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Susan Boddie, Soprano and Sherwood Wise, Oboe Performed Jenni Brandon “Love Songs”
January 23, 2021
Jenni Brandon “Love Songs” for soprano and oboe” performed by Susan Boddie, soprano and Sherwood Wise, oboe. Dr. Susan Boddie, soprano has been instructing voice and performing internationally for over 20 years. She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, New York. Further, she received her Doctoral Degree in Education with a focus in Music from the Graduate Division of Education Research at the University of Calgary.
She is an accomplished international concert artist and with performances at Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Riverside Church Manhattan, Sala Unicaja de Conciertos, Rebecca Cohn Theatre, McNally Hall, The Music Room, and Edward Pickman Concert Hall. Some performing highlights include Susanna in Nozze di Figaro, Frasquita in Carmen, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, Mother Abbess in the Sound of Music, Lily in the Secret Garden. Soprano soloist for Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Fauré’s Requiem, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and St. John Passion, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, and Handel’s Messiah. Upcoming performances include Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore and Requiem.
Dr. Sherwood Wise has served on the College of Saint Rose music faculty since 2009 and has served as Music Department Chair since 2018. He is principal oboe of the Glens Falls Symphony and has played second oboe with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra under music director Jaime Laredo since 2001. He frequently performs with the Albany Symphony, and has performed with the Jacksonville Symphony, Sarasota Orchestra, the Springfield Symphony, and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
As a recitalist and chamber musician, Dr. Wise has performed at the College of Saint Rose, the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY, the International Double Reed Society Convention in Tempe, AZ, and at the International Flute Association in Las Vegas. Dr. Wise has performed concertos with the Florida State University Symphony Orchestra, the College of Saint Rose Orchestra, the Saint Rose Summer Music Orchestra, and the Flatirons Community Orchestra in Boulder, CO. He has been the featured soloist on the Mozart Oboe Concerto, the Harbison Oboe Concerto, the Handel Oboe Concerto in F Major, and Dead Elvis for bassoon and chamber ensemble by Michael Daugherty.
Jenni Brandon’s “Love Songs” for soprano and oboe” was commissioned by oboist Aryn Day Sweeney of Ball State University in 2014. The texts – translations of Native American words – Jenni chose to tell a story of the Native American woman – a story that she might tell her child while she rocked the child to sleep.
Jenni chose this collection of texts to tell a story of the Native American woman – a story that she might tell to her child while she rocked the child to sleep. We begin with a lullaby (partially borrowed from a Chippewa lullaby) sung gently to a child, and then she begins to tell the story of herself. In “Song of Basket-Weaving” she asks the Cedar tree (mother) to prepare her for love, for bearing children, and for becoming a woman. In “Song of the Blue-Corn Dance she works with other women to harvest the corn. Falling in love, she sings a slightly giddy song “Oh I Am Thinking” which evolves into a strong and steadfast song in “Love Song from the Andes”. Then her lover comes to her in “Love Song,” but it is not too long after that he leaves her for Sault St. Marie in Michigan, never to return again(I interpret this as death – he’s gone away, maybe to fight, or to hunt, but he will never return to his lover). We assume at this point in the story that the child she sings to is their child, and she is telling the story of their love. The story ends how it begins, with the woman back in the present, continuing to sing a lullaby to her child as life goes on, without her love by her side.
It is a story that Jenni feels can be universally understood, but points to the strength of not only the Native American woman, but to the strength of all women to persevere, to raise children and to keep community strong against all odds. It is a “love song” in that it goes beyond just romantic love but tells of love for a child and love of the land. The work may be performed as a whole, or individual movements may be chosen for a shorter performance.
This work was commissioned and premiered by Aryn Day Sweeney, oboist and Assistant Professor of Music Performance at Ball State University with funding provided by the Indiana Arts Commission in 2014. It was premiered at Ball State University by Aryn Day Sweeney-oboe and Yoko Shimazaki-Kilburn-soprano in March 2014.