The Schubert Club and composer Libby Larsen are throwing a musical fête at noon CT on January 7 in celebration of her birthday. The online concert is free and features an hour of Larsen’s music. For details, visit The Schubert Club.
We caught up with Larsen as she talks about her connections with NATS over the years, as well as a few tips for aspiring musicians.
First off, tell us all about your upcoming celebratory birthday concert! What’s this about wolves?!
Over the past 50 years of my composing life, The Schubert Club, a concert presenting organization in Saint Paul, Minnesota, has been a constant and steadfast friend. I couldn’t be more thrilled that they are presenting a birthday concert of my work! We’ve put together an hour-long virtual, video-infused experience performance of six of my pieces. There’s “Flour on the Floor,” composed in 1983, “The Peculiar Case of HH Holmes” for baritone, piano and illustrations, and three works composed this year, 2020, including “Wolf Song in Los Angeles” for voice, Canadian wolves (pre-recorded), vibraphone and bass.
That sounds fascinating! Tell us about your connection with NATS over the years
Since my undergraduate days in the 1970s, I’ve been part of NATS community. In my undergraduate days when I was studying voice, I was of course involved with NATS, as an aspiring singer. These days, I compose for the human voice in many genres including art song, opera and choral music. I can’t imagine our world without NATS. We are a community — long live NATS!
Birthdays are a great opportunity to reflect. As you look forward to this celebration, what memories float to the top? Are there special moments from your career that always make you smile?
Two treasured experiences come to mind. One is the almost indescribable experience of being in the same rehearsal room, working with extraordinary artists such as Arlene Auger, Benita Valente, Rod Gilfry, and William Sharp. The energy is brilliant, the air is harmonious, the artistry lifts you right off the ground. Another experience that always makes me smile? I smile inside and out when I am privileged to be invited into the studio of a fine teacher working with one of their students on one of my songs. The moment is sacred. There’s nothing like it.
Sounds very gratifying, indeed. Speaking of students, what advice do you give young musicians who are looking to pursue music as their career? What about young composers specifically? Any tips?
Take yourself seriously and support your talent with everything it needs for it to grow and flourish. Surround yourself with trusted mentors and hold them close. Understand that music is a profession, made up of many careers and make yourself curious, honest, and willing to discover what each aspect of music can bring to your artistry. Music is about relationships — pure and simple — relationships with people you know and people you will never know, but who will know you through the music you make. Just keep centered, focused, and humble.
Great advice. Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say again how much I value NATS is in creating and nurturing our community of vocal artists.
Thank you, Libby, we value you too!
To watch “Happy Birthday, Libby Larsen! – Virtual Courtroom Concert,” visit The Schubert Club online.
Thursday, January 7 at 12 p.m. Central
Sonja Thompson & Mary Jo Gothmann, piano duo
VocalEssence Ensemble Singers
Raspberry Island Dreaming
Clara Osowski, mezzo soprano; Tyler Wottrich, piano
Philip Brunelle, organ
The Peculiar Case of HH Holmes
Florestan Recital Project: Aaron Engebreth, baritone; Alison d’Amato, piano
Four on the Floor
Minneapolis Artists Ensemble
Wolf Song in Los Angeles
Clara Osowski, mezzo soprano; David Hagedorn, vibes; Gordy Johnson, bass