Music Dept. and M.F.A. Creative Writing program collaborate for 4th Art Song Festival

“So Together” by Christian Cruz: Christopher Rodriguez, baritone, Drew Quiring, piano

Musicians and poets are teaming up for the 4th Annual Art Song Festival in February 2021. Vocalist Dr. Maria Briggs-Okunev and poet Brynn Saito have announced a poetry competition open to students in the M.F.A. Creative Writing program.

The unique competition adds another layer to the Art Song Festival competition. Creative Writing students will have the opportunity to submit up to two poems with the theme of “Beauty.” Up to 10 poetry finalists will be selected, and music students will then create original compositions for each poem.

At the Art Song Festival, Fresno State student pianists and singers will perform the final work, and an overall winner will be selected.

An Art Song is a musical representation of a poem performed by a piano player and a singer. The music is usually composed in the classical tradition. The cross-cultural event runs every February and includes performances and masterclasses by international guest faculty, composition competition, lectures, discussions, and a student competition – showcase.

The 2020 Art Song Festival winning composer was Christian Cruz, who set the poem “So Together” by Juan Felipe Herrera to music. The Art Song was performed by baritone Christopher Rodriguez and pianist Drew Quiring.

“So Together” by Christian Cruz: Christopher Rodriguez, baritone, Drew Quiring, piano

The Annual Art Song Festival was created by Dr. Maria Briggs-Okunev, assistant professor of voice and voice area coordinator at Fresno State. She joined Fresno State Music Department in August of 2016. She is a multiple prize-winner of Australian National and International opera competitions and a frequent soloist with local community groups.

Assistant professor Brynn Saito is the author of two books of poetry; Power Made Us Swoon (2016) and The Palace of Contemplating Departure (2013), winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. She joined the English faculty at Fresno State in August 2018.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, May 15, 2020. Contact Dr. Maria Briggs-Okunev for more information.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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