On 8 October, Renée Fleming will release Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene, her new album with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Inspired by the solace Fleming found while hiking near her Virginia home during lockdown, the album explores the centrality of nature in Romantic-era song and highlights the peril and fragility of the natural world today.
Says Fleming, “This music begins in a time almost two centuries ago, when people had a profound connection to the beauty of nature. Now, in the Anthropocene, we see the effects of our own activity, and the fragility of our environment. Nature has been so good to us: we have not been so good to nature.”
Fleming and her collaborator, the Canadian conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin, have hand-picked a selection of works in which composers and poets find human experience and love reflected in the world of nature. A celebrated performer of art song, Fleming draws on both well-loved and lesser-known classical repertoire, with music by Edvard Grieg, Franz Liszt, Gabriel Fauré, and Reynaldo Hahn.
The album includes premieres of two new commissions from living composers. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts sets “Evening” by the American poet Dorianne Laux, and Nico Muhly collages poetry from the 17th-century English theologian Thomas Traherne with excerpts from writings by Robinson Meyer, a journalist who covers climate change, in Endless Space. Originally premiered by Fleming at Carnegie Hall in 2017, Caroline Shaw’s Aurora Borealis, to a text by poet Mary Jo Salter, is given its world-recording premiere.
Fleming will perform selections from Voice of Nature
in an eclectic programme
featuring music from Handel to Joni Mitchell, at the Edinburgh Festival on 25 August with pianist Harmut Höll.
During the pandemic, Fleming’s performances on digital platforms have included streamed concerts for the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She has also continued her advocacy and leadership work in full force. She launched the Healing Breath
project in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture and the Kennedy Center, enlisting celebrated vocalists to share their trusted breathing exercises with sufferers of “long covid” or other breathing challenges. Fleming also created Music and Mind LIVE
, a 19-episode video series exploring the intersection of music, neuroscience and health with scientists and thought leaders.