Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Jonathan Yarrington

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Kimberley Davis

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Chris Goertzen

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Taylor Hightower

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Douglas Rust

Committee Member 5 School



Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s 2015 song cycle Iconic Legacies: First Ladies at the Smithsonian offers an interesting challenge for a singer. First Ladies of the United States – real people – make up the characters of the cycle, requiring the singer to know their histories and their personalities rather than making arbitrary acting decisions. Heggie and Scheer insist that the singer honor each woman by telling her story with emotional authenticity.

This document provides the singer guidance, offering historical context for each story and biographical information for each woman. Each of Mr. Scheer’s texts are examined, exploring his treatment of time, the concept that the women are ghosts, and his expressive use of rhyme and repetition. Mr. Heggie’s music is analyzed, following his use of half steps, scales, chromatic passages, manipulation of motives, quotes from “My Country, ‘tis of Thee,” and spoken words. Heggie uses these techniques to emphasize emotional aspects of the stories, so the singer must know the woman’s stories and realize that his music is meant to be emotionally representative. With knowledge of each woman’s stories and personalities, and an understanding of Heggie’s emotional music, the singer fulfills her duty to perform these songs with emotional authenticity.