PAIRED: Songs for Voice and Oboe
October 28, 2023 | 7:30pm
Immanuel Lutheran Church
1500 W. Elmdale, Chicago
October 29, 2023 | 3:00pm
4146 N. Elston Ave., Chicago
Virtual Release | November 2023
CHAI Collaborative Ensemble (CCE) opens their ninth season with a program of songs written for voice and oboe. All three song cycles are written by living composers, and all share an emphasis on one's relationship with nature and living with presence. Hilary Tann's Songs of the Cotton Grass evoke the open, high moorland of South Wales and are "reverse lullabies" where the daughter lulls the mother to sleep. Tann developed this song cycle over the course of six years in collaboration with Welsh poet Menna Elfyn, who is known for writing in both English and Welsh. Juliana Hall's Bells and Grass portrays five scenes, from poetry by Walter de la Mare. The poetry and the pairing between oboe and voice brings out the immediacy and intimacy found in seemingly small objects and moments. Jenni Brandon's Love Songs incorporates texts and melodies from Ojibwe (Chippewa), British Columbian Coast Tribes, Zuni, and Inca peoples. The piece begins as a lullaby from mother to child, and then unfolds into the mother telling the story of her own life. As the composer notes, "it is a 'love song' in that it goes beyond just romantic love, but tells of love for a child and love of the land."
This is also the third installment of the ensemble's Paired Series, which explores music written for two musicians. We find the pairing of the voice with the oboe to be an alluring combination, in part because there is only a select amount of repertoire available for it. Additionally, the oboe is an instrument with a distinctly warm, vocal quality, and makes for an elegant partner with the voice.
Alicia Berneche, soprano
Laura Perkett, oboe