The song repertoire has its origins in the late nineteenth century when every household had a piano and for much of the twentieth century, singers and their pianist collaborators were able to create recital programmes from a deep reservoir of European and North American song. The recital genre became more sophisticated as the century progressed and metamorphosed from a miscellaneous collection of lollipops to something altogether more sophisticated, often featuring elaborate themes which would enable the music to be presented in a variety of new contexts. In the twenty-first century opportunities for recitalists are fewer and programmes still tend to focus on the much-loved but well-explored repertoire. We hope this collection will contribute to a broadening of possibilities for recitalists or anyone who just wants something new to sing.
There are several songs for voice and piano but some require other instruments. There is a wide range of styles. We have resisted the temptation to grade them by difficulty, as our criteria were more broadly performative and musical rather than didactic. All selected composers have a particular sympathy for the singing voice, so there is nothing that cannot be sung by a competent performer. The songs generally have a designated voice type, but this shouldn't be thought of as prescriptive; they are designed to be flexible and to offer the maximum opportunity for creative interpretation. They range from the curious and quirky to the virtuosic and challenging, the intense and mysterious to the sad and the light-hearted. We hope that many performers will find their tastes represented here.
Songs for the Twenty-First Century was launched at a concert at the Birmingham Conservatoire on 25th November 2010, performed by students of the Department of Vocal and Operatic Studies, with contributions by John Potter and Mary Wiegold.
Compiled by David Blake and John Potter.
Edited by Michael Hooper.