Sparks & Wiry Cries and National Sawdust Present Eighth Annual ‘songSLAM’

By Afton Wooten

Co-Founders and Directors Martha Guth and Erika Switzer, together with National Sawdust present the eighth annual “songSLAM.”

The “songSLAM” is fashioned after traditional poetry slams and storytelling events like “The Moth.” Teams present world premieres of art song and compete for audience-awarded cash prizes totaling up to $2,000 and a performance of the 2023 songSLAM Commission Prize Winner. This year’s winning commission will be performed on Jan. 19.

The composer, singer, and pianist teams are made up of Clint Borzoni and soprano Michelle Trovato; composer and soprano Marie Herrington and Timothy Krippner; Devorah Belin, soprano Elisheva Pront, and Jialiang Li; Quinn Gutman, soprano Jessica Bloch, and Rafe Schaberg; Joshua Burel, soprano Amalia Osuga, and Jillian Gardner; Kristen Baum, sopranos Shari Eve and Mackenzie Lyn, and Sally Rosen Kindred; Jonathan Wyatt, mezzo-soprano Devony Smith, and Danny Zelibor; Liam Frager, mezzo-soprano Victoria Popritkin, and Jason Handy; John Secunde, soprano Ciera Cope, and Jacob Hiser; Hannah Cai Sobel, soprano Francesca Lionetta, and Amber Scherer; Angela Yam, baritone Nathan Halbur, and Leona Cheung; Max Johnson, mezzo-soprano Kristin Gornstein, and Jeremy Chan; Jessica Rudman, soprano Jennifer Sgroe, and Eric Sedgwick; and co-composer, singer, and poet Nisha Caiozzi, with co-composer and pianist Michael Wierenga.

Following the “songSLAM,” is the world premiere of “Anger in Open Mouths: Three Sweet Songs” by composer Laura Nevitt on texts by poet Viviana Gill, performed by mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski and pianist Erika Switzer.

The following evening, Jan. 20, Sparks & Wiry Cries presents Juhi Bansal’s setting of “Only Voice Remains,” a new sparksLIVE project co-curated by Sparks & Wiry Cries and composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh. This work is inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s poem of the same name. Soprano Abigail Sinclair, vocalists Farnaz Ohadi and Mahya Hamedi, pianist Ava Nazar, and Silk Road Ensemble cellist Karen Ouzounian perform. An English translation is provided.

Sparks & Wiry Cries has partnered with organizations across the United States and internationally during the 2023-2024 season to produce eight “songSLAM” events.