Head, Heart

In Head, Heart, works by Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Kaija Saariaho, Kate Soper, and John Harbison all share a common theme: the struggle between the head and the heart. For the characters within their musical works, this dichotomy manifests as a struggle between navigating one’s own values under the weight of the expectations imposed by the outside world.

The Heart wants what it wants – or else it does not care… Not to see what we love, is very terrible – and talking – doesn’t ease it – and nothing does – but just itself.

Emily Dickinson, Letter to a friend (Spring, 1862)

Description

In Head, Heart, works by Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, Kaija Saariaho, Kate Soper, and John Harbison all share a common theme: the struggle between the head and the heart. While the severity of this struggle and its consequences vary, its underlying tension lingers. As the musical protagonists of these works experience love, loss, death, violence, and ecstatic bliss, they must continually examine what they are willing to sacrifice to achieve their aims.

For de la Guerre’s Esther of the Old Testament, it is a question of ultimate survival: should she risk her own life to save the Jewish people of Persia from annihilation at the hands of Haman? For Harbison’s Mirabai, should she abandon her family, her possessions, her noble status, and everything she has ever known to devote her life to the Hindu deity Krishna? For both Soper and Saariaho, the heart becomes disembodied altogether, adopting its own voice to teach the head about life, counseling the self to be released from its painful burdens, but at what cost?

Ultimately, the inter-play between these parts of ourselves, not the dominance of one over another, truly defines our actions. By exploring these characters, no matter how divided they seem by time, place, and musical style, we encounter a glimpse of our own fragile selves, as we too navigate the ever-complex binary of the head and the heart. 

May 2019
Baltimore, MD

Program


For more information about the musical works and composers on Head, Heart, check out my research and writing!

Collaborator Spotlight

French Canadian flutist Christian Paquette is the Principal Flute of the York Symphony Orchestra and newly appointed Principal Flute of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra. In September of 2022 he will hold the position of Principal Flute of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra in Canada. He is a doctoral candidate at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University under the tutelage of Marina Piccinini.  He has also worked in flute repairs with Adam Workman, founder of Flutistry Boston.  He has frequently performed back in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Thirteen Strings Ensemble.  He was also the President of the Ottawa Flute Association from 2015 to 2017.

​Christian has performed in the Shriver Hall Concert Series, Music and Beyond Festival, recitals at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage, Concerto performances with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra (Nielsen) under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya, the University of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra (Ibert and Nielsen), and with the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra (Rodrigo). He is greatly looking forward to his performance of the Reinecke Flute Concerto with the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra in England later in 2022. He is the recipient of numerous competition awards, such as the MPIMC (Marina Piccinini International Master Classes) Concerto Competition, first prize at the Yale Gordon Competition, Canadian Music Competition, the National Music Festival, the NACO Bursary Competition and many others. This past summer he was a fellow in the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and has been reinvited for the 2022 summer season. Past teachers include Paula Robison, Denis Bluteau, and Camille Churchfield.

​Christian is extremely grateful to the Fondation Baxter et Alma Ricard as well as the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation for their generous support in his doctoral studies at the Peabody Institute.

Multimedia

Only the words themselves mean what they say by Kate Soper (b.1981)
Christian Paquette, flute
The Clouds, from Mirabai Songs by John Harbison (b.1938)
Eric Sedgwick, piano

Head, Heart is in partial fulfilment of the Graduate Performance Diploma in Vocal Performance at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

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