Chester Biscardi Selected Song

This collection is a selection of individual songs as well as excerpts from three song cycles. It is as much a songbook for singers as it is a testament to my collaborations with innovative writers and exceptional performers. The Gift of Life (1990-1993), written for soprano Judith Bettina and pianist James Goldsworthy, is based on texts by Emily Dickinson, Denise Levertov and Thornton Wilder. These songs speak about birth, life, memory, loss, death, and, finally, love. I don’t think I would have been able to write that cycle if I had not worked with the libretto—and the characters that emerged from it—of Tight-Rope (1985), my chamber opera written with Henry Butler about a poet’s search for identity and the risk involved not only in the search but in being true to the discovery. In other songs I set to music the words of Allen Ginsberg, Sheldon Harnick, Muriel Rukeyser and Carl Sandburg. From 1997-2002 I collaborated with William Zinsser on Modern Love Songs, a cycle that reflected our shared passion for the American Songbook. These songs sit somewhere between cabaret/standard tunes and the contemporary art song. And, finally, Sailors & Dreamers (2007-2010), written with Shirley Kaplan, pays tribute to the tides and the currents that carry us forward to the new and the unexpected. —Chester Biscardi

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