For our recent AMERICAN PILGRIMAGE concert, soprano Katie Elizabeth Martin offered Laitman’s tender Dickinson setting “If I…”

EMILY DICKINSON (American, 1830-86)

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

View Katie’s performance by clicking here.  Mark Salters is at the piano.

(Photo courtesy of Taso Papadakis)

Charles Ives “Religion” and “The Cage,” performed by Gerald Seminatore

SV_Taso_Gerald_animated_singing_color_webFor our recent AMERICAN PILGRIMAGE concert, tenor Gerald Seminatore and pianist Mark Salters offered songs by Charles Ives ( 1874-1954). (Links to performance videos of two songs appear below.)

Ives was one of the most original of twentieth century American composers. In more than 100 songs, Ives wove together original melodies, fragments of popular songs and hymns, and harmonies of sweet simplicity or crashing dissonance. There is a pronounced nostalgia in many Ives songs, and sometimes a humorous or ironic note. Two of these songs–“Religion” and “The Cage”–are models of economy, brevity, and harmonic expressiveness.

"Religion" (1920), words Dr. James Thompson Bixby

 There is no unbelief.
 And day by day and night by night, unconsciously,
 The heart lives by faith the lips deny;
 God knows the why.

Click here for Gerald's performance of "Religion." 

"The Cage"(1906), words by Charles Ives

 A leopard went around his cage
 From one side back to the other side;
 He stopped only when the keeper came around with meat;
 A boy who had been there three hours
 Began to wonder, “Is life anything like that?”

Click here for Gerald's performance of "The Cage." 

(Photo courtesy of Taso Papadakis)

Arnold Geis performs Richard Hundley’s “Isaac Greentree”

SV_Taso_Arnold_portrait_webOn our recent AMERICAN PILGRIMAGE concert, tenor Arnold Geis offered songs by composer Richard Hundley. For “Isaac Greentree” (1981), Hundley adapted a text from Samuel Palmer’s “Epitaphs and Epigrams: Curious, Quaint, Amusing” (1869). Arnold’s performance captured both the lyricism and the tenderness of this epitaph. (The text appears below.)

Click here to view Arnold’s performance of “Isaac Greentree” on YouTube.
Mark Salters is at the piano.

(Photo courtesy of Taso Papadakis)

In springtime comes
The gentle rain,
Soothing honey sweet breeze
And sheltering sun.

Beneath these trees
Rising to the skies

The planter of them
Isaac Greentree lies.

The time shall come
When these trees shall fall
And Isaac Greentree rise
Above them all.

Katie Elizabeth Martin performs Copland’s “Why do they shut me out of Heaven?”

SV_Taso_Katie_portrait_2_color_webEmily Dickinson (1830-86) is universally recognized as one of the most important literary voices of the American experience. Her poems have attracted many composers, and Aaron Copland’s “Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson” are some of the finest musical settings of Dickinson in the American song repertory.

We are pleased to share a video of Katie Elizabeth Martin singing Copland’s “Why do they shut me out of Heaven?” This live performance is from our recent AMERICAN PILGRIMAGE concert at the Brand Library in Glendale, CA. (Photo courtesy of Taso Papadakis.)

Click here to view Katie’s live performance of “Why do they shut me out of Heaven?

(American, 1830-86)

Why—do they shut Me out of Heaven?
Did I sing—too loud?
But—I can say a little “Minor”
Timid as a Bird!

Wouldn’t the Angels try me—
Just—see—if I troubled them—
But don’t—shut the door!

Oh, if I—were the Gentleman
In the “White Robe”—
And they—were the little Hand—that knocked—

Gerald Seminatore performs Britten’s Canticle One

The online service YouTube has become ubiquitous, and many performing artists seeking a wider audience use it to post videos of their work. Our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/spaciousvision) is drawing a growing number of viewers.

When we only have an audio track to share, it is uploaded to our SoundCloud archive (www.souncloud.com/spacious-vision). YouTube only accepts video files for upload, so if an audio track has no live video associated with it, another solution is needed to share the audio on that platform. Many people create a photo montage for video streaming with an accompanying “soundtrack.” Often these videos are amateurish or poorly done, but sometimes they illuminate the content of the music and are worthy of a look.

canticleofcanticlesA few singers have used YouTube to introduce song and arias, especially those in other languages that might need a translation or subtitles. We have adopted this idea with a video for Britten’s First Canticle “My beloved is mine.”

This powerful work is based on a poem by the 17th century English “Metaphysical” poet Francis Quarles. Britten’s musical setting presents few obstacles for the listener, but the poem’s language and imagery are not immediately accessible. This video provides an introduction to the Canticle itself, as well as text and images to aid the listener in enjoying an extended vocal work that is both spiritual and ardent.

This live 2013 performance is by Gerald Seminatore and pianist Jaebon Hwang. Gerald the montage as a final project for a PowerPoint class.

Click here to view the video of Britten’s First Canticle, “My beloved is mine”


Jonathan Mack performs “The Brisk Young Widow”

There is still music from recent Spacious Vision performances to share! Over on our SoundCloud audio archive, we have a live performance by Jonathan Mack of a relatively unknown Britten folk song setting. It’s the comedic “The Brisk Young Widow,” from 1954. (The song uses a tune from Somerset, collected by Cecil Sharp in 1905). The recording is from our Nov. 2013 “Britten in Song” concert.

Click here for Jonathan’s performance. Kristof van Grysperre is at the piano. The song has several verses, and you can seem them here, or all on the SoundCloud page.

In Chester town there liv’d
A brisk young widow.
For beauty and fine clothes
None could excel her.
She was proper stout and tall,
Her fingers long and small,
She’s a comely dame withall,
She’s a brisk young widow.

A lover soon there came,
A brisk young farmer,
With his hat turn’d up all round,
Seeking to gain her.
“My dear, for love of you
This wide world I’d go through
If you will but prove true
You shall wed a farmer.”

Says she: “I’m not for you
Nor no such fellow.
I’m for a lively lad
With lands and riches,
‘Tis not your hogs and yowes
Can maintain furbelows,
My silk and satin clothes
Are all my glory”.

“O madam, don’t be coy
For all your glory,
For fear of another day
And another story.
If the world on you should frown
Your top-knot must come down
To a Lindsey-woolsey gown.
Where is then your glory?”

At last there came that way
A sooty collier,
With his hat bent down all round,
And soon he did gain her:
Whereat the farmer swore,
“The widow’s mazed, I’m sure.
I’ll never court no more
A brisk young widow!”

Ariel Pisturino performs Britten’s “Nocturne”

Though many of Benjamin Britten’s songs were inspired by tenor Peter Pears, the song cycle “On This Island” (op. 11) was dedicated to noted English soprano Sophie Wyss. This early work is comprised of five settings of poems from W.H. Auden’s collection “Look, Stranger.” Britten set several other poems by Auden as well, but “Nocturne” is arguably the most effective of welding of Britten’s music and Auden’s unique voice. Click here for a performance of “Nocturne” by ARIEL PISTURINO, from our recent “Britten in Song” concert. Krystof van Grysperre at the piano.


Now through night’s caressing grip
Earth and all her oceans slip,
Capes of China slide away
From her fingers into day
And th’Americas incline
Coasts towards her shadow line.

Now the ragged vagrants creep
Into crooked holes to sleep:
Just and unjust, worst and best,
Change their places as they rest:
Awkward lovers like in fields
Where disdainful beauty yields:

While the splendid and the proud
Naked stand before the crowd
And the losing gambler gains
And the beggar entertains:
May sleep’s healing power extend
Through these hours to our friend.

Unpursued by hostile force,
Traction engine, bull or horse
Or revolting succubus;
Calmly till the morning break
Let him lie, then gently wake.

Bianca Hall performs “Hark, the echoing air”

94_Cupid_F90x70[1][1]Henry Purcell (1659-95) was to English music what Shakespeare was to English theater. Purcell composed “Dido and Aeneas,” the first opera we have in English, and many other works for the musical stage, including “The Fairy Queen.” Many sopranos (and a few tenors) have made its famous aria “Hark, the echoing air” a showpiece of their skills.

Britten created his own performing editions of “The Fairy Queen,” “Dido and Aeneas,” and many other works of Purcell. In Britten’s concert arrangement of this famous aria, the vocal parts and bass lines were preserved intact, while the orchestral accompaniment is re-imagined in a modern idiom.

Click here to view Bianca Hall’s performance of “Hark, the echoing air,” from our recent “Britten in Song” concert in Glendale. Krystof Van Gyrsperre is at the piano. Winged cupids are prominently featured.

Jonathan Mack performs “At the mid hour of night”

Following up our January 16 post featuring Jonathan Mack, here is a second Britten folk song setting. The author of “At the mid hour of night” was poet and songwriter Thomas Moore’s, whose collection “Irish Melodies” from was published in 1807. Moore’s poem is typical of the lyrical nostalgia found in much Irish poetry of that era. Jonathan’s rendition of Britten’s arrangement perfectly captures this feeling.

Click here to view the video of Jonathan Mack singing “At the mid hour of night.”
Kristof Van Grysperre is at the piano. This is from the 2013 concert by the Spacious Vision Song Project at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, CA.

1,000 and 700 and counting!

Our YouTube channel has just passed a landmark number–more than 1,000 views of Spacious Vision performance videos! Clearly, our online audience is growing. And over at our SoundCloud archive, the number of listens has passed 700.

Our most popular video is Pamela Dellal’s performance of the complete “Charm of Lullabies” by Benjamin Britten, with Gerald Seminatore’s selections from “Winter Words” coming in a close second, followed by John Seesholtz’s performances from our World AIDS Day concerts. On SoundCloud, Barbara Kilduff is the clear favorite. While we don’t know who is listening, we are glad for the interest! More additions to both archives are coming soon.