Soprano Sarah Shafer will song my Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins Tuesday, January 20th, in her Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the American Philosophical Society, 8 pm. Lydia Brown, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of music, accompanies.
Also on the program are songs of Copland, Schubert, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky.
I first wrote two of the three songs for the centenary of the poet’s death; my wife Jackie sang them in front of a slew of international Hopkins scholars at St. Joseph’s University. I was petrified that they would ferret out inappropriate accents in my settings, as Hopkins is, how shall I say, accentual, but Jackie won them over effortlessly. If I made any missteps the professors kept them to themselves and warmly thanked me. Here’s more about the Hopkins songs, which go way back and which have been transposed, revised, and orchestrated.
The New York Times praises Sarah for her “luminous voice” and “intensely expressive interpretations,” and Opera News calls her “remarkable, artistically mature,” and “a singer to watch.” She’s a sought-after operatic and concert artist, and I’m so pleased to have my songs performed by her.