Barbara Ann Martin | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Barbara Ann Martin


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe



Knowing full well that many composers since Schoenberg have cared more about new methods of vocal expression than a singer's physiological limits, Barbara Ann Martin has made herself a champion of the contemporary, performing grueling works by Shostakovich, Gubaidulina, Kurtag, Argento, Babbitt, and Hovhaness, to name a few. Yet despite all this wear and tear, her voice is still a splendidly clear and nimble instrument, boasting a flexible timbre and an unusually wide range. (She's neither a soprano nor a mezzo-soprano; a throat specialist once examined her vocal cords and declared, "You are both!") The Chicago-based singer's commitment to modern music can be traced back to 1973, when she first heard George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children (1970). A tremendously demanding song cycle set to the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca, it requires the soloist to trill, click, shout, whisper, and even sing into a piano. Martin fell in love with the piece, mastered it, and has since made her reputation by performing it almost 70 times, including at its Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiere last season and on a new CD for the CRI imprint. But she won't sing it at this chamber concert, presented by the new-music collective CUBE; instead she'll give the local premiere of another Crumb piece, The Sleeper (1984), a soft, sparse, nuanced setting for a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. She'll also sing Lullaby for Soprano and Alto Flute (1992) by Chicago maverick Ralph Shapey, a tune that softens his usual jagged lines and incantatory fervor into an almost gentle serenade. Rounding out the program will be CUBE cofounder Patricia Morehead's ruminations on headline politics, It Is Dangerous to Read Newspapers (incorporating text by Margaret Atwood), and compositions by Timothy Bowlby, Janice Misurell-Mitchell, and Donald Steven. Martin and several members of CUBE--Misurell-Mitchell on flute and voice, Caroline Pittman on flute, Patricia Morehead playing oboe and English horn, and Philip Morehead playing piano and conducting--will be joined by cellist Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and percussionist Douglas Brush. Monday, 7 PM, Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario; 312-787-3997. TED SHEN

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →