Emerging Voices:Art Song & Social Connection
Three years ago we approached tenor Nicholas Phan about curating a special project that would explore and illuminate themes of social connection and identity through art song.
The result is Emerging Voices, a collaborative project featuring 13 world-class artists and ensembles, six concerts, four world premieres, special projection design, panel discussions, and more.
“The reason art song endures is because the themes that it’s grappling with are themes that we still confront today. The mystery of life doesn’t really change,” says Nick in our project film. Watch it to learn more about Emerging Voices, and explore the project further through the individual program films, in-depth essays, the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s project preview, and event and participant information below.
Panel Discussion I
The 20th century bore witness to major shifts in national and cultural boundaries, and artists and composers frequently harnessed art song as a means of defining and expressing a nation's unique character. Setting the stage for this project, Jay Winter and Ceri Owen join Nicholas Phan to explore how art song was historically used to understand national identity, especially during times of great social, political, and cultural change.
New Voices: Paris of the Belle Époque
Our initial Emerging Voices program begins in fin-de-siècle Paris where a uniquely French aesthetic blossomed in the ubiquitous salon concerts of that era. In this environment of cultural exchange between artists, the oeuvre of composers like Debussy and Fauré swelled with mélodies—the French equivalent of the German Lieder.
Salon Concert I
Our first program at the Stotesbury Mansion offers an intimate experience akin to the “salon-style” events held in Europe in the early 20th century. While these English, French, and Spanish songs are laden with themes of love for one’s homeland, they also foreshadow the conflicted emotions of patriotism and the horror associated with World War I.
Lost Voices: The War to End All Wars
As the world descended into the Great War, composers joined the war effort, many as soldiers. The works on this program present the individual struggles of wartime and give voice to the many lives cut short. Of particular note is Lili Boulanger’s song cycle Clairières dans le ciel, a uniquely French work that expresses the suffering and tragedy of loss.
Nicholas Phan and Timothy Cheek (University of Michigan) co-lead a masterclass at the Kimmel Center's Rendell Room.
Found Voices: The New European Map
In the wake of the Treaty of Versailles, Central Europe’s borders were dramatically redrawn. Bartók and Kodály pioneered major ethnomusicological research at this time, collecting numerous Hungarian folk songs and incorporating them into their works, while the songs of Czech composers Kaprálová and Janáček reflect the national and social liberation of their people.
Panel Discussion II
Alex Ross and Susan Stewart join Nicholas Phan to explore the role of poets and composers in communicating the human experience and fostering empathy between people. This second panel discussion explores why this art form, with its unique intersection of poetry and music, remains a powerful vehicle for social exchange.
Salon Concert II
The urge to incorporate the music “of the people” into art song extended from England to Brazil. In America, composers drew inspiration from traditional tunes, folk songs, and spirituals that expressed the nation’s diverse character. This second salon performance serves as an apt prelude to the final Emerging Voices concert, bringing our attention to a time and place close to home.
Our Voices: The Rise of the American Voice
American composers flocked to France after the war to study with Nadia Boulanger, who exhorted them to embrace their personal identities and seek out an “American voice.” This final program connects their contributions to three contemporary composers whose works help us understand who we are and encourage dialogue within the remarkable cultural diversity of 21st century America.