posted December 12, 2002

CD Features Art Songs by Women Composers

Art songs by women composers from the 1700s to the present are featured on compact disc developed by and featuring the vocal talents of Linda Dykstra of the Hope College music faculty.

Titled "Treasures: Little-Known Songs by Women Composers," and released earlier this month, the recording features a variety of compositional styles, and includes 30 works by 10 composers. Most of the works are in English, with some in German or Italian.

The composers included on the compact disc range from Louise Reichardt (1779-1826), whose father had been director of music for Frederick the Great of Prussia, to Libby Larsen (1950-), a contemporary American composer whose "Cowboy Songs" include "Bucking Bronco" with text by Belle Starr and "Billy the Kid."

Art songs are self-contained compositions -- as opposed to excerpts from larger operatic works -- for a solo vocalist accompanied by an instrument. Dykstra's interest in researching, teaching and performing such songs by women composers has grown in the past five years, since she joined the Hope faculty and started performing music by women for the college's Women's Week in February and March.

Through the compact disc she hopes to preserve and build awareness of a body of literature that is relatively unknown and has often been unrecorded. Her work on the project included research into the lives of the composers. The liner notes include both the songs' lyrics and biographical sketches of the 10 women whose works are presented.

Three members of the Hope music faculty accompany Dykstra: pianist Joan Conway, professor emerita of music, who taught at Hope from 1969 to 2001; violinist Mihai Craioveanu, professor of music; and cellist Richard Piippo, associate professor of music. Dykstra co-produced the recording with John Erskine, who is a lecturer in music and recording arts manager at the college.

In addition to Larsen and Reichardt, the composers featured on the compact disc are: Marion Bauer (1882-1955), Amy Cheney Beach (1867-1944), Carrie Jacobs Bond (1862- 1946), Katherine K. Davis (1892-1980), Madeline Dring (1923- 77), Eleanor Everest Freer (1864-1942), Alma Schindler Mahler (1879-1964) and Clara Kathleen Rogers (1844-1931).

The compact disc is available at the Hope-Geneva Bookstore located on the ground level of the college's DeWitt Center and at Holland Compact Disc in downtown Holland, as well as through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

A native of Hingham, Wis., Dykstra came to Hope in 1997 from Maryland, where her teaching time was divided between private voice students at her Columbia, Md., voice studio, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Loyola College. Since coming to West Michigan she has also taught at Grand Valley State University in Allendale.

In March of 1997, she received the Voice Teacher of the Year Gold Medallion presented by the Rosa Ponselle Foundation, established in honor of the famed opera singer in her adopted hometown of Baltimore, Md.

Dykstra spent seven years in Germany, where she studied voice, performed with the Kleines Opern Ensemble Berlin, and sang numerous lieder recitals and concerts, including a recital of Richard Strauss Lieder for the composer's family at his villa in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and a performance of Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" at the Berliner Philharmonic.

In addition to oratorio and recital performances, she is a frequent adjudicator at vocal/ensemble festivals, and has conducted masterclasses for choral groups and secondary-level vocal music teachers and students, as well as for the Maryland Music Educators Association State Convention. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in music from the University of Maryland.

Some of her students' awards include the Helen Hayes Award, Palm Beach Opera Competition Finalist, NAACP AACTSO winner, and many NATS and Rosa Ponselle Competition winners.

Funding for the project was provided by the Nokomis Foundation of Grand Rapids. The Nokomis Foundation strives to make a difference in the lives of women and girls, primarily by advocating for women-friendly policies, celebrating women's accomplishments, instilling economic self-sufficiency, promoting healthy choices and seeking new opportunities to create a stronger voice for them. The foundation primarily funds grants in the Kent-Ottawa-Allegan County area.

Additional funding was provided from the college through the Marjorie Den Uyl Summer Grant fund. The fund is designed to support members of the music faculty in their efforts to enrich their music performance or teaching.