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Voice Research

The faculty in the Department of Voice conduct a variety of research activities, of which the examples below are representative.

Timothy Cheek, Pianist/vocal coach, Lyric Diction teacher

Czech Vocal Music research

Books
  • Singing in Czech: A Guide to Czech Lyric Diction and Vocal Repertoire, with a foreword by Sir Charles Mackerras, Scarecrow Press, 2001; revised edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014 (Endorsed by Sir Charles Mackerras, John Tyrrell, Sir Andrew Davis, Martin Katz, Catherine Malfitano, Véronique Firkušný, Notes, Czech Music, and many others)
  • The Janáček Opera Libretti: Translations and Pronunciation:
    • Volume I: Příhody lišky Bystroušky, The Cunning Little Vixen, Scarecrow Press, 2003 (Endorsed by Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Thomas Allen, Robert Carsen, Sir Andrew Davis, Catherine Malfitano, and used by opera houses and singers worldwide)
    • Volume II: Kát’a Kabanová, Scarecrow Press, 2004 (Endorsed by Catherine Malfitano, Patricia Racette, and used by opera houses and singers worldwide)
    • Volume III: Jenůfa, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017 (Endorsed by Dina Kuznetsova, Sean Panikkar, Gregory Henkel, and used by opera houses and singers worldwide)
  • Rusalka: A Performance Guide with Translations and Pronunciation, Scarecrow Press, 2012 (Endorsed by Stephen West, Mark S. Doss, and used by opera houses and singers worldwide)
  • Prodaná nevěsta, The Bartered Bride: Performance Guide with Translations and Pronunciation, Scarecrow Press, 2009 (Endorsed by Craig Ruthenberg, Benton Hess, Stephen Dubberly, Helena Havlíková (in Czech Music Quarterly), and used by opera houses and singers worldwide)
  • Chapter “Navždy (Forever) Kaprálová: Reevaluating the Composer Through Her Songs” in The Kaprálová Companion, edited by Karla Hartl and Erik Entwistle, Lexington Books, 2011. Other contributors are Michael Beckerman (foreword), Judith Mabary, Erik Entwistle, Jindriška Bártová, and Karla Hartl. Nominated for the F. X. Šalda prize for Czech music history, 2011
Edited scores
  • Smutný večer [Sad evening] by Vítězslava Kaprálová, Czech Radio, Prague, 2016, orchestral song, with my own orchestration of the last missing eleven measures of the song
  • Smutný večer [Sad evening] by Vítězslava Kaprálová, Amos Editio, Prague, 2011, with my own piano transcription of this orchestral song
  • Compositions for violin and piano by Vítězslava Kaprálová, complete edition, with violinist Stephen Shipps, Amos Editio, Prague, 2008
  • Leden [January] by Vítězslava Kaprálová, Amos Editio, Prague, 2005
  • Písně [Songs] by Vítězslava Kaprálová, complete songs for voice and piano, Amos Editio, Prague, 2005
Articles
  • “Dvořák’s Dimitrij: Next in Line,” program notes for Odyssey Opera’s performance of the opera in Boston, 2016
  • Sad Evening, Great Discovery: Bringing to Light a New Song by Vítězslava Kaprálová,” The Kapralova Society Journal, Spring 2014
  • Introduction, translations, and IPA for Rusalka’s “Song to the Moon” and Smetana’s “Och, jaký žal! . . Ten lásky sen,” in Diction Coach: Arias for Soprano, Volume 2, an accompanying volume to G. Schirmer’s opera anthology. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard/New York: G. Schirmer, 2008
  • “Inflection and word setting in Czech vocal music,” Journal of Singing, January/February 2006
  • “Navždy (Forever) Kaprálová: Reevaluating Czech composer Vítězslava Kaprálová through her thirty songs,” The Kapralova Society Journal, Fall 2005
Recordings
  • Song of a Czech: Dvořák and Janáček for Men’s Voices Cantus (professional men’s chorus, hailed by Fanfare as the “premiere men’s vocal ensemble in the United States;” this was their fourteenth CD); David Beveridge, liner notes; Timothy Cheek, booklet translations; Timothy Cheek, primo piano, and Sonja Kaye Thompson, secondo piano, in Three Choruses for Male Voice and Piano Four Hands, by Dvořák, Cantus, 2013.Received highest rating in Harmonie, the Czech Republic’s main music magazine, saying: “Moreover, Czech listeners will certainly value their excellent Czech pronunciation—the language coach for the singers was Timothy Cheek, one of the most respected American specialists in Czech pronunciation, and furthermore, together with Sonja Kaye Thompson, also the interpreter of the piano accompaniment for Dvořák’s cycle Z Kytice národních písní slovanských.”
  • Navždy Kaprálová: Forever Kaprálová, The Songs of Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915–1940) Dana Burešová, soprano; Timothy Cheek, piano, Supraphon CD, 2003Nominated for the best Czech recording of 2003 by Harmonie Czech national music magazine; hailed by Fanfare, BBC Music Magazine, and many others; played regularly by radio stations worldwide; featured on BBC Radio, 2015; heard and cited on one episode of the TV series Mozart in the Jungle, 2016 (the series won the Golden Globe award that year).
Other
  • Organized the Kaprálová Festival 2015, University of Michigan, a week-long celebration held September 20–27 honoring the 100th birthday of Czech female composer Vítězslava Kaprálová (1915–1940). This was the fruition of many years of research, performing, recording, teaching, lecturing, writing, orchestrating, and planning. The festival received international attention (with a citation in the UK’s Telegraph, and an extensive article in the Czech Republic’s leading music journal Harmonie), and helped bring this worthy figure to the attention of students, the academic community, surrounding areas, and the world. The festival involved noted Czech lecturers; four recitals; an orchestra concert; a choral piece; performances by students, faculty, alumni, and guests (including the Ann Arbor Boychoir and children from the U-M Piano Pedagogy program); ten American premieres and six world premieres. Funding was awarded by UMOR, SMTD, CREES, and Women’s Studies.
  • Commissioned by Bard Music Festival, New York, to write word-for-word English translation and IPA of Dvořák’s grand opera Dimitrij, and to provide supertitles, for their production in 2017, a USA premiere of the fully-staged opera
  • Commissioned by Odyssey Opera, Boston, to write word-for-word English translation and IPA for the chorus of Dvořák’s Dimitrij, to help cast lead roles, to write program notes, and to provide supertitles, for their concert performance in 2016
  • Commissioned by San Francisco Opera to supply my word-for-word English translation and IPA of Janáček’s Jenůfa, for their production in 2016
  • Commissioned by San Francisco Opera and Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp to supply my word-for-word English translation and IPA of Janáček’s Věc Makropulos, for their separate productions in 2016
  • Commissioned by Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels to write a word-for-word English translation of Janáček’s Jenůfa, for their production in 2014
  • Commissioned by Opéra national du Rhin, Strasbourg, France, to write a word-for-word English translation of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, for their production with stage director Robert Carsen, 2013

Italian Lyric Diction research

Instructional DVD on Italian Lyric Diction, for singers, conductors, and vocal coaches. Besides my instruction, it includes a demonstration of all the sounds with renowned Italian baritone Alessandro Corbelli, computer animation by Steven Joslin, and interviews with Nico Castel, Donna Brunsma, David Adams, Anna Toccafondi, Gildo Di Nunzio, George Shirley, and Leonardo De Lisi. Release date goal of 2021.

Other Diction Projects

Series editor of Lyric Diction book series with Rowman & Littlefield; also wrote forewords for all three books to date:

  • Singing in Greek, by Lydía Zervanos, 2015
  • Singing in Polish, by Benjamin Schultz, 2016
  • Singing in Brazilian Portuguese, by Marcía Porter, 2017

Caroline Helton, Assoc. Prof. of Music (Voice)

My academic research and performance centers around music by Jewish composers whose lives were affected by the Holocaust and overcoming barriers to the performance of art songs by African American composers by singers of all racial backgrounds. I have received grant funding from UM Office of Research as well as the SMTD Faculty Research funds to support recordings of rare vocal music by Italian Jewish composers and travel to Italy to further my research and to perform for Italian audiences. As an Associate of the Frankel Center of Judaic Studies, I have been the recipient of many grants to help produce events promoting music by Jewish composers at the SMTD, and the SMTD office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has also supported my travel to conferences to speak about my work with Dr. Emery Stephens around opening up the art song literature of African American composers to wider, more diverse audiences in the academy.

Discography
  • 2017: La Tregua: Songs from a Lost World of Italian Jewish Composers, Vol. II, with Kathryn Goodson, piano, Blue Griffin Records. Music by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Guido Alberto Fano, Leone Sinigaglia, Renzo Massarani and Felice Boghen.
  • 2013: L’Infinito: Songs from a Lost World of Italian Jewish Composers, 1910-1945, with Kathryn Goodson, piano, Equilibrium Records. Music by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Guido Alberto Fano, Vittorio Rieti and Leone Sinigaglia.
  • 2010: Voices of the Holocaust, with Kathryn Goodson, piano, Block M Records. Music by Kurt Weill, Robert Kahn, Erich Korngold, Darius Milhaud and Oskar Morawetz.
Publications
  • Upcoming: Dr. Stephens and I are contributing a chapter on African American Art Song to a book by Randye Jones entitled So you Want to Sing Spirituals, the next installment of the National Association of Teachers of Singing So You Want to Sing… series.
  • 2013: “Diversifying the Playing Field: Solo Performance of African American Spirituals and Art Songs by Voice Students from All Racial Backgrounds,” co-authored with Dr. Emery Stephens, NATS Journal of Singing, Nov./Dec. 2013
  • 2007: “Singing Down the Barriers: Encouraging Singers of All Racial Backgrounds to Perform Music by African American Composers,” chapter co-authored with doctoral student Emery Stephens, in the volume entitled Scholarship of Multicultural Teaching and Learning in the series called New Directions in Teaching and Learning, Jossey-Bass, Fall 2007
Conferences
  • 2018: “Singing Down the Barriers: Benefits and Challenges of Integrating the Canon of American Art Song,” with Dr. Emery Stephens (University of Arkansas, Little Rock) and Jacob Clark, piano (Lamar University). Fourth Quadrennial Race & Pedagogy National Conference, Race & Pedagogy Institute at the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington: September 27-29″Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: L’ignoto Iconoclasta.” Performed a recital of rare solo vocal works by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Rome, Italy, June 12-14
  • 2016: “Intersections: Italy in Music, Art, Literature and Cinema.” Performed a recital of solo vocal music by Italian Jewish composers drawn from my two CDs with Kathryn Goodson, Florence, Italy, June 3-5
  • 2015: “Intersection and Inspiration: Johannes Brahms and His Influence on the Jewish Composers Robert Kahn and Leone Sinigaglia,” presentation at “Jewishness and the Arts: Music and Composers in 19th Century Europe,” Accademia Filarmonica Romana, sponsored by the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini, Rome, Italy, October 13-15
  • 2014: “Songs from a Lost World: Jewish Composers 1910-1945,” presentation at a symposium sponsored by the Garth Institute for Music Research and Performance (“Ethnicity, Femininity, and the History of Music”), University of Michigan, October 24
  • 2012: “Voices of the Italian Holocaust,” Recital at the conference for the American Association of Italian Studies (AAIS), University of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, May 3
Workshops Conducted
  • Upcoming: Dr. Emery Stephens and I will once again be teaching with the Song of America project in conjunction with Thomas Hampson’s residency with the Spokane Symphony in Spokane, Washington in February of 2019.
  •  “Beyond Liberty: Telling the Story of American History and Culture through Our Objects and Music (Song, Artifacts and Art),” Song of America Educators’ Workshop with Dr. Emery Stephens (University of Arkansas, Little Rock), Dr. Susan Key (Chapman University) and Kevin Gray (Fenimore Art Museum), sponsored by the Hampsong Foundation, Cooperstown, NY, August 16-17, 2018.
  • Residency at Whitman College: Lecture-Recital, Discussion Groups and Master Classes with Dr. Emery Stephens: “Singing Down the Barriers: African American Art Songs and Spirituals,” Walla Walla, WA, February 27-March 1, 2018.
  • “Singing Down the Barriers,” Song of America Educators’ Workshop with Dr. Emery Stephens and Christie Finn, sponsored by the Hampsong Foundation in Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Workshop School Year Program “Creating Memorable Introductions to Music.” Carnegie Hall, New York, NY, February 3, 2018
  • International Teaching Collaboration: Mutual Feelings 2017, Composition workshops with students at the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, Venice, Italy, May 2017.
  • Residency at Notre Dame University: Lecture-Recital, Discussion Groups and Master Classes with Dr. Emery Stephens: “Beyond Race: African American Art Songs and Spirituals,” South Bend, IN, October 31-November 1, 2016.
  • Residency at Bemidji State University: Lecture-Recital, Discussion Groups and Master Classes with Dr. Emery Stephens: “Beyond Race: African American Art Songs and Spirituals,” March 21-25, 2016.
  • Outreach Performance: “Beyond Race: African American Art Songs and Spirituals,” Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, Bemidji, MN, March 24, 2016.
  • Presentation: “Singing Down the Barriers: A model for building integrated student communities through the study and performance of art songs and spirituals by African American composers, “ to the Puget Sound Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Seattle, Washington, October 11, 2015
  • Lecture: ‘Songs and Poetry in Ancient and Modern Italian Dialects: A Lost World of Italian Jewish Composers,” Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, March 11, 2015
  • Book Fair Panel Presentations with scholars from the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Jewish Community Center in Ann Arbor, November 5, 2014, and Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, November 16. 2014