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Our 2024 Spring Chamber Music Series will explore some of the most beautiful repertoire in the intimate sanctuary of Greeley's First United Methodist Church.

 

We are thrilled to welcome Korean soprano Mihye Kim and American pianist Daniel Mullins for an exciting program of Art Songs by leading composers including Liszt's rarely performed 3 Sonetti del Petrarca.

 Sunday, March 3, 2024 | 2:00 PM | First United Methodist Church Greeley

PROGRAM

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

Song Selections

 

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

6 Lieder, op. 13 (1844)

 

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

3 Sonetti del Petrarca, S.270a (1846)

 

David Sisco (b. 1975)

“Dear God”

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Mihye Kim, a distinguished soprano from Seoul, South Korea, is celebrated as a versatile recitalist and operatic singer. Guided by a profound belief in the transformative power of music, she is dedicated to conveying its emotional resonance to diverse audiences. 

 

Ms. Kim has performed various leading roles, including Mutter in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretchen, Clarice in Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, and most recently appeared as the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Her repertoire also features standout scenes from Puccini’s La Bohème (Mimi), La Rondine (Suzy), and Turandot (Liu), Verdi’s Otello (Desdemona), and Bernstein’s Candide (Cunegonde). Beyond her operatic accomplishments, Ms. Kim achieved first prize at the 2022–2023 UNC Concerto Contest, earning the opportunity to showcase her talent as a soloist with the orchestra in Spring 2023 featuring vocal works of Strauss.

Ms. Kim completed the Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea. She continued her artistic development at the Conservatorio di Musica Giordano in Foggia, Italy, where she earned second prize at the Concorso Nazionale per Giovani Musicisti. Her quest for musical excellence led her to the United States, where she attained the Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance from Temple University. Currently, she is on the verge of completing the Doctor of Arts degree in Vocal Performance, with a secondary emphasis in Vocal Pedagogy, at the University of Northern Colorado, under the expert guidance of Dr. Melissa Malde.

 

During her course work at UNC, Ms. Kim served as a Teaching Assistant in the voice area where she taught applied lessons to first-year voice students. She currently resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband Yohan, and their dog, Namoo.

Daniel Mullins is currently the Managing Director at Graves Piano Company in Columbus, Ohio. In the spring of 2023, he completed a Master of Music degree in collaborative piano at the University of Northern Colorado. He was a graduate assistant acting as the rehearsal pianist for the UNCO opera program and freelanced as a piano accompanist for students and faculty at the institution. From January to August of 2023, Mr. Mullins was the music director for the First United Methodist Church in Greeley, Colorado. 

 

He completed a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Ohio University in 2013, and earned his first Master of Music degree in violin performance and string pedagogy in the spring of 2017. While a graduate teaching assistant at OU, he performed with the Klinder String Quartet, a fully funded graduate student quartet.

From the start of his collegiate career in 2007, Mr. Mullins was a freelance collaborative pianist at Ohio University. In 2013, after completing his undergraduate degree, he was a freelance collaborative pianist at The Ohio State University until 2014, when we returned to Athens, OH to pursue his first graduate degree. As a freelance collaborative pianist, he accompanied students, professional musicians, and collegiate faculty throughout the state of Ohio in recitals, masterclasses, and competitions. From 2019 to 2021, he was an adjunct professor at Ohio University, where he was an instructor of a class piano course for musical theater majors, as well as a staff accompanist.

 

Mr. Mullins is also passionate about teaching and has been a private and group instructor in various capacities. He began his private teacher career as a violin instructor in 2008 with the Athens Community Music School. He became a ‘Master Teacher’ of violin, viola, and piano for the Athens Community Music School from 2017-2021, as well as the director of the ACMS ‘Cadet Strings’ program in Athens, OH. In the summer of 2017 he was appointed the lead string instructor for the ‘Dover House Strings/Arco Strings’ program in McConnelsville, Ohio, a program based in rural Ohio with the goal to offer free musical instruction to persons of all ages. From 2017-2019, Mr. Mullins served as the Professor of Strings and Staff Accompanist at Rio Grande University. He is currently an instructor of strings and piano at the ‘Red School of Music’ in Marysville, OH.

PROGRAM NOTES
by
Hanguang Wang

 

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

Song Selections

1. Chanson d’Orkenise from Banalités

2. C from Deux poems de Louise Aragon

3. Fleur from Fiançailles pour rire

4. Le Chemins de Lamour

 

Francis Poulenc, a celebrated French composer and pianist, distinguished him as a member of Les Six, a collective of young French composers. Their compositional style leans towards neoclassicism, and Poulenc stands out for his exceptional proficiency in vocal music, particularly art songs. Throughout his lifetime, he composed over 140 Mélodies, m a substantial contribution to French vocal literature in the twentieth century. This prolific output earned him the nickname “the French Schubert.”

 

Many of Poulenc’s songs featured lyrics penned by contemporary poets, and his profound inspiration drawn from literary texts, coupled with his innate melodic gift, prompted him to craft musical lines that enhanced the expression of the literary phrases. In his own words, “The essence of French art is simplicity. One must translate into music not merely the literal meaning of the words but also everything that is written between the lines, if one is not to betray the poetry.” Poulenc’s art songs are typically presented as song cycles with piano accompaniment. Being an accomplished pianist himself, he conveyed that his finest piano compositions could be found within his song accompaniments.

 

Poulenc was recognized as one of the masters of French melodies, and many believed no composer captured the spirit of the day in Paris more perfectly than Francis Poulenc. NPR Music producer, Tom Hizenga, described Poulenc’s music as “popped like corks from Poulenc wrote music that popped like corks from Champagne, pieces dizzy with the sounds of Parisian music halls and jazz.” Poulenc’s vocal works exhibit two emotional styles, melancholy and nostalgia. Nostalgia provided him with a sense of security, while melancholy represented what he believed to be a profound human experience. The composer himself referred to these emotional nuances as the “French Temperament.”

 

He excelled in composing elegant and delicately humorous small-scale works, characterized by catchy melodies, lively expressions, clear textures, and a pursuit of the refined beauty of classical music, displaying features of the neoclassical style. When singing most of his vocal works, the direction of the melodic lines is often perceived ambiguously. Just when you think the music has settled within the first few measures, a few seconds later, it enters “another world.” Few people can predict the trajectory of Poulenc's music, but he is certainly capable of letting you know when to pause.

 

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

6 Lieder, op. 13 (1844)

1. Ich stand in dunklen Träumen

2. Sie liebten sich beide

3. Die Liebe sass als Nachtigall

4. Der Mond kommt still gegangen

5. Ich hab’ in Deinem Auge

6. Die stille Lotosblume

 

In the historically male-dominated realm of classical music, a quiet yet remarkable presence is often relegated to the shadows – that of the distinguished pianist Clara Wieck-Schumann. Clara not only pioneered the concert tours for female pianists but was also one of the few artists of her time, besides Liszt, who performed from memory. She was the first pianist to perform entire concertos and recital programs by memory. Liszt called her as the “Priestess of the Piano,” Chopin was captivated by her playing, and Mendelssohn extended numerous invitations for her to perform with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.

 

Beyond her legendary status as a pianist, Clara demonstrated her talent as a gifted composer. Guided by the encouragement of her husband Robert Schumann, who urged her to “Try to compose a song; you’ll see how well it will turn out,” she embarked on a journey of musical creation. Clara’s compositional excellence extended across various musical forms, including piano concertos, character pieces, and art songs. Her compositions, marked by elegance and relative intimacy, often employed techniques reminiscent of Chopin’s Nocturnes. However, her songs revealed a more pronounced  harmonic and detailed affinity with Robert's works, particularly in their piano writing. Her life was marked by extensive concert tours, during which she raised eight children and cared for her husband Robert, who suffered from a series of mental illnesses. Unfortunately, Robert passed away at a young age.

 

Sechs Lieder, Op. 13 (Six Songs) were written as birthday and Christmas gifts for Robert, with a special dedication to Denmark’s Queen Caroline Amalie, whose generous hospitality deeply moved Schumann during a concert tour. The verses, crafted by poets Heinrich Heine, Emmanuel Geibel and Friedrich Rückert, explore themes widely prevalent in German Romantic literature: the beauty of nature, love, desire, turmoil, melancholy, detachment, mystery and death, all delicately veiled beneath Clara’s enchanting artistry. Her songs convey endlessly lyrical melodies, accompanied by a beautiful and serene piano accompaniment that stands in contrast to the profound themes articulated in the lyrics.

 

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

3 Sonetti del Petrarca, S.270a (1846)

1. Pace non trovo

2. Benedetto sia’l giorno

3. I vidi in terra angelico costume

 

Many people primarily connect Liszt with instrumental compositions, particularly his extensive catalog of exceptional piano and orchestral works. Surprisingly, however, Liszt also ventured into the realm of songwriting, composing about six dozen original songs with piano accompaniment. Alongside his prolific output, Liszt demonstrated a remarkable literary sensitivity in his compositions. During the 1830s, Liszt actively participated in the cultural salons in Paris, engaging with writers such as Victor Hugo and George Sand. Pianist Paul Roberts noted, “Poetry and literature were meat and drink to Franz Liszt.” He was well-read, discerning, intellectually and emotionally curious, and the influence of literature is evident not only in his instrumental compositions but also more intuitively in his vocal music.

 

Liszt composed a total of three sets of song cycles during his lifetime, with the most renowned and often performed being Tre Sonetti di Petrarca, S. 270. These three songs were later adapted into piano compositions and achieved great success, being included in his Italian colume of his Années de pèlerinage. From 1837 to 1839, Liszt and his lover Countess Marie d’Agoult immersed themselves in Italy, exploring its Renaissance art, architecture, and poetry. Inspired by sonnets of the Italian Renaissance poet Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374), these songs offer profound reflections on love. The poet torn between religious devotion and secular desires, struggled against the oppressive medieval church while awakening to his humanistic consciousness. The perpetual pain he endured stemmed from his unattainable love for his beloved Laura de Noves.

 

In Benedetto sia’l giorno, he prays for divine blessing on the joys and pains of love. In Pace non trovo, the poet ponders the confused state love has put him in. The third song, I’ vidi in terra angelici costumi, is an ardent love poem in which the poet describes the perfect beauty and purity of his love. This set of works is filled with intense dramatic tension, fully showcasing the expressive power of both vocal and piano elements. The integration of textual ideas and musical melodies establishes a symbiotic relationship between the two.

 

Liszt’s songs, characterized by brevity and conciseness, pose notable challenges for singers due to the use of advanced and occasionally dissonant harmonies. Furthermore, the singer must navigate a wide range of dramatic expression, executing delicate yet swift transitions from highly emotional to declamatory sections. Analogous to the vocal parts, the piano accompaniments in Liszt's songs play a vital role, contributing significantly to the atmosphere, commenting on the psychological nuances of the text, and enriching the overall depth of the song.

 

David Sisco (b. 1975)

“Dear God”

1. Joyce

2. Charles

3. Peter

4. Allison

5. Barbara

6. Dennis

7. Carrie

8. Frank

9. Charlene

10. Norma

11. Jeff

12. Thomas

 

David Sisco is a multi-hyphenate artist whose life work centers around exploring music, drama, writing, and teaching, finding great inspiration and commonalities in each. He is currently on the voice faculty at NYU Steinhardt.

 

As a prolific art song composer, Sisco received a stipend from the National Endowment for the Advancement of Arts to present a recital of his music at the prestigious Liederkranz Club in New York. A winner of the 2010 NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Composition Award, David’s songs have been heard at concerts produced by Friends & Enemies of New Music, Joy in Singing, Lyricfest, and Songfest, and in venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Additionally, he has written several commissions, including pieces for Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, Manhattan Girls Chorus, and Minnesota State University Moorhead Concert choir. 

 

“Dear God” was written for soprano Tami Petty, mezzo Sarah Lambert, and pianist Howard Watkins for a joint recital given at Marble Collegiate Church, New York. These are settings of children’s often comical and touching prayers to God. 

 

("Dear God" program notes from David Sisco’s website)

PURCHASE TICKETS FOR THIS EVENT
GENERAL ADMISSIONS
$30
SENIOR (65+) ADMISSIONS
$20
Tickets will be available for purchase at the door prior to the start of the event.
Free Tickets available at the door for active military personnel, veterans, individuals with disabilities (ADA), children, and students with a valid Student ID card. 
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