‘The Food of Love’ opens Lehigh’s LUVME concert series
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
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.
Composer Earl Kim