Songs of Longing & Experience

Meditation on haunting and loss associated with the illusory nature and janus-face of progress, and its impacts on our personhood and psyche.

  1. Barber / Must the Winter Come So Soon Stephen Chen 2:11
  2. Poulenc / Hier Stephen Chen 1:40
  3. Purcell / Blessed Virgin's Expostulation Stephen Chen 5:57
  4. Eisler / Song of a German Mother Stephen Chen 2:35
  5. Somers / Five Songs for Dark Voice Stephen Chen 9:40
  6. Rossini / Cruda Sorte Stephen Chen 3:38
  7. Brahms / Immer Leiser Wird Mein Schlummer Stephen Chen 2:47
  8. Barber / Solitary Hotel Stephen Chen 2:45
  9. Sondheim / I Remember Stephen Chen 3:20

I.

Barber, Must the Winter Come so Soon (Vanessa)
Poulenc, Hier (Trois Poemes de Louise Lalanne)
Ian Gordon, The Red Dress

In the opening aria of the opera, Vanessa’s young niece sings of the arrival of winter at the lonely chateau; this not only sets the stage for the events to follow but also foreshadows how winter, as a metaphor for age and experience, is about to come early for her. Both songs by Poulenc and Ian Gordon are coming-of-age songs set to the poetry of Louise Lalanne and Dorothy Parker respectively that employ the metaphor of a gown (Poulenc/Lalanne’s begins with “The past is like a ragged gown …” )
II.

Purcell, The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation
Eisler, Song of a German Mother

Two pieces revolving around motherhood and loss. Purcell dramatizes Mary’s emotions as she searches for Jesus, while Eislersets the words of Bertolt Brecht to evoke a mother’s lament at allowing her son to join the Nazi army.
III.

Somers, Five Songs for Dark Voice

Originally written for and premiered by Maureen Forrester, Canadian composer Harry Somers’ moving song cycle set to the poetry of Michael Fram expresses the singer’s grief and helplessness at the injustices she encounters as she walks through the city.
IV.

Sondheim, What More Do I Need? (Saturday Night)
Rossini, Cruda Sorte! Amor Tirano! (L’Italiana In Algeri)
Brahms, Immer Leiser Wird Mein Schlummer
Taylor , Millwork (Working)

This set explores the different styles and roles which women have been assigned to in music.
V.

Chen, Five Songs of Exile

Premiere of song cycle adapted from texts by Palestinian poets in exile.
VI.

Barber, Solitary Hotel (Despite and Still)
Sondheim, I Remember (Evening Primrose)

Two songs that capture the yearning for connection, and the anomie of existence. Sondheim draws his inspiration from John Collier’s short story, while Barber adapts his text from James Joyce’s “Ulysses”

Stephen Chen, Mezzo
Karen Shumka, Piano

11 December 2003 | 7:30 PM
Holy Trinity Anglican, 1440 W 12th Ave, Vancouver

All proceeds to benefit Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Women’s Center