The New York-based global art song platform Sparks & Wiry Cries will present its first-ever songSLAM Festival in January 2019, a reimagination of the organization's popular songSLAM events held in New York and around the world presenting new art song by composer, pianist and vocalist teams. Sparks & Wiry Cries will also co-produce songSLAMs in seven cities in the US, Canada and Europe throughout the 2018-19 season.
Sparks & Wiry Cries founders Erika Switzer and Martha Guth aim to actively engage current conversations through contemporary art song with insightful publishing, programming, and commissioning initiatives. The Sparks & Wiry Cries songSLAM – which gets its name from the Poetry Slam concept – is an innovative competition featuring performances of 10-12 art song premieres by emerging composer/performer teams. Audiences will vote for their favorite new work and winners receive cash prizes.
Centered around a songSLAM hosted this year by composer Tom Cipullo, the 2019 songSLAM Festival – a reinvention of the Casement Fund Song Series in festival format – will also present three themed recitals at the Dimenna Center for Classical Music in New York City: Word of Mouth featuring librettist Mark Campbell, Expressions of Love with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and #MeToo: Pathways to Healing highlighting songs and women who have a story to tell regarding the #MeToo movement. The four-concert event will expand the series’ platform to showcase innovative styles of performance and composition.
The songSLAM Festival is integral to Sparks & Wiry Cries’ mission to promote the advancement and preservation of art song by providing opportunities to its creators and performers. “For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to both the intimacy of poetry and the ability of classical music to move its audience,”says Sparks & Wiry Cries co-founder and soprano Martha Guth. “Sparks & Wiry Cries was born out of a passionate desire to keep the genre flourishing, to provide opportunities for those in its community and to support the growth of new art song, because the stories we tell, and the connections we make are critical to our humanity.”
In addition to the songSLAM festival, Sparks & Wiry Cries contributes to the art song genre through publication of the Sparks & Wiry Cries Art Song Magazine, commissioning and premiering new works, and co-producing additional songSLAM competitions around the world. “Song matters because stories and music matter,” says co-founder and pianist Erika Switzer, “Sparks is a vehicle for my personal commitment to the art form and to my community of fellow performers, enabling us all to feel connected, to understand the breadth of ongoing art song related activities happening world-wide, and to find inspiration in the creation of new art.”
Sparks & Wiry Cries also announces regional songSLAMs to be co-hosted throughout the 2018-19 season with art song organizations in seven cities and three different countries, resulting in almost 100 world premieres. Cities include: Ann Arbor, Chicago, Denver, Ljubljana (Slovenia), Minneapolis, New York City, and Toronto (Canada). "Sparks & Wiry Cries is an essential voice in sharing the beauty and relevance of this genre of concert music,” says Eapen Leubner, Founder of Denver Art Song Project. “They have been an ally and partner to organizations like my own and their work inspires us to keep moving, keep innovating and keep singing."