Weekend pick: Fresno State Art Song Festival

Gerald Finley is a special guest at the Fresno State Art Song Festival.

Connoisseurs of art songs are, I’m sure, happily lapping up the fourth annual Fresno State Art Song Festival, which is being held virtually this weekend (Friday and Saturday, Feb. 26 and 27).

I’d been hoping to feature an interview with the festival’s guest composer, Kurt Erickson, a Fresno State graduate and an award-winning composer. I still haven’t heard back from him with responses to my questions, but I’m still hoping that can happen. Erickson speaks at 4:30 p.m. Friday on “Writing for the Voice and a Life Working With Singers.” Here’s a program description:

Join San Francisco Bay Area based composer Kurt Erickson as he talks about navigating a life and career as a composer specializing in writing new works for the voice. An award-winning composer with over eleven years of multi-year composer residencies, Erickson will discuss both the unique artistic challenges of working with poets and singers, and also the entrepreneurial approaches that have assisted him throughout his career. Join us for this important talk as we consider the delicate balance between the pursuit of artistic mastery and the mundane tasks required to create and sustain a thriving career in the arts.

Another highlight for Friday: the Poetry and Composition Finals (6-7 p.m.). The audience will vote for the favorite composition. Here are the participants:

Poetry finalists: Victoria Monsivaiz (Fresno State), Bradley Samore (Fresno State).


Composition finalists: Zachary Pierce (CSU Bakersfield) Allen Gallego (Fresno State).

Steve Parker (CSU Bakersfield) Brent Lee (Fresno State) Micah Byers (Fresno State).

Fresno State Singers: Alexandra Cota, soprano Pardees Fayed, soprano Aunika Bull, soprano Daniela Martinez, mezzo-soprano, Christopher Rodriguez, baritone.

Fresno State Collaborative Piano: Drew Quiring.

The Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities blog has a nice roundup of the student finalists.

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On Saturday, highlights include a lecture from acclaimed baritone Gerald Finley (11 a.m.). Festival director Maria Briggs interviewed Finley earlier this year for the CS Music blog. She asked his advice for current voice students and young opera professionals during the time of Covid-19. His response:

You will never have a period like this again in your life, when the entire industry is like a shadow! Keep working on your voice in the most basic ways because you will never have this time again. Make use of the opportunity to reach out to those you admire, ask them for advice and their time to hear you and your dreams – it works both ways!

At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the Vocal Showcase Finals will be held. The audience will vote for favorite singer.

Admission to all virtual events open to the public is free. You can find the calendar and registration link here.


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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