Love Songs for the World by Jan Jezioro

Soprano Tiffany DuMouchelle offers an international view of love

This past January, soprano Tiffany DuMouchelle, a faculty member of the Department of Music at the University of Buffalo, had a sold-out three-night stand in the intimate back room at the Allen Street Hardware Café. Her innovative and entertaining cabaret style performance, accompanied on the piano by Roland Martin, displayed another side of this talented and versatile singer who has gained a national reputation as an interpreter of the most challenging modern and contemporary classical music.

Tiffany returns to the Allen Street Hardware Café for two solo performances at 8pm on Wednesday, July 19, and on Friday, July 21 of the song-cycle Love Songs by the contemporary Serbian-born composer Ana Sokolović, who has lived in Montreal for two decades. On Thursday, July 20 at 8 pm she will perform Love Songs in the Interior Art Gallery at Artpark in Lewiston.

Love Songs is a composition that a friend of mine brought to my attention a few years ago” says Tiffany DuMouchelle. “It’s a really a combination of all of the things I look for in a composition: it’s unusual in style and format, it offers me unique challenges as a performer, and most importantly, I like the story it tells. Love Songs is an unaccompanied extended composition for solo voice. I’ve called it an opera, but it could also be considered a dramatic song cycle of sorts. The primary theme is love. In as many ways as we experience love, there are just as many ways to say, ‘I love you’.

‘The composer, Ana Sokolović, sets multiple stories of love, sometimes clearly defined and sometimes abstractly portrayed, from the innocence of children to the exuberance of falling in love, and follows that love through its maturity into many joys, but also loss. One of the things that we all share in our experiences of being human is the capacity to love, and these stories belong to us all. What is unusual about this opera, is that the text is not in one language, but 100 languages. There are five primary languages, English, French, Serbian, Irish, and Latin, in which the concrete stories are laid out. Connecting the stories is a series of interludes, in which the text, ‘I love you’, is set in the remaining ninety-five languages. These interludes are comprised of abstract forms, invoking a wide variety of emotions that help to transition from one story to another. The singing style varies widely throughout the piece, from a lullaby to a wild aria, a child’s song to a lament. I was moved when I first heard this piece. It speaks not only to the universality of love but also to the incredible expressive possibilities of music”.

“My impetus for learning Love Songs was to perform this work as a fundraiser for the non-profit Cultures in Harmony, a cultural diplomacy group I’ve had the privilege to work with on numerous occasions. I am returning to Tunisia with Cultures in Harmony in August to work with the Atlas Summer Music Festival. With the present state of affairs, it is very difficult for many arts organizations to get the funding that they need to make outreach projects happen. I was asked by Cultures in Harmony to do what I could to help raise some money for our project, and I couldn’t think of a better project. The mission of Cultures in Harmony is to bring people together through music. Love Songs is just that, the story of people coming together and experiencing our humanity together. That is what music and love have in common”.

Admission to the Wednesday and Friday concerts at the Allen Street Hardware Café is $10, and a portion of the proceeds from these events will go to the not-for-profit Cultures in Harmony organization, The Friday, July 20 at Artpark is a fundraiser for Cultures in Harmony, and all proceeds will go to support the organization’s upcoming August musical outreach work in Tunisia. Suggested donation: $10.