Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) was an American author and poet who is best known for writing the "The New Colossus" which is engraved on the Statue of Liberty ("Give me your tired, your poor, etc."). She was also an activist for Jewish causes and a Jewish homeland which informed much of her writing.
I had been looking to set a text of Emma Lazarus for an art song, but I was struggling to find a good place to start. After searching through her works, the answer came when I found her poem "Long Island Sound". This piece evokes the beauty of the Long Island Sound in a way that anyone who is a Long Islander like myself understands. I thought it was perfect to honor all of my roots: a piece about a landmark of my home written by a Jewish woman.
One thing that is so remarkable about this text is that it describes the landscape in a way that creates so much motion within what could also be percieved as stillness. I tried to reflect this in the music by playing with the contrast of stillness and motion, and put this in a shimmery F major key to represent the pure, natural beauty this place represents.
I decided to take an unconventional approach with this piece by making it a musical thARTre song, which I define as a cross between an art song and a musical theatre song that blurs the lines so anyone can sing it in either or both styles. So you can belt OR head voice OR mix on the high notes, perform this in any cabaret or even a classical recital, and you don't necessarily have to be a medium voice to sing this (if it's in your range)! You can also change the key if you would like. The possibilities are endless, so please enjoy and share this song in any way you like and send me your interpretations! I'd love to hear all the ways we can tell this story!
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