Focus and Interest

My  work is grounded in my interest of how music affects people as a whole, especially through identity, culture, and sociality. 


The mission of my work is to understand, preserve, and share through accessible means.

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Current Research Pursuits

My current research topic surrounds Finnish song and its role as a driving factor towards Finland's political independence in 1917. To study this, I am spending the 9 months in Helsinki, as an affiliate and trainee at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, studying performance-based interpretation of this genre of music. While there, I am working under the mentorship of soprano Sirkku Wahlroos-Kaitila, as well as with other voice and piano faculty. Additionally, I am cross-examining stylistic and politically-based-circumstantial similarities of Finnish song with Kundiman, traditional Filipino love song in the style of 19th century Western art song.

This project is made possible through the American-Scandinavian Foundation, with whom I am serving as a 2021-2022 Creative-Arts Fellow (representing Syracuse University).

















KUN PÄivÄ PaistaA, a celebratory performance of Finnish music, is the first body of work within this project that I have published. In celebration of Finnish Independence Day and Jean Sibelius Day, I have put together this previously recorded video performance to showcase the Finnish music I have studied in Finland the last three months. It features works by Jean Sibelius, as well as Leevi Madetoja, Toivo Kuula, and Oskar Merikanto. Throughout the video, I speak about the importance of Sibelius and these composers to the Finnish musical identity, and how that played an important part in Finnish nationalism during the time of the nation's struggle towards independence. Additionally, I share information about the composers' & poets' lives, as well as information about the texts that would aid the listener. The image above was used for promotion for the video, which premiered on December 6, 2021 (Finnish independence Day). Thank you to Tina Salminen, soprano, for her collaboration, and to Sirkku Wahlroos-Kaitila and Juha Karvonen for their artistic guidance and advisement while studying in Helsinki. You can view the video here, or on my youtube page under Hannah Comia.




 

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.Kundiman is a type of Filipino traditional love song in the style of 19th century Western art song. It is characterized by a minor-parallel-major tonality, 3/4 time signature, and bel canto-style vocal lines with orchestral-like piano accompaniment. Generally, kundiman uses Tagalog, a dialect found in the Philippines. The term "kundiman" comes from the Tagalog phrase "kung hindi man," meaning "if it were not so." There is an overarching theme of unrequited love amongst the text used in these songs. Traditionally, they would be sung by men, singing to women who did not return the love that they had. By doing this, the composers and text writers were able to hide the their motivations for the songs, which was to speak out on the oppressive rule of the Spaniards on Filipinos. Text writers like Dr. Jose Rizal, who was executed for his public criticism of the Spanish,  ignited feelings of nationalism and pride amongst Filipinos. Composers like , Francisco Santiago (known as the father of Kundiman art song), and Nicanor Abelardo, both established the form and style of the kundiman. Though this established form emerged post independence (in 1898), it is rooted in the pre-colonial Filipino traditions while utilizing the Western traditional elements that Santiago and Abelardo learned in school. 

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Who is Betty Jackson King?

A significant part of my graduate studies at Syracuse University revolved around the independent study and performance of the music of African-American-female-composer Betty Jackson King. Born in 1928 Chicago, Ms. King was exposed to music, especially that of the African-American spiritual, through her musical parents. She became an accomplished pianist, organist, choral educator, and composer, writing over 100+ works. Although known for her spiritual arrangements, a considerable amount of her work goes un-performed, leaving her out of the academic and performing canon, one which is dominated by European-white-male composers.

Past Research Pursuits

My graduate II recital, like most other performances between March 2020-March 2021, was limited to virtual viewing (with the exception of 10 people within the SU community). One of the understated losses of virtual streaming is the time to sit in your seat before the start of any performance. It is in that time that you usually have the chance to read the program of the event, as well as any program notes. These short and often fleeting moments are truly important, as an audience member, to relax and settle into the mode of listening to the events that are about to take place. They also allow you an opportunity to learn about the music. Aiming to preserve this tradition, despite the barriers for in-person experiences due to the pandemic, I shared a virtual-program-note series through a Facebook event page for the recital. Over a period of 10 days leading up to the recital, I posted videos, recordings, self created pdfs, and blurbs about pieces or sections of my recital, as well as information about the composer or piece that would aide the listener in what to listen for during the recital. This series reached over 4,500 people. 

The process of researching these pieces and creating streamlined posts for the audience was not only informative for me as an academic, but also as a performer. In fact, my interpretation and performing improved through the whole process, particularly with the first movement of the Beethoven sonata. Additionally, I received positive feedback from audience members who looked forward to the upcoming posts, and from those that found the information helpful during the recital stream. Below I've included the Facebook posts themselves, as well as a link to video selections from the recital. 

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To view parts of the recital

Rameau Les Cyclopes
Rameau Les Cyclopes

Click the link to access the video on this work.

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Beethoven Op 78
Beethoven Op 78

I think if there was any composer that would be considered the “face” of classical music, it would probably be Beethoven. We all know that famous photo of him looking ~angry~ (reference included via wiki) and you know, he was a bit of an angry man. He was filled with a lot of turmoil, which spills over into his compositions. This sonata, op. 78 in F sharp, was written in 1809, right around Beethoven’s pastoral period. Click the link to read more

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