UCLA: 2017–20 Doctoral of Musical Arts: Choral Conducting

Desiree successfully completed the DMA course work while she conducted, rehearsed, and sung in UCLA's Choral ensembles every quarter since Fall of 2017. This year she continues to sing and lead these ensembles while working on her dissertation and final recital:

                                                                               REVIVING PORTAMENTO IN CHORAL SINGING:

For the past several decades, the historically informed performance (HIP) movement has had a significant impact on music in both study and performance. Initially, HIP emphasized early music; however, in recent years, musicians are beginning to reconsider how they perform Classical and Romantic-era repertoire as well. Generally speaking, the modern choral conducting tradition neglects the use of portamento for all styles despite evidence that it would have, most probably, been in the imagination of Romantic-era composers. Furthermore, early recordings provide evidence that portamento was present in the musical performance practice. Modern-day performances that aim at authenticity and yet leave portamento out of the picture entirely may very well be choosing to ignore written and recorded data. Potter opines, “A significant part of the early music agenda was to strip away the vulgarity, excess, and perceived incompetence associated with bizarre vocal quirks such as portamento and vibrato. It did not occur to anyone that this might involve the rejection of a living tradition and that singers might be in denial about their own vocal past.”This project aims to prove that portamento is a valid technique and tool especially in the realm of Romantic-era repertoire and to provide guidance as to reinserting the ornament in a way that revitalizes aesthetic value for the modern listener.

  • Chapter I. Introduction 
    • Portamento’s Fall From Fashion
    • Defining Portamento
    • Embracing Aesthetic Preferences
  • Chapter II. Musical Analysis 
    • Notation
    • Early Recordings
    • Choral Societies
    • Conductor Trends
    • Nationalistic Traits
    • Choral Repertoire
      • Brahms, Ein deutsches Requiem
      • Bruckner, “Ave Maria”
      • Fauré, Requiem
      • Mahler, Symphony No. 2
      • Stanford, Three Latin Motets Op. 38  “Beati Quorum via”
      • Holst, Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda “Hymn to the Waters”
      • Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms
  • Chapter III. Modern Application of Portamento to Repertoire 
    • Choral Selections
      • Brahms, Vier Quartette Op. 92 
      • Fauré, Requiem “Offertory”
      • Bruckner, Gradual “Locus iste
      • Standford, Three Latin Motets Op. 38  “Beati Quorum via”
      • Saint-Säens, Op. 68 “Les fleur et les arbres”
      • Beach, Three Choral Responses, Op.8  “Peace I Leave With You”
      • Barber, Reincarnations “The Coolin”
    • Performance Practice and Practical Considerations

1 1 John Potter, “Beggar at the Door: The Rise and Fall of Portamento in Singing,” Music and Letters 87 (2006): 538.