— Dominick Argento, composer
Juliana Hall’s compositions have been called “brilliant” (Washington Post), “beguiling” (Times of London), “strikingly original” (Austin Chronicle), and “the most genuinely moving music of the afternoon” (Boston Globe).
Hall began formal composition studies as a 26-year-old graduate piano performance major at the Yale School of Music, enrolling in private lessons there “for fun” as an elective. Her composition teachers – Martin Bresnick, Leon Kirchner, and Frederic Rzewski – urged her to make a career change, resulting in Hall receiving a master’s degree in composition from Yale in 1987.
Hall next went to the University of Minnesota to work under renowned vocal composer Dominick Argento. Within a couple months of arriving in Minneapolis, she received her first commission – a request from the Schubert Club of Saint Paul to compose a song cycle for then up-and-coming soprano Dawn Upshaw. In 1989, Hall received another Schubert Club commission, this time for a song cycle for Metropolitan Opera baritone David Malis, and she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship that year as well.
Among the many other singers for whom Juliana Hall has composed song cycles and other works of vocal chamber music since those early days are Brian Asawa, Stephanie Blythe, Molly Fillmore, Richard Lalli, Randall Scarlata, and Kitty Whately. She also received the 2017 Sorel Commission from SongFest, and was invited by Artistic Director Stephanie Blythe to serve as Guest Composer for the 2018 Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar.
— Stephanie Blythe, mezzo soprano
Hall’s music has been performed by more than 500 musicians in 30 countries on six continents, at the 92nd Street Y, Ambassador Auditorium, Blackheath Halls, Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Herbst Theater, Holywell Music Room, the Library of Congress, Ordway Theater, Snape Maltings, the Warehouse Waterloo, and Wigmore Hall.
Festival performances of Hall’s works include concerts at the Beverley Chamber Music, Buxton International, Norfolk Chamber Music, Ojai, Orvieto Musica, Oxford Lieder, Salisbury International Arts, and Sparks & Wiry Cries’ songSLAM festivals, as well as the London Festival of American Music, Northern Ireland Opera Festival of Voice, Rhonefestival für Liedkunst, Schumannfest Düsseldorf, and Tanglewood.
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, and the University of North Texas’ CollabFest program, where she served as the 2018 Resident Composer.
Other special concerts include performances in 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.
— Margo Garrett, pianist
A favorite of teachers and students alike, Hall’s music has been studied and performed at more than 150 colleges and universities across the U.S. and abroad, including the Bard and Cincinnati College Conservatories; Cleveland and Peabody Institutes; and the Eastman, Jacobs (Indiana University), Juilliard, Longy, and Mannes Schools.
Music conservatories abroad include the Conservatorio di Musica F. A. Bonporti (Italy); Fontys Conservatorium (Netherlands); the Royal Conservatoire (Scotland); and the Guildhall School, Royal College of Music, and Royal Academy of Music (England).
Juliana Hall has been invited to give coachings, interviews, masterclasses, and presentations – in person and online – for students at the Universities of Michigan, North Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Rio Grande Valley; the Hartt and Manhattan Schools of Music and Westminster Choir College; and the Collaborative Piano Institute.
In addition, 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.
— Brian Asawa, countertenor
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), Radio ArtsIndonesia (Jakarta), Radio France (Paris), Radio Horizon (Johannesburg), Radio Monalisa (Amsterdam), RTVE Radio C (Madrid), 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 (in the Composer’s Studio, with hosts Tarik Ghiradella and Anna Linvill), and WPRB Princeton (on Marvin Rosen’s Classical Discoveries program).
During the 2020 pandemic, when nearly all musical activity has been forced to move online, Juliana has been in demand for various programs including virtual visits with – and performances for – Baltimore Musicales, Cincinnati Song Initiative, the Lied Society Round Table (Minneapolis), La Scena Musicale Magazine (Montreal), Opera Steamboat’s Aria-Thon (Steamboat Springs, CO), Ensemble for These Times (San Francisco), Source Song Festival (Minneapolis), the 2020 National Virtual Conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and the UK fundraiser for musicians, Bitesize Proms.
Recordings of Hall’s music have been issued by the Albany, Arsis Audio, Blue Griffin, MSR Classics, Navona, Solo Musica, Stone Records, and Vienna Modern Masters record labels. Of Hall’s first solo album, Love’s Signature, the NATS Journal of Singing declared “One comes away from this disc with a profound appreciation for the excellence and innovation of her music…music whose beauty could enhance the text at hand without drawing attention away from that text…masterful writing in every respect.” In reviewing Emergence: Emily Dickinson, the Fanfare Archive opined that “Hall’s compositional voice is certainly distinctive, and breaks away from the rather ubiquitous style of the Barber-Rorem-Hundley school, giving, I think, fresh life to the concept of the American art song.”
— Richard Lalli, baritone
Juliana Hall’s vocal music is published primarily by E. C. Schirmer, with additional publications by Boosey & Hawkes and NewMusicShelf.
Most of Hall’s works from E. C. Schirmer are available in either print editions or as 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.
current projects . . .
For Carrie Koffman | Saxophone (Yale & Hartt Schools of Music)
THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD | poem by Wallace Stevens
Setting for Soprano or Mezzo Soprano Voice, with Alto Saxophone
For Daniel Shirley | Tenor (East Carolina University School of Music)
BREDON HILL | poem by A. E. Housman
Song for Tenor and Piano
For Anthony Dean Griffey | Tenor (Metropolitan Opera, Eastman School of Music)
THE MYSTIC TRUMPETER | extended poem in 8 parts by Walt Whitman
Setting for Tenor and Piano
For Rachel Calloway & Ari Streisfeld | Duo Cortona (University of South Carolina)
BLUE VIOLIN | poems by John Gould Fletcher and Amy Lowell
3 Songs for Mezzo Soprano and Violin
upcoming events . . .
NOVEMBER 16, 2020 – FEBRUARY 28, 2021 | On Site Opera (New York)
A WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN | song cycle on Anne Frank’s Diary
Soprano Cristina María Castro and pianist Howard Watkins perform as part of The Beauty That Still Remains: Diaries in Song serial production that provides ticket holders with keepsake diaries by mail with texts, articles, program notes and more, directing recipients to an audio experience of music, story-telling and nostalgia.
DECEMBER 23, 2020 | WHRB FM, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
O MISTRESS MINE | song cycle on texts from the plays of William Shakespeare
Broadcast of selections from countertenor Darryl Taylor and pianist Juliana Hall’s recording on MSR Classics’ Love’s Signature album [MS1603].
JANUARY 5, 2021 & FEBRUARY 15, 2021 | On Site Opera (New York)
MAKING ANNE SING: HOW HER WORDS BECAME MUSIC | Live Panel
moderated by On Site Opera’s Geoffrey McDonald and Eric Einhorn, with special guest Juliana Hall, composer of ‘A World Turned Upside Down’ and including audience Q&A
FEBRUARY 22, 2021 | Faculty Recital (Milledgeville, GA)
SENTIMENT | monodrama on a libretto by Caitlin Vincent
soprano Jennifer Piazza-Pick performs at Georgia College
online link coming soon
MARCH, 2021 (date tba) | CHAI Collaborative Ensemble (Chicago)
O MISTRESS MINE | song cycle on texts from plays by William Shakespeare
performers tba will perform selections from this large song cycle
on the ‘Portraits of Langston’ Concert
APRIL 18, 2021 | Voices of Change (Dallas)
CAMEOS | song cycle on poems by Molly Fillmore
Soprano Molly Fillmore and pianist Elvia Puccinelli perform on the fourth concert
of the 46th season of Voices of Change
recent activity . . .
Performed by Bretton Brown (Guildhall Vocal Studies tutor)
THE CRICKET SANG from the song cycle ‘Night Dances’ is included as one of the 23 selections presented in this unique project.
“This project is about the desire to connect during a crisis when we are asked to be alone. The piece is built from a chain of classical songs — each begun by a pianist as expected, each breaking off the moment the singer should come in. The pauses that follow have been recorded by friends and family in 17 international cities, including Amsterdam, Hobart, Madrid, New York, Paris, and Sarajevo. These pauses symbolise the physical absence of others from our lives during lockdown, the unanswered questions of the piano like the one-sided conversations we imagine having with those unreachably far away.”
– Bretton Brown
Baltimore Musicales’ Thea Tullman Moore interviews Juliana Hall