For five weeks every year since 2003, as spring unwinds into summer, the beautiful campus of Pepperdine University, nestled in the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu (California), becomes the home of SongFest. The name suggests a festival of song, which it is, or eventually becomes – as Day 1 rolls on to Days 2, 3, 4 and so on. Actually it starts life more as a boot camp where young professional singers and gifted would-be singers and pianists learn the nitty-gritty of the ART SONG under the tutelage of artists of the highest level.
This unique art form that weds poetry with classical music is thought to have reached the zenith of perfection in the days of the 19th century’s great romantic composers (Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Mahler, Wolf to name a few). Rightly or wrongly, devotees through the years have feared that its days were numbered, and the art form would inevitably be consigned to the realm of the esoteric. But thanks to composers like Jake Heggie and Ricky Ian Gordon (who are among SongFest’s renowned mentors and whom FanFaire had the honor of interviewing during SongFest 2007), it has received a new leash on life and flourishes today – but of course, with a distinctly American “flavor.”
In this video interview, Jake Heggie shares his thoughts about SongFest and the important role it plays in nourishing the Art of Song today, as well as his new-found optimism about the future of opera and song.
SongFest is directed by Rosemary Hyler Ritter.