A GREAT DISTANCEA Collection of Chinese and American Art Song
John Alden Carpenter, John Duke, Luo Maishuo, Ding Shande, Xiao Youmei, Qing Zhu, Huang Zi
JULIET PETRUS, soprano
LYDIA QIU, piano
By Special Arrangement
"an interesting and eclectic collection of beautiful art songs"
Kim McCormick, SAI Pan Pipes [Spring 2017]
“For the listener who wants to explore music that is somewhat less familiar, this is a gem. Juliet Petrus has a very fine voice and whose vocal timbre really sits well with these songs, and Lydia Qiu's accompaniment is absolutely everything a good associate artist should be.”
Geoff Pearce, Music & Vision [February 2017]
“Juliet Petrus sings the works here sensitively and with subtlety of intonation and expression – and is well backed up by pianist Lydia Qiu... Three Chinese folk songs, heard at the end of the CD, are especially pleasant in their forthright simplicity... Chinese and American composers alike are interested in exploring some new forms of expression and are willing to reach beyond the typical confines of Western and Oriental art songs, respectively, to do so... the CD is pleasantly off the beaten track for listeners looking for something a bit new and different in the art-song realm.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [December 2016]
"I am very happy to recommend this CD, as it is the first CD that embraces both the Chinese and Western art songs. I came to know Juliet when she was chosen to attend our full-scholarship summer program iSING! International Young Artists Program in the inaugural season in Beijing, 2011. iSING! introduces Mandarin as a lyric language to the opera world. I was very touched by Juliet’s sincerity, persistence and hard work in learning Mandarin and singing Chinese art songs. Today, after listening to her rendition of some of these well-known Chinese art songs, I am most impressed by her command of the Chinese language, her interpretation of the songs and her beautiful voice. This must be such a challenge for any Western singer. Her great accomplishment makes me very proud."
Haojiang Tian, 2015
"I am very excited for the release of this CD. It reminds me of all the wonderful work that I have done with Juliet since first meeting her in I Sing Beijing in 2011, but especially the time we spent preparing our 2014 Shanghai recital. Bel canto singing allows us to blend two very different cultures and languages. Music best brings world culture to China and Chinese culture to the world."
Fugen Wei, 2015
PROGRAM NOTESFrom Juliet Petrus: “Art song was composed to exist in someone’s living room. It is what most singers learn first, allowing them to refine their expression of text in short form. I am attracted to it for the subtly it requires. It is not surrounded by strings and brass, or lost within a complex plot. It is just the singer and the piano, and it gives me the freedom to create the where, who, when, and why. Art song is the most honest conversation that a singer can have with her audience.
I am well versed in the songs of America and Europe. Because of my fascination with other cultures, I began exploring the song of other countries, most recently and passionately, China. Before my first trip to China in 2011 with I Sing Beijing, I was unfamiliar with the body of music coming from China. Learning to sing in Mandarin created an immediate connection with my Chinese audience, and I recognized the importance of music as an ambassador. To introduce Western colleagues to the incredible music of China, and Chinese colleagues to the American song tradition became my goal. As I pondered wanting to reach these two groups, I knew it would need to be in a widely accessible form: a recording. This relationship has led me to create this CD of Chinese and Chinese-inspired American art song.
This CD explores the influence of the West on Chinese art song, and the Chinese influence on American art song. Because many of the primary composers of art song in China had some education in America or Western Europe, they have adopted the form, and occasionally, the tonality of Western art song; yet, they have still found a way to maintain Chinese thematic elements, both musically and through their choice of poetry. It is a window into Chinese culture, while still maintaining something familiar for the Western ear. Likewise, Western artists and musicians have often found inspiration in the Far East. ‘Orientalism’ has cycled consistently through the artistic consciousness for centuries. The American composers whose songs I have chosen to complement the Chinese also stay rooted in the form of art song, but clearly use borrowed tonality and text. In truth, both groups of songs are the perfect cultural exchange.
I have long been drawn to the things that challenge me the most. China, with its language, musical, and cultural differences has brought me the most gratifying challenge with which I have ever been faced. Now more than ever, socially and politically, I find that I want to illustrate to those around me the commonalities we share, while still being able to shed light on the beautiful, fascinating differences. Because of the nomadic existence professional musicians live, we have the luxury of interacting with people from all walks of life, all over the globe. This CD is my way of showing a broader audience what I have been lucky enough to experience first hand: although there is a great distance between China and the United States, music creates an inspiration that flows freely among us all.”
Soprano Juliet Petrus is recognized for her effortless coloratura and is steadily making her mark as a versatile and captivating performer in the world of recital, concert and opera. Juliet is in high demand in the United States and China as one of the few Western interpreters Chinese music. Juliet took part in the Inaugural 2011 and 2012 seasons of the acclaimed I Sing Beijing program (now I Sing International), working with Metropolitan Opera bass, Hao Jiang Tian, and making her National Center for the Performing Arts debut in Beijing. These performances led to debuts at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in 2013, and a tour of the United States and in Paris. As a result of her devotion to the study of Chinese music and language, in 2014 she was awarded a Confucius Institute scholarship to study Mandarin at Tongji University in Shanghai, where she also made her solo recital debut with a concert of Chinese repertoire. Petrus recently returned as a guest artist with I Sing International, making her concert debuts in Hangzhou and Suzhou and in summer 2015 had her solo debut with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed at the Tianjin concert hall, and on Chinese television. In traditional Western repertoire, Petrus frequently sings the soprano role in Orff's Carmina Burana, most recently as part of an acclaimed premiere with the St. Louis Symphony and Colorado Symphony. She has sung with Austin Lyric Opera in Texas (Queen of the Night and The Magic Flute), Glimmerglass Opera (Eurydice, Orpheus in the Underworld, La Musica and L’Orfeo; Young American Artist 2007 and 2008), Michigan Opera Theatre (Mrs. Nordstrom, A Little Night Music, Giannetta and L’elisir d’amore) and Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis (Galatea andAcis and Galatea). Other appearances include performances with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra, South Bend Symphony, Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra and Music of the Baroque. Also a frequent recitalist throughout the Chicago area, Juliet is a founding member and Assistant Director of Education and Programs of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, which is devoted to the education and performance of art song. She has also been a teaching artist for both the Lyric Opera of Chicago and City Colleges of Chicago since 2008. Petrus is also an accomplished violist and pianist, and has worked as a musical theater choreographer. [ www.julietpetrus.com ]
Born into a musical family in China, pianist Lydia Qiu began lessons at age four, and received formal musical training for six years. At age 18, Qiu moved to Beijing and worked as a piano accompanist for the Vocal & Opera department in Central Conservatory of Music. It was in Beijing that she decided to pursue a career as a collaborative pianist and vocal coach. Between 1986 and 1996, Qiu performed actively in Beijing, collaborating with the most notable vocalists in China. She came to study in the United States in 1996, receiving degrees from Capital University and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, and studying under renowned collaborative pianist, Martin Katz, at the University of Michigan. Qiu has been invited to participate in Cleveland Art Song Festival, German for Singer and Collaborative Pianist in Vermont, Songfest in California and Franz Schubert Institut in Austria. She has studied with John Wustman, Rudolf Jansen, Helmut Deutsch, Julius Drake, Rudolf Piernay, Robert Holl, Elly Ameling and Deen Larsen. Qiu has received critical acclaim for her artistry and musicality around the world. She currently works for the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, serving as a vocal coach, staff accompanist and the coordinator of accompanying services. She oversees the accompanying needs for all vocal, wind, and string studios, classes, and choral ensembles. Despite living in the United States, Qiu has remained committed to her work in China. In recent years, Qiu has taught at Central Conservatory, China Conservatory, Shanghai Conservatory, Tianjin Conservatory, Shandong Normal University, and Sichuan Conservatory in her hometown of Chengdu. During these visits, Qiu conducted master classes for both voice and accompanying students, gave lectures on vocal literature to voice teachers, taught diction classes, and performed in recitals with her students.
Dian Jiang Chun· Poetry on Ascending
Flower Hunting in the Snow
The Three Wishes of the Rose
I Live at the Top of the Yangtze River
JOHN ALDEN CARPENTER
On a Screen
To a Young Gentleman
In a Distance
Couple on a Skiff
On that Mountain Lane
FOUR CHINESE LOVE LYRICS
Incense and Moonlight
The Fifth Watch of the Night
CHINESE FOLK MUSIC
The Murmuring Brook
Mayila Variations (arr. Hu TingJiang)