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2021 SongStudio Digital Showcase

SongStudio is an annual workshop for young vocalists under the leadership of world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming. Designed to renew and refresh the presentation and experience of the vocal recital, SongStudio brings leading musicians and other performing artists together to mentor emerging vocalists and collaborative pianists, exploring innovative approaches to both classic and current song repertoire and inviting new audiences to engage with the art form.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, SongStudio 2021 took place online and included a series of master classes, individual coaching sessions, and conversations about the art of the vocal recital. In lieu of the opportunity to perform on stage for a live audience, each of the six participating vocalist and collaborative pianist duos were asked to conceptualize and record a short film centered on a song of their choice.

SongStudio 2021: Lieberson’s “Amor mío, si muero y tú no mueres”

Erin Wagner, Mezzo-Soprano
Shawn Chang, Piano

Translated by Stephen Tapscott in Neruda Songs from Associated Music Publishers, Inc., Hal Leonard.

About the Artists

Shawn Chang and Erin Wagner first met during their studies at The Juilliard School and developed an artistic partnership and friendship. They both value the same artistic ideals and hope to represent diverse and modern perspectives through their music making. They have collaborated on a wide range of repertoire together including Shawn’s own music, which explores the relationship between colors and memories. They will perform a selection of Shawn’s songs in combination with several of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs as one of the winners of Juilliard’s 2021 Vocal Arts Honors Recital. This recital focuses on the correlation between the colors that appear in the poetry and are associated with specific people, including Erin’s mother, Dana, and Erin’s dear friend Valeria Velarde, who passed away in 2020.

In the Artist’s Own Words

“Just as this love never had a birth it has no death.” Words couldn’t be truer about how I feel about one of my closest friends, Valeria Velarde, who passed away suddenly in April of 2020. She was unapologetically brave, remarkably resilient, hilarious, selfless, and a true friend in every sense of the word. At the age of 14 when we met, neither of us would’ve imagined that our lifelong friendship would be cut so short, but Neruda’s words and Lieberson’s music reminds me that she exists in everything that is around us, even though she is gone. Shawn and I would like to dedicate this video to her memory and to her family, Rosalia, Arturo, and Vanessa. Thank you to David Paul for helping us bring Valeria to this music and to Lilly Sanchez and Andrea Labrado for being my best friends through it all.

SongStudio 2021: Liu’s “Song of the Red Bean”

Helen Zhibing Huang, Soprano
Esme Wong, Piano

Translation by Gladys Yang and Yang Xianyi.

About the Artists

Helen Zhibing Huang is a Chinese-born soprano with a wide range of musical interests. She has performed on the operatic, concert, and recital stages with organizations such as Portland Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nashville Opera, Central City Opera, Naples Philharmonic, Ravinia Festival, and White Snake Projects. Ms. Huang holds degrees from the New England Conservatory, Bard Vocal Arts Program, Eastman School of Music, and the University of Rochester (where she studied economics). She is a co-founder of Wear Yellow Proudly. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and eating traditional Chinese dishes.

Esme Wong is a Malaysian pianist who made her solo debut at the age of 12 at the Trinity College of London Awards. She recently joined Nashville Opera as a 2020 Mary Ragland Emerging Artist and presented a recital on The Dallas Opera’s TDO Network. Ms. Wong’s past appearances include as assistant conductor at Red River Lyric Opera, coaching faculty at Druid City Opera Workshop at University of Alabama. Future performances include Das Blümelein Project recital for The Elevator Project at Hamon Hall, Winspear Opera House. She holds degrees from Luther College and the University of North Texas.

In the Artist’s Own Words

“Song of the Red Bean” (红豆词) is a setting of a famous text from Cao Xueqin’s novel Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦) composed by Liu Xue’an. The song describes the torment of longing and how it is endless. In Chinese culture, the red bean is a symbol of romantic longing. During these uncertain times, as many of us are away from our families, it felt appropriate to take a slightly different interpretation with this piece. To us, this piece represents a longing for home and our family members, and is depicted in the video’s many clips from our homes in China and Malaysia.

SongStudio 2021: Duparc’s “Phidylé”

Bryan Murray, Baritone
Anna Smigelskaya, Piano

Translation by Emily Ezust. Translation © Emily Ezust. Reprinted with permission from the LiederNet Archive.

About the Artists

Baritone Bryan Murray has performed in prominent theaters including Deutsche Oper Berlin and Carnegie Hall; has won international competitions such as the Premiere Opera, Talents of the World, and Mirjam Helin international competitions; and is a graduate of the Yale School of Music. He will fly to Japan to perform Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, with additional performances in Spain, Italy, and Finland.

A highly sought-after collaborative pianist and vocal coach, Anna Smigelskaya has performed solo and chamber music throughout the US and Russia, including Music Academy of the West, Pianofest in the Hamptons, Collaborative Piano Institute, The Juilliard School, and Carnegie Hall. Currently Ms. Smigelskaya serves as staff pianist and coach at the Manhattan School of Music and Yale School of Music, and will return this summer to the Merola Opera Program as an apprentice coach.

In the Artist’s Own Words

“Phidylé” by Henri Duparc is a masterful stand-alone piece. Its intimate nature led this performance to be just that. We would like the listener to join us in the timeless moment of bliss that Duparc beautifully portrays with the words of poet Leconte de Lisle.

SongStudio 2021: Korngold’s “Vesper”

Gregory Feldman, Baritone
Nathaniel LaNasa, Piano

Translation by Sharon Krebs. © Sharon Krebs. Reprinted with permission from the LiederNet Archive.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold, “Vesper.” Published by Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG, Mainz, Germany.

About the Artists

Laureates of the 2019 Joy in Singing Competition, Gregory Feldmann and Nathaniel LaNasa explore contemporary themes through songs old and new. Their sold-out Weill Recital Hall debut in 2020, Degenerate Music, surveyed composers censored by the Third Reich. Their program New Liturgies adopted a ritual format to grapple with issues of privilege, responsibility, and vision. The duo’s project Monuments interrogates the evolving relationship to commemorative art in the US, and features world premieres by Melinda Bargreen, Iván Enrique Rodríguez, and Curtis J. Stewart.

In the Artist’s Own Words

In Eichendorff’s poem “Vesper,” the speaker struggles to make sense of a special place in the absence of the beloved. Without her, shared solitude collapses into loneliness. He wishes to join her on the other side of the ground, so that they might once again look at the world from a shared vantage. In grief, life becomes unrecognizable: Korngold’s cacophony of bells shifts from bliss to agony, as the speaker wrestles with his inverted reality—meanwhile, the world continues about its business.

SongStudio 2021: Golijov’s “Lúa descolorida”

Yvette Keong, Soprano
Gracie Francis, Piano

“Lúa descolorida” by Rosalía de Castro


Moon, colorless
Like the color of pale gold:
You see me here, and I wouldn’t like you
To see me from the heights above.
To the space of your journey,
Take me, silently, in your ray.

Star of the orphan souls,
Moon, colorless:
I know that you don’t illuminate
Sadness as sad as mine.
Go and tell it to your master
And tell him to take me to his place.

But don’t tell him anything,
Moon, colorless,
Because neither in this world, nor in others
Will I have good fortune.
If you know where Death
Has her dark mansion,
Tell her to take my body and soul together
To a place where I won’t be remembered,
Neither in this world,
Nor in the heights above.

Translation by Osvaldo Golijov.

Lúa descolorida
Written by Osvaldo Noe Golijov
Hendon Music, Inc. by arrangement with Concord

About the Artists

Australian soprano Yvette Keong strives to unite the intimate emotions of classical music with its ability to be a modern force of change. She is the 2020 recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship and the Rohatyn Great Promise Award from the Eastern Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. This season, she will perform as Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at The Juilliard School.

Originally from Cambridge, New Zealand, Gracie Francis has a background in choral conducting and youth mentorship along with her work as a collaborative pianist. At The Juilliard School, she is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship and a Fulbright Graduate Award. Ms. Kong and Ms. Francis regularly perform together in their all-female ensemble, FEMINA, as part of Juilliard’s Gluck Community Service Fellowship. They are thrilled to collaborate as a duo for the first time with SongStudio.

In the Artist’s Own Words

Golijov’s “Lúa descolorida” is a song of tender and tragic despair. In their video performance, the pair wanted to capture the total loneliness of being submerged in complete darkness, save for the moon’s light on an upturned face. The long, aching melismas of the vocal line capture the intimate isolation of Galician poet Rosalía de Castro’s words, while the starry constellations of the piano part are what the composer calls a “slow-motion ride on a cosmic horse,” taking performers and listeners on a suspended journey through the galaxy.

SongStudio 2021: Berg’s “Nacht” from Sieben Frühe Lieder

Megan Moore, Mezzo-Soprano
Francesco Barfoed, Piano

“Nacht” by Carl Hauptmann


Clouds loom over night and valley.
Mists hover, waters softly murmur.
Now at once all is unveiled.
O take heed! Take heed!

A vast wonderland opens up.
Silvery mountains soar dreamlike tall.
Silent paths climb silver-bright, valleyward
From a hidden womb.

And the glorious world, so dreamlike—pure.
A silent beech stands by the wayside
Shadow black—a breath from the distant grove
Blows solitary soft.

And from the deep valley’s gloom
Lights twinkle in the silent night.
Drink soul! Drink solitude!
O take heed! Take heed!

Translation by Richard Stokes. Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder, published by Faber, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (www.oxfordlieder.co.uk).

About the Artists

Mezzo-soprano Megan Moore and pianist Francesco Barfoed are pursuing higher degrees at The Juilliard School. Together they have won Young Concert Artists Auditions, performed at Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and participated in master classes for artists like Renée Fleming and Malcolm Martineau. Ms. Moore has won the Gerda Lissner Foundation Lieder/Song Competition, and on the operatic stage she has been particularly hailed for her Rossini and Handel interpretations. An active arts advocate, she co-founded LYNX in 2015, an art song initiative that commissions songs with texts by youth with nonverbal autism. Hailing from Denmark, Mr. Barfoed enjoys a diverse career as a solo pianist and chamber musician, collaborating with singers and instrumentalists alike. A passionate promoter of cultural exchange between Denmark and the US, his work has been supported by several prizes and scholarships.

In the Artist’s Own Words

Through Hauptmann’s mood poem, we reflect upon an artist’s inner life during isolating times.

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