Juliana Hall is primarily known as an American art song composer whose works have been described by the Boston Globe's Richard Dyer as "the most genuinely moving music of the afternoon" and the Washington Post's Joseph McLellan as "brilliant." Her songs have been heard across America and around the world, including performances at the 92nd Street Y (New York), Ambassador Auditorium (Los Angeles), Herbst Theatre (San Francisco), the Library of Congress (Washington, DC), the Ordway Theater (St. Paul), Théâtre du Châtelet (Paris), and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (New York), as well as the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar (SUNY Potsdam), SongFest (Los Angeles), and the Tanglewood Music Center (Lenox, MA).
Hall's songs and vocal chamber works have also been broadcast over radio stations and networks including the BBC (London), NPR (Washington, DC), Radio ArtsIndonesia (Jakarta), Radio France (Paris), Radio Horizon (Johannesburg), Radio MonaLisa (Amsterdam), WGBH (Boston), and WQXR (New York), and recorded on the Albany and Vienna Modern Masters record labels.
Following a performance at Wigmore Hall (London), Noel Goodwin of the Times opined that, "Recital convention was stood on its head when Dawn Upshaw began her London programme with a dozen songs by her American contemporaries…her commitment to the music of our own time is beyond question. Her choice of American songs, however, did not suggest there was much to catch the listener’s imagination…Exceptions might be made for Juliana Hall's beguiling 'Sonnet'…[to] which Gil Kalish at the piano brought sensitive insight…" After another performance of 'Sonnet' - at the Ojai Music Festival (Ojai, CA) - Janos Gereben wrote in the Oakland Post that, "the future of American art song is safe, robust even…On top of the list: Juliana Hall's 'Sonnet' (E. Bishop), with its unaccompanied opening, rich, Straussian line arching through the song."
Juliana Hall has composed song cycles and vocal chamber works for countertenor Brian Asawa, baritone David Malis, soprano Dawn Upshaw, the vocal duo Feminine Musique, Lyric Fest, and the Mirror Visions Ensemble. A few of the 200 musical artists performing Hall's works are singers Kelly Ann Bixby, Jane Bryden, Jon English, Maggie Finnegan, Andrew Fuchs, Allegra Giagu, Christopher Dylan Herbert, Danya Katok, Richard Lalli, Michael Lampard, Abigail Levis, Samantha Malk, Cassandra Manning, Amy Petrongelli, Stephen Salters, Jane Sheldon, Laura Dixon Strickling, and Jayne West, and collaborative pianists Bretton Brown, Rhodri Clarke, Dimitri Dover, Brent Funderburk, Margo Garrett, Bridget Hough, Kayo Iwama, Gilbert Kalish, Miriam Leskis, Mark Markham, Christopher Oldfather, Nicole Panizza, J. J. Penna, Paul Plummer, Renate Rohlfing, Valerie Trujillo, and Laura Ward.
A number of ensembles have programmed Hall's works in recent years, among them the ANA Trio (SUNY Fredonia), the CHAI Collaborative Ensemble (Chicago), the Mallarmé Chamber Players (Durham, NC), Voices of Change (Dallas), and Zenith (Melbourne). Concert series programming her works in recent seasons include the Joy in Singing organization (New York), the Song in the City series (London), and the Art of Music series (San Diego). Special performances include appearances on Dawn Upshaw's First Songs Project at the Morgan Library & Museum (New York) and a Holy Week meditation service in St. Paul's Cathedral (London).
In 2015 Hall was awarded a Sorel Organization Recording Grant to produce a CD of her art songs. Two song cycles, PROPRIETY and SYLLABLES OF VELVET, SENTENCES OF PLUSH, have already been recorded by Grammy-winning soprano Susan Narucki and pianist Donald Berman, and countertenor Darryl Taylor will record Hall's new song cycle O MISTRESS MINE in August 2016, with Hall at the piano. Plans are to release the finished CD during the 2016-2017 concert season.
The 2016-2017 season will also include world premiere performances of four song cycles and vocal chamber works: CHRISTINA'S WORLD (5 songs on Christina Rossetti poems) with the Cincinnati Song Initiative, ROOSTERS (a large setting of the Elizabeth Bishop poem) at the Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project in Princeton, UPON THIS SUMMER'S DAY (8 songs on Emily Dickinson poems) at the London Festival of American Music, and O MISTRESS MINE (12 songs on texts from Shakespeare plays) at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.
Other season highlights include two performances in Boston of NIGHT DANCES (6 songs on poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, and Edna St. Vincent Millay) on the Calliope's Call art song series and a presentation in San Francisco of LOVESTARS (5 songs on poems by E. E. Cummings) by the Ensemble for These Times. In addition, the Casement Fund Song Series is hosting a program at the National Opera Center in New York showcasing Hall's work as a composer - which will include her song cycles PROPRIETY (5 songs on Marianne Moore poems) and DREAMS IN WAR TIME (7 songs on Amy Lowell poems) - and the live chamber music and contemporary ballet group CelloPointe will premiere a new composition by Hall, as their first-ever commissioned composer, for two cellos and dancers at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in New York.
Juliana Hall began her musical career as a pianist, studying with Boris Berman, Martin Canin, Jeanne Kirstein, Seymour Lipkin, and Lee Luvisi. She became a composition major at the Yale School of Music, where she earned her Master’s degree in Composition studying with Martin Bresnick, Leon Kirchner, and Frederic Rzewski, and she completed her formal composition studies with composer Dominick Argento in Minneapolis. In 1989 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition.
Hall's song cycle SYLLABLES OF VELVET, SENTENCES OF PLUSH is published by Boosey & Hawkes; over 40 of her other song cycles, vocal chamber works, and instrumental compositions are published by Hall's own publishing entity, JULIANA HALL MUSIC (ASCAP). Her music can be obtained from Classical Vocal Reprints, J. W. Pepper, Inc., and a number of other specialty music distributors in the U.S. and the U.K.