Miriam Sabba and Jan Michael Horstmann are an operatic duo from Germany.

Miriam Sabba and Jan Michael Horstmann are an operatic duo from Germany.

On Thursday, JMU hosted the recital of Miriam Sabba and Jan Michael Horstmann, an operatic duo from Germany. Sabba is a soprano vocalist and Horstmann accompanied her on the piano. Dorothy Maddison, an associate professor in the College of Music, has known the duo for years. 

“These are not only wonderful artists, but these are wonderful artists who are in love with each other,” Maddison said. “It’s very rare that you have people so in love coming together to make such beautiful music at such a high level.”

The duo performed two different song cycles. The first was Robert Schumann’s “Frauenlieben und Leben,”based on a poem by the German poet Adalbert von Chamisso. This song cycle described a woman falling madly in love with a man and then marrying him, with lines translating to, “[You] have opened my eyes to the infinite deep value of life.”

The last song cycle of the piece reveals the sudden death of the man leaving Sabba to end the cycle on a sad, hopeless note. While this song mainly consisted of upbeat, happy music, the next song cycle contrasted with a slower, darker tone.

The second piece was Arnold Schönberg’s “Das Buch der hängenden Gärten,” a German operatic piece based on a poem by Stefan George. This piece had a much darker tone with lyrics translating to phrases such as “I am dead to every work.” This piece seemed to have impressed the entire audience, including Mary Galvin.

“The second song cycle was all in twelve-tone,” Galvin, a freshman music major, said. “That’s hard to sing and play just on their own, but then to put both pieces together and try to work around it, like, that blows my mind.”

The performance closed with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

“It was f— incredible,” Danny Sherlock, a senior health sciences major, said.

Unfortunately, not everyone could have the same awe-inspiring experience. Many students attending chose not to pay attention to the performance and filled their time with other activities. One student was visibly doing homework out of a book during the entire performance. Other students sat in the back whispering and laughing. One student in particular placed an earbud in his ear and listened to music so loudly it could be heard from the attendees nearby.

This recital was one of many performances the School of Music is putting on this semester. Future performances include string ensembles and jazz combos. More information can be found on its website for their future events.

Contact Joey Scully at scullyjs@dukes.jmu.edu.