Sparks Commissions

Through a two tiered system of commissions by request and application, Sparks Commissions  funds the creation of new art song, with a preference for active collaborations between poet and composer, developing the work through residency, workshop and premiere.  Our hope is to bring exciting new music into the world of art song, encouraging multimedia or interdisciplinary approaches that could include things like digital artwork, theatrical effects, and even the possibility of experimental fashion design that might focus on an overarching theme for a given recital. This new music will be premiered on the Casement Fund Song Series in NYC.  Our growing number of satellite presenters will then present performances of the commissioned pieces around the world.  Our composers will also have the option to have their score published and sold through Sparks & Wiry Cries, and we will seek funding to record for digital release.  Our vision is that through this kind of global approach to creation, we can make sure that new works receive multiple performances and are given every opportunity to thrive.    




Mortality Mansions

World Premiere

The James Room, Barnard Hall
March 30, 2017 at 7:00pm

Free admission

In collaboration with The Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University, The Casement Fund Song Series through Sparks and Wiry Cries presents the world premiere of Mortality Mansions, a song cycle by Grammy® Award-winning composer Herschel Garfein and distinguished American poet Donald Hall, former Poet Laureate of the United States (2006-2007). The featured performers are tenor Michael Slattery (“elemental emotional force” –Financial Times; “sweet-toned tenderness” –New York Times), and Dmitri Dover, acclaimed pianist for the Metropolitan opera Lindemann Young Artist program.

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford and National Book Award-winning poet Jean Valentine will read Donald Hall poems. Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine Dr. Rita Charon will join the artists in reflections on poet Donald Hall’s guiding themes of love, sexuality and bereavement in old age, and trace the unprecedented adoption of Mr. Hall’s work into the curricula of medical schools across the country.  Mr. Hall himself will participate via remote video link from his farmhouse in New Hampshire.




Composer Herschel Garfein




Poet Donald Hall





Many thanks to the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University for their partnership as well as Barnard College for the generous use of the James Room.


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