SongFest students with pianist and scholar Graham Johnson
SongFest students with pianist and scholar Graham Johnson | Credit: Tom O’Neal Photography

SongFest is moving up the coast. The summer festival and training program, which made its home at Los Angeles’ Colburn School until recently, has new digs this year: the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Like in seasons past, the emphasis at SongFest 2022 is the art song — and particularly, new art songs by contemporary American composers. More than 60 voice students, along with 10 collaborative pianists in training, will be at the Bowes Center from June 3–27, learning from some of the experts in the genre. Accompanist and coach Martin Katz, who’s taught at nearly every SongFest since its first summer (1996), is this year’s distinguished faculty member.

But new in 2022 is a composer mentorship program with a more specific focus. SongFest will welcome five women composers for the second week of its summer (June 6–12). These emerging artists will work with the composer faculty the festival invites and commissions every year; this summer’s guests include John Harbison, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, and Juhi Bansal, the program’s 2022 Sorel composer.

Alexandra Smither and Pierre André-Doucet
Soprano Alexandra Smither and pianist Pierre André-Doucet perform | Credit: Tom O’Neal Photography

It’s all part of a larger mission, for SongFest and partner group the Sorel Organization, to continue championing American classical music by diversifying it. That theme might be front of mind for the five participants in the SongFest-Sorel Composer Mentorship Program, which has its sights set on Rita Dove (who’s been a presenter in summers past) for its 2022 faculty poet.

The public can see the artistry in action with performances throughout the month of June. Some of the concerts planned: an evening dedicated to the music of Harbison and James Primosch, alumni recitals by soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Liza Stepanova, a delayed world premiere from 2020 Sorel Composer Sheila Silver, and the traditional SongFest sendoff of tunes from the Great American Songbook.

For students, live and recorded auditions end Feb. 21, also the due date for applications to the composer mentorship program. Find more detailed information on SongFest’s website.

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