A Standing Ovation for the Ohio Premiere of Melissa Dunphy’s Song Cycle “Hervararkviða”

Søren Niedziella - Abion Valkirja Viking Sword 5 - Kopi resized
Photo: Søren Niedziella/Creative Commons/Flickr

It was a great honor to sing the Ohio premiere of Philadelphia-based composer Melissa Dunphy’s song set Hervararkviða – The Incantation of Hervor – with harpist Jeanne Norton and violinist Laura Koh Sunday afternoon at Capital University’s Huntington Recital Hall, Columbus.

Commissioned by mezzo-soprano Maren Montalbano for her recording Sea Tangle: Songs from the North, the three songs in Hervararkviða tell the story of Hervor, a young Viking woman who dresses up like a man, changes her name to its male equivalent – Hervarth, and leaves her village to journey to the burial mound where her father was laid to rest after dying in battle and claim his sword as her birthright.

Scored for Montalbano’s specified instrumentation, Dunphy’s songs treat the voice and each of the instruments in unconventional ways to stunning dramatic effect.  They are an extraordinary contribution to the art song repertory.

Yesterday’s performance of Hervararkviða was presented by Women in Music Columbus and was the conclusion of a concert consisting of works selected from among those submitted in response to Women in Music Columbus’ biennial Call for Scores from women composers.

I was greatly touched by yesterday’s generous audience, which gave our performance of these incredible songs a standing ovation.

For more about Hervararkviða, listen to my interview with Melissa Dunphy which I conducted for Classical 101, WOSU Public Media.

My collaborators and I are planning future performances of these songs.  Keep watching Inner Voices for details.

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