September 22, 2021

Our Multiple Voices: Original compositions for unaccompanied voice

Creating during the pandemic:
13 original unaccompanied songs based on the singers’ own personal stories during the pandemic

Miriam Charney, Director, Contemporary Opera Ensemble
Reiko Fueting, Chair, Composition Department
Mark Campbell, lyricist mentor
Lucy Shelton, vocal and composition mentor
Tazewell Thompson, Head of Opera Studies


Introduction from Miriam Charney, Director of the Contemporary Opera Ensemble at the Manhattan School of Music

The videos you’re about to see are part of a project initiated in the fall of the Pandemic of 2020, which brought with it a need and resolve to create something particularly special for this ensemble. With the invaluable assistance of Mark Campbell, Reiko Fueting, and Lucy Shelton, this group of original pieces was born. We call it OUR MULTIPLE VOICES.

The initiative consists of 13 unaccompanied “opera-songs” with texts gathered from each individual singer’s words describing their feelings, their experiences, their thoughts of this pandemic year; the librettists then crafted the singers’ words into poetry or singable text.

Demonstrating the collaborative nature of the entire project, the composers next created

2-3-minute pieces, with music tailored to each individual singer’s voice, singing style, and vocal strengths.

Due to the nature of pandemic restrictions at MSM and elsewhere, the singers had to employ many different methods of recording: some of the pieces were self-recorded at home, some were recorded by phones in a classroom, and some were recorded by engineers in the recital hall at MSM. We hope that the diverse nature of the recording techniques can serve as a literal example of the diverse nature of the singers’ responses to this time of constant change.

Learn more about Opera Theatre at Manhattan School of Music:

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