On Feb. 3 at the Kimball Recital Hall, Associate Professor of Voice and Voice Pedagogy at the Glenn Korff School of Music, Dr. Kevin Hanrahan and Associate Professor of Music at the Western Sydney University in Australia, Prof. Diana Blom cam together to perform an original set of songs contributed by composers from around the Pacific Rim.
Entitled “New Art Songs of the Pacific Rim,” the set list contained songs from composers in five countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, the U.S. and Japan. This particular program of new art songs, organized by Blom, included various oratorios, which showcased letters, short stories and poems written over several centuries.
Blom and Hanrahan were to be joined for this performance by Associate Professor of Voice at the Glenn Korff School of Music, Jamie Reimer as well as graduate student Patrick McNally. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen family emergency, Reimer was unable to attend the concert and two songs from the original set were unable to be performed.
Despite the shortened setlist, each song was met with profuse applause, as audience members expressed their enjoyment for the pieces that were still able to be performed. The new art songs set list, organized by Blom, was deemed to be a unique and theatrical experience over all.
“I haven’t been to a solely vocal performance before, so I thought that this was really interesting,” audience member and photographer for the Glenn Korff School of Music Odochi Akwani said. “I thought that it was cool how he [Hanrahan] was able to sing in another language and how the second performer [McNally] took a really theatrical approach to his performance.”
In 2006 when Hanrahan was performing in Blom’s hometown of Sydney, Australia, she was his piano accompanist at the recital where they first met. Since then, Hanrahan and Blom have come together several times to perform and record various compositions– never letting the distance between their home countries keep them from joining forces.
“I’d say we probably see each other every 12 to 18 months, whether it’s me traveling here or him traveling to Australia– we try to alternate so that the travel time is equal,” Blom said. “I think it also helps that we also get on quite well as individuals– it makes all the traveling feel less like a chore.”
Blom and Hanrahan have performed in Australia (2011 and 2013), as well as Nebraska and Brazil (2013 and 2016). They have also co-presented at several International Society for Music Education (ISME) and International Symposium for Performance Science (ISPS) conferences.
Hanrahan also performed and recorded a variety of Blom’s own compositions for her album, “Songs of Diana Blom” which was Hanrahan’s first recorded CD. The second studio album recorded by Blom and Hanrahan was “New Art Songs of the Pacific Rim,” which was released in late January 2018 by Wirripang Pty. Ltd., and has since been one of Blom and Hanrahan’s favorite sets to perform.
“It truly is an interesting collection of songs,” Hanrahan said. “Diana and I really tried to incorporate a variety of styles and themes to capture the essence of vocal music in a new and fresh way. All of the songs are from different composers and backgrounds and all of them bring something unique to the table.”