Research Works: On Exile and Solitude – A Survey of South African Art Song
Dr Nico de Villiers (Guildhall School)
One of the genres that comprise the different musics of South Africa is that of the art song. Imported through its European heritage, the art song has found a place in the portfolios of South African composers throughout the 20th century. However, against the backdrop of its complicated history, the intimacy of South Africa’s art songs often seems to translate into concepts of exile, inner struggle and nostalgia.
By the nature of their craft, the poet and composer are in self-imposed exile. The genre which perhaps above all genres highlights this solitude the most is the composition of art song. The creation of art song is an intimate process, from its inception to performance. The poet writes his verse alone; the composer absorbs the text through repeated recitation to then set out in shaping the cartography of the poem through music. Only once the singer-pianist duo prepares and performs the songs (itself a subtle process balanced between separated solitude and intimate collaboration) do the poet and composer return to the stage of an intimate concert hall.
Through analysis, comparative study and philosophical discourse, this presentation will consider themes of solitude, longing and exile focusing on three selected collections of art songs by three living South African composers.
Admission free but booking required