Frazelle: A Master Composer

Photo: Bo Huang

Kenneth Frazelle is a master composer and such an important voice in American music today.” And so, soprano Lindsay Kesselman shares her thoughts about the composer and his music as she prepares for the upcoming piano-vocal premiere of excerpts from Frazelle’s song cycle Energy in All Directions. On February 25, 2022, Kesselman joins pianist Lisa Withers in concert at the McGlothlin Center for the Arts at Emory and Henry College in Virginia.

Originally composed as a 32-minute cycle for voice and percussion ensemble, the nine-movement work premiered in fall 2021 at the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY). Written as part of the museum’s collaborative exhibit called “Energy in All Directions,” Frazelle’s work is based on contemporary poetry that was inspired by traditional Shaker objects paired with contemporary visual art. Kesselman premiered the work with the Sandbox Percussion Quartet. For this new version, Kesselman premieres three new piano-vocal settings of “Last Will and Testament,” “Not Here to Think About Furniture,” and “Sing.”

Kesselman continues. “It is such a gift to work with Ken. In its original version for soprano and percussion quartet, Ken created beautiful storytelling and drawing of characters through the work of nine different poets. He found their unique voices as well as their common themes, and the work Energy in All Directions which resulted takes the audience on a journey that is personal, intimate, clever, and wise. We emerge feeling heard in the unique struggles we face in the 21st century, but also connected to generations who struggled before us. It was such an honor to premiere this piece with the Sandbox Percussion Quartet at the Tang Teaching Museum. I am beyond thrilled that Ken agreed to create a soprano/piano version of three songs for me to share with pianist Lisa Withers at Emory and Henry College…It is the mark of a master composer that these two versions can exist, each with their own unique timbres and colors, but with the core of the music unchanged and shining through.”