40 Songs by 40 Composers for my 40th Birthday
In November 2019 I made the realization that while I’d been asked to premiere countless works over the course of my career, I’d never actively commissioned any. This surprised me because the collaborative relationship between singer and composer is one of my favorite parts of my job.
After some thought, I decided to aim high - to commission 40 new songs as a birthday present to myself for my 40th birthday on April 2nd, 2021 (today!). That quickly became, “40 songs by 40 composers.” And now I’m over 40 songs because there are so many amazing people I want to work with! The parameters are specific, but broad: One 2-5 minute song scored for soprano and piano. Text choice up to the composer, with my approval, in any language. The results have been beyond exciting!
The 40@40 Project is the beginning of a personal mission to commission with intentionality and to encourage and help other performing musicians (or music lovers!) to do the same. If we want the future of song to be bright, we need to be a part of making it happen. I want to help people understand what goes into commissioning, demystify recording and publishing processes and personally contribute to the creation of new song literature for the future. So often we think of singing as a solo journey, but it’s really about community and collaboration. As I step into my fifth decade, this is my way of recommitting my dedication to the song community.
Some of these delightful people are composers that I have known and worked with for years. Some have been absolutely crucial to my development as an artist and working professional. Some I’ve just recently been introduced to. But they are all insanely talented, and anyone who is fascinated with the expressive capabilities of the human voice is someone that I want to work with. I’m sure the list will grow over time, so check back in!
H. Leslie Adams
Nell Shaw Cohen
Lorna Young Wright
Some of these people are living, breathing people that I know and love. Some of them are living breathing people that I hope to get to know. Some of them have passed from this world, but still have something important to tell us. Words matter! If I choose to sing something it’s because I want to put these composers’ musical responses to words of importance out into the universe for contemplation or enjoyment.
Elizabeth Seydel Morgan
Edith M. Thomas
I’ll be going more in depth into each song, composer, and poet here and on social media in the future, so stay tuned!
The 40@40 Project
Photography by Alain Brin
© 2021 by Laura Strickling