GERALD SEMINATORE, DMA
VISION STATEMENT: The Spacious Vision Song Project is an unincorporated association of professional performers aspiring to preserve the genres of classical art song and vocal chamber music in the 21st century.
Musicians affiliated with the Spacious Vision Song Project strive to create intimate and powerful musical experiences through live performances. Our work is rooted in the tradition of “classical” art song, though it may also move across musical genres. Building connections with audiences in live performance is a core value of that work.
What is an “art song”? Simply put, it’s a musical setting of a poem that had an independent existence before the music. The words of an art song are different from song “lyrics,” which are usually written to fit a particular tune. In the hands of a capable composer, a poem’s imagery and inner music can come to fuller expression.
Nearly every “great” composer has written art songs. Franz Schubert is the towering figure in this genre, with over 600 songs (Lieder) in his catalog. Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Giuseppe Verdi, Claude Debussy, Benjamin Britten, and Leonard Bernstein are other examples of composers who have been friends of the solo singer. There are hundreds of composers, and thousands of songs, to be heard.
Historically, the song recital has been a quiet cousin of the grander traditions of opera, symphony, and oratorio. It is a comparatively modest affair, featuring one or a few singers, a pianist, and perhaps an occasional collaborating instrumentalist. Like chamber music concerts by string quartets or piano trios, song recitals occupy a certain “niche” for musical audiences. The beauties of the art song repertory may also take some time to perceive and appreciate. A song recital won’t draw a sizeable audience unless it is sung by a major opera star, known concert singer, or recent major competition winner. There are a few reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that an art song’s DNA is the words. And those words are often in a language other than that of the audience.
The beauty of the singer’s voice is the primary way to be beguile the listener’s ear. But in art song, the voice also serves a poet and a story. So while we do not neglect songs in Italian, German, French, and other languages, Spacious Vision leans toward programming songs in English for our American audiences. We want our listeners to directly connect to both the music and the words.
For both established and emerging artists, art song offers an inexhaustible source of inspiration, and discovery. For every opera singer performing onstage in a theatrical production, there is another soloist with a beautiful voice and a song to share. Pianists who dream of a solo career may also be drawn to art song, as some songs require technique and artistry on par with much solo piano repertory. For audience members, an art song performance can be intensely personal. Watching and hearing a fine singer, close up, is like meeting a story-teller who sings. Art song performances are intimate artistic experiences, and they can be moody, contemplative, thought-provoking, uplifting, or just plain fun.
As for the economics of this endeavor, song recitals are inexpensive when compared to larger musical endeavors. Programs can be presented in many different venues, and reach many different kinds of audiences. They are also very portable, as singers need no theatrical equipment, special effects, or amplification to share their stories. Spacious Vision artists are experimenting with possibilities to renew and refresh the traditions of art song and vocal chamber music in the 21st century. Our work is both artistic and educational: we want to provide collaborative performing opportunities for singers, and enriching artistic experiences for our audiences.
Here on our website, visitors can meet our artists, learn about past programs, and check out audio and video links from some of our past performances. Rather than “seasons,” we produce one or two events at a time. As new programs are finalized, they will be announced here, in local media, and on social media platforms.
We rely on and look forward to your engagement and support, and hope to see you at a concert, if distance allows. If not, you can hear excerpts from our programs at our YouTube channel. Thank you for visiting!
(Top illustration is from the poster for the Salinas, CA Youth Arts Festival in 2007).