Soprano gives a melody to poetry
The Linfield Music Department hosted a faculty recital for a vocal professor and an accompanying pianist Sept. 30 in Ice Auditorium.
The theme of soprano Natalie Gunn’s recital was the joy of life and love. While she was choosing the repertoire, she continually came back to poems about summer.
“It’s definitely my favorite season. I love the warmth and abundance. It makes me happy,” she said. “Choosing songs about summer also led to several references of birds and roses.”
The recital’s title, “High Summer Holds the Earth,” is from a favorite poem of Gunn’s that was turned into a song.
“I’m singing some of my favorite composers and songs that I’ve loved for over 15 years. I’ve been in love with a lot of these songs,” she said. “I feel like being now in my mid-30s, I’m in a place of maturity and development of my instrument where I can choose ample warmth of sounds for these songs.”
Gunn has trained mostly in operatic repertoire, but she loves to perform songs with rich words and meaning. Songs in the recital included poems by Friedrich Ruchert, Pierre-Jules-Theophile Gautier, Sir Thomas Moore and Emily Dickinson.
“My heart really is attracted to more lyrical and romantic repertoire. The other songs are also songs I love, songs that bring me joy. I want to share that with the audience,” she said.
Gunn began preparing for the recital in January. She began by exploring poems and songs that she wasn’t yet attached to. Once a theme started to emerge, she said, she had planned about half of the recital. She thought out the other half of the repertoire to fit into that theme.
“I found myself looking for songs about summer. What have I always wanted to sing? What am I in the mood to sing? I knew I would want to prepare a program that was full of joy,” she said.
Unable to enjoy the summer because of foot surgery, Gunn knew she wanted to dive into a realm of pleasure through her singing. She began practicing often and memorizing her poems while working with her voice coach of 10 years, Richard Bauer.
Gunn has been singing and performing since elementary school. She began training classically in college and has been performing in that genre for 16 years.
“I want the audience to feel inspired to let themselves feel deeply, be in love and understand the power of music and poetry in creating those feelings,” Gunn said.
Gunn and her accompanist, Susan McDaniel, met two years ago, while working together for Opera Theater. They discovered they worked well together and enjoyed rehearsing the pieces during the summer.
“I enjoy playing with both instrumentalists and singers, but I have a special place in my heart for art song. The combination of poetry and melody is a powerful one,” McDaniel said. “I know Natalie feels the same way, and I’m thrilled to be able to collaborate with her on this recital of songs which connect us to the beauty of the season through images and harmonies inspired by the natural world.”