Regular readers may recall that, as a recitalist, soprano Jill Morgan Brenner has matched her appreciation of the composers whose works she has chosen to perform with an appreciation of the poems set by those composers. The result is that she appeals to attentive listeners who appreciate those composers that are particularly skilled at translating a grasp of a poem’s literary qualities into a piece of music that enhances awareness of those qualities. Her skill was particularly evident earlier this year when she performed the “Godfather Death” scene from Conrad Susa’s opera Transformations in a program that launched Prodigal Opera Productions. This scene required her not only to express Anne Sexton’s rethinking of a traditional fairy tale but also to embody Sexton herself in the role of narrator.
Next month Brenner will present a new program that she calls The Poetry Project. This is the result of commissioning four composers to write music based on texts by four living poets, yet another effort to provide listeners with an appreciation of literary values through their realization in terms of music-making. For those who follow this site regularly, only one of the composers has not been previously introduced. That will be Emma Logan, setting the words of the 29-year-old California poet Chelsea Martin, who has already built up an impressive and acclaimed body of work. Among the other three composers, Danny Clay will be setting Heather Christle, born in New Hampshire and now living in Ohio, Joseph M. Colombo has chosen Australian Julia A. Nowak, who described her book of eight poems coupled with eight collages, Frames, as “a dialogue between language and the image,” and Kyle Hovatter, has set the work of Matthew Zapruder, who is currently living in San Francisco.
Brenner’s collaborative pianist for The Poetry Project will be pianist Anne Rainwater. The program will be given two performances on two consecutive days. The first will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 12. The venue will be the Center for New Music, located at 55 Taylor Street, about half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for C4NM members.
The second will be a house concert at 70 West Clay Street, right on the edge of the southwest corner of the Presidio. This will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 13. Because this is a house concert, those interested in attending may request further details by using the Contact Web page from Brenner’s Web site.