To the queen of my heart

To the queen of my heart

Description

As a performer, I have long been fascinated by the song recital as a medium for questioning notions of “canon,” as well as giving voice to those who have been marginalized in classical music. In doing so, I discover voices that I have never heard before, voices of historic women that are completely unknown to me. In communing with these composers and their music, I pay homage to a tradition of female creation that I wish to claim my place amongst. Through the works of Francesca Caccini, Germaine Tailleferre, Maddalena Casulana, Vittoria Aleotti, Leonora Orsini, and Agathe Backer-Grøndahl, I acknowledge that I exist partly because they existed; in some small way, I stand on their shoulders.

September 2017
Baltimore, MD


Program


For more information on the composers and musical works featured in To the queen of my heart, check out my research and writing!
Image: Le miroir psyché by Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Multimedia

Lute Songs by Renaissance Women Composers
Tre Sange, Op. 1 by Agathe Backer-Grøndahl  
Six chansons françaises by Germaine Tailleferre        

To the queen of my heart is in partial fulfilment of the Doctorate in Musical Arts Degree in Vocal Performance at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Description

Inspired by American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Love Is Not All,” Queen of Hearts is an evening of cabaret theatre that explores the many stages of romance: an initial self-questioning, a longing for human connection, the spark of deeper feelings, the pain of unrequited desire, the contentment in being loved, the rupture of a bond, and the ultimate decision to move forward wiser, but scarred.

Through storytelling and song, we explore age-old questions about love. Will I ever feel deeply loved? Am I worth loving “forever”? And when love finds me, will I be able to offer it in return?

Songs included: “Who Am I?,” from Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan, “The Right Guy For Me,” from Kurt Weill’s You and Me, “I Wish It So,” from Marc Blitztein’s Juno, “Love for Sale,” from Cole Porter’s The New Yorkers, “Making Love Alone” by Marilyn Miller & Cheryl Hardwich, “I’ll Follow My Secret Heart,” from Noël Coward’s Conversation Piece, Alphabet City Cycle by Georgia Stitt & Marcy Heisler, “I Loved,” from Jovannest & Rauber’s Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris, “To Oakland, With Love” by Jeanna Phillips, and “Lightning Strikes” by Jeanna Phillips & Alex Thrailkill.

“I Hardly Remember” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Love is Not All” (Sonnet XXX),” from Collected Poems
Copyright 1931, 1934, 1939, © 1958 by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis

Edna St. Vincent Millay reads “Love Is Not All”

Performance History

Queen of Hearts premiered at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre (NYC) in 2016 and was later workshopped at The Pleiades Project Launch Event. Awarded a Career Development Grant from Peabody Institute in 2017 to expand its theatrical scope, Emma and Noelle collaborated with visual artist Andrea Kleinbussink for their performance at Stillpointe Theatre (Baltimore). In 2018, Noelle and Emma performed Queen of Hearts at Areté Venue and Gallery through Inception to Exhibition (NYC).

Publicity

Photo: Elizabeth Van Os

Collaborator Spotlight

Emma Tattenbaum-Fine

Emma Tattenbaum-Fine is a comedic actor and writer. She played Logainne in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at ACT of CT (Broadway World Nomination for “Best Ensemble”) and she returned there to do Godspell in winter of 2020, with Stephen Schwartz revising his classic for this revamped production. Emma appears in Netflix’s Explained. She’s been a joke writer for NYTW gala hosts, Broadway’s Jeremy O. Harris & Heidi Schreck and has hosted HQ Trivia live in front of millions of players internationally. She’s written several full-length scripts, and sketch and stand-up comedy for truTV, Comedy Central and Refinery29.

Emma’s book, Trash Mermaid — Essays, Stories, Recollections, Rants, and Ramblings that Came to Me by the Jersey Sea is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. For more of Emma’s writing, subscribe to her Substack.

Listen to examples of Emma’s storytelling here and in the Multimedia section below. Also, check out her audio album of stories, Commuter’s Companion, now streaming on Spotify.

Multimedia

“Sunday Light,” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle
Insouciant by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
“La Diva de l’Empire” by Erik Satie
“Der genügsame Liebhaber,” from Arnold Schoenberg’s Brettl Lieder
“Almost Everything I Need,” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle
“Tell Me The Truth About Love,” from Benjamin Britten’s Cabaret Songs
“Es regnet” by Kurt Weill
“The Wanting of You,” from Georgia Stitt’s Alphabet City Cycle
“Je te veux” by Erik Satie
“I’m A Stranger Here Myself,” from Kurt Weill’s One Touch of Venus
The Inner Voices of Women in a Lingerie Store by Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
I take the long way there

I take the long way there

Description

I take the long way there: A Capstone Project (2021) is a classical music concert-film, created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through experimental music videos, this film project engages with making art and rediscovering the everyday moments that sustain us through turbulent times. I take the long way there features Noelle McMurtry (voice) and a vibrant cast of instrumental and vocal collaborators as they interpret the works of historic and living women composers in classical music, including Melissa Dunphy, Jessica Krash, Lori Laitman, Clara Schumann, Maddalena Casulana, and Vittoria Aleotti. I take the long way there was awarded Honorable Mention in Boston-based Guerilla Opera Underground’s 2022 Film Series.

I take the long way there: A Capstone Project (2021)
Original Version
I take the long way there: A Capstone Project (2021)
Alternate Version with Lori Laitman’s “The Sunflowers”

Artist Statement

Like so many of us, I have gained and shed all types of baggage throughout the past two years.

In August of 2020, as it sunk in that live performance was no longer a viable option due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I began to work on I take the long way there. With the support of collaborators, teachers, and coaches, a concert that was originally planned for a live audience in fulfilment of my Doctoral degree transformed into a virtual film project. Due to pandemic-related delays and set-backs, I take the long way there took over nine months to complete. In the process, it was reconfigured from an academic obligation into a creative and personal reaction to the events, experiences, and emotions of this tumultuous period in our history.

By attempting to safely create art and make music in this chaotic time, I was forced to confront my artistic values and mission through technology in unexpected ways. I renewed my commitment to the voices of women in classical music, past and present. Composers like Melissa Dunphy, Lori Laitman, Clara Schumann, Maddalena Casulana, and Vittoria Aleotti continually served as my creative guides. Through this process, I also deepened collaborative partnerships with longtime friends and colleagues, a group of fantastic multi-hyphenates. Together, we navigated bringing our often-acoustic art form into a digital realm.

As I described to her the myriad twists and turns of the creative process behind I take the long way there, Mary Maxwell, translator of Sulpicia’s poetry in Jessica Krash’s Sulpicia Songs, observed to me that “sometimes the long way uncovers things we wouldn’t have discovered if we’d been able to take the direct road.”

Noelle McMurtry
Washington DC, 2021

Creative Team & Ensemble

  • Noelle McMurtry; voice, co-director, dramaturg & writer
  • Caroline Miller; voice, co-director & audio editing
  • Elizabeth Van Os; voice & director of photography
  • Marina Iwao, piano
  • Paula Maust, baroque organ
  • Flavia Pajaro-Van de Stadt, viola
  • Eric Sedgwick, piano

Program

Collaborator Spotlight

Caroline Miller

Caroline Miller is Co-Founder & Artistic Director of The Pleiades Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to championing women’s stories through opera, film, and original music-theater projects. With The Pleiades Project, Caroline has expanded her artistic talents outside of performance, embracing her interdisciplinary skills as a director, writer, programmer, and producer. She produced and starred in the short-film Così, excerpted from W.A. Mozart’s Così fan tutte, which was named an official selection of the NY Indie Theatre Film Festival. Caroline directed the entirety of the 24 Series, a collection of videos based on the 17th and 18th-century song collection, Twenty-Four Italian Songs & Arias.

For the 2020-2021 season, Caroline is directing the premiere A Women’s Suffrage Splendiferous Extravaganza!, a vaudevillian revue celebrating and problematizing the US women’s suffrage movement, through a generous grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She co-created AWSSE! in collaboration with Noelle McMurtry and November Christine. 

Elizabeth Van Os

Soprano Elizabeth Van Os is one of New York City’s most dynamic performers, making waves not only as soloist and ensemble member but also as a co-founder of the non-profit Pleiades Project. For her efforts, the opera-zine parterre took notice of her “striking impression,” with additional praise from Voce di Meche for her “lovely, affecting” voice and “justifiable passion.” 
 
A lover of concert work, Elizabeth has appeared as soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Berkshire Bach Society, The Astoria Choir, the Collegiate Choir, Ars Musica, and more. In opera, notable roles have included that of Margeurite in Faust and Mimi in La Bohéme, both as Sing Through Central productions. She is a regular invited guest at Bard SummerScape Festival, where she has performed in productions like Anton Rubenstein’s Démon, Dvorâk’s Dimitrij, Pietro Mascagni’s Iris, and Dame Ethel Smyth’s Wreckers
 
With an eye towards growing the repertoire, Van Os’s career has a particular focus on collaboration with select contemporary music composers, including recent premieres of work by Matthew Brown with The Astoria Choir, and Katherine Hoover, where she was a featured soloist with the New York Virtuoso Singers. Offstage, Van Os creates new performance opportunities for female artists as the co-founder of The Pleiades Project, a non-profit production company.  

Multimedia

“The Sunflowers” by Lori Laitman
June by Melissa Dunphy
Sulpicia’s Songs by Jessica Krash
German Romantics: Clara
Farewell, Angelina by Melissa Dunphy

I take the long way there is in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Vocal Performance at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.