Sparks Commissions

Through a two tiered system of commissions by request and application, Sparks Commissions  funds the creation of new art song, with a preference for active collaborations between poet and composer, developing the work through residency, workshop and premiere.  Our hope is to bring exciting new music into the world of art song, encouraging multimedia or interdisciplinary approaches that could include things like digital artwork, theatrical effects, and even the possibility of experimental fashion design that might focus on an overarching theme for a given recital. This new music will be premiered on the Casement Fund Song Series in NYC.  Our growing number of satellite presenters will then present performances of the commissioned pieces around the world.  Our composers will also have the option to have their score published and sold through Sparks & Wiry Cries, and we will seek funding to record for digital release.  Our vision is that through this kind of global approach to creation, we can make sure that new works receive multiple performances and are given every opportunity to thrive.    




Mortality Mansions

World Premiere

The James Room, Barnard Hall
March 30, 2017 at 7:00pm

Free admission

For the 2016-2017 season, Sparks Commissions will premier Mortality Mansions, a song cycle composed by Grammy Award winner Herschel Garfein with poetry by Donald Hall, the 2006 Poet Laureate of the United States, in partnership with both the Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Department of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University.  We are thrilled to expand the vision of art song to include these visionary partners.  Building on the humanistic curriculum of the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia and the interests of the Heyman Center for the Humanities, the song cycle explores themes of love, sexuality, and bereavement in old age.  The commission of Mortality Mansions is made possible by a generous anonymous donation.

On March 30th, 2017, renowned tenor Michael Slattery and Metropolitan Opera pianist Dimitri Dover will premiere the cycle in the James Room at Barnard College.  Further performances will follow on the lecture series of Dr. Rita Sharon, the director of Columbia University's Narrative Medicine Program, as well as at Bucknell University, inaugurating an annual collaboration with Sparks Commissions.




Composer Herschel Garfein




Poet Donald Hall





Many thanks to the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University for their partnership as well as Barnard College for the generous use of the James Room.


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