This song project provides an opportunity to sample both rare and renowned art song settings of the poetry and letters of the American poet Emily Dickinson. Designed to specifically track the evolution of thought and concept within her literary corpus – from every day, mundane, and repetitive activity (recipe, epigrammatic response, prayer) to a broader sweep of Dickinson-related themes (death, love, nature, and spirituality), these selected compositions provide critical connections between often compartmentalised approaches to her work - and a valuable survey of literary forms, as translated in song.
The project, devised, curated and performed by Dr Nicole Panizza, also features acclaimed UK soprano Nadine Benjamin. The research nucleus is both inspired and informed by the recently-released album
Emergence: Emily Dickinson (2019, Stone Records); one of the first examples showcasing both existing and emergent song settings of Dickinson’s literary canon.
Through practice-led enquiry, recording, and performance this project charters a diverse set of American musical responses to Dickinson’s canon, and offers a chronological account of her literary maturation, thereby creating a unique cultural map of American creative partnership. By combining existing works (Copland) with premiere compositions (Hall, Zaninelli, Glickman, Jarman-Pinto), the recordings provide a platform where one can experience Dickinson’s output within an aural setting, affording alternative routes of access to a greater understanding of her work. Further, the programming of song cycles rarely heard outside of the USA champions the profile of American art song performance beyond its immediate domain. As such, it seeks to firmly reinforce the critical importance of this research within the existing corpus of Anglo-American musicological, literary and performance-based studies.
Via the creative medium of art song practice, it is our intention that this research will ultimately establish a new forum for the way in which we read, hear, and perform the work of Emily Dickinson.