Building Bridges Between the Modern Composer and Classically Trained Singer
Name: Georgi Sztojanov Main Subject: Classical Singing Research Supervisor: Anna Scott, Yannis Kyriakides Title of Research: Building a Bridge Between the Contemporary Composer and Classically-Trained Singer Research Question: How can the aesthetic oxymoron between the wishes of modern composers and the needs of singers be mediated or resolved, and what changes could be made on both sides in order to achieve a more fruitful relationship, resulting in compositions that are both singable and that explore the voice's potential beyond its Classical boundaries? Summary of Results: As a case study, I document the process of learning the tenor solo in Louis Andriessen's De Materie, and discuss how my classical training helped me to sing this demanding part even though it is not meant to be sung with a Romantic sound. After discussing two further projects in which I acted as a mediator between composers and singers, I found my initial suspicions to be true: many composers do not receive enough education in composing for the voice, meaning that they do not respect its physical limitations, they often misjudge the combination of ranges, dynamics and colors possible, and they believe that any singer can reproduce any sound (regardless of culture, style, or tradition). Clearly, studying these elements while working closely with singers would be one solution, as would choosing a more performer-centric notational system including expression markings and other indications that invite singers to find the intention or subtext behind the music—all of which can help the singer's instrument work more effectively. For their part, singers need more training in music theory, solfege and score reading skills, and while they need to master their classical technique, they must also be openminded and flexible enough to experiment beyond that training—while staying within the healthy limits of their sound production, and knowing how to communicate in order to preserve these boundaries. This study helped me to successfully mediate between composer-singer collaborators, and I hope to turn my findings into a booklet for those looking to create beautiful and exciting new vocal works together—not in spite of one another. Biography: Georgi Sztojanov has two MAs in composition from the Liszt Academy in Budapest and The Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. He obtained his BA in singing in 2016 with Sasja Hunnego. As both singer and composer he has broad experience with vocal premieres, multidisciplinary collaborative works, and leading ensembles and festivals. He received the Tenso Young Composers Award in 2014. As a composer he has a wide spectrum of works, and as a singer his activities are equally diverse, ranging from opera to lied, numerous premieres, staged productions, and ensemble singing (recently as a member of Groot Omroepkoor).