BRATTLEBORO — On Sunday, June 9, at 3 p.m., at the Brattleboro Music Center, 72 Blanche Moyse Way, vocalist Peter Shea will present a free concert based on a cycle of satirical and romantic ballads published in 1844 by the great German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine.
Shea, a frequent soloist in the Brattleboro area as both tenor and baritone since 1993, will be joined by soprano Junko Watanabe and pianist Susan Dedell, both members of the faculty at the Brattleboro Music Center, as well as mezzo-soprano Justina Golden and pianist Deborah Gilwood, adjunct faculty at Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges.
The program is a musical kaleidoscope of 24 songs by 24 composers, spanning 170 years, four languages, and numerous musical styles, from classical to cabaret to contemporary folk and featuring six world premieres by regional composers commissioned for this concert, including three from the Brattleboro area: Tom Baehr, Paul Dedell, and Etan Nasreddin-Longo.
Heine's words have been set to music more often than any other poet. Over the past two decades, Shea has gained recognition for his project of collecting, indexing, analyzing, and performing musical settings of Heine, as well as commissioning songs and song cycles from 20 composers.
Shea's passion for uncovering and singing songs based on Heine's poetry began when he was a voice major at Hartt College of Music in the early 1970s, included two sabbaticals during his 30-year career as a cataloger at the UMass-Amherst Libraries and continues unabated to this day.