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Monthly Archives: August 2017

  • Su Lian Tan: Oberlin Music recording includes world premiere of work for cello & orchestra

    Cellist Darrett Adkins released Myth & Tradition, a new album of music that he commissioned. The recording includes Su Lian Tan's Legends of Kintamani. Adkins partnered with the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, directed by Timothy Weiss, to premiere this work.

    Tan writes, "Legends of Kintamani was inspired by travels to Southeast Asia and specifically Bali. The five movement storytelling form depicts a return to a more innocent time, one where mythology and reality combine in fairy tales.

    The piece opens with an invocation, a chorale-like ode to the landscape. The Garuda swoops in and forcefully claims his status, calling to his minions and commanding the forces of nature. At the end of the movement he performs Silat, a Malaysian form of stylized combat. He alights having been beguiled by a rainbow and sings a serenade to her. Night falls, and the Solo Cello evokes a soft veil surrounding the environment. The forest creatures come to a rest while mysterious sounds and voices emanate from different corners of the landscape. Gamelan textures lead the way into the morning, an aubade signifying a joyous new beginning."

    Legends of Kintamani will soon be available from E. C. Schirmer.

    Darrett Adkins

    Darrett Adkins is Associate Professor of Cello at Oberlin Conservatory. Adkins has commissioned and been the dedicatee of many important new works for cello, including concertos by Su Lian Tan and Philip Cashian, as well as Jeffrey Mumford’s concerto, which Adkins premiered with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. He performed the U.S. premieres of Birtwhistle’s Meridian and Donatoni’s Le Ruisseau sur l’escalier at Tanglewood, and the New York premieres of Rolf Wallin’s Grund at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, Arne Nordheim’s Tenebrae (Alice Tully Hall), Messiaen’s Concerto for Four Instruments (Carnegie Hall), and Berio’s Sequenza XIVa (with the International Contemporary Ensemble), which Adkins also recorded for Naxos’ complete set of Sequenzas.

    An avid chamber musician, Adkins performs and records in the United States and Europe with the Lions Gate Trio. He is a former member of the Zephyr Trio and the Flux Quartet, with which he gave the first complete performance of Morton Feldman’s Quartet II and made the subsequent recording on Mode Records. He has recorded with the Juilliard Quartet and been a guest at the festivals of Melbourne, Oslo Chamber Music, Ojai, Aspen, Tanglewood, and Chautauqua. He has performed standard concerti with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Tokyo Philharmonic, Suwon Philharmonic, National Symphony of the UFF in Rio de Janeiro, and the symphonies of New Hampshire and North Carolina.

    Source: Cello Professor Darrett Adkins Releases Myth & Tradition | Oberlin College and Conservatory

  • Julian Wachner - Time's Arrow Festival performs complete works of Anton Webern

    Deemed as the New York Classical Review's "Critic's Choice for the 2017-18 season" the annual Time's Arrow Festival is a celebration of music and arts in the new world. This highlight of New York's musical season features The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY, under the direction of Julian Wachner.

    Anton Webern

    The 2017-18 and 2018-19 series of Time's Arrow concerts focuses on the complete works of Austrian serialist composer Anton Webern. The festival presents Webern’s works alongside those of the early contrapuntal composers whose direct descendant he considered himself to be, as well as a sampling of works by the later composers he inspired. The festival’s examination of Webern and the turbulent times in which he lived explores how an artist’s work relates to personal politics and whether the two spheres can be separated.

    Fall concerts take place September 12-14, 2017. Click here to see the programmed repertoire.

    Source: Time's Arrow Festival | Trinity Church

  • REV. 23 premiere: new opera from Julian Wachner & Cerise Jacobs, the sequel to Revelations

    On September 29, a new opera from Cerise Jacobs and Julian WachnerRev. 23, premieres at Boston's John Hancock Theater. The premiere kicks off the Boston New Music Festival and features White Snake Projects production company, who shares new, relevant opera based on the stories of Cerise Jacobs. Rev. 23 will be available soon from E. C. Schirmer.

    Plot
    Rev. 23 is the sequel to the Book of Revelations. It is told from the perspective of St. John the Divine and "transcribed" by Cerise Lim Jacobs. The opera narrates the last battle to recapture Paradise-on-Earth and restore the balance of good and evil to our world. Persephone, the only being able to pass freely between Hell and Earth, is recruited by Lucifer in the fight against the rulers of Paradise-on-Earth. No one is exempt from this battle. The opera transcends the Biblical narrative, and pulls characters from mythology and Chinese history.

    Librettist/Creator
    Cerise Lim Jacobs has earned a place as one of the most creative and imaginative thinkers of our time. Born in Singapore, Jacobs eventually moved to Massachussetts where she worked as a trial partner at one of New England's largest law firms, practicing law for more than two decades. Three years into her retirement, a song cycle written for her husband turned into her first, full-length opera Madame White Snake. The music by Zhou Long won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.

    Jacobs writes, "I dreamed up REV. 23 one day as I was thinking of where I would meet my husband Charles again since he passed from this world. It amused me that my incorrigible, irascible and impossible husband wouldn't be caught dead (pardon the pun) in Paradise (not that he'd be entirely welcome there) as some of the most interesting people seem to be consigned to that other place. This led to more musing about what Heaven was like and concomitantly, what that other place was like.

    I was aided in these musings by the fact that I was a Singaporean Methodist, a product of an American Methodist Missionary school and deeply steeped in biblical lore. So I turned, naturally, to the most detailed account of Paradise-on-Earth familiar to me, the divine visions of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation.

    Poring over the Book of Revelation over and over again (it's a very short book), I couldn't shake away the sense of unease that grew stronger with each read, that perhaps I wouldn't be perfectly happy in a place of perfect happiness. As I began to explore why I felt uneasy, the framework for Rev. 23, the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, began to take shape."

    Composer

    Julian Wachner, Grammy-nominated composer, is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought after as composer, conductor, educator and keyboard artist. He is currently Director of Music and Arts at Trinity Wall Street and Music Director of the Grammy award winning Washington Chorus.

    With over 80 works in his catalog, Wachner’s music has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” (Boston Globe), having “splendor, dignity, outstanding tone combinations, sophisticated chromatic exploration…a rich backdrop, wavering between a glimmer and a tingle...” (La Scena Musicale), being “a compendium of surprises” (Washington Post), and as “bold and atmospheric”, having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting” and noted for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” (New York Times.) The American Record Guide noted that “Wachner is both an unapologetic modernist and an open-minded eclectic – his music has something to say.” In 2010, He made New York City Opera history when he was selected as both conductor and composer at the company’s annual VOX festival of contemporary opera leading to the invitation to be the sole conductor of this Festival in 2012.


    To learn more about the opera, click here.

    Read Harvard Magazine's January 2017 Interview with Cerise Jacobs here.

    Read Elena Ruehr's interview with Cerise Jacobs and Julian Wachner here.

    Source: REV. 23, from Creator and Librettist Cerise Jacobs and Composer Julian Wachner, Premieres at Boston’s John Hancock Theater September 29; Tickets on Sale May 1 - 21C Media Group - Publicity. Digital Media. Consulting. For Music, Culture, & the Performing Arts

  • Duo YUMENO premieres third chapter in commissioning project - Daron Hagen

    Duo YUMENO (Yoko Reikano Kimura, koto; and Hikaru Tamaki, violoncello) commissioned American composer Daron Hagen to create four large-scale works for koto and cello based on characters and stories from the great Japanese epic, The Tale of Heike. The project is titled "Songs of Heike," the third installment of which is called Misterioso. The world premiere performance takes place on Saturday, September 9.

    About Misterioso

    Photo by John Broughton

    The third duo tells the story of Kogō (portrayed by the koto), Takafusa, and the Emperor's man, Takakuna (both men are portrayed by the cello). Kogō was the most beautiful lady and the finest koto player in the palace. Takafusa’s love for her was deep and pure. When she was summoned to Emperor Takakura’s side upon the death of his beloved consort Aoi No Mae, she fulfilled her duty. Sadly, Takafusa was one of mankind’s saddest souls, for, as Gide observed: “Nothing thwarts happiness as much as the memory of happiness.” He could not let her go.  The work is in three movements: 1. Kogō and Takafusa, 2. Kogō Alone, 3. Kogō and Nakakuni.

    Movement 1 (Kogō and Takafusa) portrays the lovers in the moonlight, illuminated by their grief. Kogō sings the words of a poem Takafusa has dared to send her, which begins:

    When I think of you / There is no end to my pain

    Upon her honor, she cannot finish reading the poem. She discards it and pours her feelings out in the still night playing her koto, counterpointed by the sounds of the whistling night wind, the lonesome calls of the gulls, and Takafusa's cries.  Movement 2 (Kogō Alone) portrays Kogō, who has fled the palace, living in hiding in a humble cottage near the village of Saga. The Emperor’s faithful man Nakakuni is searching for her, this poem on his mind:

    Here in the mountains / Near the village of Saga, / The fawns are crying. / A man is full of sorrow / In autumn, when night has come.  

    In Movement 3 (Kogō and Nakakuni), the story of Nakakuni discovering Kogō at the Hōrin Temple is told. He hears her playing the melody (I quote a fragment of it) of Sōfuren, which tells of a wife longing for her husband. Nakakuni draws his flute from his sash and plays with her. We hear his flute, her cries of anguish, her koto, his fists banging repeatedly on the door. She tells him that she cannot return with him to the palace. Arrested, she is forced, at age 23, to become a nun, her beauty imprisoned by a black robe, living in the wilderness of Saga. The words sung during the movement are those Nakauni had in mind when he set out to find Kogō. She remembers the words of Tokuko  (“Ici, sur la montagne - / La lune que j’ai l’habitude de voir / Dans le ciel dessus le palais?”) as she thinks of their shared destinies as nuns. At the end, she is alone, praying.

    -- Description by Daron Hagen

    https://vimeo.com/134910708

    From the first installment of "Songs of Heike," Appassionato.

    Source: Misterioso for Koto, Cello, & Voice — Daron Hagen

  • Interview with Composer of the Month: Daron Hagen

    Daron Hagen Photo by Karen Pearson

    Daron Hagen (b. 1961) is a prolific composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music for the concert hall and stage. He is also a stage director, conductor, librettist, essayist, clinician, and collaborative pianist. Described as a “composer born to write operas” (Chicago Tribune) whose music is “dazzling, unsettling, exuberant, and heroic” (The New Yorker), his opera Amelia was described as “one of the 20 best operas of the 21st century” by Opera News. Hagen’s work often includes collaborations with both mainstream and cutting-edge filmmakers, directors, conductors, choreographers, and musicians worldwide. He was recognized in 2014 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with an Academy Award citing his "outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledging the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice." Hagen's extensive and diverse catalog includes operas, choral works, symphonies, and chamber music.

    1. How were you first introduced to music? What inspired you to pursue composition?

    My mother, who was a writer and visual artist, played the violin into college; she used to listen to Paganini violin concertii, one after the next, and recordings of Sinatra performing those great Nelson Riddle arrangements of Cole Porter, while she sculpted on the back porch of our home in New Berlin, Wisconsin. I recall sitting for her when I was around nine while she was working and thinking that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. At fifteen I was taken to a Milwaukee Symphony concert and, listening to Kenneth Schermerhorn and company perform the Dvorak “New World” Symphony, I resolved to become a composer, specifically. While I pursued activities as a conductor, pianist, stage director, and writer in parallel to composing, it became the center of my activities, and has remained so.

    2. Describe life as a composer. What are the joys and challenges of the career?

    I am a father first, a husband second, and an artist third. I long ago melded together my self and music, so there’s no doubt that it is the way that I connect to life and reality. But I’m a polymath, as my teachers were. (Ned Rorem was a pianist, writer, and composer; Lukas Foss a pianist, conductor, and composer; Leonard Bernstein, well, he was, in his customarily all-embracing way, everything.) Composing is only one manifestation of music’s role in my life—I conduct, perform as a pianist, coach chamber music, teach composition students, write articles about it, stage direct my operas, write librettos, develop new works, and compose music.

    Our culture’s awfully hard on polymaths. I recall Anthony Tomassini, in the New York Times, at pains to slap down Bernstein in a piece by observing that "Bernstein was not a deeply original thinker, but he loved ideas and saw connections everywhere.” I recall writing, in a piece about Bernstein for the Huffington Post, "In 1971, the year he became the first music critic to receive the Pulitzer Prize, Harold Schoenberg wrote of the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: “So this MASS is with it — this week? But what about next year?” Schoenberg was the leader of the pack that wanted LB to settle down and do one thing. Perhaps then, he argued, LB would reach his potential. How condescending! Stephen Sondheim was poking fun of these folks when he wrote new lyrics to Weill’s “The Saga of Jenny” and made it “The Saga of Lenny” for LB’s 70th birthday—its conclusion was, “Lenny, please never make up your mind!”

    3. In addition to your work as a composer, conductor, and stage director, you are also widely sought-after as a guest lecturer. Some of your most recent presentations were to students at Westminster Choir College and New York University. What do you find most gratifying about working with young musicians? What questions do you hear most often?

    Oscar Levant was pretty hard on LB, too, when he quipped that “Lenny has been revealing openly-known musical secrets for decades.” Levant, who was deliciously sophisticated, couldn’t help himself. I always loved to teach, but it wasn’t until I had children myself that I realized that there’s more to teaching than “generosity of spirit,” or trying to make thought lightbulbs light up, or ginning up pipe dreams about what constitutes “inspiration” for youngsters. Teaching is about the transmission of values. Working with young musicians is a profound blessing and responsibility, since they’ve already been called to a way of life (being a musician) that requires discipline, sensitivity, empathy, courage, and good character—all indisputably positive values. There are no consistent questions: once someone I’m working with is being true to their core, they ask very specific, very original questions. Responding by trying to give them tools for survival, growth, and understanding of music requires me to bring my “A” game, to be positive, and to find reasons for hope.

    4. Your newly-revised Walt Whitman Requiem will be available from E. C. Schirmer this September. Tell us about this piece and the inspiration behind it.

    It was my very first professional commission, given to me by Mark Jon Gottschalk, a colleague of my brother Kevin’s, who ran the Loomis Chaffee School’s chorus and orchestra. He wanted a work for chorus, solo soprano, and string orchestra. I was between studies at Curtis, and studies at Juilliard, spending the summer at Yaddo, the artist retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York, and wanted to do something close to my heart. My mother had just died, so a requiem was in my heart; and Walt Whitman’s writings about the Civil War seemed to me to be ideal for interweaving into an American requiem.

    Daron Hagen and wife Gilda Lyons

    5. Your website indicates this requiem has the “longest gestational period” of any works in your catalog. It has been a work-in-progress for thirty-three years. How do you know when a piece is finished?

    I began the piece and finished it that summer at Yaddo. That was 1984! As an opera composer, I’m always going back into the works to rethink them for new times and situations. It is what makes theater so challenging and requiring of growth by its practitioners. Concert music’s different, yes: a double bar should mean basta. And I really did mean to have finished the requiem back then. But it was too raw, too young. The subject, to be honest, was a bit too much for the composer who undertook it at the time, though his intentions were (as far as I know!) good. For me, a piece is finished either when it beats me, and I just walk away from it and allow it to be the torso that it needed to have been, or because I really feel as though my reach exceeded my grasp by just enough that the result isn’t too flawed to share with the world. Every piece—even my opera Amelia, the ending of which I feel really captured some personal truths—is, in some way, a disappointment. Otherwise, why would one go on and try again?

    6. Your extensive and diverse catalog includes works for opera, choir, symphonies, and chamber music. Do you implement different techniques and methods when approaching each musical genre? Do you have a favorite for which to compose?

    I approach all composing the same way. I think of the human beings who are going to perform it, and the human being composing it, and try to build a bridge for us to cross together into a place where we can share the beauty of music, it’s creation, and re-creation, with one another, and with others. I couldn’t compose for someone I didn’t like as a person.

    7. Describe your compositional style. What most inspires your music?

    I am inspired by music’s ability to speak truth to power, to cut through people’s attitudes and received views and to communicate directly with their souls and hearts. On a good day, my work may even have therefore been able to be a force for good, something that made people’s lives better, possibly more humane.

    8. How do you spend your non-musical time?

    I like simply to be with my wife and sons, with family, and friends. Music’s running through my head all the time. It took me over three decades to realize that that was a blessing, not a curse. Now it is integrated into every moment of my life, every interaction with others, and there’s no stress in its creation or performance for me. I guess I have no non-musical time!

    9. Is there any recent or upcoming news you wish to share?

    I recently joined the Artist Faculty at the Chicago College of the Performing Arts, where  I’m developing a new musico-theatric work called Orson Rehearsed that features the exciting young ensemble Fifth House and a handful of singers that I find emotionally and intellectually invigorating. You can read about it here.


    Click here to learn more about Daron Hagen.

    Photo by Karen Pearson

  • The Finisterra Trio revisits work premiered & recorded for Naxos Records — Daron Hagen

    Seattle-area residents enjoy the First Sundays Concerts series hosted on Bainbridge Island across the bay. On Sunday, September 10, the renowned Finisterra Trio shares Daron Hagen's Piano Trio No. 3: Wayfaring Stranger which was originally commissioned and recorded by the ensemble.

    Click on the CD cover to purchase the CD at amazon. Also available at i-Tunes and all other online retailers.Daron Hagen explores his introduction and relationship with the American folk spiritual Wayfaring Stranger, which serves as the foundation for this trio.

    "I confess that, in June of 1997, when my brother Britt asked me to compose a set of variations on his favorite Mormon hymn, Poor Wayfaring Stranger, I had never heard it, and didn't care for the tune. I crafted four rather uninspired variants on it for violin and piano, sent it along to him with my love, and forgot about it. One of our final telephone conversations concerned itself in part with his account of how the little piece had gone over at his church that Sunday; he died a few days later.

    Nine years later, near dusk one late afternoon in June of 2006, as my wife and I drove through the Virginia countryside on our way to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, we were suddenly gripped by the words and melody of a spiritual playing on the radio. Moreover, we realized at that moment that we had for some time been driving through hallowed ground; the First Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run — the first major battle of the American civil war — had taken place in the surrounding meadows in July of 1861. The hymn on the radio was Wayfaring Stranger. I knew then that I would return to the hymn and try to do justice not just to my brother's memory but to the wonderful folk melody that he so loved.

    The result was a return to the piano trio form after an interval of twenty years. It begins with a Mazurka in seven; marked 'gracious, pleasant, charming,' the customary triple meter pulse is divided into combinations of two and three beats. Wayfaring Stranger gives the folk tune, and follows it with three variations. Next follows a tricky Fandango, my take on an ancient Spanish dance in triple meter, probably of Moorish origin, that came into Europe in the 17th century. At the end of certain measures, the music halts abruptly and the dancers remain rigid until it is resumed. An Aubade, a poem or song of or about lovers separating at dawn, follows; it acts as an introduction to the finale, a set of eight more Variations on Wayfaring Stranger."

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUTueppTGbA[/embed]

    Source: Piano Trio No. 3: Wayfaring Stranger — Daron Hagen

  • Renowned Horszowski Trio performs Daron Hagen

    Hailed by The New Yorker as “destined for great things,” the Horszowski Trio pulls inspiration from Horszowski's musicianship, integrity, and humanity. Trio members Jesse Mills, Raman Ramakrishnan, and Rieko Aizawa devote themselves to an extensive catalog of repertoire spanning from the traditional to the contemporary. Based in New York City, the trio members teach at Columbia University and Longy School of Music of Bard College.

    On Sunday, September 3, the ensemble performs Daron Hagen's Piano Trio No. 2: "J'entends" (1987) alongside the music of Schubert and Mendelssohn.

    PROGRAM NOTE

    "Nadia Boulanger’s last words are said to have been “J’entends une musique san commencement et sans fin.” (“I hear a music without beginning or end.”) In a 1987 program note for the premiere at Alice Tully Hall, the composer wrote, “Grand Line was my first meditation on this statement, and this trio is the second. In it, I am attempting to manipulate time the way that a visual artist manipulates space. Various musical ideas — each of which progresses at its own speed — are juxtaposed, overlapped as transparencies, and mixed as colours over a long, spun out melody which is to the piece what a canvas is to a painting.”

    The trio begins with a tutti statement of the work’s main harmonic and melodic ideas. (This movement, while retaining its original identity as the opening rondo of the piano trio, also served as the ‘short score’ for the first movement of Hagen’s Symphony No. 2.)

    The second movement develops the first movement’s ideas while overlaying a program of sorts — Hagen writes, “I was inspired by Degas’ painting Interior — the Rape for the emotional ambiance of this movement.” Through-composed, the dialogue between “pure” music and “program music” mirrors the friction in Degas’ painting between “decorative” and “narrative” elements.

    The third movement, Minute Scherzo, is another of Hagen’s sixty-second-long musical palindromes, this time with a neurotic, peculiar, and somewhat hysterical quotation of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge at its center-point. The final movement, entitled Quodlibet (a theological or philosophical issue presented for formal argument or disputation or, in music, a medley) takes the material from the preceding movements and makes a collage of it while moving toward a broadly romantic statement of what Hagen describes as “the unabashed melody which has been present in various forms, and struggling to come forward, since the beginning of the piece.”

    Winner, 1st Prize, the Barlow Endowment International Composition Prize for Chamber Music, 1985, J’entends was commissioned by the Lehner Trio and premiered by the ensemble at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City, on 7 April 1987.”

    — Original Program Note by Daron Hagen

    Source: Piano Trio No. 2: "J'entends" — Daron Hagen

  • Duo for Violin & Cello at Moab Music Festival - Daron Hagen

    Violinist Kristen Lee and cellist Clancy Newman take the stage of the Moab Music Festival. The ensemble performs Daron Hagen's Duo for Violin and Cello on Friday, September 1.

    About Duo for Violin and Cello

    In the repertoire for solo violin and cello, the Ravel sonata stands out as the singular masterpiece, the work all subsequent composers had to measure themselves against. Hagen acknowledges this debt by making the first movement of his duo an Homage a Ravel. He borrows Ravel's thematic material and style, but combines them in his own unique way. Each instrument takes the lead in turn, while the other plays arpeggios or double stops. The effect is to make the sound fuller, as if it were a much larger ensemble. Hagen's gift for melody is clearly revealed in the slow movement, "Love Song." Again, the parts take turns, playing either the melody or a repeated rhythmic motif, occasionally coming together to sing in harmony. As in a love story, the two express their individuality and then create something greater than themselves by joining together.

    [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svlNMK2SDcM[/embed]

    The Performers

    Kristin Lee (Arthur Moeller photo)

    A recipient of the 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, as well as a top prizewinner of the 2012 Walter W. Naumburg Competition and the Astral Artists’ 2010 National Auditions, Kristin Lee is a violinist of remarkable versatility and impeccable technique who enjoys a vibrant career as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and educator. “Her technique is flawless, and she has a sense of melodic shaping that reflects an artistic maturity,” writes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Strad reports, “She seems entirely comfortable with stylistic diversity, which is one criterion that separates the run-of-the-mill instrumentalists from true artists.” Born in Seoul, Korea, Lee began studying the violin at the age of five, and within one year won First Prize at the prestigious Korea Times Violin Competition. In 1995, she moved to the United States and continued her musical studies under Sonja Foster. Two years later, she became a student of Catherine Cho and Dorothy DeLay in The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. In January 2000, she was chosen to study with Itzhak Perlman after he heard her perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Juilliard’s Pre-College Symphony Orchestra. Lee holds a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Itzhak Perlman and Donald Weilerstein, and served as an assistant teacher for Perlman’s studio as a Starling Fellow. She is a member of the faculty of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

    Clancy Newman (Lisa-Marie Mazzucco photo)

    Cellist Clancy Newman, first prize winner of the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg International Competition and recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, has had the unusual career of a performer/composer. From Albany, NY, he began playing cello at the age of six, and at twelve he received his first significant public recognition when he won a Gold Medal at the Dandenong Youth Festival in Australia, competing against people twice his age. In the years that followed, he won numerous other competitions, including the Juilliard School Cello Competition, the National Federation of Music Clubs competition, and the Astral Artists National Auditions. He holds degrees from Juilliard and Columbia University. His teachers have included David Gibson, Joel Krosnick, and Harvey Shapiro.

    The Festival

    The Moab Music Festival was founded in 1992 by New York based musicians Michael Barrett, pianist/conductor and violist Leslie Tomkins. On a rare vacation, the husband and wife team fell in love with the red rocks of Moab, and were inspired to combine the magical landscape with the joys of music-making. “Starting a music festival seemed like the perfect way to make sure we would return again and again,” says Tomkins.

    Now in its 25th year of music in concert with the landscape, the award- winning Moab Music Festival is noted for its distinctive programming, superb performances and intimate concert experiences of chamber music, traditional, jazz, Latin and music of living composers. The 20 concerts of the 2017 season are held in a variety of indoor and outdoor venues around Moab, with the Festival’s signature events, the Grotto Concerts, taking place in a pristine wilderness grotto 30 miles down the Colorado River, reached by jet boat. A 3 day / 2 night Musical Raft Trip through Westwater Canyon immediately precedes the Festival, and a 4 day / 3 night Musical Raft Trip through Cataract Canyon immediately follows the Festival.

    The Moab Music Festival, from its inception, has been committed to music education and cultural enrichment in the Moab area. It has an annual goal of reaching all children in the Grand County Schools, providing assemblies with visiting musicians for students during the Festival. Educational experiences for interested music lovers of all ages are also provided at other times of the year through an artist-in-residence program.

    Source: Duo for Violin & Cello — Daron Hagen

  • Juliana Hall Commissioned for Lynx Project's "Autism Advocacy Project"

    As a prolific art song composer, Juliana Hall is no stranger to the idea of elevating and amplifying the voices of writers through music. But as one of five composers selected by art song group Lynx Project, Hall is exploring a new challenge: setting to music the often unheard voices of individuals with autism. This endeavor is part of Lynx Project’s "Autism Advocacy Project." The four exceptional youth, aged 12-17 are primarily non-verbal, and they communicate by pointing to letters on a board in a process called the Rapid Prompting Method.

    Lynx Project co-director Caitleen Kahn says, "Art alone cannot change the world, but art can create conversations — and conversations can change the world." It is Lynx Project's hope that this project will start a conversation about autism, about acceptance and about the universality of the human condition in a way that will, slowly but surely, help transform the world.

    "For my contribution," says Hall, "I have written a small cycle of three songs for tenor and piano—Great Camelot—on the wonderfully poetic and deeply beautiful words of Sameer Dahar." Sameer is a strong advocate for those who have no voice. He uses an iPad and letterboards to spell and type for communication. Despite the challenges inherent in autism, he is successfully pursuing his studies at the Ohio Virtual Academy online school and was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. His goal is to become an astrophysicist and writer. He is currently typing a book describing his alternative experience living with autism. Sameer participated on a self-advocacy panel at the 2014 and 2015 USAAA World Conference and presented his first PowerPoint presentation on his life experience with nonvocal autism, at the 2015 SAAA World Conference.

    World Premiere performances of the "Autism Advocacy Project" songs by Juliana Hall and the other four commissioned composers (Joel Balzun, Emily Cooley, Aristea Mellos, and Travis Reynolds) will take place on October 27 & 28, 2017 in Cincinnati.

    Read more about the Lynx Project's Autism Advocacy Project:

    https://www.lynxproject.org/aap

    http://www.schmopera.com/art-song-initiative-commissions-texts-by-children-with-autism/

    http://www.journal-news.com/news/local/lakota-graduate-current-student-partner-autism-advocacy-project/dj3zk5BAPm9fQ6dTFVSc9L/

    https://www.lynxproject.org/single-post/2017/09/12/Music-hailed-as-brilliant-beguiling-exquisite-meet-Juliana-Hall 

  • Juliana Hall album earns Fanfare, Voix Des Arts, and Gramophone reviews

    Three major recording magazines praised Juliana Hall's newest album Love's Signatures for its sensitivity, power, beauty, and inspiration.

    Juliana Hall's album "Love's Signatures: Songs for Countertenor and Soprano" features the stunning voices of Darryl Taylor and Susan Narucki. Since its release, the album has garnered positive critical acclaim from critics. The album highlights three art song collections.

    O Mistress Mine (2016) is a set of 12 songs for countertenor and piano based on William Shakespeare texts.

    Syllables of Velvet, Sentences of Plush (1989) is a collection of seven songs soprano and piano on letters of Emily Dickinson.

    Propriety (1992) is a set of five songs for soprano and piano on poems by Marianne Moore.


    Fanfare, review excerpt

    Written by Colin Clarke

    Love’s Signature is the title of this release: how characters reveal human experiences of love in the poetry and writing of Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, and Marianne Moore. Juliana Hall specializes in art song, and has composed over 40 song cycles. 

    ...the first song-cycle, the 41-minute O Mistress Mine (2016), boasts the composer at the piano...Hall sets 12 texts from 10 Shakespeare plays...the cycle has a trajectory, from first flush of youthful love, journeying through to Love’s deeper qualities....Hall’s own piano playing is exemplary and, where appropriate, powerful, but it is the obvious connection between her and Taylor that defines the success of this performance.

    The final offering, Propriety (1992), came about as the result of a search for poetry about music. The contents of the poems often have a personal element for Hall, referring to episodes in her own history. The result of this seems to be the tenderness of the setting. It is from these poems that the disc’s title, “Love’s Signature” (that is, music itself) comes. Donald Berman confirms his status as a superbly equipped pianist as well as a sensitive accompanist by tackling the taxing piano part to “Carnegie Hall Rescued” with swagger and aplomb (listen, too, to his superbly characterful staccato in “Dream” or his carefully considered use of pedal in “Propriety”). The poem “Carnegie Hall Rescued” tells of the part Isaac Stern played in that hall’s history. Hall’s music is narrational here, certainly: She reacts to each passing nuance of the text, and for this sort of detail, Narucki is surely the perfect interpreter. Narucki’s way with the lines of “Propriety” is superbly varied and, on occasion, verges on the magical.

    To read the review in its entirety, click here. 


    Gramophone, review excerpt

    Written by Donald Rosenberg

    The American composer Juliana Hall has devoted herself to the art song for nearly three decades. Her sensitivity to words is on impressive display on Love’s Signature, which features settings of texts by Shakespeare, letters by Emily Dickinson and poems by Marianne Moore. In their first recordings, these songs show Hall to be a composer who savours lyrical lines and harmonies peppered with gentle spices...Dickinson’s words come across with crystalline clarity in Hall’s tender incarnations, which capture both the genial and witty sides of this most versatile of American poets."

    To read the review in its entirety, click here. 


    Voix des Arts, review excerpt

    Written by Joseph Newsome

    ... When joining words with music, gifted American composer Juliana Hall perhaps does not consciously set out to create songs that close the circuits via which
    emotional currents flow from the individual to the universal, but the three song cycles recorded for MSR Classics’ new disc Love’s Signature reveal her extraordinary talent for crafting music that translates the meanings of texts into sounds that can be felt as well as heard. Whether handling the words of William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, or Marianne Moore, Hall exhibits an uncanny faculty for
    amplifying the innate musicality of poets’ diction. Placed by MSR Classics’ engineering within an aural ambiance that recalls a small recital hall, the sound both intimate and ideally spacious, the performances that inscribe Love’s Signature upon the listener’s conscience restore faith in music’s still-potent force for positive change even in troubling times.

    O Mistress Mine is that rarest of achievements in Art Song: a true cycle of songs that both convey a cumulative narrative and are individually effective. Settings of texts by William Shakespeare, the twelve songs guide the listener along an emotional journey in which gentle humor and pathos thrive in one another’s company...Hearing all of the songs on this disc, it is apparent that Hall does not compose with the goal of steeping her music in a purposefully-concocted brew of modernity: rather, she follows the texts, responding to the inherent music of the words and conjuring sound worlds appropriate to each passage from an economy of means. Each of Hall’s notes has a purpose as clearly defined as that of each of Shakespeare’s words. The songs’ novelty is wholly organic, never contrived, and the composer perpetuates the American Art Song tradition of Beach, Barber, and Bolcom with music of integrity.

    ...Like Taylor, Narucki is not a songbird for whom beautiful but emotionally blank sounds are the ultimate goal—and neither, for that matter, is Hall. These are artists—and these are performances—that
    aim for the heart and the mind at once, and they do not hide behind polite façades when the truths of which they sing are ugly. Art in any of its forms is never further than a single generation from extinction. Man’s nature is to fear, ridicule, and reject the unknown, all of which actions are seemingly far less strenuous than seeking to understand, accept, and embrace new concepts, cultures, and individuals....Stasis is fatal to the survival of art, making the work of an artist like Juliana Hall crucial not only for the continued freshness of serious music but for its very life. Love’s Signature is a breath of life that fills the lungs with the air of song and the soul with the joy of recognizing a compositional voice of acuity and ingenuity. Insecurity, instability, and indecision abound, but the common sense of good music performed well still prevails. These are times to try men’s souls, but Juliana Hall has invented sounds that silence the din of discord.

    To read the review in its entirety, click here.

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