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Annual Shutz Lecture will combine scholarship and song

Mon, 01/27/2020

Professor of Voice Julia Broxholm

LAWRENCE — The craft of musical composition and the art of performance will blend for the annual Shutz Lecture at the University of Kansas. Julia Broxholm, professor of voice, will discuss a challenging work by French composer Gabriel Fauré and then perform the work during the lecture at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Swarthout Recital Hall of Murphy Hall. All are welcome to attend this free event.

Broxholm, who also directs the Division of Voice in the School of Music, was honored with the Byron T. Shutz Award for Excellence in Teaching at the annual KU Teaching Summit held at the beginning of the fall semester. Her presentation will be “An Examination of Gabriel Fauré’s Late Song Cycle, 'La Chanson d’Ève,' From the Performer’s Perspective.” After offering her observations, Broxholm will be joined by pianist Russell Miller, with whom she regularly appears in recital, to perform the work.

Broxholm said she was drawn to the composer and this particular work as a culmination of her research focus as she approaches retirement. Fauré is a late 19th- and early 20th-century French composer, known for the opera “Pénélope” as well as chamber music and choral works. The song cycle, an excellent example of Fauré’s late compositional style, includes 10 songs using the poetry of Charles Van Lerberghe, Broxholm said.

“The harmonic language is less adventurous than in (Fauré’s) earlier songs, and there is more contrapuntal writing, most often featuring at least two voices in the piano part, with the vocal line superimposed over the top,” she said.

The work, which roughly translates to “The Song of Eve,” flirts with both religious beliefs and secular views. The cycle presents Eve as a representation of woman experiencing the world, rather than as a religious figure, yet also incorporates the role of God in ambiguous ways.

“The late song cycles of this composer are regarded by singers as major vocal and musical challenges,” Broxholm said. “When I received the teaching award, I immediately thought of this work, first because it was so enticing to have another opportunity to perform it, and second, because in my first performance, I focused primarily on the performance. Now I can focus on the genesis of the work, what influenced Fauré, the religious climate at the time and the growing importance of music in France as a premier form of artistic expression.”

The program begins at 3:30 p.m. A reception for Broxholm will follow at 4:30 p.m. in the lobby.

Broxholm maintains a versatile schedule of solo and chamber music performances. A soprano, she is a founding member of SATB, a vocal quartet specializing in vocal chamber music of the 19th and 20th centuries. Her particular area of interest as a recitalist is vocal literature by American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Her performances with SATB have taken her from the Cayman Islands International Music Festival to Severance Hall of Cleveland, and Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music. 

Recordings include two releases with SATB: “Magic” and “It’s a Grand Night — Four Singing.” She also has recorded two CDs of soprano and clarinet repertoire with clarinetist Fred Ormand and pianist Martin Katz. “Of Shepherds, Romance and Love” features music of the 19th century, and “Transcendence” includes “Ariel” by Ned Rorem and “To Be Sung Upon the Water” by Dominick Argento. 

Her most recent project is a 2016 recording of 20th- and 21st-century American song with Miller on the piano. The recording features works by Ned Rorem, John Duke, Amy Beach, Theodore Chanler, Richard Hundley and “The Soul Fox,” a song cycle by Lori Laitman, and was commissioned by Reach Out Kansas Inc., for Broxholm and Miller.

She earned a doctor of musical arts, a master of music and bachelor of music, all from the University of Michigan. Broxholm’s early training included advanced piano and violin study. After completing her master’s degree in voice performance, she spent 20 years as a performing artist in opera, oratorio and recital. She was highly praised by the composer for her performance in Dave Brubeck’s “La Fiesta de la Posada.” During this period she established a successful career as an instructor of voice on the faculty of several liberal arts colleges and also in a private studio. She joined the KU faculty in 2005.

Accompanist Russell Miller, a longtime friend and collaborator of Broxholm’s, is a distinguished faculty member at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and a specialist in American song.

The Byron T. Shutz Award, established in 1978, recognizes distinguished teaching by a KU faculty member. Each year the award alternates between honoring outstanding teaching in any discipline and teaching in the fields of economics and business.



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