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Juliana Hall

  • Juliana Hall Song Cycle to be premiered by renowned mezzo Stephanie Blythe

    Post by David Sims

    Renowned mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe will premiere a new song cycle by composer Juliana Hall on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at the Sparks & Wiry Cries' first songSLAM Festival at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City.  Complete information about the songSLAM Festival - including links to purchase tickets - is available here.

    The songSLAM Festival is a four-day celebration of new art song, with a "slam" evening (similar to a poetry slam) in which a program of composer-performer teams present new songs, with a winning song declared by audience appreciation, on Thursday, January 17th.  Recitals of new and newly-commissioned works will be presented on Friday, January 18th (celebrating the creations of librettist Mark Campbell with various composers) and on Sunday, January 20th (new songs focusing on the topic #MeToo: Pathways to Healing).

    The Festival's Saturday, January 19th evening event will be a special recital called Expressions of Love: Stephanie Blythe and friends, and will include a new song cycle by composer Scott Gendel and a piece by composer-pianist Alan Louis Smith (performed by soprano Maggie Finnegan and pianist Daniel Overly), with parlour songs rounding out the recital (performed by Ms. Blythe and pianist Alan Louis Smith).

    The other work on the January 19th program is Juliana Hall's first contralto song cycle, Of That So Sweet Imprisonment, a work of seven songs on love poems by James Joyce. Composed by Hall for Ms. Blythe, this work is a celebration of love, about which Juliana Hall writes:

    When I first “met” Stephanie Blythe online a few years ago, I was not just thrilled to be “friends” with this beautiful singer for whom I have so much admiration, I was also surprised that she knew who I was, liked my songs, and wanted me to be a guest at her Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar... a dream that came true last May. So in 2017 I wrote to Stephanie, “I'm going to be sixty soon, and I'd really like a special present for this milestone. Could I write you a song cycle?” Well, again to my surprise, she answered within a split second with a definitive “yes,” adding, “All I ask is that you consider writing the piece for the contralto voice. It is where I live so happily now, and there is just not enough out there for this particular voice type.” In short order I settled on a set of seven poems by James Joyce, love poems that are subtle, rich, and deep. There is a gentle narrative from the first to the last poem, following love (Orpheus perhaps) to the speaker’s desire to find her love, a declaration of wanting to be “imprisoned” by this love, a longing to be in a special place of love, a movement away from being a girl towards becoming a woman, a scene of harp music celebrating love (heaven perhaps), and finally a simple scene of lovers being together forever in a place special to them - all of which promised to elucidate Joyce’s beautiful vision of human love through the exquisite prism of the textures and colors of the contralto voice. This new work, Of That So Sweet Imprisonment, does not excite as a huge orchestral work might, nor does it amuse as a comedic song would, or impress through drama as a romantic opera might. What I hope it succeeds in doing, though, is to allow the intimacy of art song to touch upon perhaps our most profound human experience - that of love - in a way that only art song can: to reach that small, quiet inner voice of truth we come to know when we feel unconditionally loved by another and when we find ourselves able to love another without limit. While Stephanie Blythe certainly has the most amazing ability to produce the excitement, comedy, or drama of other types of musical works, I have heard her sing the most penetrating and powerful pianissimo notes I've probably heard any singer ever produce, and it is that ability to share the intimate, the small, and the personal that makes Stephanie the perfect singer to bring these songs into the world with clarity, purity, and beauty. It is my wish that Of That So Sweet Imprisonment might bring a breath of peace and inner warmth into each listener’s life, and help them to once again feel the pulsating life that love makes possible for each of us.

    Juliana Hall recently appeared as the 2018 Guest Composer at Blythe's Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar. Blythe has complimented Hall's work generously, stating:

    “There is a beautiful alchemy that occurs when composer Juliana Hall meets a poem. Revealing each morsel of poetry through her brilliant tonal, textural, and rhythmic language, her work is immediately recognizable and wonderfully familiar. Singers and audiences alike take delight in her songs. Over the years, many of my young colleagues have brought her work for me to coach in my own song program, Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, but equally, I have heard her songs in virtually every university in which I have taught master classes over the last decade. Ms. Hall’s songs have a very important endorsement - singers want to sing them. Indeed, they love to sing them, and it is readily understood why. Her choice of text is varied, impressive and speaks to a wide cultural audience. The topics are relevant to today’s artists, and therefore, extraordinarily desirable. It is also incredibly evident that she understands the singing voice and the great art of collaboration with the pianist - there is a level of musical discourse here that demands expertise, and rewards the work with a generous and complete technical, interpretive and emotional experience. It is positively magical.”

  • Stephanie Blythe on Art Song

    Our friends at Sparks & Wiry Cries did this excellent interview with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe ahead of their songSLAM festival. The festival will feature world premieres by Juliana Hall and Scott Gendel. Watch to find out what this great artist has to say about connecting with an audience, the importance of modern composers, and being on the brink of an art song renaissance.

  • Juliana Hall Performances - 2018/2019 Season

    Juliana Hall:  A Season of Premieres

    How Do I Love Thee?
    world premiere
    Saturday, September 29, 2018 – 7:30 PM
    Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project (CUSP)
    All Saint’s Church
    16 All Saint’s Road
    Princeton, NJ
    Soprano Martha Guth and pianist Erika Switzer present the world premiere of How Do I Love Thee? - 5 songs on sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

    O Mistress Mine
    west coast premiere
    Saturday, October 6, 2018 – 8:00 PM
    Winifred Smith Hall
    Claire Trevor School of the Arts
    University of California – Irvine
    Countertenor Darryl Taylor and pianist Juliana Hall present the west coast premiere of O Mistress Mine - 12 songs on texts from plays by William Shakespeare.

    world premiere
    Thursday, October 18, 2018 – 8:00 PM
    CollabFest 2018
    University of North Texas
    College of Music
    415 Avenue C
    Denton, TX
    Soprano Molly Fillmore and pianist Elvia Puccinelli present the world premiere of Cameos - 6 songs on poems by Molly Fillmore.

    And It Came To Pass
    world premiere
    Wednesday, December 12, 2018 – 7:00 PM
    “A Contemporary Christmas from Britten”
    Ware Episcopal Church
    7825 John Clayton Memorial Highway
    Gloucester, VA
    Countertenor Charles Humphries and pianist Juliana Hall present the world premiere of And It Came To Pass - a canticle on the Story of the Nativity from the Biblical Gospel of Luke.

    Of That So Sweet Imprisonment
    world premiere
    Saturday, January 19, 2019
    Sparks & Wiry Cries
    songSLAM Festival III
    DiMenna Center for Classical Music
    450 West 37th Street
    New York, NY
    Mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Alan Smith present the world premiere of Of That So Sweet Imprisonment - 7 songs on poems by James Joyce.

    Through the Guarded Gate
    world premiere
    Friday, March 8, 2019
    Seattle Art Song Society
    “Womxn’s Voices”
    Ballard First Lutheran Church
    2006 Northwest 65th Street
    Seattle, WA
    Mezzo soprano Clara Osowski and pianist Juliana Hall present the world premiere of Through the Guarded Gate – 5 songs on poems by Margaret Widdemer.

    world premiere
    Saturday, April 27, 2019 – 7:30 PM
    Calliope’s Call
    “Cross Connections: Juliana Hall”
    Old West Church
    131 Cambridge Street
    Boston, MA
    Soprano Laura Strickling presents the world premiere of Sentiment – a monodrama for solo unaccompanied soprano on texts by Caitlin Vincent.

    The New Colossus
    world premiere
    Date & Time TBA
    Montreal, Canada
    Bass baritone Simon Chalifoux presents the world premiere of The New Colossus – a setting of the poem by Emma Lazarus.

  • Juliana Hall's Art Songs March Across America for Women's Rights

    Guest post by David Sims

    Part I

    Every now and then a project comes along that is so unique and so meaningful that a composer cannot refuse the opportunity. So says composer Juliana Hall, whose new mezzo-soprano song cycle Through the Guarded Gate is the result of such a project. Through the Guarded Gate was commissioned by the Seattle Art Song Society (SASS) for performance on its 2018-2019 season, which is devoted to issues of social justice.

    SASS General and Artistic Director Brian C. Armbrust writes:

    Our 18-19 season is called "One Voice." This season means so much to so many of us. The idea started when I looked around at all my fellow artists and saw this heavy weight that we are carrying during a dark time. We have a unique and powerful method of delivery of a much needed message in a time when the world seems turned on its head. I'm inspired by my queer community to make our voices heard; I weep at death from wars and cries for peace in a time when we seem to constantly be fighting with one another, I pray for it all to end; I watch with disgust and great sorrow as racist voices are given time on the news, as our black brothers and sisters are threatened daily by injustice and loss; I glow with a pride as the womxn of this nation stand up and say "NO!" to inequality, and can say #MeToo and be heard; I get up every single day and walk into an office where we serve community members that are looked down upon for mental illness and help them fight to reach recovery despite what others say. To each of you, we dedicate this season. We will lift your voices and they will be heard in glorious song."

    Reflecting Armbrust's vision, the 18-19 SASS concerts include songs fitting the themes of "Queer Voices" in October, "Voices of War & Peace" in November, "Black Voices" in February, "Womxn's Voices" in March, and "Voices of Mental Health" in May. Hall's Through the Guarded Gate is being presented on Friday, March 8, 2019 as part of the "Womxn's Voices" concert. Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski will sing the world premiere of the new cycle with Hall herself at the piano.

    One Voice: 18-19 season, Seattle Art Song Society One Voice: 18-19 season, Seattle Art Song Society

    When commissioning Hall, however, SASS's Armbrust wasn't content to just have the premiere in Seattle. It occurred to him that, in this time of #MeToo and women's rights being front and center in culture, Hall's song cycle--with its powerful settings of American poet Margaret Widdemer's social justice texts--had the possibility to bring an important message to people beyond Seattle. His idea developed into a "women's march" across the country...a project to have Hall's new songs performed in all 50 states after the premiere, bringing Hall's settings and Widdemer's poems to all of the US! To that end, Armbrust has enlisted more than 170 mezzo-sopranos from all 50 states (and many foreign countries as well), each of whom will get an early look at the score with the option to participate in the project. Singers will participate in "Beyond the Guarded Gate,"(the name selected by vote from participants after being suggested by mezzo GeDeane Graham), by agreeing to perform the song cycle on a recital between March 2019 and December 2019 following the official SASS world premiere. E. C. Schirmer is providing each singer and pianist taking part in "Beyond the Guarded Gate" with a complimentary digital copy of the work for use in the performance.

    Composer Juliana Hall describes the ideas expressed by poet Margaret Widdemer in the songs of Through the Guarded Gate and her approach to those ideas as follows:

    “The Net”
    Ill treatment of our children (most often girls) here within our own country used for whatever nefarious purposes adults may have for them, as we turn our heads away from the injustices that hurt them (especially when they are not "ours" personally)...children as expendable if they are "second class" in gender.

    “A Mother To The War-Makers”
    Ill treatment of our children (most often boys) when they are sent abroad, as the leaders of our nation use them under the guise of national defense (as a pretense for masculine leaders to become wealthy, acquire power, and exert national domination over other nations)...children as expendable if they are "second class" in societal status, offspring of the less affluent, less educated, less "acceptable" ethnic or racial groups.

    “The Old Suffragist”
    The "early" woman standing up for equal personhood, equal rights, but at the expense of a personal life rich with love and attachment (woman no longer "accepting" a second-class role in a world hitherto ruled by those men not acknowledging the natural equality of human beings)...women placing themselves in danger and depriving themselves of life's easier and better things as a way to make a path to those better things for others who will follow.

    “The Modern Woman To Her Lover”
    The "modern" woman taking on the responsibility of equal personhood, equal rights, without permission of the man but benefiting both genders (women no longer "accepting" a second-class love)...women as equals, in a world in which man may feel "belittled" by having to share with his mate...hence the question at the end: "Will you love me still?" At once both fearful and hopeful.

    “The Women's Litany”
    The community of women and like-minded men, demanding equal rights and responsibilities for both genders for the betterment of mankind (women and men both raising their voices against the holders of society's power and claiming their right to be admitted "through the guarded gate" that stops women from exerting their abilities and their insights and their communal "will" towards fixing the problems described in the first four poems)...adults identifying the path through which they must travel to effect permanent change, and a rallying cry in favor of a more equal representation and a more equal responsibility for fixing the injustices and the fears of the first poems, as well as a hope for a better future made possible by the inclusion of women as equals.

    In a later update to this story, we will begin featuring information about post-premiere concerts and the performers who will bring these songs to life across America as part of the "Beyond the Guarded Gate" project, but for now we are very excited for Juliana Hall and the possibility of as many as 200 additional performances of her new cycle Through the Guarded Gate as part of this unique initiative.

    Through the Guarded Gate will become generally available for sale next March. Until then, check out Seattle Art Song Society's concert season and, if you are in the area, we hope you will be able to attend the world premiere of  the cycle as part of their “Womxn’s Voices” recital on Friday, March 8, 2019.

    You might also find the poems of Margaret Widdemer interesting, which we've included below. These are the five poems set to music by Juliana Hall in Through the Guarded Gate.


    The strangers’ children laugh along the street:
    They know not, or forget the sweeping of the Net
    Swift to ensnare such little careless feet.
    And we—we smile and watch them pass along,
    And those who walk beside, soft-smiling, cruel-eyed—
    We guard our own—not ours to right the wrong!
    We do not care—we shall not heed or mark,
    Till we shall hear one day, too late to strive or pray,
    Our daughters’ voices crying from the dark!


    This is my son that you have taken,
    Guard lest your gold-vault walls be shaken,
    Never again to speak or waken.
    This, that I gave my life to make,
    This you have bidden the vultures break—
    Dead for your selfish quarrel’s sake!
    This that I built of all my years,
    Made with my strength and love and tears,
    Dead for pride of your shining spears!
    Just for your playthings bought and sold
    You have crushed to a heap of mold
    Youth and life worth a whole world’s gold—
    This was my son that you have taken,
    Guard lest your gold-vault walls be shaken—
    This—that shall never speak or waken!


    She could have loved—her woman-passions beat
    Deeper than theirs, or else she had not known
    How to have dropped her heart beneath their feet
    A living stepping-stone:
    The little hands—did they not clutch her heart?
    The guarding arms—was she not very tired?
    Was it an easy thing to walk apart,
    Unresting, undesired?
    She gave away her crown of woman-praise,
    Her gentleness and silent girlhood grace,
    To be a merriment for idle days,
    Scorn for the market-place:
    She strove for an unvisioned, far-off good,
    For one far hope she knew she should not see:
    These—not her daughters—crowned with motherhood
    And love and beauty—free.


    I shall not lie to you any more,
    Flatter or fawn to attain my end—
    I am what never has been before,
    Woman—and Friend.
    I shall be strong as a man is strong,
    I shall be fair as a man is fair,
    Hand in locked hand we shall pass along
    To a purer air:
    I shall not drag at your bridle-rein,
    Knee pressed to knee shall we ride the hill;
    I shall not lie to you ever again—
    Will you love me still?


    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our pain’s sake!
    Lips set smiling and face made fair
    Still for you through the pain we bare,
    We have hid till our hearts were sore
    Blacker things than you ever bore:
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our pain’s sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our strength’s sake!
    Light held high in a strife ne’er through
    We have fought for our sons and you,
    We have conquered a million years’
    Pain and evil and doubt and tears—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our strength’s sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for your own sake!
    We have held you within our hand,
    Marred or made as we broke or planned,
    We have given you life or killed
    King or brute as we taught or willed—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for your own sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for the world’s sake!
    We are blind who must guide your eyes,
    We are weak who must help you rise,
    All untaught who must teach and mold
    Souls of men till the world is old—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for the world’s sake!

    Margaret Widdemer lived from 1884 to 1978. Although virtually unknown today, she shared the 1919 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry with the famous and very well-known poet Carl Sandburg.

    Juliana Hall and Brian Armbrust are happy to be able to share Widdemer's wonderful work with audiences of today, bringing back a major poetical talent who up to now has more or less disappeared in the shadow of her Pulitzer co-winner. Hall and Armbrust hope these songs will not only enliven today's conversations about the rights of women and children, but they also hope these performances will finally help Widdemer to receive the public acknowledgment and acclaim for her work they feel she deserves.

    The poems of Margaret Widdemer reprinted here are in the public domain.

  • Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar Features Juliana Hall

    American art song composer Juliana Hall was our January Composer of the Month, and is maintaining a very busy schedule of performances and new compositions. Among her most recent activities, she was asked by famed mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe, Artistic Director of the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar (which she founded), to be this year's Guest Composer at the Seminar. Hall is only the third composer to be so honored, following Ricky Ian Gordon and Tom Cipullo.

    This year's Seminar featured a special interview-concert on May 23, 2018. Each of the six invited singers and three invited pianists--seminar Fellows--performed a song of Hall's in between conversation with Blythe, Music Director Alan Louis Smith, and Hall. The evening was capped off with a gorgeous performance of a song by Blythe and Smith from Hall's new song cycle "Of That So Sweet Imprisonment" for contralto and piano, which Hall composed especially for Stephanie Blythe.

    The event, "An Evening with American Composer Juliana Hall," is available below and on YouTube.


    Stephanie Blythe and Alan Louis Smith will be performing the World Premiere of Hall's "Of That So Sweet Imprisonment" on January 19, 2019 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City. More details of that concert will be available here as details are announced.

  • Featured @ NATS

    The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) is one of the newer conferences we've added to our summer rounds, and we couldn't be more excited about it collaborating with this great group! In 2018 we loved hosting a showcase of Juliana Hall's music, performed by soprano Amy Petrongelli and pianist Blair Salter, as well as watching Matt Boehler perform his own Foursquare Cathedral.

    NATS Logo NATS logo

    American composer Juliana Hall is well known for her gorgeous and meticulously-crafted art songs, which have been described as “beguiling” (Times of London), “beautiful in ways both traditional and strikingly original” (Austin Chronicle), and “the most genuinely moving music of the afternoon” (Boston Globe). Singers and audiences alike take delight in her songs, whose brilliant tonal, textural, and rhythmic language makes her work immediately recognizable and wonderfully familiar, and show her to be “a composer who savours lyrical lines and harmonies peppered with gentle spices” (Gramophone). Meet the composer at this live performance by soprano Amy Petrongelli and pianist Blair Salter, and find out why the art songs of Juliana Hall are “positively magical.”

    “A Birthday” from Christina’s World

    “Some Things Are Dark” from Night Dances

    “Silver Bells” from The Bells

    “A Northeast Storm”

    “Hiding” from A World Turned Upside Down

    “Dream” from Propriety

    “Under the Harvest Moon” from When the South Wind Sings

    “Sonnet” from Night Dances

    “Papa above!” from In Reverence


    In addition to the showcase, we're proud to have several NATS award winners in our catalog. Most recently they are:

    2018: Tawnie Olson, Three Songs on Poems by Lorri Neilsen Glenn (second prize)

    2017: Matt Boehler, Foursquare Cathedral (first prize)

    2016: David Conte, American Death Ballads (first prize)


    We're also pleased to release a new 2-disc album just in time for this event: Everyone Sang: Vocal Music of David Conte.


    We hope to see you there!


  • May 23, 2018 | A Double-Feature for Juliana Hall

    Art song composer Juliana Hall will be featured in two concerts on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - first in the U.K., then in the U.S. a few hours later.

    At 6:00 PM in London, the new art song series Re-Sung is devoting an entire concert to Hall's work, touting her as "one of the brightest voices in contemporary American art song."  The concert takes place at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8EP, and will include Hall's soprano song cycle "When the South Wind Sings" and her baritone cycle "Death's Echo."

    Re-Sung was founded by Dylan Perez, an American pianist who graduated in 2016 with Distinction from the Artist Masters programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London; he is currently enrolled in the Artist Diploma course at the School. Perez was recently awarded the Gerald Moore Award and the Paul Hamburger Prize for Accompaniment.

    Joining Perez is Australian/American soprano Corinne Cowling, who recently graduated with a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance with Distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and has performed widely throughout the U.K. and internationally. She was awarded first place in the 2016 Franz-Schubert-Institut Competition and placed third in the 2017 Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition.

    Performing "Death's Echo" is New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts, who graduated from the Royal College of Music International Opera School and has also concertized throughout the U.K. and internationally. Van Mellaerts won first prize at the 2017 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition and first prize in the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.

    Perez Perez
    Cowling Cowling
    Van Mellaerts Van Mellaerts






    Returning to U.S. shores, Hall's music will be celebrated in a special concert presented by the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar at the Crane School of Music on the campus of SUNY Potsdam in upstate New York. Fall Island's mission is to encourage autonomous artistry in emerging artist-level performers through the study and interpretation of art song by living American composers.

    Stephanie Blythe Stephanie Blythe

    Hall was invited by Artistic Director Stephanie Blythe to be the 2018 Guest "Spotlight" Composer at this year's seminar. During the day on Wednesday the 23rd, Hall will coach the outstanding 2018 Fellowship Artists in the preparation of her songs, which will be performed later at the 7:30 PM concert "An Evening with American Composer Juliana Hall." This event will be live-streamed by the Crane School and Fall Island.

    Blythe and Music Director Alan Smith will also speak with Hall about her music.

    Songs will include "A Birthday" from the song cycle Christina's World, A Northeast Storm,"Under the Harvest Moon" from the cycle When the South Wind Singscycle, "Death's Echo" from the eponymous-named , "Dream" from the cycle Propriety, and "Song" from the cycle Night Dances.  In addition, Blythe and Smith will perform the premiere of "At That Hour When All Things Have Repose," from the cycle Of That So Sweet Imprisonment, which Hall composed especially for Blythe (and which will be premiered in its entirety at a later date).

    Next sighting:

    Juliana Hall's next big event, "Positively Magical" - The Art Songs of Juliana Hall takes place on Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 1:10 PM at the National Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Soprano Amy Petrongelli and pianist Blair Salter will perform a program of art songs by Juliana Hall, sponsored by E. C. Schirmer. Come meet Juliana Hall at NATS!

  • Beauty, Truth, and Insight through Song: Interview with Juliana Hall

    January 2018 Featured Composer: Juliana Hall

    This month we're featuring American art song composer Juliana Hall (b. 1958). A prolific and highly-regarded composer of vocal music, her songs have been described as “brilliant” (Washington Post), “beguiling” (Times of London), and “the most genuinely moving music of the afternoon” (Boston Globe). The NATS Journal of Singing wrote that “Hall’s text setting is spot on and exquisite”, and Voix des Arts noted that Hall “perpetuates the American Art Song tradition of Beach, Barber, and Bolcom with music of ingenuity and integrity.”

    Juliana Hall

    In addition to performances at prestigious concert venues including the 92nd Street Y, the Library of Congress, the Théâtre du Châtelet, and Wigmore Hall, Hall's songs have been presented at numerous festivals, including the London Festival of American Music, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Ojai Music Festival, and Tanglewood Music Center.

    Art song organizations and ensembles presenting Hall’s music include ÆPEX Contemporary Performance, ANA Trio, Boston Art Song Society, Calliope’s Call, Cantabile Project, Capital Fringe, Casement Fund Song Series (Sparks & Wiry Cries), CHAI Collaborative Ensemble, Contemporary Music Forum, Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project, Ensemble for These Times, Ensemble Lyrae, Fourth Coast Ensemble, Cincinnati Song Initiative, Denver Art Song Project, Feminine Musique, Lowell Trio, Lynx Project, Lyric Fest, Mallarmé Chamber Players, Mirror Visions Ensemble, Northwest Art Song, One Ounce Opera, Oxford Song Network, Project 142, “re-Sung” Series, Schubert Club, Second Street Sonorities, Songeaters, “Song in the City” Series, The Ensemble of Oregon, Voices of Change, and Zenith.








    Special recital appearances include songs from Hall's soprano song cycle “Night Dances” on Dawn Uphaw’s “First Songs” series at the Morgan Library and Museum and a performance of her mezzo soprano song cycle “Letters from Edna” on the 2016 Joy in Singing’s Edward T. Cone Composers Concert at Lincoln Center, both in New York City, as well as a performance of her tenor song cycle “The Holy Sonnets of John Donne” in a Holy Week meditation service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

    Juliana Hall’s art song catalogue was signed by E. C. Schirmer last June.

    Unlike many composers, you specialize in art song. What, for you, is special about writing art songs?

    Art song is so special to me, more than any other genre of music, because it combines the two worlds I most love—the world of poetry and literature, and the world of music—and joins them into a small and concentrated musical form.

    I have composed over 300 art songs and works of vocal chamber music and, although I’ve written larger forms including a cantata, a chamber opera, a few choral anthems, and a handful of instrumental solo and chamber music pieces for family and friends, the world of art song is the world I feel closest to, musically and personally.

    Since art song is very different from other types of composition, is there a special purpose you have in mind as you compose your art songs?

    My strongest desire when composing art songs is to share whatever beauty, truth, or insight a poem or other text may possess, through a musical framework.

    Because music is an art that so directly and so powerfully goes to both the head and the heart, it is the perfect “carrier” for words whose message I wish to share with an audience, and the small scale of art song performance—usually just a single singer with a single pianist—makes that sharing a very direct and personal communication.

    How were you first introduced to music, and what inspired you to pursue composition?

    I first studied piano with my mother, beginning when I was six years old, and I pretty much planned on a career as a professional pianist. However, even as I practiced the Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann pieces that I loved, I always wondered about composing; for some reason, I had a feeling inside that I might be able to write music, as well as play it.

    When I was 13, I composed a piece for our little family church—a setting of the Creation Story from the Book of Genesis in the Bible—for flute, piano, children’s choir, and narrator. Even though it was my first piece of music, writing it felt very natural and it was extremely satisfying to see it come to life.

    Later, when I went to college at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, faculty composer Darrell Handel encouraged me to switch studies from piano to composition after hearing some pieces I had written for a "composition for performers" class. I didn't change paths then, but that encouragement to pursue the writing of my own music planted a seed.

    When did you know you wanted to become a composer?

    Twenty years after I began studying the piano, as a 26-year-old graduate student at the Yale School of Music, I signed up for composition lessons with a visiting composer, Frederic Rzewski, as an elective—just for fun. Around the same time, a friend gave me a book of poetry (Sylvia Plath, I think) and I really felt close to it, so I began reading a lot more poetry. For my composition lessons, then, I tried to join these wonderful newly-discovered words with original music, by composing my first art songs.

    When those first songs were performed on student concerts, my composition teachers there—Frederic, Leon Kirchner, and Martin Bresnick—encouraged me to make composition my primary focus (just as Darrell Handel had done at Cincinnati during my undergraduate years), so I finally took the plunge, and in 1987 my graduate piano performance degree became a graduate composition degree.

    As much as I had enjoyed playing the piano up to that point in my life, it had never felt completely “right” and I almost didn’t realize how important this feeling was, until I began composing art songs. For the first time in my life, I felt like I’d found my true place in the world…it was a huge gift really, to finally have that grounded sense of who I was.

    How did your career as an art song composer begin?

    While at Yale, I sent one of my earliest song cycles—In Reverence, 5 songs on poems by Emily Dickinson—to renowned vocal composer Dominick Argento, who was then teaching at the University of Minnesota. He accepted me as his student, and in the 18 months following Yale that I studied with him, he taught me an awful lot about English-language literature and its use in vocal music.

    While still in my first semester at Minnesota, I received my first commission for a song cycle, Night Dances; this was the first event in building that important bridge between student life and “real life." One of the area’s premier musical organizations, The Schubert Club of Saint Paul, MN, asked me to write a set of songs for a young, up-and-coming singer who had won the Naumburg Award a few years earlier, and who was taking the musical world by storm, soprano Dawn Upshaw.

    A few years later, in 1989, I received a second Schubert Club commission for Winter Windows for another great Metropolitan Opera singer, baritone David Malis.

    In 1989 I was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition.  The Guggenheim was particularly helpful, because first, it was a very public and tangible acknowledgement of my compositional abilities, which was helpful in being taken seriously as a composer, and second, more practically speaking on a daily basis, it gave me a whole year of writing time during which I completed dozens of songs, including Bells and Grass, Lovestars, and Syllables of Velvet, Sentences of Plush.













    What kinds of poems have you set in art songs?

    Poets whose words have found their way into my art songs include W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lewis Carroll, Fanny J. Crosby, E. E. Cummings, Jean de La Fontaine, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Anne Frank, Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Amy Lowell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Marianne Moore, Amelia Forrester Peterson, Edgar Allan Poe, Christina Rossetti, Carl Sandburg, William Shakespeare, Percy Byssche Shelley, and Sara Teasdale.

    Have you worked with living poets?

    Although I’ve written much less using the works of living poets, one very special recent project, just premiered this past October, was a commission from the art song organization Lynx Project in which composers were offered texts written by high-performing, but non-verbal, autistic young men. The poet whose texts I chose to set, Sameer Dahar, wrote wonderfully evocative poems full of rich and beautiful imagery…perfect for the tenor song cycle Great Camelot.

    Other recent projects I have really enjoyed working on include a couple song cycles with singers who also have significant gifts as writers, including Metropolitan Opera soprano Molly Fillmore, on whose lovely poems I wrote the song cycle called Cameos, and the soprano and librettist Caitlin Vincent, whose text formed the basis of my second song cycle for unaccompanied soprano, Sentiment.

    Another tenor song cycle I’m looking forward to composing this year is a setting of the six poem work, Piano Lessons, by the great American poet Billy Collins , which is set for a Spring 2020 premiere.

    What does the future hold for Juliana Hall?

    I am busier than I’ve ever been before, and have several wonderful things coming up. I’ve already mentioned the Billy Collins piece, but in addition to that, I am also writing a large song cycle for mezzo soprano on the words of Margaret Widdemer, whose beautiful poetry I recently discovered.

    I’ve also got a beautiful Christmas text taken from the Gospel of Luke from the Bible, which will be a piece for countertenor voice to be sung (hopefully) during the next Christmas season, and there’s also a wonderful little set of two poems by E. E. Cummings which I hope to write for a very high coloratura voice type.

    And performances?

    I’ve been very blessed with quite a few recent performances, including concerts in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Scotland, as well as across the United States in locations including Albuquerque, Amarillo, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Hartford, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Princeton, San Antonio, San Diego, Seattle, Syracuse, Tucson, and Washington, DC.

    Upcoming performances include three premieres this month: Roosters, for soprano, mezzo soprano, and piano; In Closer Bonds of Love to Thee, for soprano and piano; and The Poets, for bass voice and piano. I'm also looking forward to the premiere of my first song cycle for unaccompanied soprano, In Spring, in February; the premiere of a new soprano song, I Know a River Wide and Deep, later in the Spring; the premiere of a soprano cycle, How Do I Love Thee?, in September; the premiere of the soprano cycle Cameos during the 2018-2019 concert season; the premiere of my second cycle for unaccompanied soprano, Sentiment in Spring of 2019; and the premiere of my upcoming tenor song cycle Piano Lessons in Spring 2020.

    As yet unscheduled premieres include the new song cycle on the Margaret Widdemer poems, Will You Love Me Still?; my new contralto song cycle, Of That So Sweet Imprisonment; and new songs for high coloratura, Two Birds.








    Any other exciting activities coming up for you?

    Summertime has been an exciting time for me. Last summer I received the 2017 Sorel Commission from SongFest for my soprano song cycle When the South Wind Sings.

    This coming summer is no different; I have two wonderful events to which I’m eagerly looking forward:

    The first event is the 2018 Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, where I have been asked to be this year’s Guest “Spotlight” Composer.  I’m looking forward to working with some extremely talented singers and collaborative pianists preparing for a concert of my songs to take place on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at the Crane School of Music, SUNY, Potsdam, NY.

    The second event is the NATS National Conference, the biannual meeting of members of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, where my songs will be presented in a publisher’s showcase on Sunday, June 24, 2018.  I’m really looking forward to the showcase, but also to meeting as many of the thousand conference attendees as I can, signing scores, and sharing my work as widely as possible.


  • Featured Recording: Love's Signature: Songs for Contertenor and Piano by Juliana Hall



    From Gramophone:“[Juliana Hall's] sensitivity to words is on impressive display on Love’s Signature... these songs show Hall to be a composer who savours lyrical lines and harmonies peppered with gentle spices..."

    Juliana Hall's latest recording hosts 24 songs in 3 parts, performed by countertenor Darryl Taylor, soprano Susan Narucki, pianist Donald Berman, with the composer at the piano for some tracks as well. LOVE’S SIGNATURE traverses time and space to celebrate various types of love: characters from the plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) reveal universal human experiences of love throughout different times in our lives; the letters of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) exemplify the love we have for those specific people in our circles who touch us more personally; and the poems of Marianne Moore (1887-1972) speak of how one’s love for an art form like music can provide inspiration and beauty to enrich life.

    April 2017 recording of the month on Voix des Arts.

    "One comes away from this disk with a profound appreciation for the excellence and innovation of her music as well as the hope that many more people will come to explore and enjoy it ... [the composer's] considerable skills as a pianist are on grand display..." (NATS Journal).

    “The songs’ novelty is wholly organic, never contrived, and the composer perpetuates the American Art Song tradition of Beach, Barber, and Bolcom..." (Deep Roots Magazine).

    Read more reviews on MSR Classics.

  • Juliana Hall: October & November Performances

    Several works from Juliana Hall's vocal catalog were featured in performances in October and November.

    October 1:  Renee Calvo, soprano, presented selections from Night Dances in a recital at the University of San Diego. Click here to learn more.

    October 13-15: Members of Northwest Art Song (soprano Arwen Myers, mezzo Laura Beckel Thoreson, and pianist Susan McDaniel) partnered with The Ensemble of Oregon to share a concert series titled "Nevertheless, She Persisted: Voices of Women in Music & Verse." The concert featured Music Like a Curve of GoldClick here to learn more.

    October 22: Piper Pack-Smith, mezzo-soprano, and Kyung Sun Choi, piano, performed four songs from Letters from Edna in a DMA recital at the University of Arizona.

    October 27 & 28: Great Camelot"Austism Advocacy Project", based on poems by Sameer Dahar, was commissioned and premiered as part of Lynx Project's The performances featured tenor Steven Humes and pianist Florence Mak. Click here to learn more.

    October 29 & 30: "Theme in Yellow" from Theme in Yellow was performed by Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano, and Eunmi Ko, piano in Jamaica Plain, MA. The performance took place as part of a GroupMuse event. The performance was repeating the Sound of Music Performance Series at Temple Shalom in West Newton, MA.

    November 3: Music Like a Curve of Gold was performed Rebekah Smeltzer Staley, soprano, and Julie Silva, mezzo-soprano, as part of One Ounce Opera's 2nd Annual Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song competition, of which Hall was named a winning composer. Click here to learn more.

    November 18 (Cambridge, MA), 22 (London), & 23 (Oxford): Christopher Eaglin, tenor, and Nicole Panizza, piano, present two concerts featuring The Holy Sonnets of John Donne at Harvard Memorial Church (MA), Coventry University (UK), and the University of Oxford (UK).

    November 28: Middlesex Community College hosts a free concert "And the Barriers Had Vanished: Exploring LGBT Issues through Music," which will include a performance Night Dances. The performing artists are soprano Anna Ward and pianist Elaine Rombola.

    For more information about Juliana Hall's art song catalog, click here.

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