Next Tuesday, American tenor Lawrence Brownlee will appear at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in a song recital with pianist Myra Huang. They will perform two song cycles: 2018's Cycles of my Being by composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrence Hayes, and Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe (A Poet's Love) from 1840. In a preview of the recital with Cara Lieurance, Brownlee discusses both works in passionate detail.
Cycles Of My Being was created by Brownlee, Sorey and Hayes, all African-American men, as they examined their existences as members of a society which often displays hatred and fear toward them. Brownlee quotes the first line of the first song in the cycle: "America - I hear you hiss and stare / Do you love the air in me / As I love the air in you?" And even though he is a celebrated bel canto tenor specializing in Italian opera, Brownlee set a goal for himself to perform a German song cycle in recital, partly inspired by the recordings of Fritz Wunderlich. While working in Germany recently, he sought out a teacher who shared stories about the history and poetry of Schumann's Dichterliebe. His concert in Kalamazoo will follow the same program he performs in Carnegie Hall, New York on April 24.