Wild Songs

Preserving space for love and beauty
Steve Heitzeg
Lori Laitman
Polly Butler Cornelius
Victoria Fischer Faw
Heather Barringer
Patti Cudd
Catalog Number: 
new classical
solo voice

Greensboro, NC

Release Date: 
Apr 24, 2012
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Contemporary art song is alive and well in the hands of soprano Polly Butler Cornelius and the team she has gathered for Wild Songs; a song recital as suitable for an environmental consciousness-raising event as for the salon. Drawing on impassioned pleas and the enigmatic nature-centered poetry of Emily Dickinson these powerful, lyrical songs charm and chasten.

Steve Heitzeg’s Wild Songs — a set of three pieces on environmental themes on texts by Rachel Carson, Dr. Jane Goodall and Terry Tempest Williams — starts the recital on an urgent note. Cornelius is joined for these colorful songs by Zeitgeist members Heather Barringer and Patti Cudd on percussion instruments such as the jawbone of a Beluga whale, packages of organic seeds, and a Yupik frame drum. Not to be left out, bonobos (albeit pre-recorded ones) join the mix for the final song, a plea to preserve natural wilderness areas.

Heitzeg’s other songs on the album set texts from Corinthians, Aeschylus and Robert F. Kennedy, whose dying words, “Is everybody else alright?” epitomize the selflessness and compassion at the center of this glowing program. The other songs, by the Emmy-award winning Heitzeg and art-song champion Lori Laitman, set poetry of Emily Dickinson, whose concise emotional gems fly easily off the page into the heart. One set, Three Graces for Hildur, was commissioned by Jack and Linda Hoeschler in honor of her mother; a fitting tribute.

Dr. Polly Butler Cornelius teaches at Elon University in North Carolina. She is no stranger to the international stage and performs frequently in Italy and at major venues across the US. She is in demand as a soloist for opera, oratorio and song recitals, where she has carved a niche specializing in contemporary songs by Steve Heitzeg and Libby Larson among others. Her students can be found performing leading roles on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and on Glee.

Pianist Victoria Fischer Faw also teaches at Elon and pursues an international career from Greece to Belize while being a Bartok specialist.


“Polly Butler Cornelius fills the room with her soprano delivery … she is dramatic and dynamic in this recital and the song material is very much worth hearing.”
—Greg Edwards

"For people who think back nostalgically to Schubert and his musical circle and marvel at the small, private pleasures they enjoyed, here is evidence that such musical society and magic exist today, and that living composers … write music that is similarly attentive to the intimate, hidden beauties implicit in the composing music for friends. … [T]he music and poetry together … is aligned as only art songs can be to the vibrations and moods of the time."
Laurence Vittes

"The music is full of fascination and variety, and is by no means comparable to your typical rabble-rousing protest songs for the millions. With honest feelings and powerful sentiments expressed in sometimes forceful but more often poetic and restrained fashion, these are works which lead their own environmental consciousness-raising life with considerable communicative depth. … Superbly recorded and with all texts included in the booklet, this is a release with Innova’s usual high production values. Polly Butler Cornelius sings all of these songs with excellent expression and a depth of sincerity which comes from her extensive preparation and personal attachment to what she describes as 'these beautiful and intellectual songs.'" [FULL ARTICLE]
Dominy Clements

"[S]oprano Polly Butler Cornelius … has a focused and beautifully concentrated voice. Her phrasing is superb, breath control artfully articulate, and intonation nearly flawless. Tonally she possesses a nuanced and lovely instrument that serves the music very well. … Prolific by any definition, [Lori Laitman's] work encompasses many genres while concentrating specially on vocal music. The Four Emily Dickinson Songs are good examples of an art that is straightforward, melodic, and exceptionally apt in its characterizations of the text. … Steve Heitzeg [is] a composer who is fiercely melodic and knows how to integrate disparate sounds into a whole, which is what we have with Wild Songs." [FULL ARTICLE]
Steven Ritter