Learn, Practice, Create
Sommer Diction is the home of creator Daniel Sommer’s free and low-cost resource project for singers. While the project’s initial focus has been on phonetic transcriptions of Bach Cantatas, German Art Song, and large-scale German choral works, one cannot tell in which direction it will turn next. In addition to providing over 2500 IPA transcriptions at no charge, Sommer Diction is pleased to offer access to advanced text preparation tools through a monthly subscription ($0.99/month). Furthermore, private lessons and group workshops are available either in person or remotely, and can be scheduled via the website.
Daniel Sommer has a passion for projects that combine his love of classical music, teaching, and technology. He released Phonetic Keyboards early in 2016, enabling all iOS devices to freely utilize IPA symbols. Daniel has worked as both a professional singer and teacher of lyric diction, instructing at such institutions as Mannes: The New School for Music and the Manhattan School of Music. Additionally, he has delighted in coaching English, German, and Latin choral works with both professional and volunteer choruses, including the 200+ voiced Oratorio Society of New York. Daniel has been grateful for opportunities to collaborate with conductors such as Leon Botstein, Steven Fox, Jane Glover, Elizabeth Hastings, Frank Nemhauser, Robert Page, David Rosenmeyer, Stephen Michael Smith, and Kent Tritle. He is currently on the faculty of ToneRow, a revolutionary online platform for classical music education.
When not working, Daniel enjoys being out in nature, traveling, and learning new things.
Working with Daniel Sommer
Dan is one terrific diction teacher and coach. I have enjoyed our many collaborations together, and I always learn something from him. Dan, of course, possesses all the requisite skills—knowledge of language, pronunciation, IPA—but what I most appreciate is his lyric approach to any vocal text. With Dan, it is not a question of rote learning. The text is always approached with an eye (and ear) toward making the material flow. Dan has a way of relating to all singers, whether they be amateurs, professionals, or students. His own work as a singer enables him to approach diction from a vocal point of view—with excellent results.
I consider Daniel Sommer to be the diction guru of his generation. His work with my choruses at the Manhattan School of Music and the Oratorio Society of New York has been exemplary. Not only is his knowledge encyclopedic on the spot, Daniel also has a marvelous ability to create supporting materials that bolster my singers’ learning curve!
After having the pleasure of working with Dan Sommer through the Clarion Music Society, and coming to know firsthand the extraordinary quality of his German coaching, I have come to rely on Dan for all personal German coachings when I am preparing to sing German repertoire. He has a deep, masterful knowledge of the language, which, combined with his experience as a singer, affable manner, and thoughtful articulation of ideas and instructions, makes Dan truly the ideal German coach.
It is surely thanks to Dan’s incisive insights and guidance that the New York Times’ review of my recent performance as the soprano soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at Alice Tully Hall included the following: ‘soprano Nacole Palmer, always alert to the text.’ Thanks, Dan! I couldn’t have done it without you!
Among all the languages, German intimidates me the most. The importance of consonants and how it colors the text is something I am still working on. I was fortunate enough to work with Daniel- He is filled with patience and kindness. I feel very comfortable when I sing for him. His knowledge for singing makes him an outstanding, singer-friendly coach. He knows how to project his ideas from the singer’s point of view. And I enjoy making artistic interpretations with him.
© 2016 Daniel Sommer