Ep 29-Sharon Harms on Writing for the Voice

Ep 29-Sharon Harms on Writing for the Voice

Praised as “superb”, “luscious-toned”, “extraordinarily precise and expressive”, and “dramatically committed and not averse to risk” by the New York Times, young American soprano Sharon Harms is known for fearless performances and passionate interpretations of works new and old for the concert and operatic stage.

Sharon has premiered the music of some of today’s leading and up-and-coming composers and her repertoire spans a versatile spectrum of periods and styles. A wide array of collaborations have put Ms. Harms in venues around the world. She has sung with Alter Ego Ensemble, Baroque Band of Chicago, Center for Contemporary Opera, Da Capo Chamber Players, East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Mise-en, Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble Signal, New Chamber Ballet, New Fromm Players, Orchestra of the League of Composers, Pueblo Symphony Orchestra, Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Slee Sinfonietta, Southwest Chamber Ensemble, and Third Coast Percussion. She is also a member of the Argento Ensemble.

Ms. Harms has appeared as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, and as a guest artist at June in Buffalo, Los Angeles International New Music Festival, Radcliffe Institute, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Wellesley Composer’s Conference & Chamber Music Workshops, American Academy in Rome, and Resonant Bodies Festival.

Recording projects include a 2013 Latin Grammy nomination for Gabriela Ortiz’ Aroma Foliado with Southwest Chamber Ensemble, and a CD of new vocal works by Louis Karchin with Da Capo Chamber Players on Bridge Records. She will also be featured on various forthcoming recordings of new pieces by William Bolcom, John EatonJesse JonesLowell Liebermann, and Charles Wuorninen.

Recent projects and performances include the premiere of John Eaton’s The End of It with Eighth Blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with baritone Nathan Gunn and the Notre Dame Sacred Music program, and Charles Wuorinen’s cantata It Happens Like This with the MET Chamber Ensemble under James Levine. This summer, Ms. Harms appeared in a workshop of a new opera, The Artwork of the Future, with composer Eric Moe, librettist Rob Handel, and New Dramatists. She will also be featured in Jesse Jones’ new opera, Martin Eden, for a DVD release made possible by the Guggenheim Foundation.

Ms. Harms studied at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with Carol Vaness. During her time there she was the inaugural recipient of the Georgina Joshi Graduate Fellowship made possible by the generous gifts of the Georgina Joshi Foundation. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Northern Colorado and a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Indiana University.

In this episode Sharon discusses how composers can best write for the voice and what they need to know.

Other topics covered include:

  • Good vocal writing
  • The importance of really studying the voice
  • Knowing the repertoire
  • Building relationships with performers
  • Asking the right questions of performers
  • Things composers do that don’t help the performance


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