The talents of two Cornell music faculty members are featured on a newly-released recording, “Beauty Intolerable: Songs of Sheila Silver.”
Lucy Fitz Gibbon, interim director of the Cornell Vocal Program, and her husband, pianist Ryan McCullough DMA ’20, a visiting faculty member in the Department of Music, perform together on “Chariessa," settings of Silver’s music featuring poetry by Sappho; and on “Beauty Intolerable,” a longer work featuring multiple singers and poetry from Edna St. Vincent Millay.
The album also includes another Cornell connection: soprano Dawn Upshaw, an A.D. White professor at large from 2020-2026. Upshaw is an internationally-acclaimed soprano, five-time Grammy Award winner and the first vocalist to receive a MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship.
Fitz Gibbon met Silver, who recently retired from the faculty at Stonybrook University, when they worked together on an opera Silver composed based on “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” the novel by Khaled Hosseini.
“The album features artists with whom Sheila has worked closely over the years, people who have performed her works before,” Fitz Gibbon said. “It has in many ways been a labor of love for all of us. We started it before the pandemic, and the last few pieces were recorded in September at the Morgan Library (in New York City.) We had this surreal experience of traveling down to the city and working through those COVID protocols and singing in this beautiful venue.”
The album, which had a Feb. 15 release, will be available electronically March 1. Here’s a sample of the contributions from McCullough and Fitz Gibbon.
The artists are also hosting a Zoom celebration giving the public a chance to meet the artists on March 6 at 5 p.m. To attend, register here.