Artists relish incubation time. In 1998, American soprano Kendra Colton commissioned Welsh composer Andy Vores to write a collection of songs for her appearance on the Boston Celebrity Series. The success of that premiere, The Reckless Heart, inspired the notion that someday the collection would anchor a recording project.
Colton has cultivated a career known for its tremendous versatility over the past 25 years. Now assistant professor of singing at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Colton is also an Oberlin graduate. Originally trained as a pianist, she didn’t start studying voice until her second year at Oberlin. She is adept at a wide range of repertoire, and has developed a niche in oratorio and sacred works from Bach to Brahms, has given acclaimed performances of Handel and Mozart operas, and is recognized for her interpretation of contemporary chamber music and championing of little-known works written in the last century.
In 2013, Colton joined forces with longtime collaborator and former Oberlin classmate Kayo Iwama to record the remarkable set of songs by Vores in Oberlin’s Clonick Hall and recording studio. Iwama is associate director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
The five songs of The Reckless Heart are linked, in the words of Vores, by their “sense of a life lived, of experience gained, and of the unstoppable succession of events which make living reckless.”
They are brilliantly curated with standout works by three other composers whose creations share Vores’ British Isle roots: Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs, Ivor Gurney’s Five Elizabethan Songs and “Down by the Salley Gardens,” completed with Benjamin Britten’s “The Salley Gardens” and On This Island.
Britten’s centennial birth year in 2013 naturally inclined Colton to record On This Island and therefore helped set the British theme of the CD. Colton exercised sentiment in her choice of Barber’s Hermit Songs—his settings of Medieval Irish texts she has loved since childhood. Her altruistic sensibilities, to make sure the art songs of Ivor Gurney are heard, motivated their inclusion in the project.
The Reckless Heart is now available through select retailers and digital music channels worldwide. Learn more at oberlin.edu/oberlinmusic. Oberlin Music is the official recording label of Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is distributed by Naxos of America.
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