American art song composer Juliana Hall specializes in creating vocal works: “glistening, poignant music” (Gramophone), “complex in conception and construction” (Planet Hugill, London) with “graceful, nuanced vocal lines” (Opera News).
Hall’s more than 60 song cycles, monodramas, and vocal chamber works have been described as “brilliant” (Washington Post), “beguiling” (The Times, London), and “the most genuinely moving music of the afternoon” (Boston Globe) — “masterful writing in every respect” (NATS Journal of Singing).
— Dominick Argento
Hall attended the Yale School of Music as a graduate student, studying composition with Frederic Rzewski, Leon Kirchner, and Martin Bresnick, receiving her masters degree in 1987. Following Yale she moved to Minneapolis to study with renowned vocal composer Dominick Argento.
Shortly after arriving in Minnesota later in 1987, she wrote a song cycle as a first commission for soprano Dawn Upshaw. The piece received both popular and critical acclaim, with performances across America and around the world. In 1989, Hall was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, as well as her second commission for a song cycle for Metropolitan Opera baritone David Malis.
— Stephanie Blythe
Since completing her studies, Hall has composed works for dozens of singers, including vocal luminaries Brian Asawa, Stephanie Blythe, Molly Fillmore, Anthony Dean Griffey, Zachary James, Randall Scarlata, and Kitty Whately.
In discussing her long-time career interest in writing vocal music, Hall shares that, “I have rarely gone a day without some sort of text in my mind, primarily poems, but also diaries, fables, letters, play texts, and sacred writings. Great writers illuminate beauty, truth, and magic present in even the smallest of things in our world, and since song is all about text, it is those writers’ insights I wish to share in my songs.”
— Margo Garrett
Hall’s music has been performed in dozens of countries on six continents by some 700 singers, pianists, and other musicians. Concert venues where Hall’s works have been heard include the 92nd Street Y, Herbst Theatre, Library of Congress, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and Wigmore Hall, among many, many others. Festival performances include concerts at the London Festival of American Music, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Ojai Music Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, and Tanglewood Music Center.
Recitals dedicated to Hall’s work have been presented by Calliope’s Call in Boston, New York’s Sparks & Wiry Cries, Princeton’s Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project, the Re-Sung art song series in London, the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut, the University of North Texas’ CollabFest program (where she served as 2018 Resident Composer), and the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar (where, at the invitation of artistic director Stephanie Blythe, she was the 2018 Guest Composer).
Other special concerts include performances on the Joy in Singing’s Edward T. Cone Composers Concert at New York’s Lincoln Center, a Holy Week meditation service at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Dawn Upshaw’s First Songs Project at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum.
Numerous other groups have presented Hall’s works, too, among them the Boston Art Song Society, New York’s Center for Contemporary Opera, the CHAI Collaborative Ensemble in Chicago, Cincinnati Song Initiative, the UK-based Duo Emergence, San Francisco’s Ensemble for These Times, Lyric Fest in Philadelphia, Northern Ireland Opera and On Site Opera, Canada’s Société d’Art Vocal de Montréal, Australia’s Song Company, Voices of Change in Dallas, and the SongFest organization, which awarded Hall its prestigious Sorel Commission.
— Molly Fillmore
A favorite of faculty and students alike, Hall’s vocal works have been researched and published in both masters level theses and doctoral level dissertations, and they have been studied and performed at more than 200 colleges, music schools, and universities around the world, a few of which include the Bard College Conservatory, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, Hartt School of Music, Juilliard School, Longy School of Music, Manhattan and Mannes Schools of Music, the Peabody Institute, and Westminster Choir College, in addition to colleges and universities across America.
Abroad, Hall’s music has appeared at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Royal Welsh School of Music & Drama in the UK; the Conservatorio di Musica F. A. Bonporti in Italy; and Fontys Conservatorium in the Netherlands. Performances overseas have also been presented at the Collège Mont-Saint-Louis, University of Alberta, and Western University in Canada; Universidad de Costa Rica in Costa Rica; the Universities of Birmingham, Leeds, and Oxford in England; the University of Bonn in Germany; the University of Aveiro in Portugal; and both Chung Yuan Christian University and the National Taipei University of the Arts in Taiwan.
— Alan Louis Smith
Hall’s music has been broadcast over the BBC and NPR radio networks, as well as classical music radio stations around the world, including Classical King (Seattle), CJSW-FM (Calgary), CKIA (Québec), NPO Radio 4 (Amsterdam), Radio ArtsIndonesia (Jakarta), Radio France (Paris), Radio Horizon (Johannesburg), Radio Monalisa (Amsterdam), RTVE Radio C (Madrid), Sociocultural Radio Establishment (Kirchberg, Luxembourg), Swiss Radio SRF 2 Kultur (Zürich), WGBH (Boston), and WQXR (New York). Her songs have also been heard on special radio programs broadcast by Hawaii Public Radio (Gary Hickling’s Singing and Other Sins show), WHUP Hillsborough, NC (on the Composer’s Studio program, with hosts Tarik Ghiradella and Anna Linvill), and WPRB Princeton (on Marvin Rosen’s Classical Discoveries program).
Her vocal works have also appeared on the Albany Records, Arsis Audio, Blue Griffin Recordings, MSR Classics, PARMA’s Navona Records, and Shokat Projects labels, Germany’s Solo Musica label, Britain’s Stone Records label, and Austria’s Vienna Modern Masters labels, as well as on Zachary James’ award-winning audio/visual album CALL OUT.
— Darryl Taylor
In recent years, Hall was asked to participate in the initial season of the NATS Mentoring Program for Composers as one of ten established composers chosen to act as mentors to young African-American composers, and she has twice judged the NATS Art Song Composition Award competition (first as one of three preliminary round judges, and later as the sole final round judge). In 2021, Hall served as one of three judges adjudicating the first-ever Dominick Argento Opera Composition Fellowship competition.
Hall’s vocal music is published primarily by the E. C. Schirmer Music Company, and most works are available in both print editions and downloadable PDF files. Printed works are available from dozens of sheet music distributors around the world, and more recently a large number of her pieces have been made available on the nkoda digital subscription platform. There are additional vocal publications by Boosey & Hawkes and NewMusicShelf.
— Martin Bresnick
Most publications are available as downloadable PDFs, including individual songs, providing an economical way to build a concert program or a music library.
Brian Asawa : countertenor
Kathleen Kelly : piano
Feminine Musique : New York
92d Street Y
Bay View Music Festival
ÆPEX Contemporary Performance
Access Contemporary Music
Academy of Vocal Arts
BBC – London
September 8, 2023 : Coral Gables, Florida
October 7, 2023 : Antwerp, Belgium
October 25, 2023 : Nashville, Tennessee
November 3, 2023 : Jacksonville, Florida
November 10, 2023 : London, England
November 11, 2023 : Genoa, Italy
November 16, 2023 : Kortrijk, Belgium
December 3, 2023 : Rochester, New York
I’ve returned to one of my “core” poets, Emily Dickinson, to write a dozen new songs as a collection called Setting Sail. When I studied with Dominick Argento back in 1987 and 1988, he used to joke with me that I would one day set every single poem Emily wrote, so I am dedicating this collection to the loving memory of Dominick Argento with gratitude for his mentorship and, later, his friendship. I’ve also dedicated these songs to Maggie Finnegan, for her stellar artistry and her friendship. Here are the poems I’ve made songs out of, beautiful poems of real substance.
I’m thrilled and honored to have had the opportunity to compose a work for the great American tenor, Anthony Dean Griffey, a very large (18 minute) single-movement setting of the Walt Whitman poem The Mystic Trumpeter.
In my more than 30 years of composing, I had never been drawn to Whitman as so many other composers have been, but I thought I would go through his poems just “one last time” in my search for the perfect text for Tony to sing.
Some Things Are Dark
At That Hour When All Things Have Repose