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Song Cycles of Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie




"Jake Heggie is a masterful composer of opera and song, and his gifts are apparent in the three cycles on Glass Ceilings. He composes with a keen understanding of the voice’s expressive potential. While he is not shy about challenging vocalists when the dramatic situation dictates, Heggie never sacrifices the voice’s beauty and humanity. He is also willing to explore a wide range of approaches, genres, and styles, again to convey the dramatic impact of the text. His piano writing is also rich, technically demanding, and a partner to the vocalist in creating the song’s mood and impact... Melissa Davis sings the music with admirable commitment and involvement... Jerry Wong performs Heggie’s evocative and challenging keyboard writing with distinction. The booklet includes informative liner notes, as well as the sung texts."
Ken Meltzer, Fanfare [September 2022]
"...performed with sensitivity by Davis and Wong."
SAI Pan Pipes [Summer 2022]
"This extended exploration [of Claudel] by Heggie will be an interesting instance of musical biography... Because piano and voice are used in different ways in the three song sequences on this disc, the CD, taken as a whole, shows Heggie’s skill at vocal writing and at using the voice-and-piano mixture to explore several topics in differing sonic environments."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [April 2022]
"Glass Ceilings, an MSR recording of three song cycles by opera composer Jake Heggie, involves encounters with how women have been regarded though history. The recording results in an intense and thought-provoking experience of the songs sung by Melissa Davis accompanied by her husband Jerry Wong on piano. Throughout, the listener is held spellbound by Davis’s articulate and powerful voice in interplay with Wong’s skillful and supportive pianism."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [March 2022]
“All my life, I have been inspired and surrounded by powerful women, whether they were singers, teachers, pianists, composers or writers. They are the people who have most changed and touched my life, and I feel a responsibility to give voice to them from many different perspectives.”
[Jake Heggie, November 2021]

American composer Jake Heggie has made a significant contribution to the classical vocal genre; his works are multifaceted, fresh and bold, and have been met with widespread critical acclaim. His operatic and song works are often focused on issues concerning human rights, particularly those that bring awareness to underrepresented sectors of the population. Within his oeuvre, themes of women’s suffrage, women’s rights and the empowerment of women have remained prominent. This album contains three of Heggie’s song cycles, all of which present feminist perspectives.

American-born soprano Melissa Davis is a frequent performer of operatic and musical theatre repertoire and has appeared throughout the United States as well as in Australia, Asia and Europe. Her devotion to art song has led to extensive research and performance of a wide range of American composers, with recent performances that include works of Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, Jake Heggie, Charles Ives, André Previn and Ned Rorem. She collaborates regularly with her husband, pianist Jerry Wong, together having given the world premiere of Sebastian Birch’s Three Songs from “Orpheus & Echo”. In 2021, Jake Heggie was commissioned to compose a new piece for Davis and Wong titled Could it be Madness, This, a setting of poems of Emily Dickinson. Having relocated to Australia in 2019, Davis is currently a PhD candidate in performance and staff member at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. A dedicated advocate of young aspiring opera singers, she has been Artistic Director of Nightingale Opera Theatre in the United States since 2012, in which capacity she has worked to bring lesser-known productions to the stage and provided dozens of rising stars with invaluable performance opportunities.
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Steinway Artist Jerry Wong has performed around the world in prestigious settings, including Weill Recital Hall, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Severance Hall, Shriver Hall and Kravis Center, and in the National Concert Hall of Taipei and Opera City Hall in Tokyo. Also active as an adjudicator, clinician and lecturer, Wong has presented at institutions both in the United States and abroad. He has presented lecture recitals for Music Teachers National Association, National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Music Teachers Association of California and World Piano Teachers Association. Also active as an author, his work includes liner notes for Music Minus One, recording reviews for MSNBC, a chapter in The Pianist’s Craft 2 and articles in The Piano magazine. Wong’s performances, recordings and interviews have been widely broadcast on radio and television. A graduate of Indiana University, Peabody Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music, where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree, Wong’s teachers have included Menahem Pressler, Ann Schein and Byron Janis. Previously a Professor of Piano at Kent State University, he is currently Associate Professor and Co-Head of Keyboard at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.
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Jake Heggie is the composer of the operas Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, It’s A Wonderful Life, If I Were You, Great Scott, Three Decembers and Two Remain, among others. He has also composed nearly 300 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. The operas – most created with Gene Scheer or the late Terrence McNally – have been produced on five continents. Dead Man  Walking (McNally) has been recorded twice and in 2019 received its 70th  international production, making it the most-performed American opera of our time. The Metropolitan Opera in New York recently announced that it will produce Dead Man Walking in a bold new production by director Ivo van Hove, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Moby-Dick (Scheer) was telecast throughout the United States as part of Great Performances’ 40th Season and released on DVD (EuroArts). Great Scott was a 2019 Grammy[R] Award nominee for Best New Composition, Classical. The composer was awarded the Eddie Medora King prize from the UT Austin Butler School of Music and the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. A Guggenheim Fellow, Heggie has served as a mentor for the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative and is a frequent guest artist at universities, conservatories and festivals throughout the United States and Canada. INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope (Scheer) recently received a premiere and live recording.
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JAKE HEGGIE (b.1961)
EVE SONG (2000)
I. My Name
II. Even
III. Good
IV. Listen
V. Snake
VI. Woe to Man
VII. The Wound
VIII. The Farm

I. The Spring is Arisen: Ophelia’s Song
II. Women have loved before as I love now
III. Not in a silver casket cool with pearls
IV. Spring

Prelude: Awakening
I. Rodin
II. La Valse
III. Shakuntala
IV. La petite chatelaine
V. The Gossips
VI. L’age mûr
VII. Epilogue: Jessica Lipscomb visits Camille Claudel,
      Montdevergues Asylum, 1929

Recorded on 31 March, 1 April, 12-13 May 2021 in the Iwaki Auditorium of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Melbourne, Australia. Produced by Alex Stinson and Victoria Lambourn. Recording engineer: Alex Stinson.

MSR Classics
Song Settings of Emily Dickinson MELISSA DAVIS