Course content

What is the Dichterliebe Project?

The Dichterliebe Project is a song performance course for adult amateur singers and pianists aged 30 or older who would like to improve their interpretive, collaborative, and performance skills as part of an intensive course on Schumann’s beautiful song cycle, Dichterliebe or Poet’s Love.

Led by instructors Kathryn Whitney and Anna Cal, and taught over a series of weekends in February and March 2016, the Dichterliebe Project offers singers, pianists, and non-performing auditors the chance to take part in a unique joint performance project exploring the music, poetry, and performance tradition of Schumann’s monumental song cycle.

Collaborative Performance

Collaborative work is a key component of the Dichterliebe Project. The course will teach students about Dichterliebe as a work of poetry and music, but it is also designed to go deeper into the cycle as a reflection of the intimate and convivial performing tradition that supports it. The Dichterliebe Project is thus more than simply a course leading to a performance of an important piece; it also affords participants unprecedented insight into the intimate and intriguing collaborative relationship between pianist and singer that lies at the core of Dichterliebe, and of the song repertoire for voice and piano.

How does it work?

The Dichterliebe Project achieves this balance between instruction and exploration by placing collaborative performance at the heart of the course.

Our students include performing singers and pianists, understudy singers and pianists, and auditors.Each type of student plays an important role in the project, whether as part of a performing pair, as a member of an understudy partnership, or as an engaged audience member and classmate who provides receptive listening and commentary to both the students and instructors throughout the course.

Singer-pianist Duos

Singer-pianist duos are the cornerstone of the Dichterliebe Project. All performers and understudies will be paired with a number of partners to form singer-pianist duos that will work together to explore Schumann’s songs within collaborating partnerships, as would have been common among amateur musicians during Schumann’s lifetime.

Song Selections

Each student will work on between two and six songs over the course of the project, exploring these both as individuals in their private sessions, and with their duo partners in both private coachings and group sessions.

Group Sessions

The majority of our work together will take place in group sessions, which are timetabled for Saturday and Sunday afternoons for six weeks from early February to mid-March, 2016. Group sessions include Performance Classes, Interpretation Classes, Seminars, Workshops, and Faculty Open Rehearsals, all of which are attended by performers, understudies, and auditors. (See links on the right of this page for more information about individual elements.)

Private Coachings

Singer-pianist duos will take a number of private Duo Coachings with Kathryn Whitney and Anna Cal, where they will work with each instructor separately to explore the intricate and intimate settings in Schumann’s beautiful songs from the perspective of a collaborative pair. Additionally, each student will attend a number of private Solo Coachings with Kathryn Whitney (singers) or Anna Cal (pianists), at times to be arranged to suit mutual timetables.

Final Performances

The course finishes with three Final Concerts – two Final Student Concerts and one Final Faculty Concert. The Final Student Concerts will feature a full performance of the 20-song original version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe in which each student will perform between two and four songs as part of joint performance of the piece. The Final Student Concerts will also feature a pre-performance presentation On Dichterliebe, which will be given by those students who are performing on the alternate evening.

The Final Faculty Concert will feature a performance of Dichterliebe in the second half, with the rest of the program curated to include pieces that explore themes relating to the poetry and music of Dichterliebe.

We hope you will join us on our journey to the heart of Schumann’s Dichterliebe!

For further information about each aspect of the course mentioned above, or to download a Sample Timetable, please see the ‘Course Elements’ and ‘Sample Timetable’ listings on the right-hand side of this page.

Course Elements

Click below for further details
Performance Classes
Performance Classes are group coaching sessions in which students perform for their fellow students, and the instructors coach them on their interpretation, presentation, pianism, diction, vocal production, and musicianship. Performance Classes give students the opportunity to explore their pieces through live performance, finding their way into and through the songs and poetry guided by their own creative instincts and musical abilities. Each Performance Class is jointly coached by Kathryn Whitney and Anna Cal to give students equal attention and feedback. The Performance Classes are organized to accommodate three full presentations of the 20-song Dichterliebe cycle across the course.
Interpretation Classes
The Interpretation Classes are student-led sessions in which singer-pianist duos offer their own interpretation of their songs for the class and instructors, with time set aside for both performance, commentary, and discussion. Interpretation Classes follow the conclusion on the full Dichterliebe cycles outlined in the Performance Classes, providing students with an opportunity to respond to the instructors’ coaching, and further to explore their songs as independent collaborative singer-pianist duos.
Seminars on the Dichterliebe Project are interactive classes (sometimes featuring performance by the instructors) in which the instructors provide further information on the background to the Dichterliebe cycle, including its music, poetry, performance history and contemporary performance tradition. Three Seminars feature in the course: (1) On Dichterliebe – an introduction to the cycle, its composer and poet (2) On Collaborative Performance – a session on how to play together as chamber musicians and how to establish good singer-pianist partnerships (3) German Diction for Dichterliebe – a session on how to pronounce the German text and how to interpret German poetry for non-speakers
Three interactive exploratory Workshops are incorporated into the Dichterliebe Project: (1) Performing Dichterliebe – Reflections on Historical vs. Experiential Models.  Workshop 1 explores the tension modern performers feel when they try to balance tradition (what the ‘great’ performers have done with the cycle in the past) with innovation (how they may be moved to interpret songs differently now that they know them as performers). (2) Embodiment in Song Performance for Duos. Workshop 2 explores an important area of contemporary performance studies research, namely how our use of our bodies to make music impacts our performance and interpretation (whether positively or negatively). (3) Performance Technique. Workshop 3, which falls in the week before the final performances, offers students the opportunity to explore established techniques for maximizing musical potential in performance, combining practical advice from the instructors with guidance based on recent results from contemporary performance research groups internationally.      
Solo & Duo Coachings
Performers and Understudies take private Solo Coachings with either Kathryn Whitney (singers) or Anna Cal (pianists) in their respective studios at times to be arranged to suit mutual timetables. Performers and Understudies also take private Duo Coachings with both Kathryn Whitney and Anna Cal, working in these sessions as part of a collaborative singer-pianist duo. These sessions complement the group sessions, offering students the chance to work with the instructors one-on-one on any aspect of their music, whether technical, interpretive, or musical.
Faculty Open Rehearsals
The Dichterliebe Project is a course, but it is also a ‘reflective performance project’ – that is, a course during which the instructors are learning while they are teaching, and one in which they are themselves rehearsing for a performance of the Dichterliebe cycle, which will feature as part of a larger public concert at the end of the course. Faculty Open Rehearsals are a key part of the ‘reflective performance’ aspect of the Dichterliebe Project. These sessions offer students unprecedented access to their instructors in rehearsal, providing them with the opportunity to watch professionals at work (and to comment on the process) in an area of their music-making that students normally never see. The reflective performance aspect of the project is being overseen by the London-based SongArt group, of which Kathryn Whitney is a co-director.
Dichterliebe Omnibus
The Dichterliebe Omnibus is an informal evening for students and staff during which each student performs all the pieces he or she has been working on during the course. The Omnibus falls after the completion of the formal instruction, but before the dress rehearsals and Final Student Concert. It is a convivial evening when we all get the opportunity to be together and to hear each other again, but it also serves as a chance for students to run through their pieces in an informal performance atmosphere in advance of  the final concert week.
Final Student Concerts

The Dichterliebe Project features two Final Student Concerts: Friday, March 11 & Saturday, March 12, 2016, both starting at 7.30pm.

Each concert will feature two parts: (1) a full performance of the 20-song version of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, performed jointly by a group of singer-pianist duos, each performing two or more songs; and (2) a pre-performance presentation on Dichterliebe given by the students who are not performing that evening.

The presentation will take place first and will last about 30 minutes. There will then be a short intermission (10-15 minutes), followed by a full performance of the 20-song cycle. The running order of student performers and presenters will be announced two weeks before the end of the course.

The student concerts are open to the public. Admission is by donation on the door.

Faculty Concert

The Dichterliebe Project will finish with a Faculty Concert by the instructors Kathryn Whitney & Anna Cal. The concert will be a recital featuring Dichterliebe in the second half, and curated to include other groups of songs that are connected to Dichterliebe. The Faculty concert will take place on Saturday, 17 SEPTEMBER 2016, beginning at 7.00pm. This is a public concert. Admission will be by donation on the door. (Please note change of date for the Faculty concert to September.)

Sample Timetable

Click on this link to download a DP – MAIN TIMETABLE – Final Final Final

Which Dichterliebe?

Throughout the course, the students will be working on Schumann’s original 20-song version of Dichterliebe, and it is this version of the piece that they will perform in their final concerts. (Follow this link to learn more about the different versions of Schumann’s Dichterliebe.)