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Listening to Songs of America: Reflection on Themes of Patriotism and Protest

This course will be centered around five ideas from the Meacham and McGraw text, Songs of America. In addition to historical readings, the class will reflect upon relevant recordings, videos, and scores. I will bring a keyboard and copies of the songs so that we have the experience of singing the works that shaped the nation. We will also consider the contributions of American operetta and vaudeville and discuss how much of American Music was a rebellion against European traditions. Hand-outs and scores for the songs will be provided.

DON RIERSON served as Opera Director in the JMU School of Music for eighteen years. He holds Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Florida State University, and assisted on productions in Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Geneva, Switzerland. Over the last five years, Dr. Rierson has produced mainstage versions of Gounod’s Faust, Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (with advisement from the composer and Helen Prejean), Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, and Bernstein’s Candide. He has also worked on production teams at Indianapolis Opera, Central City Opera, and The Spoleto Festival; and directed The Bear and The Medium for Long Leaf Opera at UNC-Chapel Hill. He received the JMU Emeriti Award for Excellence in the Arts and was invited by the Center for Contemporary Opera to prepare and present Critics, a chamber opera (with libretto by Patti Marx), at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.

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