Art Song Coalition

We aim to provide a forum for musicians to connect around the genre of art song as a living, evolving form.  The idea of “art song” began in the 19th Century as a Eurocentric genre with poetic text for a singer accompanied by the piano. Art song has developed into a form that defies an agreed-upon definition. It is a genre that has and will continue to evolve as long as words and music are joined.

Commentary by Ned Rorem

“What, you may well ask, is an art song? I myself had composed dozens before ever hearing the term, and suddenly realized—like the Molière character who learns he's been speaking prose all his life—how clever I'd been. Yet then as now I mistrusted the term, found it pompous, never used it. For "art song" is not a description but an opinion, defensively American, coined to distinguish the genre—in kind if not in quality—from "pop song."

- The American Art Song from 1930 to 1960: A Personal Survey by Ned Rorem.

Definition from Lori Laitman

“An artsong is a song that sets words to music using compositional techniques that stem from the classical tradition. The text can come from a variety of sources: poems, letters, a libretto, a speech, etc.

The majority of artsongs have been scored for voice with collaborative piano. However, more than one voice can be used; any instrument(s) can accompany the voice; and if desired, the voice(s) can sing without accompaniment.”

Origin of term and definition from Oxford English Dictionary

“art song  n.  [after German Kunstlied (1837 or earlier); compare earlier Kunstlied n. at Kunst n. e] a song composed with a view to aesthetic or artistic effect, typically a setting of a poem for solo voice with piano accompaniment; cf. Lied n.
   - Oxford English Dictionary,             

The members of the NATS Art Song Coalition agree that in its resistance to being defined, art song invites the innovation that is essential for living art form.  We aim to foster this innovation, while serving as stewards of the works that make up the canon of this genre, which positions the blending of text and music at the fore. Perhaps Libby Larsen, one of our great modern composers of the genre, says it best:

"Artsong is one of our most vital and communicative musical genres – it flows and carries with it the language of our changing times.”
- Libby Larsen
Art Song Update,

The Art Song Coalition aims to:

  • provide a place for people to learn about and hear unfamiliar music as well as connect with people around art song as a living, evolving form
  • facilitate mentorship between experienced composers and new composers with a focus on diversity in the backgrounds of both mentors and mentees
  • inspire collaboration between singers, instrumentalists and composers
  • highlight the works of under-represented artists, both new and old.
  • foster awareness of art song at the pre-college level
  • encourage thoughtful and sensitive programming that imagines innovative ways to showcase the breadth and depth of the art song genre
  • create accessibility to under-served communities and demographics by eliminating connotative “high-brow only” associations
  • work in tandem with other NATS Committees in recognition of those places where our work intersects

                                    Advocacy Committee

                                    NATS Art Song Competition Award Committee

                                    Mentoring Initiatives Committee

                                    Auditions and Competitions Committee


Tom Cipullo and Lori Laitman have generously offered to create a program in which they, Juliana Hall, Anthony Davis and additional experienced composers to be named, provide a year of mentorship for young composers of art song.  In this inaugural year, we will choose African American composers as mentees. More information to come.

Art Song Coalition Committee 

Nicole Leupp Hanig, Chair  
Victoria Holland
Eric Brown
Tom Cipullo
Katherine Jolly
Matt Boehler
Samuel Martin
Patrice Michaels
Evan Mack
Carl DuPont
Elizabeth Avery
André Chiang
Kurt Erickson
David Mannell
Melissa Givens
D. Brian Lee
Karen Brunssen, Past President


Art Song Coalition Committee Advisors
Lori Laitman
Darryl Taylor
Glendower Jones
Carol Mikkelson