In a world premiere event Susanne Mentzer presents “Standing Still-Still Standing: Songs from the Pandemic.”
By Mark Taylor
Music has been widely studied for its ability to entertain and heal, with researchers often noting its therapeutic effects on mental and physical health. For musicians like SFCM student Kody Thiessen, turning to music during the pandemic helped deal with the stress, “I think music is a tool for self-soothing and emotional expression. I know for me, I feel better when I'm having a hard and stressful day when I can put my hands on my bass, or turn on my favorite album and just chill. During the lockdown, I did a lot of that,” Thiessen said. He is just one student taking the stage as part of voice faculty member Susanne Mentzer’s “Standing Still-Still Standing: Songs from the Pandemic.”
It’s a series of songs inspired from a dark time that hope to bring some light into the world. The production features almost two dozen new songs inspired by the pandemic, “Everything is new. Everything will be heard for the first time publicly on March 3,” Mentzer said. The singer found that many are still feeling the lingering effects of the pandemic and shut down, “The idea started way back in the summer of 2020. My partner Reg Huston was writing a lot of poetry, it was pouring out of him,” Mentzer said. “I paid all the composers and contracted them all,” she added.
Some songs also represent anger related to the murder of George Floyd, frustration within society, and the loss of time, “Sitting around during the pandemic, one could feel time slipping away,” Mentzer said. It was important for her to show a diverse group of composers and a variety of styles to take audiences on an emotional journey, “Of particular interest are women and composers of color. There are varying styles. Tammy Hall, a major jazz pianist, wrote three songs. Jason Hainsworth wrote a piece,” Mentzer said. The concert will also feature Professor Matt Worth. “It is great to actually consult a living composer and have a work written for my voice. Some of the pieces have been modified as recently as yesterday,” she said.
The concert will also feature voice student Melissa Dufort, performing a piece called Wages, Rages written by SFCM’s Jason Hainsworth, “We’re all ready to move forward and shape the post-pandemic art landscape. We get to choose what classical or art music sounds like, and this concert is a wonderful reintroduction to art and innovation,” Dufort said.
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