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Pittsburgh Song Collaborative Recital Inspired by the East

Songs and poetry inspired by Eastern culture will be at the center of the upcoming Pittsburgh Song Collaborative (PSC) performance, Looking to the East: Orientalism in Song, at Duquesne University.

An interactive, interdisciplinary recital featuring the art song genre, Looking to the East will be held on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the PNC Recital Hall of the Mary Pappert School of Music. Featured performers include:

  • Soprano Sari Gruber, an adjunct professor of voice and mainstage artist with the Pittsburgh Opera
  • Pianist Dr. Benjamin Binder, associate professor of music and founder of the PSC, which is an ensemble in residence in the School of Music
  • Tenor Joe Dan Harper, chair of voice at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music.

The theme was selected because the art song repertoire includes numerous songs on the topic due to the popular fascination with the East in the 19th and early 20th centuries. “There wasn’t any sense of needing to be fully accurate in the depiction of exotic, foreign cultures so much was left up to the imagination,” says Binder. “European song composers and poets filled that void with sumptuous melodic evocations of those faraway lands and peoples. In their songs, the East became an exotic and colorful realm where one could taste of forbidden pleasures, even as danger lurked around every corner.”

The concert will be comprised for four portions, including:

  • Five songs by German Romantic composer Franz Schubert that are settings of poems by German Romantic poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Rückert and inspired by the ancient Persian poets Rumi and Hafis
  • Six Chinese Poems by French late-Impressionist composer Albert Roussel, who discovered the translated ancient poems in a literary journal in Paris
  • The song cycle Songs of an Infatuated Muezzin by Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, which features text written by poet Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz
  • Five late-19th century songs about romance and intrigue on the sands of the Sahara by French composers, including Georges Bizet, Gabriel Fauré, and Camille Saint-Saëns.

A $10 donation is suggested for admission to the recital, which will be followed by a reception during which audience members can meet the performers. For more information, call the School of Music at 412.396.6083.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.