Unbound Identities Artist Interview: Brittany Fowler

Meet recital artist Brittany Fowler

Mezzo Brittany Fowler, soprano Rebecca Richardson, and pianist Jennifer Peterson perform UNBOUND IDENTITIES - a recital project exploring the concept of identify across time and across borders.

Saturday, March 24 @ 3pm

Opera America

330 7th Ave., NYC

Brittany, how does your repertoire fit into the theme of Unbound Identities?

I wanted to explore how national borders both shape and complicate cultural identities, especially when those borders shift for the country and for you.  What does it mean to be Russian when the Russian Empire becomes the USSR - and you're forced abroad and can no longer return to your native soil? What does it mean to defend the French border when your parents are not from France and your peers do not see you as French but you serve in the French military in WWI? It's interesting to see how different artists grapple with these questions in their music. 

What does this music mean to you?

For me, in a way, it's very personal - I grew up an America military brat abroad and my mother is Filipino. I have no hometown and spent half my childhood in Asia. Abroad, I am American - but in America, every other new acquaintance's follow-up question is, "But where are you REALLY from?" The music doesn't pose an easy answer to these questions, and I don't think there should be one.

All of your music was written by mainstream composers, yet these particular works are lesser known. How did you find these sets, and what drew you to them?

At first I wanted explicitly war-related music (where the lyrics were unquestionably about war), which is how I found Stravinsky's pretty-obscure "How the Mushrooms Went to War" (it's only really done in Russian-speaking countries). But then I realized not every artist grappled with a world in turmoil in such a heavy-handed way, and I wanted to explore that too. Some composers chose to reflect on their lives and on the experience more introspectively, which is how I chose the Ives pieces, for example.

What do you hope your audience gains from listening to this music?

I hope they feel an insatiable need to sit back, relax, and sip a glass of wine while listening to Britten's "Cabaret Songs". Also maybe a deeper appreciation for the personal, internal toil wars take on people even when they are not on the front lines? But craving wine is good too.

When you’re not preparing an awesome recital and have some free time, what do you like to do?

Climb! Run! Do yoga! Hike! I like being active. I'm also like vintage shopping and thrifting. 

What’s next on your calendar after Unbound Identities?

Literally two days after the recital I'm doing Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri in Pennsylvania. Later down the line I'm also singing the Virgin Mary in Sances's Le Lachrime di San Pietro with New York Continuo Collective and singing Lover 1/Evil Tongue 2 in a workshop of Kate Soper's opera Romance of the Rose