Soprano Meredith Hall (right) and friends

FRACTURES Performance #1

What a delightful evening it was to attend the first performance, for close acquaintances, by my good friend and acclaimed soprano, Meredith Hall, and eminent collaborative pianist and vocal coach, Brahm Goldhamer. They performed selections from a large-scale song cycle for voice and piano that I composed called Fractures.

Brahm Goldhamer, Meredith Hall, and Frank Horvat

Soprano Meredith Hall (right) and friends

The idea for this project first started to percolate in 2016 when I was giving a presentation about environmental music at the Canadian New Music Network Forum in Ottawa. I then found the FRACTURE anthology (essays, poems and stories on fracking in America), and it inspired me to conceive this song cycle. I then approached Meredith to collaborate with me on this project. Once funding for Meredith’s commission was secured thanks to the support of the Ontario Arts Council and SOCAN Foundation, we went about selecting text for me to set to music. I am grateful that the following American and Canadian poets have allowed me to set their poignant stories and perspectives about fracking to music:

Kathleen Burke, Michelle Donahue, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Lilace Mellin Guignard, Wayne Mennecke, Rachel Morgan, Mary Heather Noble, Christine Pennylegion, Michelle Regalado Deatrick, Stephanie Schultz, Mark Trechock, Susan Truxell Sauter

The composing phase that followed was a wonderful time in that I shared the 13 songs and got Meredith’s feedback as I completed each.

Meredith began rehearsing last fall and it was such a joy to attend those sessions….

Hearing Meredith sing these songs for the first time moved me to tears. This is heavy subject matter, yet she conveys the music with beauty, grace and a dramatic presence. Composing vocal music has become a bigger part of my life only in these past handful of years. I’m happy it has. The singing voice has a special way of conveying our human condition and I’m so honoured to have the opportunity to be part of that process.

In the coming months, Meredith and Brahm will present more intimate workshop performances of the work. Thanks to Canada Council for the Arts and FACTOR grants, we will also be recording an album of the songs this May having sound engineer extraordinaire, Dennis Patterson, join our team!

Fractures is based on the destructive environmental practice of fracking. Never heard of fracking? Watch this short (and objective) video about how it works and the detrimental impact it has on the environment…

Fracking is an issue that often flies under the radar in the discussion about energy options since natural gas burns “cleaner” than other fossil fuels. But what I’ve learned is that the resources and chemicals required to extract natural gas through fracking are staggering and the impact it has on the land and people who live around these operations is truly heartbreaking. My hope is that the perspectives shared in this song cycle will humanize the issue.

Message from Meredith:

I am honoured and excited to be collaborating with Frank for FRACTURES. To create new art which focuses attention on fracking is both daunting and invigorating.

Artistically, I want to use my skills as a singer to reveal truths about the environmental impacts of fracking. I wish to communicate a wide range of human emotions and ideas on the subject, to sing with empathy for both sides of the controversy.

Frank is a dream collaborator. His music is sensitive, beautiful and powerful. It draws from the deep sincerity of his convictions, and his passionate desire to bring awareness to important subjects.

Personally, I hope that by joining my voice to Frank’s music, I can move hearts and minds and inspire people to take action on climate change. I am a mother and I feel such fear and grief and shame for the irreparable environmental damage my generation has not prevented. But I also feel that both courage and hopeful actions are required of me. This project gives me a rare chance to create truly meaningful art that will, I hope, motivate humans to do better.

– Meredith Hall

FRACTURES song cycle

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