By Ace Gangoso
It’s been a while! How are you all? Welcome back to the return of our blog, The Art Song Fix. By now, hopefully you have seen some of the great news we have shared recently, particularly our season announcement. Over the summer, we have not only been planning and rehearsing for these programs, but we have also spent
time in the recording studio. Stay tuned for some exciting details on that very
As we pause to celebrate Labor Day, I am reminded of my duet with Dave, singing
Jake Heggie’s (1961-) setting of the Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) poem, “Factory
Windows Are Always Broken.” Heggie made a curious conversation out of this
already peculiar text—two voices spar with each other as a raucous piano
accompaniment fuels the fire and drama. Since this performance, I have developed
a slightly different context of what exactly is going on here. If you’re curious about
the contents of my brain I will share, but I decided to leave it out of this particular
post for length. Several existing analyses consider this poem to be a story of
laborers revolting against unfavorable and inhumane conditions, and perhaps
disdain for how the true skill and art of craftspeople were being replaced by
machines and assembly lines. Without being able to be totally certain about his
intentions, Lindsay did live during an important time in the history of labor in our
country, amid unionization efforts, strikes, judicial and legislative actions, and the
implications of a world war.
As modern-day workers, we enjoy certain opportunities, benefits, and protections
that were not always guaranteed, and I realize how easily that can be taken for
granted. Chicago has a notably turbulent history of labor disputes. I am privileged
to be a part of the AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists) Union, and also have
the honor to serve as a committee member representing choristers at the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra. I will most certainly enjoy this day off to recharge, but I will
aim to keep at the forefront of my mind those who have fought on behalf of all
workers, and ponder how I might continue the labor of advocating for the greater
good. The work must continue!
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Hello, and welcome to the blog! We are Fourth Coast Ensemble, Chicago's classical vocal quartet. Join a different member of our ensemble each week for insights into our favorite art songs, links to archival and new recordings, and reflections on why we value and continue to come back to this musical medium. We proudly present, your weekly #artsongfix!