When programming contemporary American art songs, many singers stay within a narrow boundary of songs by such composers as Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, and Ned Rorem. Through years of studying singing in Korea and in the United States, it has long been this author's opinion that singers and voice teachers need to develop a greater knowledge of new English-language repertoire. This impression led to a detailed investigation of contemporary an songs in English revealing that the songs of Ben Moore make a worthwhile repertoire for teaching and performing.
In this author's opinion, Ben Moore is one of the most gifted American art-song composers of our time. His music sounds both familiar and unique because he uses a traditional musical language mixed effectively with idioms from popular music, mostly reminiscent of American musical theater. Unlike many of his contemporaries. Moore eschews experimental compositional techniques. The accessibility and the beauty of Moore's music have led many prominent singers to program and commission his songs, including tenors Jerry Hadley and Robert White, baritone Nathan Gunn, soprano Deborah Voigt, and mezzo-sopranos Frederica von Stade, and Susan Graham. Recently, Moore has received commissions for vocal works from several organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the Marilyn Home Foundation, and ASCAP Foundation/Charles Kingsford Fund.
This monograph consists of five chapters. The first chapter is a general discussion of the composer, including his biography and general characteristics of his vocal music. Chapter Two presents an annotated list of the composer's vocal works. Each song has a complete set of annotations: voice type, range, tessitura, duration, form, indication/musical instruction, text, publication(s), recording; and technical and musical comments. Chapter Three is a transcription of an interview of the composer by the author. Chapter Four contains analyses of four selected songs from James Joyce's Chamber Music: "I would in that Sweet Bosom be," "Bright Cap and Streamers," "In the Dark Pine-Wood," and "This Heart that Flutters." Discussions of James Joyce and his poems titled Chamber Music are presented as well. Chapter Five consists of concluding remarks.
The purpose of this monograph is to introduce Ben Moore and his songs to performers and voice teachers. It is hoped that this document will pave the way for future analytical and critical studies of Moore's music. Ultimately, it is hoped that this monograph will encourage singers to program Moore's songs, bringing them to life in performance.