I know it’s hard for most of us to emotionally connect with songs if they aren’t in our first language- I definitely get that. But if we can connect with music that has no words AT ALL we should be able to connect with a human voice regardless of the language they’re speaking (as long as the performer is singing with integrity- that’s our job!) French art song is what truly “converted” me to classical singing- there is an intense longing in the music that any human being can understand, no matter where they’re from.
This piece (Les Berceaux by Fauré) is about watching a child outgrow their safe, rocking cradle and leave home in the dangers of a rocking ship. I’ve known performers who use this song to tell the story of families on the home front watching their troops head overseas, or guardians watching their child grow up and leave their care. No matter the underlying context of the performance though, the bittersweetness of the song transcends language. All human beings can connect with the intention of a song, which is why even when I’m not feeling my best vocally, I think it’s most important to tell a story. No matter your technical capability as a performer, you MUST have emotional integrity and be brave and vulnerable with your performance. This is why people come to listen, this is what touches people’s hearts and inspires them, and it’s what the world needs most right now.
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