Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Document Type



The goal of this document is to offer a performance guide of Libby Larsen’s song cycle, "Sifting Through the Ruins," for mezzo-soprano, viola, and piano. The letters and photos, which inspired the texts for this song cycle, were discovered in New York City by mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer while she was struggling to comprehend the events of the World Trade Center attack which took place on September 11, 2001. Chapter 1 discusses the life and vocal works of Libby Larsen. Biographical information is presented, followed by a discussion of Dr. Larsen’s compositional process, her musical style, and the importance she places on rhythm and text setting. Susanne Mentzer, the well regarded mezzo-soprano, is the focus of Chapter 2 because she discovered the letters and photos which inspired the texts and performed the premiere. Biographical information is included, along with details on Ms. Mentzer’s previous collaboration with the composer on another work, "Love After 1950." Chapter 3 presents information on the tragic events which took place in New York City on September 11, 2001. The personal reactions from this horrific event lead to the discovery of the texts by Ms. Mentzer, the request for such a cycle, the evolution of the composition, followed by the rehearsal process and premiere. Prevailing performance issues of the cycle are presented in Chapter 4. Musical examples for each song are provided, as appropriate, while three separate sections detail elements of harmonic structure, rhythmic features, and performance suggestions to inform and influence the performance. Suggestions will include thoughts on interpretation and strategies for solving challenging issues. Following the conclusion and bibliography, appendices are provided with transcripts of interviews with Libby Larsen, Susanne Mentzer, and James Dunham, altered tempo markings, program notes by the composer, discography, a list of Larsen’s vocal works, and a letter of permission.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Grayson, Robert



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Music Commons