© 2019 by Justin Vickers.

The Recital Hall

 

In recital, Vickers has made the music of Benjamin Britten a mainstay of his repertory, incorporating new cycles every season. Recent concerts have included Britten’s Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo and Winter Words, with additional performances of The Holy Sonnets of John Donne and Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente. The tenor has given numerous performances of Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and the Nocturne for tenor and seven obligato instruments, as well as Canticle I — My Beloved is Mine, Canticle II — Abraham and Isaac, and Canticle III — Still falls the Rain. Furthermore, marking the Centenary of Peter Pears in 2010, Vickers gave a celebratory concert that included a performance of Britten’s The Heart of the Matter, with Edith Sitwell’s interleaved poetry recited by the esteemed tenor Jerold Siena. Vickers is committed to programming the vast array of literature performed by Britten and Pears from the period of the 1930s to the 1970s.

Vickers is especially proud to be singing Britten’s The Poet’s Echo in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in February 2020, performing Peter Pears’s English-language translation. While the cycle is typically performed in Pushkin’s Russian and sung by sopranos, Pears performed the cycle a number of times singing his own translation.

Upcoming recital engagements include Tippett’s Boyhood’s End and The Heart’s Assurance, and a mainstay in his recitals, Franz Liszt’s Tre sonetti di Petrarca, in addition to future concerts of Dvorak’s Ciganské Melodie, Schoenberg’s Vier Lieder, Op. 2, and Joaquín Turina’s Homenaje a Lope de Vega. In the 2011-2012 season, Vickers premièred Ke-Chia Chen’s Three Frost Songs with pianist R. Kent Cook. The tenor was thrilled to appear in Philadelphia for the world première of Tony Solitro’s War Wedding, a tour de force song cycle commissioned by Vickers and based on the poetry cycle of Alun Lewis. Vickers also performed Alexander Zhurbin’s Three Shakespeare Madrigals in the Bolshoi Saal of Moscow’s Dom Aktor, accompanied by the composer. During the same season, Vickers continued his performance of Shakespeare settings performing on The Shakespeare Concerts series of Joseph Summer in Boston, with pianist Ian Watson and the Kalmia String Quartet. After the concerts, the artists entered Worcester’s Mechanics Hall to record various tracks that will be released on forthcoming albums (Parma Recordings / Navona Records).

The tenor is proud to have performed in The Songs of Franz Schubert: A Six-Year Cycle with renowned pianist John Wustman, and has also given national performances of Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes (also recorded in New York City for the film Four Hands) and the Zigeunerlieder with pianist and eminent Brahms scholar Lucien Stark.

 

World Première Songs, Song Cycles, and Commissions of Song Cycles

 

  • Benjamin Britten’s “Epilogue” to The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35 (Composed 1945; Premièred 2011) †

† World première and discovery by Justin Vickers

“Perchance he for whom this bell tolls”

  • Chinese Songs (Formal title TBD; Music by Colin Matthews, Poetry from Chinese Antiquity in translations by Arthur  Waley; 2018–2019) †

† Commissioned in memory of his late father, John E. Vickers (1942–2017), and Premièred by Justin Vickers

† First performance on 26 February 2019 of “Three Chinese Songs” from the as-yet incomplete forthcoming song cycle

I. “The Valley Wind” (Lu Yün, 4th century CE)

II. “New Corn” (T’ao Chi’en, 365–427 CE)

III. “Flowers and Moonlight on the Spring River” (Emperor Yang-ti, 560–618)

  • Secret Songs (Music by Zachary Wadsworth, Uranian Poetry by Edward Carpenter; 2017) †

† Composed for and Premièred by Justin Vickers at The Red House for the Britten-Pears Foundation’s 2017 Exhibition on the 1967 “Decriminalization” of Homosexuality, Aldeburgh, England: Queer Talk: Homosexuality in Britten’s Britain

† Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “I am a voice” (Edward Carpenter)

II. “Summer-heat”

III. “Cradled in flame”

IV. “Home”

V. “Through and through”

VI. “Self-conscious”

  • Same-Heart Knot (Music by Tony Solitro for tenor and guitar, Ancient Chinese Poetry; 2018) †

† Composed for and Upcoming Première by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “Meeting in the road” (Anonymous, first century BCE)

II. “Plucking the rushes” (Anonymous, fourth century CE)

III. “The bright moon” (Anonymous) and “Winter night” (Emperor Ch’ien Wen-ti of Liang, sixth century CE)

IV. “The letter” (Po Chü-I, 772–846)

V. “Crossing the river” (Anonymous) and “People hide their love” (Emperor Wu-ti, 464–549)

  • Same-Heart Knot (Music by Tony Solitro for tenor and piano, Ancient Chinese Poetry; 2018) †

† Composed for and Upcoming Première by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

  • Apollo’s Lament (Music by Thomas Schuttenhelm, text complied from Ovid, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Hilda Doolittle; A Cantata for Tenor and Guitar; 2016) †

† Composed for and Upcoming Première by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

“I am the eye with which the universe beholds itself”

  • Ode to Music (Music by Thomas Schuttenhelm for tenor and guitar, text by Peter Pears; 2018–2019) †

† Composed for and Upcoming Première by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

“Perhaps it is because I always see”

  • Songs from a War Journal (Music by Martha Horst, wartime diary texts from Siegfried Sassoon; 2015) †

† Composed for and Upcoming Première by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “Writing this in a tiny dugout” (Siegfried Sassoon)

II. “It was raining”

III. “Blaze of Lights”

IV. “Sunday Night”

V. “The List”

VI. “Thursday, 1916”

  • “it wasn’t supposed to be like this” (Music and text by Roy Magnuson, for tenor, piano, and electronics; 2016) †

† Composed for and Premièred by Justin Vickers for a Music and Politics event in late-October 2016, prior to the Hillary Clinton–Donald Trump presidential election

  • Two Songs on Texts by Oscar Wilde (Music by Timothy J. Bowlby, text by Oscar Wilde; 2017) †

† Composed for and Upcoming Première by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “Hélas!” – “To drift with every passion”

II. “E Tenebres” – “Come down, O Christ, and help me!”

  • Amore cieco (Music by Jonathan Green, text by Michelangelo Buonarroti; 2015) †

† Composed for and Premièred by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “Perch’all’estremo ardore”

II. “Ben tempo saria omai ritrarsi dal martire”

III. “Veggio co’ be’ vostr’occhi un dolce lume”

  • War Wedding (Music by Tony Solitro, text by Alun Lewis; 2011) †

† Commissioned and Premièred by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “The Vigil: He lies awake in the barrack room, fearful she will not come” (Alun Lewis)

II. “The Vigil: She tarries, far-off, in a strange anguish”

III. “He gives her Botticelli’s Birth of Venus as a Wedding Gift”

IV. “The Marriage Bed”

V. “They part at daybreak, returning their inevitable ways”

VI. “She remains”

  • Songs of Hadrian (Music by John David Earnest, text by Arch Brown; 2015) †

† Composed for and Premièred by Justin Vickers; Dedicated to Justin Vickers

I. “Hadrian’s Prayer” (Arch Brown)

II. “Hadrian’s Love Song”

III. “Hadrian’s Ecstasy”

IV. “Hadrian’s Sorrow”

          V. “Hadrian’s Madness”

  •  “How all occasions do inform against me” (Music by Joseph Summer, text by William Shakespeare, from Hamlet, IV, iv) †

          † Premièred  and Recorded by Justin Vickers

  • “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” (Music by Roy Magnuson, American hymn tune) †

† Composed for and Premièred by Justin Vickers

  • Three Frost Songs (Music by Ke-chia Chen, text by Robert Frost; 2011) †

          † Premièred by Justin Vickers

          I. “Now Close the Window”

          II. “Storm Fear”

          III. “To the Thawing Rain”

Standard Repertoire

Samuel Barber

  • Despite and Still

  • “Three Songs,” Op. 45

Ludwig van Beethoven

  • An die ferne Geliebte

  • “Adelaide”

Alban Berg

  • Sieben frühe Lieder

Arthur Bliss

  • Elegiac Sonnet

Benjamin Britten

  • Seven Michelangelo Sonnets

  • Holy Sonnets of John Donne

  • Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings

  • Nocturne for tenor and seven obbligato instruments

  • Winter Words

  • Quatre chansons françaises

  • Sechs Hölderlin-Fragmente

  • Songs from the Chinese

  • Canticle I – “My beloved is mine”

  • Canticle II – “Abraham and Isaac”

  • Canticle III – “Still falls the Rain”

  • Canticle IV – “The Journey of the Magi”

  • Canticle V – “The Death of Saint Narcissus”

  • Who are these children?

  • A Poet’s Echo

Johannes Brahms

  • Zigeunerlieder

  • Liebeslieder Wältzen

John Carter

  • Cantata

Jean Cras

  • L’offrande lyrique

  • Fontaines

Antonín Dvořák

  • Čigánski Melodie

  • “Four Love Songs,” Op. 73

  • “Four Songs,” Op. 82

John David Earnest

  • Songs of Hadrian (2014)

Gabriel Fauré

  • Poème d’un jour

  • La bonne chanson

Gerald Finzi

  • A Young Man’s Exhortation

John Harbison

  • The Gatsby Songs

Franz Liszt

  • Tre sonetti di Petrarca

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Konzert-arie: Misero! O sogno, o son desto

  • Konzert-arie: Per pieta, non ricercate

Francis Poulenc

  • Tel jour telle nuit

Roger Quilter

  • To Julia

Arnold Schoenberg

  • “Vier Lieder,” Op. 2

Franz Schubert

  • Winterreise

  • Die schöne Müllerin

Robert Schumann

  • Dichterliebe

  • Liederkreis, Op. 24

Tony Solitro

  • War Wedding (2011)

Richard Strauss

  • “Vier Lieder,” Op. 27

Arthur Sullivan

  • The Window, or the Songs of the Wren

Michael Tippett

  • Boyhood’s End

  • The Heart’s Assurance

  • Songs for Ariel

Joaquín Turina

  • Homenaje á Lope de Vega

  • Poema en forma de canciones

William Walton

  • Anon in Love

Ralph Vaughan Williams

  • Four Hymns

  • On Wenlock Edge

  • Ten Blake Songs