The Brooklyn Art Song Society (BASS) concludes its season on Friday, June 7, with New Voices, its innovative new music series focused on song after 2010. The program features three world premieres, Herschel Garfein’s 3 Rides, David Ludwig’s Songs of the Spirit of Turpentine, and James Matheson’s Pessoa Songs, the first ever settings of acclaimed Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and a BASS commission. The event will take place at the Brooklyn Historical Society.
There also will be New York premieres of works by Michael Djupstrom (Oars in Water) and Libby Larsen (Pharaoh Songs), as well as David Ludwig’s Songs from the Bleeding Pines. Soprano Marnie Breckenridge and Grammy-winning baritone Edward Parks (The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs) make their BASS debuts, joined by BASS favorites soprano Kristina Bachrach and baritone Jorell Williams. Pianists Michael Brofman, Michael Djusptrom, and Dimitri Dover, and cellist Dave Eggar will perform.
James Matheson will give a pre-concert talk about his new work at 7 PM.
About the Works
David Ludwig’s compositions, set on texts by Ray Owen, are inspired by the account of Helen Boyd Dull, who in 1904 saved an ancient stand of longleaf pines after encountering laborers bleeding the trees of their resin for the turpentine industry. Known today as the Boyd Tract, part of Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve in Southern Pines, North Carolina, the park encompasses the world’s oldest longleaf pines. Ninety million acres of longleaf pines was all but lost by the turn of the 20th century to the logging, tar and turpentine industries. While Helen’s saving of the Boyd Tract sparked conservation across the South, the ecosystem is still among the most threatened places on earth with only 4 percent of the original forest remaining. Ludwig’s songs tell the story of the virgin pines and their rescue from near extinction, bringing to life the spirit of Helen Boyd Dull and the turpentiners. The music transcends region, speaking to conservation everywhere. The message is a powerful one for everyone who cares about preserving what is unique and beautiful in our environment.
In 2003, browsing the shelves of poetry at one of her favorite book stores, Libby Larsen came across a volume of ancient Egyptian love poems, translated into English by John L. Foster. She took the book off the shelf and opened it. As it happens, though not nearly as often as she wish it would, the poems literally sang off the page. Some were sensual, some were quite funny, all of them were as relevant to today as they were to 1300 BC when they were created. For Pharaoh Songs, she created a loose, fantasized narrative which exists solely in the mind of the lover. Desire, fantasy, tension, frustration, reunion and fulfillment are projected on the object of the lover’s desire.
The first of the four songs that comprise Oars in Water was written in response to a commission from the 2014 Lake George Music Festival for an art song that would address the theme of aquatic invasive species, a topic of great interest to the festival's local community. Although poet Jeanne Minahan's words do not dwell on individual threats to the environment, the poem reminds us of what we treasure in the lake and speaks powerfully of its necessity for both the individual and the greater community. A few years later, a commission from Philadelphia's Lyric Fest provided an opportunity to enlarge the work. To that end, Michael Djupstrom selected three other Minahan poems that use similar maritime imagery to explore a wide variety of themes.
About Brooklyn Art Song Society
The Brooklyn Art Song Society (BASS) will enter its ninth season of first-rate music making in the fall of 2018, having earned a reputation as one of the preeminent organizations dedicated to the vast repertoire of poetry set to music. Its mission is to preserve art song’s direct expressiveness and emotional honestly for today’s audience and future generations. BASS’s innovative and ambitious programming has reached thousands of audience members- lifelong classical music and first-time concert-goers alike. Past programs include performances of the complete songs of Charles Ives and Hugo Wolf, and multi-concert surveys of the art song canon including Britannica, Wien, and La France. In May 2015, BASS released its first album, New Voices on Roven Records, which debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard Traditional Classical charts.
For more information, visit BASS’s website.