A project that started as an idea on Twitter has come to fruition! The first of three volumes has been released today, and includes my piece, “It’s Okay, I’m Awake, Too”. Megan has become a wonderful creative colleague of mine, and the collaborative experience of composing for a compilation that explores one them approached by many composers was one I’d love to explore again in the future. You can purchase the album on Bandcamp here.
More info about the project is below.
New Orleans, LA – Mezzo-Soprano Megan Ihnen, praised by I Care If You Listen for her “seamless transitions between characters” and “creating a superb overarching journey,” announces the January 1, 2021 release of her new album Sleep Songs: Wordless Lullabies for the Sleepless on Odd Pop Records. This collection, recorded and engineered by Andrew Rodriguez, showcases world premiere recordings from nine American composers including: Jay Derderian, Michelle McQuade Dewhirst, Lee Hartman, Julia Seeholzer, Arthur Breur, Griffin Candey, Tony Manfredonia, Jen Wang, and D. Edward Davis.
Born out of a tweet exchange in 2017, Sleep Songs: Wordless Lullabies for the Sleepless is an artistic response to a friend’s request for soothing sounds when sleep seemed too far away. Ihnen explains, “When I first began this commissioning project in 2017, I couldn’t have predicted the need for lullabies for the sleepless in 2020. I simply followed the impulse of a friend asking for wordless songs. But, the process of fundraising – with the help of 154 donors, commissioning 26 composers, rehearsing and preparing this hypnotic music, and finally bringing the first of the three albums to fruition has been a reassuring beacon during the bewildering past few years.”
While some of the works address a descent into rest for an anxious mind or a respite from swirling thoughts and the need for words – above all, the music on this album reflects the composers’ relationship to the liminal space of drifting off to sleep and dream.
An important part of this project is the Kickstarter campaign which funded the commissioning of the 26 composers involved in the overarching vision. A testament to her power as a new music community organizer, Ihnen raised over $6,500 in seven days.
Megan Ihnen, mezzo-soprano – Sleep Songs: Wordless Lullabies for the Sleepless – Odd Pop Records | Released January 1, 2021 | All Pieces Commissioned and Performed by Megan Ihnen
 Jay Derderian (Portland, Oregon): Veil (2017) 3:04
 Michelle McQuade Dewhirst (Green Bay, Wisconsin): Deep Rest (2017) 5:58
 Lee Hartman (Kansas City, Missouri): i/xhale (2017) 6:23
 Julia Seeholzer (Warsaw, Poland): It’s Okay, I’m Awake, Too (2017) 2:52
 Arthur Breur (Portland, Oregon): Alua Alueia (2017) 2:54
 Griffin Candey (Ypsilanti, Michigan): It’s All Coming Down, Darling (2017) 3:19
 Tony Manfredonia (Petoskey, Michigan): Charlotte’s Lullaby (2017) 2:52
 Jen Wang (Los Angeles, California): The Days Are Long (2017) 2:44
 D. Edward Davis (North Haven, Connecticut): sleep patterns (2017) 7:51
*each track is a world premiere recording
About Megan Ihnen: Megan Ihnen is a “new music force of nature.” The act of live performance is integral to Megan’s work and her performances thrive on elaborate sound worlds and fully-developed dramatic interpretations. Through narrative and non-narrative musical storytelling, she explores the subjects of memory, nostalgia, the perception of time, and relationships. Whether through chamber music, staged recitals, opera, or large ensemble soloist work, she emphasizes the full range of vocal sounds, timbres, colors, and uses that characterize the 21st century voice.
Ihnen’s interpretations of modern and contemporary repertoire have garnered growing acclaim. She is particularly recognized as an excellent recitalist. Her work as part of Megan Ihnen & Alan Theisen present… brings new music to audiences everywhere through theatrically informed voice/saxophone performances, curatorial projects, and collaborations across art forms. MIATp’s programs have been praised as “a fresh look at what it means to be artists in the 21st century.” She has also worked with violinist Martha Morrison Muehleisen and Rome Prize winner and video artist Karen Yasinsky to take audiences on a profound journey through György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments through video and sound. Finally, Megan’s Single Words She Once Loved dramatic recital for voice and piano is a deeply personal exploration of the dueling forces of dementia, memory, and time.
Her devotion to the proliferation of new music extends beyond the commissioning and performing of music to teaching, workshopping, and mentoring of emerging artists in the field. She also works to increase the visibility and influence of new music through writing on the subject for multiple online and print publications. As a curator, she selected twenty works for mezzo-soprano and piano for the NewMusicShelf Anthology of New Music. Mezzo-Soprano, Vol. 1. Find out more about her touring programs, recordings, and more at meganihnen.com.