Lisa Basset interviews Dr Christian Carey who is the curator of the Westminster Art Song Festival. He is a contributing composer to the Westminster Composers concert (March 11th, 2014) with four pieces on the program:
‘Otherwise’ for Voice and Piano, poetry by Jane Kenyon
‘Let Evening Come’ for Voice and Piano, poetry by Jane Kenyon
‘He Wishes for Cloths of Heaven’, poetry by W.B. Yeats
‘Je suis aimé de la plus belle’, poetry by Clément Marot (1496-1544)
He is also giving a pre-concert lecture at 7:15pm, with the concert beginning at 8pm. In his interview he discusses his past compositions, the compositions being performed in the concert, and what he wants the audience to take away with them after this conclusion to the Westminster Art Song Festival.
- 0:05: Dr Carey’ s favorite performance space for his music—a great cathedral space
- 0:36: Dr Carey is quite the cat person, with four cats, one of who is a Westminster adoptee!
- 1:19: ‘Morning in Madrid,’ a piece which worked with a live train, took a lot of hands to figure out the timing of the train. Dr Carey used the train horn as the basis for the pitch set of the entire piece.
- 2:18: His favorite place to compose is his desk at home. Sometimes a change of venue is good to clear your mind: Westminster, Starbucks, etc. To get himself composing, a good cup of coffee or listening to some of his favorite pieces does the trick.
- 3:30: Involvement in Westminster Art Song Festival—he was asked last summer to curate the faculty composer’s concert. Every member of faculty was invited to participate. A particular set is “American in Paris” with chansons written by Dr Boyle, Dr Young and Dr Carey.
- 5:38: The composers did not select their own singers. Dr Carey worked with the voice faculty and fit singers to the pieces. The tough part of the audition process, as always, is that they cannot pick everyone.
- 6:42: Existing pieces have been edited/transposed specifically for this concert!
- 7:30: Dr Carey has four original works, with two with poetry by Jane Kenyon. He put off setting music to her poetry because it was so good that he feared his music wouldn’t live up to it. He takes solace in her poetry—she writes about working through cancer which Dr Carey’s father struggled with. It ended up being a cathartic experience setting her poetry to music. These two are part of a set of three, originally written for a singing cellist, but for Westminster have been changed to voice-piano for practicality.
- 9:03: All four works were composed previously before this concert—some are older than others. ‘Je suis aimé de la plus belle’ was written as an anniversary gift for his wife, as she speaks and reads French very well.
- 9:53: Dr Carey’s most musically challenging piece is ‘He Wishes for Cloths of Heaven’ due to its wide vocal range and repeating patterns in accompaniment. All pieces require clarity in text and word painting, but the key to his pieces is more geared towards interpretation rather than technique.
- 10:50: The message of his pre-concert lectures has been to present a different theme for each concert. For this concert, he will discuss what is going on in terms of composition and song at Westminster specifically. Westminster has a strong background in Art Song within the focus of students’ studies as well as the composers within the faculty, creating a support network for singers pursuing art song performance instead of the usual opera or musical theatre.