Letter from the Editors

Sparks & Wiry Cries has some big news: we have received our tax exempt status and are now an official 501c3.  Even more important, we are growing by leaps and bounds! You will notice that our header now has three different pull down screens that will house the three arms of Sparks & Wiry Cries.  Our online presence will remain the same, bringing you insightful articles, fun blog posts, and interviews through podcasts and print, housed now under The Art Song Magazine. Adding to this online presence are the very successful NYC based Casement Fund Song Series, now entering it's fourth season, and a commissioning program for new song, seeking those who enjoy a collaborative process between composer and poet.  This next year will be one of transition as we grow our board, our advisory board, and begin to raise funds. We are also beginning our process of creating new performance opportunities for the bounty of worthy artists.  There are more exciting things on the horizon, but at this point, we aren't ready to share all of the developments just yet! You will just have to wait to see what else is in store for Sparks & Wiry Cries... 

And as ever...if you missed it before, our very first CD has been made available in digital form through iTunes, Amazon, CDbaby and other digital distributors. We hope you enjoy!  Many thanks again to Colin Mills at Aberration Photos for our stunning cover art, and to the musicians and production team.  We are really proud of this first release - so what are you waiting for?  Click that link!

Co-Editors in Chief,

Martha Guth and Erika Switzer

Featured This Month

Thank you to all who were able to join Sparks & Wiry Cries for our 2017 season - opener, Art Song: Reimagined with Rhiannon Giddens.  We are so thankful for your continued support!

Celestial Refrains: 

Songs of Juliana Hall

Join us for our second concert of the season, "Celestial Refrains."   In this concert we shine the spotlight on Juliana Hall, an American composer known best for her luminous work in art song and chamber music, by programming two of her song cycles alongside works of composers who influence her most. Hall’s sensitivity to both poetry and the voice has led her to write for such renowned singers as Dawn Upshaw, David Malis and Brian Asawa. This evening will feature three upcoming performers: soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, mezzo-soprano Jazimina MacNeil and pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough.

The National Opera Center, Scorca Hall

November 6, 2016 at 8:00pm

Purchase tickets here.

Special Profile: Hampsong's Song of America Educators Workshop

The editors of Sparks speak to Christie Finn, the Managing director of Hampsong:

On Saturday the 5th of December the Hampsong Foundation, headed up by world renowned Baritone Thomas Hampson, will come to the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor to Launch what will be an exciting initiative in Art Song: the Song of America Educators workshop and Curriculum Initiative pilot.  It is a way to bring his Song of America program into K-12 classrooms and... 


The Cartoonery of Tyler Duncan (Baritone)


Susan Youens: Of cannibalism, the abolitionist movement, and Brahms:  An unlikely conjunction  

For those of us who love Brahms’s songs, our first encounter with “Kein Haus, keine Heimat” (No house, no homeland) was probably a shock—it certainly was for me. Published in 1884 when Brahms was fifty-one years old, this work is twenty measures of undiluted bitterness, over almost before...  

Read more

Michael Musgrave: Brahmsian Sea Pictures

It is often observed of Brahms’ songs that they emphasize rounded melody and harmony at the expense of textual nuance. Three ideas lie behind this view: that Brahms’ devotion to folksong as an ideal of self- sufficient melody limits his response to words both rhythmically and in imagery; and that this ideal also tends to an instrumental character that prioritizes musical development over poetic text; and... 

Read more

Deen Larsen: Another Side of Elly

Deen Larsen’s extraordinary words stop me in my tracks.  My tracks, so often hasty and restless, at first resist the meditative depth of his thoughts, but then, slowing out of curiousity, welcome the provocation.  Thank you, Deen, for... 

Read more

Emily Ezust: Some Thoughts on the Gentle Art of translating

It can be disappointing to open an art song recital program and find no translations inside, especially these days when there can be such delightful variety in the languages offered in one concert. Perhaps many North American audience-members will know enough French or Spanish to get the gist of...

Read more


Baltimore Lieder Weekend; Daniel Schlosberg, Director

I suppose I was predisposed early on to starting an art song festival. I played Schubert’s wonderful, expansive D Major Sonata, D. 850, in high school and was familiar with the more famous Schubert songs before I arrived at Peabody for my undergrad.  It was there that I met baritone Ryan de Ryke and his mentor, the great John Shirley-Quirk...

The Genesis of Illuminarts: Amanda Crider, artistic director

IlluminArts is an art song and vocal chamber music series I started in Miami three years ago. It’s almost amazing to think that it has already been three years! The amount of work, learning, and passion that has gone into building a series from scratch, and everything that goes along with that (becoming a non-profit, forming a board, learning about grants and marketing, etc.), has all been driven by my love for the art form, and how to make it relevant to our ever-changing audience, especially the audience here in Miami...

Michael Brofman: Libby Larsen in Context

Next Saturday, the Brooklyn Art Song Society will present the third installment of its new music series In Context. The purpose of In Context is to present the works of living composers alongside ‘standard’ repertoire with the goal of showing continuity instead of contrast. Art song is especially well equipped to...

Read more


Dr Robert Holst: The Curious Case of H.H. Holmes

H. H. Holmes (aka Herman Mudgett) earned the distinction of being one of the first, if not the most prolific, of America’s serial killers. After having credited several murder victims to his account, Holmes opened a hotel in Chicago during the...

Read more

Our featured Videos:

A teaser for our latest podcast - Excerpts from the Motown project by Alicia Hall Moran.


Login | Register