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This subject is an exploration of the works and influences of Stephen Sondheim, one of the most extraordinary composer/lyricists of music theatre, delivered through a weekly 2-hour large ensemble singing class and a one-hour lecture. Most popularly known as the lyricist of West Side Story, Sondheim’s work covers an astonishing range of subject matter, exhibiting song-writing craft that has challenged and ultimately contributed to the development of new forms of music theatre. The practical work, delivered in the supportive environment of singing within a large group, will explore the complexity and joy of Sondheim’s music whilst developing skills in safe voice usage and speech quality as a stylistic choice to privilege the lyric in song. Lectures will focus on the Sondheim’s early influences and the influence he has had on artists like Adam Guettel and Jason Robert Brown, as well as developing an understanding of the stylistic variation in both the form and content of Sondheim’s works. The subject will conclude with a short performance featuring a sample of the repertoire covered. No former singing or musical experience is necessary.
Intended learning outcomes
Upon completion of this subject students should:
- develop enhanced research skills into artistic works and practices and the capacity to present these in essay form;
- have developed an appreciation of the significance of Sondheim's work, his influences and the influence he has had on those who have followed him;
- have developed a better understanding of safe and unsafe vocal practices in both singing and speech;
- have developed skills in critical listening;
- be able to identify stylistic traits of a range of Sondheim's works;
- have developed an embodied understanding of the stylistic traits of speech quality in application to song.
On completion of this subject students will be able to:
- exhibit knowledge of the works of Stephen Sondheim, his collaborators and influences;
- demonstrate skills in large ensemble singing, including part-singing, harmonies and blend;
- demonstrate understanding of principles of safe voice usage;
- perform selected repertoire to concert standard;
- participate with ability and self-confidence as a team member of a performing group.
Last updated: 17 February 2020