For this immersive performance, lyric soprano Natanya Sheva Washer and guitarist Sean Brennan will explore music inspired by nature, including works by Florence Price, Kaija Saariaho, William Grant Still, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Pauline Viardot. These pastoral and meditative songs are paired with rare, vividly illustrated books from the George Peabody Library collection.

About the Artists


Natanya Sheva Washer, soprano

In roles ranging from Monteverdi to Puccini, international soprano Natanya Sheva Washer has had the pleasure of singing for renowned venues such as the Vatican and Carnegie Hall. She mesmerizes her audience with ever-evolving interpretations which elicit a truly genuine performance.

Natanya has appeared Maryland Lyric Opera, Center Stage, The Denyce Graves Foundation’s “Shared Voices”, The Baltimore Tiffany Series, Young Victorian Theater Company, Baltimore Annex Theater, Bach in Baltimore, Peabody Opera Theater, and The El Paso Opera Company. Such roles range from Poppea in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, to Pitti-Sing in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. In February 2015, Natanya performed the role of Maria Bertram in the US premiere of Jonathan Dove’s opera Mansfield Park at Baltimore’s Theater Project. And in February 2016, she performed the role of Elsie Whinthrop in the World premiere of Paul Crabtree’s opera The Ghost Train at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Natanya is currently a soprano soloist for Bach in Baltimore, Maryland Opera, and the Tiffany Concert Series. As a part of the Tiffany Series, her solo voice has been recorded and archived by the Maryland Historical Society. She made her international debut singing at the Vatican in 2010, and has since continued an international career working with talent such as the Juarez Symphony Orchestra.

Sean Brennan, guitar

Sean Brennan is a multi-disciplinary guitarist and educator hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. As a performer, Sean specializes in contemporary music, and regularly works with living composers. He has given multiple world premieres of new solo and chamber works, including the works of Jordan Chase, Kyle Dubin, and Johnathan Hugendubler. He has performed and recorded George Crumb’s work “Quest”, which has been preserved for posterity in the Library of Congress. He has performed in the Now Hear This contemporary ensemble with member of Alarm Will Sound. Recent engagement have included the About/face concert series, Peabody on the Court concert series, Fret Festival, and the Blank Space concert series.

As an educator, Sean has extensive experience over a wide range of students and teaching environments. In addition to teaching at the Preparatory, he has taught courses at the Peabody Institute, and is a faculty member Notre Dame of Maryland University and Harmonic Music Studios. Sean has also participated in Johns Hopkins research, where he has led guitar group classes for adults with Parkinson’s disease. His students have been accepted to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Penn State University, University of Tampa, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Sean completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in performance and pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and is a current candidate in the Graduate Performance Diploma program, under the tutelage of Julian Gray.


Max Richter (b. 1966): On the Nature of Daylight

Kaija Saariaho (1952-2023): Lohn (I, VI, VII)

Colin Read (b. 1990): I Do Not Love You (Sonnet XVII)

Pauline Viardot (1821-1910): Fleur desséchée

Franz Liszt (1811-1886): Oh! Quand je dors

Florence Price (1887-1953): An April Day

William Grant Still (1895-1978): The Breath of a Rose

Laura Snowden (b.1989): The Strange World of Spiders

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908): The Nightingale and the Rose

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Song of India

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943): How Fair This Spot

Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960): Lúa descolorida

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992): O Sacrum Convivium

Texts and Translations

  • Kaija Saariaho: Lohn (I, VI, VII)


    When the days are long in May

    The sweet song of birds from afar seems lovely to me

    And when I have left there

    I remember a distant love

    I walk bent and vowed with desire

    So much so that neither song nor hawthorn flower

    Please me more than the icy winter


    God who made everything that comes and goes

    And formed this distant love

    Grant me the power of my heart

    Soon to see the distant love

    Truly in a propitious place

    And that the room and garden

    Always appear as palaces to me.


    He speaks true who says I am avid

    And longing for the distant love

    For no joy gives me pleasure

    Like the pleasure of the distant love

    But what I want is forbidden to me

    So my godfather endowed me

    That though loving I will not have been loved.


    But what I want is forbidden to me

    So may my godfather be cursed

    Who made me not to be loved.

  • Colin Read: I Do Not Love You (Sonnet XVII)

    I do not love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,

    or arrow of carnations shot off:

    I love you as one loves certain dark things, are to be loved,

    In secret, between the shadow and the soul.

    I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries

    In itself the light of hidden flowers,

    Thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance risen

    from the earth lives darkly in my body.

    I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

    I love you straightforwardly without complexities or pride:

    So I love you because I know no other way than this,

    Where I does not exist, nor you,

    so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

    so close that your eyes close when I fall asleep.

    Poem by Pablo Neruda

  • Pauline Viardot: Fleur desséchée (Pressed flower)

    In this old book you have been forgotten

    Flower without scent or color

    But a strange reverie

    Fills my heart when I see you.


    What day, what place witnessed your birth?

    What was your destiny? Who picked you?

    Who knows? Perhaps I knew

    Those whose love preserved you!


    Faded rose, do you recall

    The first hours or the farewell?

    The conversations in the meadow

    Or in the silent wood?


    Is he still living? Does she exist?

    On which branches do their nests sway?

    Or like you, who were so lovely,

    Are their charming looks withered?

    Text by Alexander Pushkin

  • Franz Liszt: Oh! Quand je dors

    Oh! while I sleep, come to my bedside

    Just as Laura appeared to Petrarch

    And in passing, let your breath touch me…

    Suddenly my lips

    Will part!

    On my troubled brow, where a dark dream

    The lasted too long is perhaps ending

    Let your gaze fall like a star…

    Suddenly my dream

    Will become radiant!

    Then on my lips where a flame flickers

    A flash of love which God made pure,

    Place a kiss, from an angel become a woman…

    Suddenly my soul

    Will awaken!

    Oh come! just as Laura appeared to Petrarch!

    Text by Victor Hugo

  • Florence Price: An April Day

    On such a day as this I think,

    On such a day as this,

    When earth and sky and nature’s world

    Are clad in April’s bliss;

    And balmy zephyrs gently waft

    Upon your cheek a kiss;

    Sufficient is it just to live

    On such a day as this.

  • William Grant Still: The Breath of a Rose

    Love is like dew

    On lilacs at dawn:

    Comes the swift sun

    And the dew is gone.

    Love is like star-light

    In the sky at morn:

    Star-light that dies

    When day is born.

    Love is like perfume

    In the heart of a rose:

    The flower withers,

    The perfume goes–

    Love is not more

    Than the breath of a rose,

    No more

    Than the breath of a rose.

    Poem by Langston Hughes

  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Nightingale and the Rose

    Enslaved by the rose, the nightingale

    Both day and night singing over it;

    But rose silently listens song …

    The lyre as a singer

    Sings for young maidens;

    A maiden dear do not know –

    Who sings it? why

    Sad songs so it?…

  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Song of India

    Unnumbered gems in vaulted caves lie treasured,

    Beneath our sunlit seas lie pearls unnumbered,

    Great is the wealth of Hindustan.


    ‘Mid those halcyon waters

    On a rock of sapphire

    Dwells the bird called Phoenix,

    With a woman’s features.

    Singing songs of Eden

    With surpassing sweetness,

    Covering all the ocean

    With her glorious plumage.

    Whoso hears her singing,

    All things else forgetteth.

  • Sergei Rachmaninoff: How Fair This Spot

    How nice it is here…
    Look – far away,
    The river is a blaze of fire;
    The meadows lie like carpets of color
    The clouds are white.
    Here there is no one…
    Here it is silent…
    Here is only God and I,
    The flowers, the old pine tree,
    And you, my dream!

  • Osvaldo Golijov: Lúa Descolorida

    Moon, colorless
    like the color of pale gold:
    You see me here and I wouldn’t like you
    to see me from the heights above.
    Take me, silently, in your ray
    to the space of your journey.

    Star of the orphan souls,
    Moon, colorless:
    I know that you don’t illuminate
    sadness as sad as mine.
    Go and tell it to your master
    and tell him to take me to his place.

    But don’t tell him anything,
    Moon, colorless,
    because my fate won’t change
    here or in other worlds.
    If you know where Death
    has her dark mansion,
    Tell her to take my body and soul together
    To a place where I won’t be remembered,
    Neither in this world, nor in the heights above.


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