Kate Soper: Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say

Written by Devony Smith


In category: Song of the Day

Published March 28, 2019

In the spirit of the Kate Soper NYFOS Next concert this evening, I would love to share the very first piece I ever heard of Kate’s, “Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say.” This song from Kate’s larger work Ipsa Dixit (translated: she, herself, said it…), which was premiered with a quartet from the Wet Ink Ensemble in 2016 and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Composition in 2017.This particular movement contains text by Lydia Davis, who Kate describes as “fabulously quirky, […] slyly profound.”

The thing I love most about Kate’s music is her completely unique integration of words, instrumentation, and vocal color. I find that her music is beautifully economized to serve the message of her carefully curated texts. Kate deals with instrumentation exactly as she deals with the voice, asking for sounds we might consider traditionally “unmusical” to punctuate what she is trying to communicate. One of the most incredible things to watch when Kate performs her music is the flawless coordination between Kate and her collaborative partners. Having worked with her a few times now, I can confirm that she comes to every rehearsal space with exciting (borderline bonkers) new ideas about sound and the capabilities of a given instrument, but what really strikes me about Kate is the open and collaborative spirit she offers to her fellow musicians. Kate is brilliant and has created an iconic and new sound world, but I think it is the raw human-connection component that makes Kate’s music appealing to a wide variety of audiences.

You really will not want to miss the world premiere of scenes from Kate’s new opera The Romance of the Rose tonight at 7:30 at DiMenna center.

author: Devony Smith

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Devony Smith is a versatile soprano excelling in both contemporary and traditional repertoire. This year, she will present a recital in a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Citywide Concerts. Devony has recently performed Kate Soper’s self-accompanied opera Here Be Sirens at National Sawdust, the title role in the workshop of Matt Aucoin’s new opera Eurydice as a part of Cincinnati Opera’s Opera Fusion: New Works program and the Metroplitan Opera. Devony will be performing the world premiere of a piece from Kate Soper’s new opera, The Romance of the Rose, on March 28 as part of the NYFOS Next series. 


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