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CLOSE-UP: Book of Travelers – Newcastle, The Song Company
Sunday 7 February @ 3:00 pm – 4:15 pm$25 – $65
Two wonderful song cycles from both ends of art-song history.
Gabriel Kahane – Book of Travelers,
Beethoven – An die ferne Geliebte,
Ben Moore – Cabaret & Theater Songs
Ethan Taylor – tenor,
Hayden Barrington – baritone,
Francis Greep – piano
Sunday 7 February, 3pm (Performance duration: 75 minutes – no interval)
Venue: Adamstown Uniting Church, 228 Brunker Rd, Adamstown
Book tickets online
In honour of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, Hayden and Francis perform the first ever narrative song cycle. Songs are not the first genre of music we usually associate with Beethoven, but he wrote them throughout his career, beginning with Schilderung eines Mädchens, published when he was just 13 years old. He had over 70 to his credit when he wrote the Liederkreis, or song cycle, An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved) in April 1816. There are changes in tempo, dynamics, and inflection throughout the cycle, creating a sense of almost improvisatory spontaneity, but interludes and transitions connect the six songs, and the effect of the musical links and the narrative line is that of a single mega-song. The melody of the first song is quoted in the last one – this beloved may be distant, but they are also immortal, as the end of this song circle returns to the beginning, a closing that is also an opening.
- Ethan and Francis then perform one of the newest song-cycles in the repertoire, American singer/songwriter Gabriel Kahane’s epic Book of Travelers from 2018. Book of Travelers is an attempt to rediscover and celebrate our collective humanity in the face of deep political and cultural divisions. The day after the 2016 presidential election, Gabriel Kahane set out on an 8,980 mile train trip around the continental U.S. with no phone or internet connection. The song cycle/monodrama that resulted etches not just a series of intimate character studies, but also tells the story of a poignant encounter with a group of young men whom Kahane almost certainly would not have met within the confines of our silo’d digital culture. In a chilling coda, Gabriel draws from his grandmother’s diary— written during her own cross-country train trip after fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939— asking the audience to contemplate the varied scars of our collective past, while at the same time offering a seed of hope in the notion that when we step outside of our digital lives, we may have more in common with our fellow Americans than we’re often led to believe.
- Hayden and Francis end the recital with three theatre songs by American composer Ben Moore, written as one-off pieces for various stage shows he was working on.