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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kelsey Greene at 11:33AM


Blog was written by Kelsey Greene, Documentary Studies and Production, '13, FLEFF intern, Buffalo, New York

I had the opportunity to interview the incredibly talented Brad Hougham.  He is a well known and respected baritone vocalist who also teaches at Ithaca College's School of Music.  

In combination with Jairo Geronymo and Deborah Martin, he will be performing Rite of Spring with Gustav Mahler's Ruckert Lieder at 7:00 p.m. in Hockett Hall on Monday, April 11. 

KG: Why do you have a passion for music?  Is there a particular type of music you are fonder of? 

BH: I have always loved music. I remember being moved by music at a very young age, either to dance or sing or laugh or cry.  

I think like many people, music has been a source of comfort to me throughout my life and I love being able to teach in this field, because it allows me to share this love with others, hopefully helping them to develop their passion for it as well. 

I like all kinds of music – I don’t mind saying that I’ve been entertained and moved by a huge variety of artists. You should see who is in my iPod.

KG: What have been some highlights in your life pertaining to your vocal careers?

BH: I’ve been very lucky to have many wonderful opportunities. I sang for eight seasons in the chorus at the Metropolitan Opera

During those years, I was able to watch the greats up close. I think that is very interesting from a teacher’s perspective. How does Placido Domingo breathe? How does Renee Fleming move on the stage? How does a big voice sound up close as opposed to from far away – like from the back row of the opera house? 

I have sung world premieres and worked with composers on their own pieces. I have sung many opera roles with various opera companies. 

I love recitals of art song more than anything, and my job at Ithaca College has fostered that love and afforded me many opportunities to perform a wide variety of repertoire with some incredible musicians.

KG: You will be performing with Jairo Geronymo and Deborah Martin. Have you had any previous experience working with these individuals? 

BH: I have worked with both before. 

The last time I worked with Dr. Geronymo was three years ago when we did excerpts from West Side Story for the FLEFF Opening Ceremony

The last time I worked with Dr. Martin was two years ago, when we did a piece together with the concert band in the Ithaca College School of Music

KG: Can you please briefly describe the importance of the music you will be performing Monday night, both in its historical context and to you?

BH: The songs I’m singing are gems in the German Lied repertoire. When Gustav Mahler composed these, he was stretching the definition of ‘Lied’. Previously, they had been much more ‘miniature’ in genre. His songs are much longer (usually), constructed with more complicated musical language, require a greater range of pitch, mood, dynamics, vocal color and rhythmic variation than many of the songs composed with German texts before his time. 

The accompaniment for these songs can be either piano or orchestral and you can hear a great demand for color and texture variation in the accompaniment part.  

I am lucky to have two such wonderful pianists who will be capturing these colors beautifully in their playing. 

The reason I love to sing these songs is that for me, these poems are very powerful and the musical gesture that Mahler uses to express them form an absolutely perfect union.  

KG: Can you please give us a glimpse behind the scenes as to what you went through and are going through to prepare for the upcoming event?

BH: Well, I have known these songs for a couple of years now, so I have not had to learn any new music, per se, but I have had to re-think them. I believe that many singers feel this, and that is that each time you come back to a piece of music you have sung at a different time, you learn something more about it. 

In addition to that, I have had to think of these songs in relationship with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and how they can interplay with that larger work. The pianists were great about finding places in the Stravinsky into which the songs could be inserted. 

KG: What are you looking forward to about this year’s event?    

BH: Just having a chance to share this beautiful music with a new audience and having a chance to work with these wonderful artists. 

I love the idea of faculty from schools coming together to pool their talents. When they do, something amazing always comes of it; this will be no exception.






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