Soprano Amanda DeBoer Bartlett (photo by Karjaka Studios)
Arts & Culture

Art song project to feature new voice, piano compositions

The State University of New York at Fredonia Art Song Project, an evening showcase of new works for voice and piano, will be presented by students, faculty and alumni on Wednesday, April 17, at 8 p.m.

Special guest artist, soprano Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, will perform at the concert in Rosch Recital Hall. Admission is free. The concert, featuring performers and composers that include Fredonia faculty, students and alumni, will also be live-streamed on the Fredonia School of Music YouTube Channel.

A range of styles and poetic topics will be present in the works, which include an excerpt from a student musical, a senior project for voice, string quartet and piano; a new work by Dr. Rob Deemer that was commissioned as part of a raffle prize, and a song cycle consisting of eight songs that tell the story of a woman’s life through phone conversations.

“I’ve been putting my composition skills up for President Horvath’s All-Campus Party raffle the past few years and this year Dean Ralph Blasting ‘won’ me,” said Dr. Deemer, head of Composition at the School of Music. “After several discussions, he sent me a poem titled ‘Villanelle,’ written by the famed poet Billy Collins, and asked if I could set it to music. I was able to connect with Collins while he was traveling in Ireland and (typing on his phone in an email) he gave me his blessing to set it as an art song.

“I’m excited to hear my good friends and collaborators Joe Dan Harper and Anne Kissel perform it,” Deemer continued, “and for Ralph to get to hear his commission before his retirement.”

Dr. Bartlett will premiere a new song cycle written by Fredonia lecturer Jamie Leigh Sampson. The two have been collaborators for a decade and this recent work showcases Bartlett’s dramatic and vocal skill as she sings eight songs in which the audience will hear one side of phone conversations throughout a woman’s life. The conversations take place over the course of eight decades.

Other works on the program were written by: Emily Joy Sullivan, Niklas Dahlen, Connor Swaenepoel, Averey Scoccia, Joseph Buck, Ben Jankowski, John Carroll, Samantha Giacoia and Noah Turner. Performers include: Joe Dan Harper, Lynne McMurtry, Anne Kissel, Jessica Barnett-Moseley, Theresa Thordarson, Sandra Leary, Mariami Bekauri, David Waterland, Eleanor Steinmetz, Rory Buscaglia, Mikayla Wadsworth, Julia Levelle, Noah Barnes, Emily Holmberg, Matilda Flores, Audrey Potter, Mackenzie Rogers and Sean Penzo.

This project is the result of a Fredonia Instructional Incentive Award for Applied Learning that Ms. Sampson received to travel to Banff, Canada, last year for a vocal writing workshop. The performance is supported by Ethos New Music Society, a student organization.

Bartlett, who has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Contemporary Music from Bowling Green State University, is an Omaha-based classical soprano who specializes in the works of living composers. Along with her solo repertoire, she is a member of Ensemble Dal Niente, Hasco Duo and Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. Bartlett is featured on albums with Holly Herndon, Deerhoof, Ensemble Dal Niente, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Christopher Wild and Hasco Duo.

Outside of her performance work, Bartlett is also the founder and director of an experimental performance festival, Omaha Under the Radar, which has presented nearly 200 individual artists from around North America during its first four seasons. Born and raised in Omaha, Bartlett moved to Chicago to study at DePaul University where she received a B.M. in Music. She received a M.M. from the University at Buffalo, where she studied with acclaimed contemporary interpreter Tony Arnold.

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