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Reflections on Children
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In the Fall 2004, while preparing my dissertation project “Reflections on children,” I realized that whether art songs, operatic arias or scenes, the classical repertory offers a wide variety of masterpieces regarding all aspects of children’s life. My first dissertation recital is called “Journeys” and was performed on December 6th 2004 at 8:00pm in the Tawes Recital Hall. Change is the only inevitable condition in life and as such, it has been thought-provoking to many poets and composers. The narrator in Mahler’s Wayfarer Songs experiences the pain of love for the first time and emerges transformed into an adult. The narrator in Barber’s Knoxville is an adult looking back at his journey in an attempt to understand himself. The mothers in Britten’s Charm of Lullabies each make every effort to accept the changes in their own life after the birth of her baby. Finally, both Brahms’ songs are about risks and losses. “Destinies” is the title of the second dissertation recital as it attempts to capture the dark fate of Mignon and of Rückert/Mahler’s children. It was performed on April 8th 2005 in the Tawes Recital Hall. Mignon’s grief is portrayed through songs full of sadness and hopelessness in mourning of a long lost childhood. Rückert wrote 425 Kindertotenlieder in memory of his children’s deaths over a period of twenty years and Mahler orchestrated five of them. Mahler’s choices deal with light and darkness, symbolizing eternal life and hope versus despair and death, in both the literal and the literary sense. Finally, the third dissertation recital called “Blessings” was performed on May 19th 2005 in the Tawes Recital Hall. It relies on the evocation of moods and scenes created by a variety of composers and poets. Poulenc’s La Courte Paille are brief works in the style of a child’s song with unrelated and unexpected images juxtaposed, creating a sense of inner monologues. John Greer’s House of Tomorrow, Guastavino’s Cradle Songs and the rest of the composers offer wonderful pieces of immense power and expression in their directness and sensitive contour.