The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Alumnus interprets old songs

An Eastern alumnus and tenor singer is performing a cycle of songs he first sang 17 years ago.

Matthew Polenzani said he sang the song cycle “Die Schine Müllerin” when he attended graduate school at Yale University in 1994 and he is performing it during a two-week tour.

Polenzani said the performance will be unique because of how he worked with his pianist Julius Drake to interpret the meaning of the songs.

“The 20 songs are all in German so, first, I had to spend time translating the songs to learn the meaning behind each one and decide what all of the poetry meant,” Polenzani said. “Then we spent time putting our ideas together and determined our interpretation of how the protagonist lives.”

Polenzani performed “Die Schine Müllerin” in Boston and Philadelphia and, after making a performance at Eastern, he will continue his tour in New York on Sunday.

“It is great to come back to Eastern and I love the idea of getting in front of kids who may be aspiring singers so they have a chance to see someone who has been in their shoes and who is now on the leading edge,” Polenzani said.

“Most students don’t know what they are truly capable of, so I’m hoping that I can show them that they are only scratching the surface and can go much further.”

Polenzani said the performance could also appeal to “non-opera goers” because it is a very short and involved story that lasts around an hour and five minutes.

Wednesday, Polenzani hosted a master’s class for music majors who are studying voice.

“I worked with their singing and presentation and gave the students some advice so I hope they soak up some of the music for themselves,” Polenzani said.

He said he did not become interested in classical music until his senior year at Eastern when he listened to a tape he was given four years earlier.

“I only became a music major because it was the only skill I really had and it wasn’t until after I listened to the tape that I began thinking of how people made music and I began to be interested in classical music,” Polenzani said.

Polenzani has performed throughout the globe in places such as Israel, Japan, Paris and Venice.

“A lot of people tell me that it must be so great and romantic to visit different places but when you are working, places can seem no different than any other city in the world,” Polenzani said. “A lot of times it can be hard to be away from my wife and three sons but it is something you have to learn to make peace with.”

Polenzani will perform today at 7:30 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center in the Dvorak Concert Hall. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for employees and senior citizens.

Rachel Rodgers can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

Alumnus interprets old songs

Alumnus interprets old songs

(Photo provided by Matthew Polenzani)


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