‘The Food of Love’ opens Le­high’s LUVME con­cert se­ries

The Morning Call - - CLASSICAL - By Steve Siegel

Why so many clas­si­cal mu­sic lovers shy away from the hu­man voice is a mys­tery. The folkies have their Guthrie and Baez, pop fans have ev­ery­thing from Si­na­tra to Lady Gaga, and yet Schu­bert and Brahms lieder, Poulenc and De­bussy melodies, and Donizetti and Rossini ro­man­zas get the cold shoul­der. Sure there’s grand opera, but the re­ally in­ti­mate, per­sonal stuff hap­pens (in the clas­si­cal mu­sic world, at least) mostly be­tween a hu­man voice and a pi­ano.

A song, af­ter all, is sim­ply a poem set to mu­sic; ar­guably its most per­fect em­bod­i­ment, in what is called art song, in­volves four el­e­ments: com­poser, poet, singer, and ac­com­pa­nist. That’s sim­ple enough. Yet it is not with a lit­tle trep­i­da­tion that Le­high Univer­sity mu­sic pro­fes­sor and com­poser Paul Salerni has boldly con­cocted an en­tire se­ries of con­certs fea­tur­ing art songs.

“It’s been daunt­ing — I’ve found out through painful ex­pe­ri­ence that even great lovers of clas­si­cal mu­sic get im­pa­tient with art songs, es­pe­cially when they’re in a for­eign lan­guage” says Salerni. “But I love them, and they are the foun­da­tion of so much of what’s great in mu­sic that I thought I’d bet­ter do this.”

The first in the se­ries — call it the ap­pe­tizer — is “The Food of Love,” to be served up Sun­day, Sept. 8, in Baker Hall at the Zoell­ner Arts Cen­ter in Beth­le­hem. Pre­sented by the Le­high Univer­sity Very Mod­ern En­sem­ble (LUVME), it fea­tures renowned Korean-Amer­i­can so­prano Yu­nah Lee, in­ter­na­tion­ally known for her sig­na­ture role as Cio-Cio san in Puc­cini’s “Madama But­ter­fly,” and pi­anist Kyung-Eun Na, a Korean na­tive who has toured world­wide in recitals and has col­lab­o­rated with soloists, as well as mem­bers, of the New York Phil­har­monic, Metropoli­tan Opera Orches­tra, Los Angeles Opera Orches­tra, and Seoul Phil­har­monic Orches­tra.

“The Food of Love,” of course, gets its ti­tle from the Duke Orsino’s fa­mous quote in Shake­speare’s “Twelfth Night,” “If mu­sic be the food of love, play on.” Fea­tured are songs by Rossini, Poulence, and Bern­stein, a pair of Korean po­ems set to mu­sic, and a pair of Salerni’s own com­po­si­tions. Food is not only a me­taphor, but also the sub­ject of sev­eral of the se­lec­tions.

Bern­stein’s “La Bonne Cui­sine” of 1948 is a suite of four recipes culled from Emile Du­mont’s pop­u­lar 1873 cook­book of the same name. Salerni’s joc­u­lar “Reg­i­men San­i­tatis Salerni” is based on

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

In­ter­na­tion­ally renowned so­prano Yu­nah Lee is the fea­tured soloist in “The Food of Love,” the first in a se­ries of art song trib­utes to com­poser Earl Kim, on Sun­day, Sept. 8 at the Zoell­ner Arts Cen­ter in Beth­le­hem.

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

Com­poser Earl Kim

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