"Recontextualizing Music for Social Change" proposes alternative ways through which the traditional setup of a vocal recital may be transformed into a multidisciplinary performance with a specific social purpose. This task might be achieved by the conscious use and merging of elements such as innovation, ritualistic significance of music, and hopes for social change.
Rather than exclusively analyzing the nature of these three elements, this document seeks to exemplify the artistic use of these tools through the description of two doctoral recitals. These performances focus on the portrayal of two specific social issues concerning gender identity: the femme fatale, and sexual identity.
The first performance, "Defatalizing the Femme Fatale: The Voice behind a Stereotype," reflects on the negative connotations of the French femme fatale stereotype. This dangerous image has been perpetuated through popular and mass media since the nineteenth century. The femme fatale has achieved an iconic status thanks to her appealing, damaging, unrealistic, and hypersexualized traits. Nevertheless, this male-constructed stereotype was actually conceived as a parody of female emancipation. "Defatalizing the Femme Fatale" seeks to create awareness of this image through a staged approach of Shostakovich's Michelangelo Suite, feminist poetry and prose, and euphonium music.
The second performance, "Un-Labelling Love: A Scientific Study of Romantic Attachment in Four Seasons," analyses the biological nature of love. According to this perspective, "Un-Labelling Love" transforms a vocal recital into a scientific lecture. This lecture examines four developmental stages of romantic love through the performance of art songs and the inclusion of a narrator, who describes the biological and psychological changes experienced by two research subjects--the performers--during these love stages. Through a plot-twist at the end of the performance, "Un-Labelling Love" also questions the patriarchal assumption that heterosexual kinship represents, by default, the unmarked category of adult pair-bonding. In summary, and based on scientific facts, this vocal performance seeks to encourage social assimilation of non-heterosexual kinship systems.