“Love Songs”, by Jenni Brandon, Featured at Perceptual Mishmash: A Benefit Concert from unSUNg

soprano and oboe sheet music

unSUNg returns after a two-year hiatus, with a signature “mixed bag” concert of vocal chamber music.  The concert, Perceptual Mishmash, features “Love Songs”, a song cycle by Jenni Brandon. This is an online You Tube https://youtu.be/_gSbS-MsKZs concert Sunday, August 30, 2020 at 4 PM – 5 PM. The video will be released on YouTube on August 30th and will be available there afterward.

The concert title, “Perceptual Mishmash”, reflects the gut-level recognition of our Artistic Director, Ariel Pisturino, as she compiled the works for this event. While this unusual collection of works may seem widely varied and disparate, there are common themes of love, life cycle and connectedness that wind their way through each set.

Whenever you watch the concert, please consider donating to the Water Warriors United campaign outlined here: https://www.collectivemedicine.net/water-warriors-united The concert benefits the charity, Water Warriors United, that is hauling water to the severely underserved communities of the Navajo Nation.

In “Love Songs for Soprano and Oboe”, I have chosen a 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 I feel 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.

Lindabeth Binkley‘s new CD FROM EARTH AND SKY: MUSIC OF JENNI BRANDON has been released! “Love Songs” is one of the performances on this CD. This has been an amazing collaboration to have Lindabeth record my music for her new CD on the Blue Griffin Recording label. I am so very proud of her and this CD that includes several world premiere recordings AND a brand-new work “Wood Song” for solo oboe written for her! She is joined by other amazing musicians to bring my music to life on this new CD. Please check out “Wood Song” below and then you can find this CD on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc.)

Wood Song for Solo OboeProvided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Wood Song for Solo