Shaya tweeted, "On my list of fantasy commissioning projects: wordless lullabies for the sleepless, sung by @mezzoihnen."
Who Am I?
Hi, I'm Megan Ihnen, a classical singer on a mission to change the world through the commissioning, performance, and proliferation of new music. I sing new songs written by composers who are writing in a current style of classical music. Want to hear an example? Check out Mara Gibson's piece "One Voice" for voice (me!) and viola (the incomparable Michael Hall) here. Or, perhaps you'd like "Otherwise" for voice and cello by Christian B. Carey.
You can find out more about my take on the world of new music and arts entrepreneurship at the Sybaritic Singer. I take every opportunity I can to talk about new music and classical music around the country. For example, I relish the opportunity to write for The Des Moines Register, I Care If You Listen, and more. As a musician and arts entrepreneur, I am dedicated to powerful musical performances, high-level digital communications, patron experience services, and education. While so many in the classical music world are competing for ever-shrinking pieces of the pie, I actively seek to create opportunities and brainstorm strategies to change the way things have been done to better support the entire field and not just a select few.
How Did This Project Come About?
If you don't know Shaya Lyon yet, she is a one-woman powerhouse when it comes to building a sense of local and global community. As a former software product manager and news editor, she has been using her product lead, UX designer, writer, artist and organizing information super powers for good in the world of new and classical music. She is the creator and Executive Director behind The Live Music Project which is a community calendar for classical and contemporary classical music in Seattle. It builds visibility for local orchestras and ensembles while connecting new and returning listeners with live musical experiences. She is also the impetus behind Musochat which is a weekly conversation about new music on Twitter that began in July 2015. New Music Box wrote about it, and SoundNotion recorded us discussing it on their podcast, as did The Portfolio Composer.
Shaya is a friend I made originally via Twitter who has become one of my favorite people. Our friendship is a true testament to the power of digital platforms. We met initially because she happened to be in San Francisco while I was there for New Music Gathering the preeminent annual three-day conference dedicated to the performance, production, promotion, support and creation of new concert music. Whenever Shaya says, "have you ever thought about..." my ears prick up and my imagination goes into overdrive immediately.
Mentioning on Twitter that she has been dealing with insomnia recently, she tweeted about a fantasy commissioning project of "wordless lullabies for the sleepless" sung by me. I thought that was a pretty sweet idea. I'd love to do something like that. So, I quote tweeted her suggestions with, "Composers, can we make this happen?" and received an overwhelming response of people who were interested. That told me that this was a project that was ripe for the happening.
Composer Daniel Felsenfeld, who has written for everyone from Jay-Z with Alicia Keys and Nas to Chorus of Trinity Wall Street to ETHEL, replied back right away with, "I am the proud father of an amazing girl, so it stands to reason that I ought to be writing a lullaby, having improvised so many. And I'll do anything for the amazingly gifted Megan Ihnen, so this is all falling into place..."
Let's be honest...
Raise your hand
- if you can't take listening to Enya one more time during a massage.
- if you wish you had something more musically satisfying to play for your children at bedtime.
- if you want to up your bedtime routine to Arianna Huffington status...
- if the chime-y, chant-y part of your yoga/meditation tracks are getting a little too repetitive.
- if you'd like to remind your friends that new classical music is a vast field with lots of different sounds being written all of the time.
Who Am I Commissioning?
I cannot believe the number of interested composers who are already on board for this project! We have composers from all across the United States and abroad. Check them out:
"As a new mum I'm reminded of the importance of music in our upbringing and especially early childhood. Lullabies don't need words because they are infused with things that don't need words to portray them. Love. Safety. Belonging. Home." - R. Forsyth
"Being from the UK, it's really good to collaborate with people from America, and get my music heard in the USA. Furthermore, seeing how a number of different composers respond to the same brief will be really fascinating." - C. Whitburn
"I love this project's emphasis on the evocative nature of the voice itself, removing the imposition of lyrics entirely. When working with vocalists, a lot of time goes into the text and having it appropriately placed in the body. With wordless lullabies, however, the voice strictly becomes a conduit for timbre, melody, and ultimately, expression." - T. Manfredonia
"This is a wonderful opportunity for me as a vocal writer who usually writes text to focus purely on melody and texture." - D. Howell
"The twilight chill that unfurls off the heat of the day and coils up around your ankles; the suede midnight that embraces you, cool at first but immediately known; the weightlessness of the yearning for being sleep-drunk: that's what this project says to me, and that's what I hope I communicate with my humble contribution to it, all without saying a word." - T. Dempster
"I am interested in composing works that have a set of difficult limitations without hindering the open-ended process of creation. There is so much to explore with the human voice without the semantic and syntactic limitations of words. Also, the idea of a lullaby signifies so many possibilities and limitations." - C. Gentry
"If a melody contains its own unspoken harmonies, if a melody can be sung without accompaniment for that very reason, then it has its own genuineness." - D. Solomons
"A lot of my recent work is concerned with the notion of intimacy. I often consider the intimacy that exists between the musicians onstage, between the composer and musicians, and between musicians and audience in my pieces. A lullaby—particularly a self-lullaby, designed to relax one’s own body and mind—is a perfect opportunity for me to explore a totally new kind of intimacy. I hope to contribute a work that is equal parts sensuous and conceptual." - D. Edward Davis
"The voice is arguably the most intimate instrument there is, and singing unburdened by the semantics of text further amplifies this intimacy. This intimacy, coupled by the warmth and fire of a sunset at dusk, the emergence of stars in a blue-velvet sky over a sleepy landscape, and the heaviness of your eyelids as you rest your head to sleep are just a few of the images and moods I'm hoping to capture for this wonderful project by and for wonderful people." - J. Derderian
"I've been thinking about lullabies recently, and when I saw a tweet about a wordless one I wrote a draft right away... I'm really looking forward to developing it further and hearing the finished version!" - K. Rose
"This very individual project really scratches an itch for me -- it's pretty darn rare that one writes a piece for a vocalist without the benefit of a text. While I love approaching texts and digging into their many layers, writing a vocalise covers entirely different territory -- it allows one to focus solely on the voice, its limits, its timbres, its expressive capabilities. With a vocalist like Megan at the helm, this project is sure to kick up a wealth of beautiful, thoughtful, memorable pieces -- I can't wait to see the finished set!" - G. Candey
I am hoping to spread the power of commissioning with lots of people. Wordless Lullabies can be an excellent way to share new music with new and veteran audiences and create a bridge into our corner of the musical world.
Check Out All of These Rewards!
We've got some really neat rewards lined up for you. Music, more music, and a little bit of fun!
Everything from a Celebration Song that names every single Kickstarter backer to a private concert in your living room! We've got a reward level that is calling out to your specific interests.
I Need You
To make this a reality though, we really need your support. This is an ambitious project. An ambitious project always increases financial needs. Wordless Lullabies for the Sleepless is a project that takes time, commitment, and resources. Each lullaby takes weeks, sometimes months of planning, composing, recording, and editing. It is incredibly important to me to pay each composer involved in this project. The bulk of the Kickstarter funds are commissioning funds. I pride myself on efficiency, but all of the elements of this project will take a full community and not just one singer on a mission. Will you please join me on my mission?
Risks and challenges
There are a lot of moving parts to this project! I have already started negotiating with over 25 composers to get their scores by June 10th, 2017. I will then record the project over the summer months. Understandably, I cannot plan for all of their life events over time so we may flexible there.
I have made preparations to deal with any delays in an efficient manner. I also have a project management plan in place to keep all the communication organized and up-to-date. These safeguards will keep us all on track!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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