Contemporary art song is alive and well in the hands of soprano Polly Butler Cornelius and the team she has gathered for Wild Songs; a song recital as suitable for an environmental consciousness-raising event as for the salon. Drawing on impassioned pleas and the enigmatic nature-centered poetry of Emily Dickinson these powerful, lyrical songs charm and chasten.
Heitzeg’s Wild Songs — a set of three pieces on environmental themes on texts by Rachel Carson, Dr. Jane Goodall and Terry Tempest Williams — starts the recital on an urgent note. Cornelius is joined for these colorful songs by Zeitgeist members Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd on percussion instruments such as the jawbone of a Beluga whale, packages of organic seeds, and a Yupik frame drum. Not to be left out, bonobos (albeit pre-recorded ones) join the mix for the final song, a plea to preserve natural wilderness areas.
Heitzeg’s other songs on the album set texts from Corinthians, Aeschylus and Robert F. Kennedy, whose dying words, “Is everybody else alright?” epitomize the selflessness and compassion at the center of this glowing program.
- Polly Butler Cornelius, soprano
- “For people who think back nostalgically to Schubert and his musical circle and marvel at the small, private pleasures they enjoyed, here is evidence that such musical society and magic exist today, and that living composers … write music that is similarly attentive to the intimate, hidden beauties implicit in the composing music for friends. … [T]he music and poetry together … is aligned as only art songs can be to the vibrations and moods of the time.” — Laurence Vittes, Gramophone
- Wild Songs: No. 1. The Last Roundup
- Wild Songs: No. 2. Rattle the Cage – Bend the Bars
- Wild Songs: No. 3. Wild Mercy
- 3 Graces for Hildur: No. 1. It’s all I have to bring today
- 3 Graces for Hildur: No. 2. Ample make this Bed
- 3 Graces for Hildur: No. 3. The earth has many keys
- Is Everybody Else Alright?