Our Voices – Four Madrigals
Monday, April 8, 2024

NYCHORAL Society presents the tenth installment of OUR VOICES, its highly acclaimed series reimagined collaborative performances of choral music

Four Madrigals brings image maker and storyteller Kia LaBieja to a performance of composer Ned Rorem’s  Four Madrigals on texts of Sappho

Kia Michelle Benbow, known professionally as Kia LaBeija, is an image maker and storyteller born and raised in the heart of New York City, Hell’s Kitchen. Her multidisciplinary approach to art making includes photography, writing, performance, collage, design, and film. She composes cinematic and theatrical autobiographical works by staging, re-imagining, sometimes documenting in real time, or all of the above Heavily involved in New York’s Iconic House and Ballroom scene for over a decade, Kia was a member of the Royal House of LaBeija from 2012 to 2019, serving as the Overall Mother from 2017 to 2019. She appeared as a Principal Dancer in the pilot episode of Ryan Murphy’s Ballroom Drama POSE.

Ned Rorem (1923- 2022)  hailed as “the world’s best composer of art songs, is celebrated for his immense catalog of musical compositions as well as his acclaimed body of literary writing, including five volumes of diaries and collections of lectures and criticism. a Pulitzer Prize and GRAMMY Award—includes three symphonies, four piano concertos, and an array of other orchestral works; music for numerous combinations of chamber forces; ten operas; choral works of every description; ballets and other music for the theater; and literally hundreds of songs and cycles. During his lifetime, Rorem was honored with a Fulbright Fellowship (1951), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1957), and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1968).

Sappho, a groundbreaking poet from ancient Greece, was known for her personal and powerful poems. Love was her main inspiration, and she captured the full range of emotions it can bring about, from passion and joy to jealousy and even anger. Sappho’s poems, filled with raw emotion, have inspired artists for centuries, including the composer Ned Rorem. His “Four Madrigals,” composed  in 1947 for a cappella chorus.is considered one of the best attempts to capture the true spirit of Sappho’s work. It consists of 4 songs:  Parting, Flowers for the Graces, Love, and An Absent Friend