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E. C. Schirmer/Galaxy

  • The Washington National Cathedral Series

    Washington National Cathedral Washington National Cathedral

     

    The Washington National Cathedral Series is designed to be representative of the vibrant music making present in this great Cathedral. The series features anthems and instrumental pieces that are reflective of the emphasis the Cathedral places on being a National spiritual resource for people of all faiths and perspectives. The series is edited by the Cathedral’s Music Director, Michael McCarthy, who was appointed to the position in the summer of 2003.

    Visit the series page to view all of the great pieces in this collection.

     

     

  • Planning for ACDA 2019

    The national ACDA conference is just around the corner, and we couldn't be more excited. In addition to a great booth setup featuring our latest choral music as well as perennial favorites, we wanted to highlight some of our other activities so you can start filling in your schedule. The conference is in Kansas City, MO, and runs from February 27 to March 2.

    Composer Fair
    Wednesday, February 27
    5:00-7:00pm

    This year's conference will feature a brand new event--the composer fair! We're excited for you to meet composers like Karen Marrolli, Michael John Trotta, and Howard Goodall, and learn more about their music directly from the source.

    Reading Sessions
    TBD

    We'll be hosting two reading sessions: one for new church music, and one for new school/concert music. Check back for definite dates!

    Stainer & Bell
    We're especially excited to welcome one of our European publishing partners, Stainer & Bell, to their first ACDA conference!

     

    See you in Kansas City!

    Kansas City Kansas City

     

     

     

  • Randol Bass - Winter 2018 Performances

    It's that time again! Orchestras and choruses around the country are gearing up for Christmas concerts, and many of them are performing music by composer Randol Bass. Check out the list below to see where Bass' music will be performed this winter!

     

    Bellringers' Holiday

    Cleveland Orchestra

    Missoula Symphony Association

     

    Christmas Flourish

    Case Western Reserve University

    Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida

    Georgia State University

    Kansas City Symphony

    Paducah Symphony Orchestra

    Sequoia Symphony Orchestra

    St. Timothy on the Northshore UMC

     

    Christmas Ornaments

    Empire State Youth Orchestra

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Sierra Master Chorale

     

    Fanfare: Joy to the World

    California Baptist University

    Dudley Birder Chorale

    Plano Symphony

    University of Texas

     

    A Feast of Carols

    Catalina Foothills Church

    Choral Society of the Palm Beaches

    Colorado State University

    First United Methodist Church - Baton Rouge, LA

    Harper College

    Indianapolis Symphonic Choir

    North Carolina State University

    Santa Barbara Choral Society

    Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra

     

    Gloria

    Central Maryland Chorale

    Colorado Springs Philharmonic

    Colorado Symphony

    Durham Philharmonic Choir

    DCINY (Carnegie Hall)

    Firelands Symphony Orchestra

    Hershey Symphony Orchestra

    Indiana Wesleyan University

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Modesto Symphony Orchestra

    Omaha Symphonic Chorus

    Paducah Symphony Orchestra

    Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

    Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra

    University of Mobile

     

    Glory to God (from A Savior is Born)

    Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra

    San Angelo Symphony Orchestra

     

    I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

    Greenwood Festival Chorale

    SUNY Potsdam

     

    The Night Before Christmas

    Charlotte Symphony Orchestra

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    Cleveland Pops Orchestra

    Colorado Springs Philharmonic

    Columbus Symphony Orchestra

    Durham Philharmonic Choir

    Edgewood Symphony Orchestra

    Firelands Symphony Orchestra

    The Florida Orchestra

    Folsom Lake Symphony

    Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

    Irving Symphony Orchestra

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Long Beach Symphony

    Manchester Choral Society

    Mid-Texas Symphony

    North Carolina Symphony

    Roswell Symphony Orchestra

    Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra

    San Diego Symphony Orchestra

    Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra

    Toronto Symphony Orchestra

    University of Lynchburg

    University of Texas

    Utah Symphony

     

    Seasonal Sounds

    Marin Symphony Orchestra

    Dudley Birder Chorale

     

    Sing We Now of Christmas

    Edmonton Symphony Orchestra

    Greater Dallas Youth Orchestras

    Las Vegas Philharmonic

    Modesto Symphony Orchestra

     

    A Symphony of Carols

    Colorado Springs Philharmonic

    Durham Philharmonic Choir

    DCINY (Carnegie Hall)

  • Introducing Three Songs by Ephraim Amu

    By Kofi Agawu

    Between 2002 and 2006, the local currency in Ghana included a 20,000-cedi note with the image of composer Ephraim Amu. These spaces are normally reserved for famous political leaders, generic situations that project the country’s industry and culture, and historic sites. That Dr. Amu shared this company speaks to the very high regard in which he is held. Indeed, Ephraim Amu is probably the best-known cultural icon of twentieth-century Ghana.

    Talk to primary school pupils about the songs they sing at assembly, and they will invariably mention Yɛn ara asase ni (This is our own land). Some of them will refer to it as Ghana’s national anthem; the more discerning will describe it as the unofficial national anthem. Neither designation is correct. The national anthem (originally “Lift high the flag of Ghana,” later “God Bless our homeland Ghana”) was composed in 1957 to English words in a stately, hymn-like and quite un-African idiom by Philip Gbeho, and remains in regular use for official functions and ceremonies. Yɛn ara asase ni, composed in a more indigenous idiom to Twi words, is a patriotic song; it is widely popular because it captures more readily an African musical sensibility. If you ask those school children what they like about it, they will probably say that the song is sweet and that its words fill them with pride.

    Talk to another group of educated Ghanaians about broadly cultural matters, especially those who came of age in the years leading up to the country’s Independence in 1957, and who have had the benefit of either a secondary school or teacher training college education. Dr. Amu’s name is likely to emerge in connection with passionate advocates for African culture, role models for what was once called ‘African personality.’ Some indeed may recall encountering one or two of Amu’s compositions as members of a school choir.

    Until now, Ephraim Amu has been visible mostly as a national figure. This is partly a function of the circumstances in which he worked as a musician, teacher, catechist, and educator. He wrote mostly choral music using texts in Ghanaian languages, and he often wrote for specific choirs and specific occasions. He was not aiming at an anonymous global audience. No condition is permanent, however, as the song writer says, so it is not surprising that Amu’s nationalism is on the verge of yielding to an internationalism. The publication by Galaxy Music Corporation of three of Amu’s most popular songs in a beautiful critical edition made by Professor Felicia Sandler will surely hasten their accessibility to many professional and amateur choirs in the United States. Amu’s unique choral idiom, cultivated under the influence of European colonialism and missionization, yet marked by African rhythms, melodic turns and poetic expression, exudes a fresh, coming-of-age quality that has been celebrated in his native Ghana and that will surely appeal to musicians around the globe.

    Amu was an imaginative poet-composer, and many who learn his songs are immediately drawn into an enticing world of memorable, word-borne melody, exhilarating rhythms, and an undercurrent of natural harmony, tweaked in unexpected ways, sometimes under the influence of a species of parallelism common in indigenous music, sometimes in deference to the four-part harmony that the composer encountered in Protestant hymns and associated idioms. Writing in two Ghanaian languages, Ewe and Twi, Amu sought to capture pertinent thoughts and aspirations of his community and to convey them in pithy language. His best-known songs are mainly in Twi, the most widely-spoken language in Ghana. As a non-native speaker, Amu learned an idiomatic Twi that took him to the heart of indigenous expression. His song texts are peppered with vivid images, wise sayings, and challenges to self- and communal improvement.

    Before Christian missionaries arrived in Amu’s hometown of Peki in the 1840s, no one sang using the popular SATB arrangement that practically every Western choir takes for granted. No one drew on Biblical sources for song texts, and no one composed choral music on paper for performance by trained choirs. All of that changed three or so generations later, thanks to Amu, who had grown up with deep influences of indigenous cultural practice (his father was a drummer), on the one hand, and with exposure to and curiosity about selected idioms of eighteenth-century European tonal music, on the other. Amu wrote a series of choral works for various occasions, each one cementing an idea, an aspiration, an admonition. He was in that sense a pioneer and, in retrospect, a visionary. Amu’s practices eventually gelled into a model of choral composition that became hugely successful—satisfying for performers and audiences alike, and available for imitation by budding composers. Indeed, it is hard to think of a single successful composer of choral music in Ghana who has not in some measure been influenced by Amu. Today, one can hear Amu’s music performed in schools, churches, community and work-place choirs, or in arrangements for brass bands.

    The three song settings published by Galaxy are among Amu favorites, and they are likely to become favorites for American performers too, once they master Amu’s individual idiom. Yɛn ara asase ni is a patriotic song composed in 1929. It was originally written to Ewe words and then fitted with Twi words two years later. Every schooled Ghanaian knows this song, even if they do not have full control over the words of subsequent stanzas. The song’s rhythms are emphatic, the melody is well suited to the speech tones—no mean achievement given that the original was in Ewe—and the refrain is memorable because it incorporates a responsorial element found in much African traditional music. Amu maintains a diatonic base but occasionally incorporates the flattened-seventh degree of the scale in an endearing way. American singers may need the assistance of a Twi-speaking coach to help render the Twi words accurately, and they may have to time-travel to 1930s West Africa to begin to glimpse the joint influences of Empire, Christian missions and collective hopes for self-determination.

    In Asɛm yi di ka (This talk has got to be spoken), composed in 1944, the emphasis is on the spoken word. Amu’s phraseology is particularly charming here. Subphrases end on relatively short notes followed by silences, giving the song a certain enunciatory character and thus enhancing its communicative value. The spoken word, complete with the intrinsic musical baggage it carries from tone languages, lies at the root of Amu’s expression, and singers will have the opportunity, here and elsewhere, to experience that magnificent fusion of word and tone that has made so many of Amu’s songs memorable to generations of Ghanaians.

    Adawura bɔme (I am the bell), composed in 1943, is a lively and satisfying exercise in polyrhythm. While polyrhythm is often associated in Africa with instrumental ensemble music, it is produced here by voices. At the core is a three-against two feel, the sine qua non of African rhythm, and a constant presence in Amu’s scores. Speaking these distinct, layered rhythms will give singers a feel for some of the energy that comes from this brand of simultaneous doing.

    Ephraim Amu died in 1995 at the age of 95. Already a legend in his lifetime, he has grown in stature posthumously. Scholars have become more keenly aware of the size and diversity of his output. Students of religion and culture have also become aware of Amu’s work as a theologian, nationalist and patriot. We owe an incalculable debt to Professor Sandler, who has undertaken the mammoth task of making Amu’s music available to a larger public in an authoritative critical edition for which these three songs provide a taste. This edition will do justice—for the first time—to the composer’s vision and achievement. May all who engage these gems of African choral music draw satisfaction from the close and cosy harmonies, the melodic inflexions, the vital rhythms, and the inspiring verbal messages, and may Amu’s music find audiences well beyond the ones that he imagined in 1931.

     


    Kofi Agawu was born in Ghana, where he received his initial education before studying composition and analysis in the UK and musicology in the US. He has taught at Haverford College, King’s College London, Cornell, Yale and Harvard; held visiting positions at the University of Hong Kong, Indiana University, University of Toronto, the University of Pavia, Cremona, and Oxford University; and lectured at numerous universities and conferences around the world. In 2012-13, he was appointed George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford University, becoming only the second music scholar to have held that position since its endowment in 1930. He has served on the editorial boards of leading journals in musicology, music theory, African music and ethnomusicology, and on several fellowship panels.

    Agawu’s work is widely discussed and frequently cited for its interrogative quality. Tony Lewis remarks on Agawu’s role in “recasting African music as a musicological rather than ethnomusicological topic”; Veit Erlmann wrote that Representing African Music (2003) is “without any doubt the most powerful intervention in African musicology in a decade or more . . . one of the most edgy and stylish pieces of writing on the politics of culture in postcolonial Africa to have appeared of late”; and Music as Discourse (2008) elicited the following from Raymond Monelle: “The painstaking clarity of the analyses will surely be imitated by a generation of bright students . . . radical and challenging . . . easy to absorb yet infinitely sophisticated . . . elegant and rich . . . needs to be lived with and digested.”

    Agawu’s current research includes essays on rhythm and iconicity in African music, and further studies in topic theory.

  • Juliana Hall's Art Songs March Across America for Women's Rights

    Guest post by David Sims

    Part I

    Every now and then a project comes along that is so unique and so meaningful that a composer cannot refuse the opportunity. So says composer Juliana Hall, whose new mezzo-soprano song cycle Through the Guarded Gate is the result of such a project. Through the Guarded Gate was commissioned by the Seattle Art Song Society (SASS) for performance on its 2018-2019 season, which is devoted to issues of social justice.

    SASS General and Artistic Director Brian C. Armbrust writes:

    Our 18-19 season is called "One Voice." This season means so much to so many of us. The idea started when I looked around at all my fellow artists and saw this heavy weight that we are carrying during a dark time. We have a unique and powerful method of delivery of a much needed message in a time when the world seems turned on its head. I'm inspired by my queer community to make our voices heard; I weep at death from wars and cries for peace in a time when we seem to constantly be fighting with one another, I pray for it all to end; I watch with disgust and great sorrow as racist voices are given time on the news, as our black brothers and sisters are threatened daily by injustice and loss; I glow with a pride as the womxn of this nation stand up and say "NO!" to inequality, and can say #MeToo and be heard; I get up every single day and walk into an office where we serve community members that are looked down upon for mental illness and help them fight to reach recovery despite what others say. To each of you, we dedicate this season. We will lift your voices and they will be heard in glorious song."

    Reflecting Armbrust's vision, the 18-19 SASS concerts include songs fitting the themes of "Queer Voices" in October, "Voices of War & Peace" in November, "Black Voices" in February, "Womxn's Voices" in March, and "Voices of Mental Health" in May. Hall's Through the Guarded Gate is being presented on Friday, March 8, 2019 as part of the "Womxn's Voices" concert. Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski will sing the world premiere of the new cycle with Hall herself at the piano.

    One Voice: 18-19 season, Seattle Art Song Society One Voice: 18-19 season, Seattle Art Song Society

    When commissioning Hall, however, SASS's Armbrust wasn't content to just have the premiere in Seattle. It occurred to him that, in this time of #MeToo and women's rights being front and center in culture, Hall's song cycle--with its powerful settings of American poet Margaret Widdemer's social justice texts--had the possibility to bring an important message to people beyond Seattle. His idea developed into a "women's march" across the country...a project to have Hall's new songs performed in all 50 states after the premiere, bringing Hall's settings and Widdemer's poems to all of the US! To that end, Armbrust has enlisted more than 170 mezzo-sopranos from all 50 states (and many foreign countries as well), each of whom will get an early look at the score with the option to participate in the project. Singers will participate in "Beyond the Guarded Gate,"(the name selected by vote from participants after being suggested by mezzo GeDeane Graham), by agreeing to perform the song cycle on a recital between March 2019 and December 2019 following the official SASS world premiere. E. C. Schirmer is providing each singer and pianist taking part in "Beyond the Guarded Gate" with a complimentary digital copy of the work for use in the performance.

    Composer Juliana Hall describes the ideas expressed by poet Margaret Widdemer in the songs of Through the Guarded Gate and her approach to those ideas as follows:

    “The Net”
    Ill treatment of our children (most often girls) here within our own country used for whatever nefarious purposes adults may have for them, as we turn our heads away from the injustices that hurt them (especially when they are not "ours" personally)...children as expendable if they are "second class" in gender.

    “A Mother To The War-Makers”
    Ill treatment of our children (most often boys) when they are sent abroad, as the leaders of our nation use them under the guise of national defense (as a pretense for masculine leaders to become wealthy, acquire power, and exert national domination over other nations)...children as expendable if they are "second class" in societal status, offspring of the less affluent, less educated, less "acceptable" ethnic or racial groups.

    “The Old Suffragist”
    The "early" woman standing up for equal personhood, equal rights, but at the expense of a personal life rich with love and attachment (woman no longer "accepting" a second-class role in a world hitherto ruled by those men not acknowledging the natural equality of human beings)...women placing themselves in danger and depriving themselves of life's easier and better things as a way to make a path to those better things for others who will follow.

    “The Modern Woman To Her Lover”
    The "modern" woman taking on the responsibility of equal personhood, equal rights, without permission of the man but benefiting both genders (women no longer "accepting" a second-class love)...women as equals, in a world in which man may feel "belittled" by having to share with his mate...hence the question at the end: "Will you love me still?" At once both fearful and hopeful.

    “The Women's Litany”
    The community of women and like-minded men, demanding equal rights and responsibilities for both genders for the betterment of mankind (women and men both raising their voices against the holders of society's power and claiming their right to be admitted "through the guarded gate" that stops women from exerting their abilities and their insights and their communal "will" towards fixing the problems described in the first four poems)...adults identifying the path through which they must travel to effect permanent change, and a rallying cry in favor of a more equal representation and a more equal responsibility for fixing the injustices and the fears of the first poems, as well as a hope for a better future made possible by the inclusion of women as equals.

    In a later update to this story, we will begin featuring information about post-premiere concerts and the performers who will bring these songs to life across America as part of the "Beyond the Guarded Gate" project, but for now we are very excited for Juliana Hall and the possibility of as many as 200 additional performances of her new cycle Through the Guarded Gate as part of this unique initiative.

    Through the Guarded Gate will become generally available for sale next March. Until then, check out Seattle Art Song Society's concert season and, if you are in the area, we hope you will be able to attend the world premiere of  the cycle as part of their “Womxn’s Voices” recital on Friday, March 8, 2019.

    You might also find the poems of Margaret Widdemer interesting, which we've included below. These are the five poems set to music by Juliana Hall in Through the Guarded Gate.

    THE NET

    The strangers’ children laugh along the street:
    They know not, or forget the sweeping of the Net
    Swift to ensnare such little careless feet.
    And we—we smile and watch them pass along,
    And those who walk beside, soft-smiling, cruel-eyed—
    We guard our own—not ours to right the wrong!
    We do not care—we shall not heed or mark,
    Till we shall hear one day, too late to strive or pray,
    Our daughters’ voices crying from the dark!

    A MOTHER TO THE WAR-MAKERS

    This is my son that you have taken,
    Guard lest your gold-vault walls be shaken,
    Never again to speak or waken.
    This, that I gave my life to make,
    This you have bidden the vultures break—
    Dead for your selfish quarrel’s sake!
    This that I built of all my years,
    Made with my strength and love and tears,
    Dead for pride of your shining spears!
    Just for your playthings bought and sold
    You have crushed to a heap of mold
    Youth and life worth a whole world’s gold—
    This was my son that you have taken,
    Guard lest your gold-vault walls be shaken—
    This—that shall never speak or waken!

    THE OLD SUFFRAGIST

    She could have loved—her woman-passions beat
    Deeper than theirs, or else she had not known
    How to have dropped her heart beneath their feet
    A living stepping-stone:
    The little hands—did they not clutch her heart?
    The guarding arms—was she not very tired?
    Was it an easy thing to walk apart,
    Unresting, undesired?
    She gave away her crown of woman-praise,
    Her gentleness and silent girlhood grace,
    To be a merriment for idle days,
    Scorn for the market-place:
    She strove for an unvisioned, far-off good,
    For one far hope she knew she should not see:
    These—not her daughters—crowned with motherhood
    And love and beauty—free.

    THE MODERN WOMAN TO HER LOVER

    I shall not lie to you any more,
    Flatter or fawn to attain my end—
    I am what never has been before,
    Woman—and Friend.
    I shall be strong as a man is strong,
    I shall be fair as a man is fair,
    Hand in locked hand we shall pass along
    To a purer air:
    I shall not drag at your bridle-rein,
    Knee pressed to knee shall we ride the hill;
    I shall not lie to you ever again—
    Will you love me still?

    THE WOMEN’S LITANY

    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our pain’s sake!
    Lips set smiling and face made fair
    Still for you through the pain we bare,
    We have hid till our hearts were sore
    Blacker things than you ever bore:
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our pain’s sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our strength’s sake!
    Light held high in a strife ne’er through
    We have fought for our sons and you,
    We have conquered a million years’
    Pain and evil and doubt and tears—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for our strength’s sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for your own sake!
    We have held you within our hand,
    Marred or made as we broke or planned,
    We have given you life or killed
    King or brute as we taught or willed—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for your own sake!
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for the world’s sake!
    We are blind who must guide your eyes,
    We are weak who must help you rise,
    All untaught who must teach and mold
    Souls of men till the world is old—
    Let us in through the guarded gate,
    Let us in for the world’s sake!

    Note:
    Margaret Widdemer lived from 1884 to 1978. Although virtually unknown today, she shared the 1919 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry with the famous and very well-known poet Carl Sandburg.

    Juliana Hall and Brian Armbrust are happy to be able to share Widdemer's wonderful work with audiences of today, bringing back a major poetical talent who up to now has more or less disappeared in the shadow of her Pulitzer co-winner. Hall and Armbrust hope these songs will not only enliven today's conversations about the rights of women and children, but they also hope these performances will finally help Widdemer to receive the public acknowledgment and acclaim for her work they feel she deserves.

    The poems of Margaret Widdemer reprinted here are in the public domain.

  • Howard Goodall + MorningStar Music

    MorningStar Music Publishers welcomes the choral works of Howard Goodall to our catalog! We are now the print publisher in North America for Mr. Goodall’s choral works and are excited to further introduce Mr. Goodall’s publications to American and Canadian choirs.

    Known for his TV and movie themes, his dramatic choral works are sure to be very popular additions to the libraries of church and school choral directors. Be sure to check out the YouTube playlist below to get a taste of his choral compositions!


    Howard Goodall is one of Britain’s most distinguished and versatile composers. He is well known for his popular TV themes for Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Red Dwarf, The Catherine Tate Show, Q.I., and The Vicar of Dibley. His score for the HBO film Into the Storm won him the Primetime EMMY award for “Original Dramatic Score” in 2009. Other film credits include Johnny English, Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie, and Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

    Howard Goodall Howard Goodall

    In the theatre his musicals, from The Hired Man with Melvyn Bragg in 1984 to Love Story in 2010, have been performed in the West End, Off-Broadway and throughout world, winning many international awards, including Ivor Novello (1985), TMA (2006 and 2010), and Off-West End (2012) awards for “Best Musical.” He is currently working with Gurinder Chadha and Charles Hart on a musical adaptation of Bend it like Beckham.

    Howard is a prolific composer of choral music and has been commissioned to mark national ceremonies and memorials. His Eternal Light: A Requiem has had over 200 live performances since its premiere in 2008 and won him a Classical BRIT award for “Composer of the Year.” In the Top-selling 100 Specialist Classical CDs of 2009, Goodall occupied the 1st, 4th and 9th positions. His 2009 Enchanted Voices, a setting of the Beatitudes, was No. 1 of the Specialist Classical CD chart for 6 months, winning him a Gramophone award.

    For the past 15 years Howard has written and presented his own TV documentary series on the theory and history of music. For these he has been honoured with a BAFTA, an RTS Judges’ Prize for “Outstanding Contribution to Education in Broadcasting” and over a dozen other international broadcast awards. He hosts his own weekly show, Saturday Night at the Movies, on Classic fm, for whom he is also currently Composer-in-Residence. In January 2013, Howard Goodall’s Story of Music, 6 hour-long films for BBC2, was broadcast, with an accompanying Chatto & Windus book.

  • Featuring Allen Shawn

    We've been noticing some great videos of Allen Shawn's work lately, and thought it was about time we did a featured post on the composer, pianist, educator, and author! Read on to learn a bit about Shawn, and definitely check out the videos below to hear his work, listen to an interview, and watch a discussion of his book on Leonard Bernstein.
    Allen Shawn Allen Shawn

    Allen Shawn is a composer, pianist, educator, and author who lives in Vermont and teaches composition and music history at Bennington College. His previous books include Arnold Schoenberg's Journey and Twin: A Memoir.

    Shawn began composing at the age of ten, but dates his mature work from 1977. He has written a dozen orchestral works, including a Symphony, and Piano Concerto, and a Violin Concerto; three chamber operas; four piano sonatas and many additional works for piano; a large catalogue of chamber music, songs and choral music. Among Shawn's available recordings are several of chamber music, three CDs of piano music, a Piano Concerto performed by Ursula Oppens with the Albany Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Alan Miller, and a chamber opera "The Music Teacher", with a libretto by his brother, Wallace Shawn.

    --

     

  • From the Top Features Alistair Coleman

    From the Top logo From the Top

    A few months ago we did a short interview with Alistair Coleman, and had a wonderful time getting to know this young composer. We were even more thrilled to learn he got a coveted spot on From the Top, the "nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the stories, talents, and character of young classically-trained musicians." In his radio spot, Coleman takes us on his journey from beginning piano lessons, to composing a musical, to finding his first composition teacher. The spot also includes his piece, Images from Fallingwater, performed by students of the San Francisco Conservatory.

    Listen Here.

     


    Alistair Coleman Alistair Coleman

    Alistair Coleman is a young composer from Washington, DC. Most recently, he was appointed the Composer-in-Residence of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale. His piece, “Of Radiance and Light,” was commissioned by the National Philharmonic and premiered at Strathmore Hall in November 2016. His music has been programmed broadly, including performances by the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, Houston Brass Band, Boston University Marsh Chapel Choir, Takoma String Ensemble, and the Cathedral Choral Society.

    With three published works, Alistair is the youngest composer ever published by E.C. Schirmer. He has received awards from the American Composers Forum, National YoungArts Foundation, Symphony Number One, and NAfME. He received an honorable mention in the 2017 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

    Alistair has studied composition at the Atlantic Music Festival, Curtis Young Artists Summer Program, Oberlin Summer Composition Workshop, and the New York Summer Music Festival. He currently studies with Richard Danielpour and David Ludwig, faculty members at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In the fall of 2017, Alistair will begin undergraduate studies at The Juilliard School.

  • Everyone Sang: Extended Notes

    We're so thrilled to release David Conte's 2-disc vocal album Everyone Sang, on the Arsis label, a project which has been several years in the making. A modest booklet is included in the physical copy (and viewable here), and we wanted to share extended performer information, program notes, and texts, below.

    Everyone Sang Album Cover Everyone Sang: Vocal Music of David Conte


    Performers

    [In order of appearance on the album]

    Brian Thorsett, Tenor

    Hailed as “a strikingly gifted tenor, with a deeply moving, unblemished voice” (sfmusicjournal.com), tenor Brian Thorsett excels in opera, oratorio and recital across the world. He has been seen and heard across the US and Europe in over 100 roles and a fosters a stylistically diversified oratorio repertoire of over 250 works. An avid recitalist, Brian is closely associated with expanding the vocal-chamber genre and has premiered over 100 works, including those of David Conte, Ian Venables, Shinji Eshima, Stacy Garrop, Scott Gendel, Gordon Getty, Brian Holmes, Eric Choate, Joseph Stillwell, Gregory Zavracky, Michel Bosc and Peter Josheff. His recordings include Transpire (works of Daron Hagen), two song cycles on David Conte’s forthcoming vocal album, Remebering the Voice of Firestone and several as a member of the award winning Philharmonia Baroque Chorale. Brian has also been heard in commercials and movies as the voice for SoundIron’s library Voice of Rapture: Tenor. He is a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artist program, American Bach Soloists’ Academy, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme and Music Academy of the West. Brian is currently Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera at Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts.

    John Churchwell, Piano

    One of the leading collaborative pianists of his generation, John Churchwell enjoys a career on the concert stage as well as in the nation’s leading opera houses.
    In 2011, Mr. Churchwell was named Head of Music for San Francisco Opera.  Prior to that Mr. Churchwell spent fourteen years as an assistant conductor for both the Metropolitan Opera and the San Francisco Opera.  In that time he has assisted on more than 95 productions and has collaborated with some of the world’s leading conductors.  Since 2000, Mr. Churchwell has spent his summers teaching at the Music Academy of the West working with young singers and pianists.

    On the recital stage, Mr. Churchwell has partnered some of today’s most sought-after vocalists including Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Diana Damrau, Frederica von Stade, Dawn Upshaw, Carol Vaness, David Pittsinger, and Patricia Schuman.  Recent appearances include his debut with San Francisco Symphony and the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts with tenor Michael Fabiano as well as Prairie Home Companion at the Hollywood Bowl with soprano Ellie Dehn.

    A native of Knoxville, TN, Mr. Churchwell is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program.

    Kindra Scharich, Mezzo-Soprano

    Mezzo-Soprano Kindra Scharich has been praised by The  San Francisco Chronicle for her "exuberant vitality", "fearless technical precision", "deep- rooted pathos" and "irrepressible musical splendor." As a dedicated recitalist, she has given solo recitals the The American Composer's Forum, The Wagner Society, Lieder Alive and Sala Cecilia Meireles. In May 2018 she and the Alexander String Quartet will record new arrangements of the great orchestral Lieder of Mahler (Rückert, Kindertotenlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) and in the summer of 2018, Ms. Scharich will return to Brazil, where she and pianist Ricardo Ballestero will concertize songs of Brazilian composer Alberto Nepomuceno and his contemporaries, which until now have remained in relative obscurity. In the world of opera, Ms. Scharich has sung over 25 roles in the lyric mezzo repertoire.  Enthusiastic about working with living composers, she has frequently collaborated with David Conte, Kurt Erickson and Janis Mattox.

    Kevin Korth, Piano

    Since graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s renowned Chamber Music program in 2008, Kevin Korth has held a position at the Conservatory as both collaborative pianist and vocal coach.  Now an in-demand recitalist and coach in the Bay Area, he has collaborated with artists such as Robert Mann, Axel Strauss, Joel Krosnick, Frederica von Stade, Suzanne Mentzer, Nadine Sierra, Lise Lindstrom, Marnie Breckenridge, Kristen Clayton, and Brian Asawa.  This fall, Mr. Korth released his debut album Out of the Shadows, a CD of American art song with soprano Lisa Delan and cellist Matt Haimovitz for Pentatone Classics.  Recorded at Skywalker Ranch, the album features premieres by Jack Perla, Gordon Getty, and David Garner, in addition to previously unrecorded works by Norman Dello Joio, Paul Nardoff, and John Kander.

    Emil Miland, Cello

    Cellist Emil Miland is an acclaimed soloist, chamber and orchestral musician.  He made his solo debut at age 16 with the San Francisco Symphony, the same year he was selected to perform in the Rostropovich Master Classes at UC Berkeley.  A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, he has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music America.  He has been a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1988 and has collaborated with Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, and the late Zheng Cao and Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson.  In 2010 Miland was invited by von Stade to perform with her at Carnegie Hall for her farewell recital.

    Many composers have written and dedicated works for him, including Ernst Bacon, David Carlson, David Conte, Shinji Eshima, John Grimmett, Lou Harrison, Jake Heggie, Richard Hervig, Andrew Imbrie, James Meredith and Dwight Okamura.  Recordings include David Carlson's Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Utah Symphony on New World Records and his Sonata for Cello and Piano with David Korevaar on MSR Records.  Miland is featured on David Conte's recently released CD of chamber music for Albany Records, on which he performs Conte's Concerto for Violoncello and Piano (written for Miland) with Miles Graber, as well as Conte's Piano Trio with violinist Kay Stern and pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi.  This recording has been met with critical acclaim, with reviewers praising Miland's “impeccable playing in terms of both technique and taste,” and lauding him for “extracting every ounce of passion from this passionate work.”  Miland is featured on many of Jake Heggie's recordings, beginning with the RCA Red Seal CD The Faces of Love:  The Songs of Jake Heggie and, most recently,  the 2013 release Here/After:  Songs of Lost Voices on Pentatone.

    Miland is presented in “The Heart of a Bell,” a film by Eric Theirmann and Aleksandra Wolska, performing Smirti, a haunting elegy for cello, Tibetan chimes and bells with the Sonos Handbell Ensemble.  Miland joined Sonos in December 2012 as a soloist on their nine city tour of Japan.  He also appears in the 2012 documentary “Lou Harrison:  A World of Music” by Eva Soltes.  In 2013 he made his Paris recital debut under the auspices of The European American Alliance.  Earlier this year, Miland toured to Hawaii and Australia performing chamber music and in July was presented in recital at The Bear Valley Music Festival.  He performs on Love Life, a recording featuring soprano Ann Moss and music by Jake Heggie, Liam Wade and Joni Mitchell.  He performs regularly as a member of The Lowell Trio with Janet Archibald, oboe, and Margaret Fondbertasse, piano.

    Matt Boehler, Bass

    Hailed by The New York Times as, "a bass with an attitude and the good to back it up," Matt Boehler is a singer equally at home on the international opera stage, as well as the concert platform. He has appeared as a principal artist with The Metropolitan Opera, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Theater St. Gallen, and Canadian Opera Company, as well as the New York Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and the New York Festival of Song, among many others. Frequently in demand as a collaborator and interpreter of new music, his discography features several world premieres. A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, he trained as an actor at Viterbo College, an opera singer at Juilliard, and as a composer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he received his Master of Music studying with David Conte.

    A. J. Glueckert, Tenor

    Tenor A. J. Glueckert is a former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made his Company debut in various roles in the world premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene in 2013. Other Company appearances include Mr. Knox in Dolores Claiborne, the Steersman in Der Fliegende Holländer, Ambrogio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and The Barber of Seville for Families, Flavio in Norma, Elder Gleaton in Susannah, and the Chief Magistrate in Un Ballo in Maschera. Glueckert is an alumnus of the 2012 Merola Opera Program, where he performed Mr. Owen in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco. Upcoming engagements include Bacchus (Ariadne auf Naxos) with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and roles with the Glyndebourne Festival and English National Opera. In the 2014–15 season he was seen as the Prince (Rusalka) with Frankfurt Opera. As a former resident artist with Minnesota Opera, Glueckert was heard as Arturo (Lucia di Lammermoor) and also created the role of the Crown Prince in the world premiere of Puts’s Silent Night with Opera Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the young artists programs at Santa Fe Opera and Utah Opera. A two-time winner of the regional Metropolitan Opera National Auditions, he holds a degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and appeared as the Drum Major (Wozzeck) with Opera Parallèle in San Francisco.

    James Moore, English Horn

    James A. Moore III was appointed Professor of Oboe and Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2001. As a performer, he can be heard with the San Francisco Ballet and Opera orchestras, the California Symphony, and frequently with the San Francisco Symphony with whom he’s recorded and toured extensively. In addition to his work at the Conservatory, he is a coach for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has also taught at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Aspen School of Music, where he was assistant to John de Lancie. Mr. Moore received B.A. and B.M. degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music and an M.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory. He has performed for the national touring productions of Ragtime, Aida, James Joyce’s The Dead, Beauty and the Beast and Fiddler on the Roof as well as the world premiere of Wicked. His teachers were James Caldwell and John de Lancie.

    Scott Macomber, Trumpet

    Scott Macomber has served as Acting 2nd Trumpet of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since August of 2016. Scott frequently appears with the San Francisco Symphony and Ballet Orchestras in addition to maintaining permanent positions in the Santa Rosa Symphony, California Symphony and Sacramento Philharmonic. A regular in the Skywalker Symphony, Scott has appeared in several commercial game recordings and soundtracks. Currently Scott is on faculty at California State University, East Bay. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

    Marika Kuzma, Conductor

    Conductor Marika Kuzma is a versatile artist with a particular sensitivity to text in music. Her performances have been praised as "electric" (New York Times) and "beautifully nuanced" (SF Chronicle). As the director of choirs at the University of California, Berkeley for twenty-five years, she led ensembles in performances of works ranging from the Machaut Lais de la fonteinne to Monteverdi Vespers, Bach B minor mass, Brahms Requiem, Stravinsky Svadebka, Reich Tehillim, Feldman Rothko Chapel, to premieres of new works. Her recordings have been released on the Wild Boar, Koch International, and Naxos labels. She has also been a chorusmaster for luminary conductors including Gustavo Dudamel (Simon Bolivar Orchestra),  Nicholas McGegan (Philharmonia Baroque), Kent Nagano (Montreal Symphony), and Esa-Pekka Salonen (Philharmonia Orchestra). Of Ukrainian descent, she is an internationally recognized and published scholar-interpreter of Slavic choral music. Marika has also appeared as an actor in various roles on stages such as La Mama Theater in New York City and the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

    Marnie Breckenridge, Soprano

    From Bel Canto heroines to the comic and modern leading ladies, acclaimed soprano Marnie Breckenridge is enjoying a career throughout the US, Europe and South America in opera, concert and recording. She has sung with the San Francisco Opera, The English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Festival, Bard Music Festival, Arizona Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Prague State Opera, The Metropolitan Opera Guild, Teatro Sao Paulo, Opera Parallèlè, National Sawdust, San Francisco Symphony and many other US and European houses. As a favored interpreter of living composers’ music, her in-depth portrayals and excellent musicianship have established her as a go-to performer of critically acclaimed new works with her “lovely soprano” voice (The New York Times), “lyrical poignancy and dramatic power” (The Chicago Tribune). Recent favorite roles include, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Mother in Little’s, DOG DAYS, Gilda in RIGOLETTO, La Princesse in Glass’, ORPHÉE, Margarita Xirgu in Golijov’s, AINADAMAR, and Cunegonde in CANDIDE deemed “simply terrific” (Opera Magazine UK). She trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in voice (MM) and at The American Conservatory Theatre in drama.

    Nicole Paiement, Conductor

    Nicole Paiement has an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. As Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle in San Francisco, Paiement has been responsible for helming the world or American premiere of many new works. Under her baton, the company has earned rave reviews for its innovative work in Contemporary Opera. Paiement is Principal Guest Conductor at The Dallas Opera where she also serves as mentor for The Dallas Opera’s new Institute for Women Conductors.  She is an active guest conductor and has recently appeared with the Glimmerglass Festival, Saratoga Opera, The Atlanta Opera, The Washington National Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Upcoming engagements include debuts at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera and Houston Grand Opera, and a return to Washington National Opera, Glimmerglass and  The Dallas Opera. Her numerous recordings include many world premieres, including David Conte’s “The Gift of the Magi” (Arsis Audio CD 141).  Last year, Paiement was awarded the American Composer’s Forum “Champion of the New Music” Award, for her outstanding contribution to New Music. She also holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

    Ann Moss, Soprano

    Soprano Ann Moss is an acclaimed recording artist and champion of contemporary vocal music who collaborates with a dynamic array of living composers. Her high, silvery, flexible voice has been singled out by Opera News for “beautifully pure floated high notes” and by San Francisco Classical Voice for “powerful expression” and “luminous tone.” Her newest solo album Love Life (Angels Share Records, 2016), produced and recorded by multi-GRAMMY® award winner Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Sound, features music of Jake Heggie, Liam Wade, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Lennon/McCartney with pianists Heggie and Steven Bailey, cellist Emil Miland, violinist Isaac Allen, and GRAMMY® award winning ensemble Chanticleer. Moss has also recorded on PARMA, Naxos, Albany, Navona Records and Jaded Ibis Productions labels. In addition to working closely with well-known composers such as John Harbison, Kaija Saariaho and Aaron Jay Kernis, Ann seeks out and performs music by emerging voices at forums and festivals across the USA. As co-founder and Artistic Director of new-music repertory group CMASH, Moss has been personally responsible for the creation and premiere of over ninety art songs, works of vocal chamber music and operatic roles, and has been a featured soloist with Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, SF Contemporary Music Players, Earplay, Eco Ensemble, the Ives, Alexander, and Hausmann String Quartets, Composers in Red Sneakers, at FENAM, Other Minds Festival, Fresno New Music, PARMA and Switchboard Music Festival, among others. Highlights of the 2016-2017 concert season include a Texas recital tour with pianist Cheryl Cellon Lindquist, previews of new operas by David Conte and Alden Jenks with West Edge Opera, and the World Premieres of A Line Becomes A Circle (2016) by Miya Masaoka, Down the Deep Stair (2017) by Jared Redmond with the Lydian String Quartet, and Finite Differences (2016) by Kenneth D. Froelich (libretto: John Grimmett) with the Hausmann Quartet, all of which were composed specifically for her. Ms. Moss has lectured on vocal composition and led masterclasses on interpretation of contemporary song at institutions including MIT, UC Davis, NYU Tisch School For The Arts, Longy School of Music of Bard College, University of Houston Morse School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Sacramento State University and CSU Los Angeles. She holds degrees from Hampshire College, Longy School of Music of Bard College, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

    Kay Stern, Violin

    Kay Stern is Concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. She has served as assistant to Dorothy DeLay at the Aspen Music Festival, assistant to the Juilliard Quartet at the Juilliard School, and has been a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has taught and coached at various music festivals around the world, and has been in residence at Wellesley College and San Diego State University. She has appeared in PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, CNN’s Women Today, Minnesota Public Radio’s Garrison Keillor A Prairie Home Companion and St. Paul Sunday Morning, and WQXR-NY Robert Sherman’s Listening Room. As former first violinist and founding member of the Lark String Quartet, she performed and gave master classes throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Kay is an active chamber musician, collaborating with colleagues in numerous venues in and around the Bay Area. Kay attended the Juilliard School as a student of Dorothy DeLay. While there she received full scholarships for her Bachelor, Master’s and Doctoral degree programs. Kay Stern’s concerto and chamber music recordings can be heard on Phillips, Nonesuch, Innova, MusicMasters, Koch International and Gramma Vision. In 2017 she joined the violin faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

    Douglas Rioth, Harp

    Douglas Rioth is Principal Harpist of the San Francisco Symphony. He studied Piano from age 6, and harp from age 15. He attended Interlochen Arts Academy studying harp with Elisa Smith Dickon, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying harp with Alice Chalifoux. He served as Principal Harp of the Indianapolis Symphony from 1975-1981, and as Principal Harp of the San Francisco Symphony since 1981. He has been the Harp Instructor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music since 2007,  and the Harp Coach of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra since 1981.

    Eric Dudley, Conductor

    Eric Dudley leads a multi-faceted musical career as a conductor, singer, pianist and composer. Following distinguished tenures as assistant conductor for the Cincinnati and Princeton symphony orchestras, his recent guest engagements include the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ojai Festival, National Symphony Orchestra, and the Bendigo Festival and Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia. Having served for four years on the conducting faculty of Mannes College and The New School in New York, he currently directs the orchestra program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and has recently been appointed as the next artistic director for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. A founding member of the Grammy Award-winning octet Roomful of Teeth, he regularly records and tours worldwide with the group in its ongoing mission to create a new body of work for the 21st Century vocal ensemble. While living in New York, he performed and conducted with ensembles as diverse as the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Ekmeles, Talea Ensemble, Tenet, Ensemble Signal, American Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. As a pianist and chamber musician, he has collaborated with members of Novus New York and the Cincinnati, Princeton and Albany symphony orchestras, and his own music has been premiered and recorded by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Quey Percussion Duo, and by Roomful of Teeth. He holds a degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music, and a doctorate in orchestral conducting from Yale.


    Program Notes & Texts

    American Death Ballads
    for High Voice and Piano
    Brian Thorsett, Tenor | John Churchwell, Piano
    American Death Ballads were composed especially for tenor Brian Thorsett. The choice of texts was inspired partly by Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs, which I deeply admire, and even more by my dear friend and colleague Conrad Susa’s Two Murder Ballads.
    “Wicked Polly” is a cautionary tale. Polly has lived a dissolute and immoral life, saying, “I’ll turn to God when I grow old.” Suddenly taken ill, she realizes that it is too late to repent. She dies in agony and is presumably sent to hell; young people are advised to heed. My musical setting is stately and preacherly in character for the narrator; for Polly it becomes pleading and remorseful.
    “The Unquiet Grave” is taken from an English folk song dating from 1400. A young man mourns his deceased lover too intensely, preventing her from obtaining peace. My setting is in a flowing andante with a rocking accompaniment. Three voices are delineated here: the narrator, the mournful lover, and the deceased lover, speaking from the grave.
    “The Dying Californian” first appeared in the New England Diadem in 1854. Its lyrics are based on a letter from a dying New England sailor to his brother, while at sea on the way to California to seek his fortune in the gold fields. He implores his brother to impart his message to his father, mother, wife, and children. My setting opens with the singer alone, in a moderate dirge tempo, and, joined by the piano, moves through many tonalities and moods before ending with supreme confidence as the speaker “gains a port called Heaven/Where the gold will never rust.”
    “Captain Kidd” was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy and murder in 1701. Kidd escaped to America, and for a time lived in New York and Boston. He was a wanted criminal by the British authorities, and was extradited and hanged at “Executioner’s Dock.” Though the didactic tone of the text is similar to “Wicked Polly,” it expresses no regret until the final lines. My setting is fast and spirited, expressing the confidence of a man who has lived life as he wanted.

     

    I. Wicked Polly

    Young people who delight in sin, I’ll tell you what has lately been:
    A woman who was young and fair died in sin and deep despair.
    She went to frolics, dances and play, in spite of all her friends could say.
    “I’ll turn to God when I get old, and He will then receive my soul.”
    On Friday morning she took sick, her stubborn heart began to break.
    She called her mother to her bed, her eyes were rolling in her head:
    “O mother, mother, fare you well, your wicked Polly’s doomed to hell,
    The tears are lost you shed for me; my soul is lost, I plainly see.
    “My earthly father, fare ye well; your wicked Poly’s doomed to hell.
    The flaming wrath begins to roll; I’m a lost and ruined soul.
    “Your counsels I have slipted all, my carnal appetite to fill.
    When I am dead, remember well, your wicked Polly groans in hell.”
    She wrung her hands and groaned and cried and gnawed her tongue before she died;
    Her nails turned black, her voice did fail, she died and left this lower vale.
    Young people, let this be your case, oh, turn to God and trust His grace.
    Down on your knees for mercy cry, lest you in sin like Polly die.

    II. The Unquiet Grave

    “The wind doth blow today, my love,
    And a few small drops of rain;
    I never had but one true-love,
    In cold grave she was lain.
    “I’ll do as much for my true-love
    As any young man may;
    I’ll sit and mourn all at her grave
    For a twelvemonth and a day.”
    The twelvemonth and a day being up,
    The dead began to speak:
    “Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
    And will not let me sleep?”
    “’T is I, my love, sits on your grave,
    And will not let you sleep;
    For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips,
    And that is all I seek.”
    “You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips,
    But my breath smells earthy strong;
    If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips,
    Your time will not be long.
    “’T is down in yonder garden green,
    Love, where we used to walk,
    The finest flower that e’re was seen
    Is withered to a stalk.
    “The stalk is withered dry, my love,
    So will our hearts decay;
    So make yourself content, my love,
    Till God calls you away.”

    III. The Dying Californian

    Lay up nearer, brother, nearer
    For my limbs are growing cold,
    And thy presence seemeth dearer
    When thine arms around me fold.
    I am dying, brother, dying,
    Soon you’ll miss me in your berth,
    And my form will soon be lying
    Neath the ocean’s briny surf.
    Harken, brother, closely harken.
    I have something I would say,
    Ere the vale my visions darken
    And I go from hence away.
    Listen, brother, catch each whisper,
    Tis my wife I speak of now,
    Tell, O tell her how I missed her
    When the fever burned my brow.
    Tell her she must kiss my children
    Like the kiss I last impressed.
    Hold them as when last I held them
    Folded closely to my breast.
    Twas for them I crossed the ocean
    What my hopes were I’ll not tell;
    And I’ve gained an orphan’s portion,
    Yet he doeth all things well.
    Tell them I never reach that haven
    Where I sought the "precious dust,"
    But I’ve gained a port called Heaven
    Where the gold will never rust.

    IV. Captain Kidd

    "My name was Robert Kidd as I sailed, as I sailed,
    My name was Robert Kidd, as I sailed.
    My name was Robert Kidd, God’s laws I did forbid,
    And so wickedly I did, as I sailed, as I sailed,
    And so wickedly I did as I sailed!"
    "My parents taught me well, as I sailed, as I sailed,
    To shun the gates of hell as I sailed.
    I cursed my father dear, and her that did me bear,
    And so wickedly did swear, as I sailed, as I sailed,
    And so wickedly did swear, as I sailed.
    “I’d a Bible in my hand, when I sailed, when I sailed,
    But I sunk it in the sand as I sailed.
    I made a solemn vow, to God I would not bow,
    Nor myself one prayer allow, when I sailed, when I
    sailed,
    Nor myself one prayer allow, when I sailed.
    "I murdered William Moore as I sailed, as I sailed,
    And left him in his gore as I sailed,
    And being cruel still, my gunner did I kill,
    And much precious blood did spill, as I sailed, as
    I sailed,
    And much precious blood did spill as I sailed.
    To Execution Dock, I must go, I must go,
    To Execution Dock, I must go;
    To Execution Dock,
    where many thousands flock,
    But I must bear my shock, and must die.
    Come all ye young and old, see me die, see me die,
    Come all ye young and old, see me die;
    Come all ye young and old,
    you're welcome to my gold,
    For by it I've lost my soul, and must die.
    Take warning now by me, for I must die, for I must die,
    Take warning now by me, for I must die;
    Take warning now by me,
    and shun bad company,
    Lest you come to hell with me, for I must die;
    Lest you come to hell with me, for I must die.

     

    Three Poems of Christina Rossetti
    for High Voice and Piano
    Kindra Scharich, Mezzo-Soprano | Kevin Korth, Piano
    Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) began writing at age 7, but was 31 before her first work was published. She was hailed as the natural successor to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. A devout Anglo-Catholic, her popularity faded in the early twentieth century from Modernism’s backlash, but in the past few decades she has been rediscovered. Her visionary poetry has a deeply religious quality, and a keen sense of the spiritual world.
    “Rest” describes the soul’s journey from physical death to Paradise. “Echo” describes with great sensitivity and passion an attempt to regain a love in dreams that has been lost in reality. “A Hope Carol” describes a vigil of a soul who is called to a vision of Paradise, and the second coming of Christ. “Echo” and “Rest” were written especially for mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook. “A Hope Carol” was originally composed as a choral piece in for the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus. A version for solo voice was composed shortly after the original and is dedicated to mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Mannion. Several years after the original, I prepared an edition for high voice for tenor Brian Thorsett, who premiered it at the at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

     I. Rest

    O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes;
    Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth;
    Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth
    With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs.

    She hath no questions, she hath no replies,
    Hushed in and curtained with a blessed dearth
    Of all that irked her from the hour of birth;
    With stillness that is almost Paradise.

    Darkness more clear than noon-day holdeth her,
    Silence more musical than any song;
    Even her very heart has ceased to stir:
    Until the morning of Eternity
    Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be;
    And when she wakes she will not think it long.

    II. Echo 

        Come to me in the silence of the night; 
            Come in the speaking silence of a dream; 
        Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright 
            As sunlight on a stream; 
                Come back in tears, 
        O memory, hope and love of finished years.

        O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet, 
            Whose wakening should have been in Paradise, 
        Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet; 
            Where thirsting longing eyes 
                Watch the slow door 
        That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

        Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live 
            My very life again tho' cold in death: 
        Come back to me in dreams, that I may give 
            Pulse for pulse, breath for breath: 
                Speak low, lean low, 
        As long ago, my love, how long ago.

    III. A Hope Carol 

    A Night was near, a day was near,
    Between a day and night
    I heard sweet voices calling clear,
    Calling me:
    I heard a whirr of wing on wing,
    But could not see the sight;
    I long to see my birds that sing,
    I long to see. 

    Below the stars, beyond the moon,
    Between the night and day
    I heard a rising falling tune
    Calling me:
    I long to see the pipes and strings
    Whereon such minstrels play;
    I long to see each face that sings,
    I long to see. 

    To-day or may be not to-day,
    To-night or not to-night,
    All voices that command or pray
    Calling me,
    Shall kindle in my soul such fire
    And in my eyes such light
    That I shall see that heart’s desire
    I long to see.

     

    Love Songs
    for Tenor, Violoncello, and Piano
    Brian Thorsett, Tenor | Emil Miland, Cello | John Churchwell, Piano
    The three songs gathered here were composed over a long time period. The first, “Levis Exsurgit Zephirus,” was originally composed in 1993 for male chorus and piano four-hands as the second movement of my “Carmina Juventutis.” I adapted it for solo voice, cello, and piano for several singers in 1999 and 2007, including soprano Sylvia Anderson, mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook, and countertenor Ian Howell. “D’Anne qui me jetta de la neige” and “The Moment” were composed in August, 2016, especially for Brian Thorsett, Emil Miland, and were premiered on October 11th, 2016, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I have collaborated extensively with both artists; with Mr. Thorsett in my “Yeats Songs” for Tenor and String Quartet, and my “American Death Ballads,” and with Mr. Miland in my Sonata for Violoncello and Piano. For a specific concert, I decided to build a set of three love poems in three different languages; Latin, French, and English. In all three pieces, the violoncello, that most expressive and soulful instrument, represents the very soul of the speaker of these three texts, as he moves through many emotions, including passion, suffering, vulnerability, and joy.
    “Levis Exsurgit Zephirus” is taken from the eleventh century Cambridge Songs. This love song is in rhymed couplets written in Ambrosian quatrains—the most common of all forms used for Latin hymns. The music has a gentle undulating quality as the speaker is “possessed by deep sighs in the midst of all this beauty,” for his soul languishes. After several climaxes, the opening music returns in the minor mode, accompanied by “sighs” in the piano and cello.
    Though I’ve spent many years in France, “D’Anne qui me jetta de la neige” is my first setting in French. The text is by the sixteenth century French poet Clément Marot. The narrative describes a young man suddenly hit by what Italians poetically call the “Thunderbolt,” a single moment where one falls suddenly and passionately in love with someone. The poem is remarkable in that the speaker’s passion is also tempered by a touching vulnerability, as he asks his beloved to show him kindness, even taking pity upon his newfound passion.
    Theodore Roethke is one of my favorite American poets, whom I first set in my choral piece “The Waking” in 1985. His poem “The Moment” is both subtly and unabashedly erotic, and indeed “ends in joy.”

    Levis exsurgit zephirus
    Levis exsurgit zephirus,
    Et sol procedit tepidus,
    Jam terra sinus aperit,
    Dulcore suo diffluit.
    Ver purpuratum exiit,
    Ornatus suos induit,
    Aspergit terram floribus,
    Ligna silvarum frondibus.
    Quod oculis dum video
    Et auribus dum audio,
    Heu pro tantis gaudiis
    Tantis inflor suspiriis.
    Cum mihi sola sedeo
    Et hæc revolvens palleo,
    Si porte caput sublevo,
    Nec audio nec video.
    Tu saltim, veris gratia,
    Exaudi et considera
    Frondes, flores et gramina,
    Nam mea laguet anima.
    Cambridge Songs (11th century)
    - Translation below -

    The West Wind Rises Softly
    The west wind rises softly,
    the warm sun rides on its course,
    the earth bares its bosom
    and overflows with its sweetness.
    The purple spring comes forth
    and girds on its apparel.
    It sprinkles the earth with flowers
    and the trees in the forests with leaves.
    While I see all this with my eyes
    and hear it with my ears
    I am possessed, alas! by deep sighs
    in the midst of all this rejoicing.
    While I sit all by myself with a pale face,
    turning all this over in my mind,
    if by chance I raise my head
    I neither hear nor see.
    Do thou at least, for the sake of spring,
    hear and consider
    the leaves, the flowers, and the grass,
    for my soul languishes.
    Translation that appears in
    Carmina Juventutis

    D’Anne qui me jetta de la neige
    Anne par jeu me jeta de la neige,
    Que je cuidois froide certainement:
    Mais c’était feu, l’expérience en ai-je,
    Car embrasé je fus soudainement.
    Puisque le feu loge secrètement
    Dedans la neige, où trouverais-je place
    Pour n’ardre point?
    Anne, ta seule grâce
    Eteindre peut le feu, que je sens bien,
    Non point par eau, par neige, ni par glace,
    Mais par sentir un feu pareil au mien.
    - Clément Marot
    - Translation below -

    Anne Who Threw Snow at Me
    Anne playfully threw snow at me,
    That I certainly found cold:
    But it was fire, the experience I had,
    For I suddenly felt aflame.
    Since fire secretly lodges
    In the snow, where can I find a place
    That is not burning?
    Anne, only your grace
    Can extinguish the fire that consumes me,
    Not by water, snow, or ice,
    But by feeling a fire like mine.
    Translation by the Editor

    The Moment
    We passed the ice of pain
    And came to a dark ravine,
    And there we sang with the sea:
    The wide, the bleak abyss
    Shifted with our slow kiss.
    Space struggled with time;
    The gong of midnight struck
    The naked absolute.
    Sound, silence sang as one.
    All flowed: without, within;
    Body met body, we
    Created what’s to be.
    What else to say?
    We end in joy.
    - Theodore Roethke

     

    Everyone Sang
    for Bass and Piano
    Matt Boehler, Bass | Kevin Korth, Piano
    Everyone Sang is a collection of four songs, composed at various times between 1998 and 2003. The fourth song which gives the collection its name, “Everyone Sang,” was commissioned by and is dedicated to the late James Schwabacher, who was a dear friend and important tenor and patron of the arts in San Francisco. It was premiered by bass-baritone Maris Vipulis and pianist Marc Shapiro in 1998. The songs “Homecoming,” dedicated to baritone Robert Barefild, and “Quilt,” dedicated to baritone Ryan Villaverde, were commissioned by the West Chester University Poetry Conference and were premiered by Robert Barefield and pianist Carl Cranmer in June 2003. “Entrance,” dedicated to baritone Tim Krol, was written in July 2003 for inclusion in this set. In 2016, I prepared an edition for bass voice for Matt Boehler, who premiered the set in April 2018.
    The four songs of Everyone Sang treat sequentially the themes of attachment, discovery, loss, and celebration. “Homecoming” by A. E. Stallings, an American poet who lives in Greece, explores the psychic thread which binds Odysseus and Penelope. Penelope is weaving a coat to put off her suitors, hoping still for Odysseus’s return. The poem envisions “man and wife dwelling together in unity of mind and disposition.” In Rilke’s poem “Entrance,” translated by American poet Dana Gioia, the speaker entreats the listener to discover the new, see the old through fresh eyes, embrace the unknown, and ultimately let go. “Quilt” by Diane Thiel has a wonderful relaxed formality, being in Terza Rima form, invented by Dante. The quilt is a metaphor for the compartmentalization of life; each patch represents an aspect or event. The poem suggests how we all try to make sense of life by transforming disorder into the order of a quilt. “Everyone Sang” by English poet Siegfried Sassoon expresses the varied emotions of joy and relief at the end of World War I, and sadness for those who have died.

    I. Homecoming

    It was as if she pulled a thread,
    Each time he saw her, that unraveled
    All the distance he had traveled
    To sleep at home in his own bed,
    Or sit together in a room
    Spinning yarns of monsters, wars,
    The hours counted by the chores.
    He loved to watch her at the loom:
    The fluent wrists, the liquid motion
    Of small tasks not thought about,
    The shuttle leaping in and out,
    Dolphins sewing the torn ocean.
    -
    A. E. Stallings

    II. Entrance

    Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
    Out of the room that lets you feel secure,
    Infinity is open to your sight.
    Whoever you are.
    With eyes that have forgotten how to see
    From viewing things already too well-known,
    Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
    And put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
    And you have made the world and all you see.
    It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
    And when at last you comprehend its truth,
    Then close your eyes and gently set it free.
    Original words in German by Rainer Maria Rilke.
    Translation by Dana Gioia.

    III. Quilt

    At night this quiet covers me,
    grown ragged on the center seam,
    dividing all this history.
    I touch the patches always known,
    the ones they wrapped me in, passed down
    for far too long for anyone
    to still remember what was cut,
    that it was once a blouse, a skirt
    she wore the night he took her heart.
    I touch the fields I thought I knew
    and smooth the places healed into
    each other, at the ridges sewn
    with careful secrets mouthed for all
    the years she couldn’t tell a soul.
    - Diane Thiel

    IV. Everyone Sang

    Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
    And I was filled with such delight
    As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
    Winging wildly across the white
    Orchards and dark-green fields; on- on- and out of sight.
    Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
    And beauty came like the setting sun:
    My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
    Drifted away...O, but Everyone
    Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
    the singing will never be done.
    - Siegfried Sassoon

     

    Lincoln
    for Baritone, English Horn, Trumpet, and String Orchestra
    A. J. Glueckert, Tenor | James Moore, English Horn | Scott Macomber, Trumpet
    San Francisco Conservatory String Orchestra, Marika Kuzma, Conductor
    Lincoln was commissioned by the city of Concord, Massachusetts, in celebration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. The text by John Stirling Walker quotes liberally from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s eulogy for Lincoln. The work alternates between recitative and lyrical passages, with the noble, visionary quality of Lincoln’s character represented by the trumpet, and the quieter, more pastorale and dignified character by the English Horn. The work was premiered by the performers on this recording at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on March 17th, 2013.

    I.

    He stood here in Concord.

    Emerson stood here, and gave us
    Remarks...

    They pertained to a man;
    And that man,
    No matter what you think about it,
    That man was True.

    Emerson stood there, and gave us remarks
    About a man,
    True, who,
    Through and through,
    Felt what was to Do.

    II.

     "His occupying the chair of state was a triumph of
    The good sense of mankind," said the sage of Concord.  

    "Providence makes its own instruments,
    Creates the man for the time,
    Trains him in poverty,
    Inspires his genius,
    And arms him for his task.
    It has given every race its own talent,"
    Ralph went on, "and ordains
    That only that race
    Which combines
    Perfectly
    With
    The virtues of all
    Shall
    Endure."

    Such a race,
    Yes, such a race

    Is True.

    III.

    Are we True?

    Are You?

    - John Stirling Walker

     

    Sexton Songs
    for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble
    Marnie Breckenridge, Soprano
    San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble, Nicole Paiement, Conductor
    The five poems of Sexton Songs span Anne Sexton’s fifteen-year career. The central two poems, “Her Kind” and “Ringing the Bells,” are taken from her book From Bedlam And Part Way Back, published in 1960 and inspired by her stay in a mental institution. They are framed by “Rowing” and “Riding the Elevator to the Sky,” two poems from The Awful Rowing Toward God, published in 1973, one year before she committed suicide at the age of 46. “Us” is from her collection, Love Poems. Through my study of Sexton’s poetry and her life, I gradually formed an image of her as a kind of cabaret performer: a microphone in one hand and a cigarette in the other, delivering her funny—and often devastating—jokes. In my musical settings I have tried to mirror Sexton’s vernacular language and popular images with a style that evokes aspects of jazz and cabaret, and mixes sustained aria-type music with recitiative passages. Sexton’s poet friend Maxin Kumin wrote about Awful Rowing: “The Sexton who had so defiantly boasted...‘I am God la de dah,’ had now given way to a ravaged, obsessed poet fighting to put the jigsaw pieces of the puzzle together into a coherence that would save her—into ‘a whole nation of God.’” For me, Anne Sexton’s painful journey is ultimately a very brave one. She dredges up her feelings and experiences and challenges us to reflect on them, on our own. The version for chamber ensemble was written for and premiered by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble, Nicole Paiement, conductor, Marnie Breckenridge, soprano, on October 9th, 2010.

    I. ROWING

    A story, a story!
    (Let it go. Let it come.)
    I was stamped out like a Plymouth fender
    into this world.
    First came the crib
    with its glacial bars.
    Then dolls
    and the devotion to their plastic mouths.
    Then there was school,
    the little straight rows of chairs,
    blotting my name over and over,
    but undersea all the time,
    a stranger whose elbows wouldn't work.
    Then there was life
    with its cruel houses
    and people who seldom touched -
    though touch is all -
    but I grew,
    like a pig in a trench coat I grew,
    and then there were many strange apparitions,
    the nagging rain, the sun turning into poison
    and all of that, saws working through my heart,
    but I grew, I grew,
    and God was there like an island I had not rowed to,
    still ignorant of Him, my arms and my legs worked,
    and I grew, I grew,
    I wore rubies and bought tomatoes
    and now, in my middle age,
    about nineteen in the head I'd say,
    I am rowing, I am rowing
    though the oarlocks stick and are rusty
    and the sea links and rolls
    like a worried eyeball,
    but I am rowing, I am rowing,
    though the wind pushes me back
    and I know that the island will not be perfect,
    it will have the flaws of life,
    the absurdities of the dinner table,
    but there will be a door,
    and I will open it,
    and I will get rid of the rat inside of me,
    the gnawing pestilential rat.
    God will take it with his two hands
    and embrace it.
    As the African says:
    This is my tale which I have told.
    If it be sweet, if it be not sweet,
    Take somewhere else,
    and let some return to me.
    This story ends with me still rowing. 

    II. HER KIND

    I have gone out, a possessed witch,
    haunting the black air, braver at night;
    dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
    over the plain houses, light by light:
    lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
    A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
    I have been her kind.

    I have found the warm caves in the woods,
    filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
    closets, silks, innumerable good;
    fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
    whining, rearranging the disaligned.
    A woman like that is misunderstood.
    I have been her kind.

    I have ridden in your cart, driver,
    waved my nude arms at villages going by,
    learning the last bright routes, survivor
    where your flames still bite my thigh
    and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
    A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
    I have been her kind.  

    III. RINGING THE BELLS

    And this is the way they ring
    the bells in Bedlam
    and this is the bell-lady
    who comes each Tuesday morning
    to give us a music lesson
    and because the attendants make you go
    and because we mind by instinct,
    like bees caught in the wrong hive,
    we are the circle of the crazy ladies
    who sit in the lounge of the mental house,

    and smile at the smiling woman
    who passes us each a bell,
    who points at my hand
    that holds my bell, E flat,
    and this is the gray dress next to me
    who grumbles as if it were special
    to be old, to be old,
    and this is the small hunched squirrel girl
    on the other side of me
    who picks at the hairs over her lip,
    who picks at the hairs over her lip all day,
    and this is how the bells really sound,
    as untroubled and clean
    as a workable kitchen,
    and this is always my bell responding
    to my hand that responds to the lady
    who points at me, E flat;
    and although we are no better for it,
    they tell you to go.  And you do.

    IV. RIDING THE ELEVATOR INTO THE SKY

    As the fireman said:
    Don't book a room over the fifth floor
    in any hotel in New York.
    They have ladders that will reach further
    but no one will climb them.
    As the New York Times  said:
    The elevator always seeks out
    the floor of the fire
    and automatically opens
    and won't shut.
    These are the warnings
    that you must forget
    if you're climbing out of yourself.
    If you're going to smash into the sky.

    Many times I've gone past
    the fifth floor, cranking upward,
    but only once
    have I gone all the way up.
    Sixtieth floor:
    small plants and swans bending
    into their grave.

    Floor two hundred:
    mountains with the patience of a cat,
    silence wearing its sneakers,
    Floor five hundred:
    Messages and letters centuries old, birds to drink,
    a kitchen of clouds,
    Floor six thousand:
    the stars,
    skeletons on fire,
    their arms singing.
    And a key,
    a very large key, that opens something -
    some useful door - somewhere -
    up there. 

    V. US

    I was wrapped in black
    fur and white fur and
    you undid me and then
    you placed me in gold light
    and then you crowned me,
    while snow fell outside
    the door in diagonal darts.
    While a ten-inch snow
    came down like stars
    in small calcium fragments,
    we were in our own bodies
    (that room that will bury us)
    and you were in my body
    (that room that will outlive us)
    and at first I rubbed your
    feet dry with a towel
    because I was your slave
    and then you called me princess.
    Princess!

    Oh then
    I stood up in my gold skin
    and I beat down the psalms
    and I beat down the clothes
    and you undid the bridle
    and you undid the reins
    and I undid the buttons,
    the bones, the confusions,
    the New England postcards,
    the January ten o'clock night,
    and we rose up like wheat,
    acre after acre of gold,
    and we harvested,
    we harvested.  

    Requiem Songs
    for Soprano, Solo Violin, Harp, and String Orchestra
    Ann Moss, Soprano | Kay Stern, Violin | Douglas Rioth, Harp
    San Francisco Conservatory String Orchestra, Eric Dudley, Conductor
    Requiem Songs were commissioned by the American Music Research Center, Boulder, Colorado, Thomas Riis, director, in loving memory of Don Campbell (1946–2012). Don Campbell and I were deeply connected through our mutual teacher Nadia Boulanger. The inspiration for this commission came from organist Carolyn Shuster Fournier, a dear mutual friend and long-time resident of Paris. The work was premiered at l’Eglise de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris, in 2013 by Alexis Galpérine, violin, Magali Léger, soprano, Saori Kikuchi, harp, and Carolyn Shuster Fournier, organist. In 2016 I created a new version of these songs, replacing the organ with string orchestra.
    To honor Don’s memory I chose three Latin texts from the Requiem Mass. The first, “Exaudi,” is Larghetto and serves as a prelude. The entire composition is based on a plaintive, three-note descending motive first stated in the strings and taken up by the singer and solo violin. The mood begins in a dark and questioning C-sharp minor, and only after much dissonance and tension, resolves quietly in the key of E major; the supplicant’s voice has been heard.
    “Dies Irae,” marked Allegro agitato, is an intense and dark scherzo in D minor with chromatic runs in the strings and solo violin accompanying the soprano, whose line is disjunct and dramatic. There is a central, more lyrical section based on the Lacrymosa text in a slower tempo, which leads to the song’s only serene moment: “Pie Jesu Domine.” The “Dies Irae” music returns, and the song ends violently and decisively.
    The third song, “In Paradisum,” introduces the harp. The soprano melody is modeled very closely on the Gregorian chant based on this text. This song is consciously inspired in part by both Fauré’s setting of the same text and the Lux aeterna of Nadia Boulanger (a work always played at the annual Lili Boulanger memorial service at La Trinité). The song is in the radiant and serene key of F-sharp major (a favorite key of Olivier Messiaen, long-time organist at La Trinité), and almost completely diatonic. There is a gentle climax on the text “habeas eternam,” and the song slowly winds down to its end, having laid to rest life’s struggles in the eternity of heaven.

    I. Exaudi

    Exaudi orationem meam
    Ad te omnis caro veniet.

    Hear my prayer
    All flesh shall come before you.

    II. Dies irae

    III. In Paradisum  

    In paradisum deducant angeli;
    in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres
    et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.

    Chorus angelorum te suscipat
    et cum Lazaro, quondam paupere,
    aeternam habeas requiem.

    May the angels lead you into paradise;
    at your coming may the martyrs receive you
    and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem.

    May the chorus of angels receive you
    and with Lazarus, once poor,
    may you have eternal rest.

     

  • Discovering Forgotten Treasures

    Guest Post by Dr. Carol Kimball

    Songs of Gouvy, edited by MeeAe Cecilia Nam.  In two volumes. Vol. 1: 40 Poèmes de Pierre de Ronsard, 12 Poèmes de La Pléiade; Vol. 2: 18 Sonnets et Chansons de Desportes; 18 Poésies de Moritz Hartmann. Published by E. C. Schirmer Music Company.

    MeeAe Cecilia Nam MeeAe Cecilia Nam

    Explorers of French mélodie have an interesting journey ahead. Have you heard of the songs of Théodore Gouvy? Neither had I, but thanks to the research and study of Dr. MeeAe Cecilia Nam, there are eighty-eight songs by this nineteenth-century composer now available for perusal and performance. E. C. Schirmer Music Company has recently released a two-volume critical edition titled Songs of Gouvy, containing the song catalog of composer Louis Théodore Gouvy (1819-1898), edited by Dr. Nam, Professor of Voice at Eastern Michigan University, who has devoted the last number of years to Gouvy’s song output. These publications are the fruits of that labor.

    This sizeable collection of 88 French songs has been virtually unknown and forgotten until recently. In order to preserve Gouvy’s legacy and perpetuate research and performance of his music, L’Institut de Théodore Gouvy was founded in 1995 in Hombourg-Haut, France and began to lure scholars and performers to work with and perform his music in concerts. A small number of CDs have been produced, and little by little, Gouvy’s name is surfacing as more than a petit maître.

    Gouvy was a prolific composer; his catalog includes more than 200 compositions, including works for large orchestra (including 8 symphonies), a huge repertoire of chamber music, large vocal religious works, two operas, and over 100 songs.

    His catalog of compositions has been slow to surface, quite possibly due to his birthplace in Alsace, which at the time straddled two countries and cultures, Germany and France. In 1815 the border between France and Germany fluctuated, and Gouvy was the only family member designated as German instead of French. He was denied French citizenship until he was thirty-two.

    Louis Théodore Gouvy (1819-1898) was born into a wealthy French industrial family. He studied law in Paris, but gave it up to pursue a career in music. Always drawn to music, art, and languages, he began to compose, working privately with teachers at the Paris Conservatoire, since the circumstances of his birth precluded admitting him to study there. His compositions drew inspiration from both German and French cultures.

    Gouvy produced a sizeable listing of symphonies, chamber music, and other instrumental forms, waiting until the mid-century mark to really concentrate on composing songs. He led a diverse cultural life, interacting with contemporaries who admired his work and whom Gouvy knew well: Liszt, Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, and Gounod among others. Though he knew and was admired by many fellow composers, his career never really took off as he'd hoped, and his musical legacy remained largely obscure as well. At his death in 1898, his music was largely forgotten. Today his name is slowly being revived.

    It is not surprising that Gouvy’s love for art, and languages manifested itself in his composing a large body of French song, and that he chose poetry almost exclusively from sixteenth-century French poet Pierre de Ronsard, and the group of his compatriots known as the Pléiade poets. Gouvy was a lover of nature and as such, would naturally be drawn to the poems of Ronsard and this group. Gouvy only deviated from Ronsard and the Pléiades to set the verses of his good friend, poet Moritz Hartmann (1821-1872), whom he met around 1845.  Hartmann’s verses tend toward the political, championing the freedom of the individual. The French poet, Adolph Larmande, translated eighteen of Hartmann’s poems from German to French and when these songs were published, they were published in both languages. His cultural duality was very much a part of Gouvy’s compositional persona even then.

    Gouvy’s settings of Hartmann appear in Larmande’s French translation in volume 2. The songs that make up Opus 21 and Opus 26 are Gouvy’s settings of Hartmann’s poetry and are designated for baritone and tenor, respectively.

    E. C. Schirmer’s two anthologies are handsomely designed and sturdily packaged. Each large volume is spiral-bound for ease in handling and performing.  In addition to the musical scores, both volumes contain complete texts and translations, with critical notes on the texts. The original texts in sixteenth-century French spellings—and in the case of Hartmann’s poems, the poems in their original German—are given as well.  All the texts in the musical score appear in modern French used today.

    Songs of Gouvy Songs of Gouvy

    Finally, both volumes end with an extensive article dealing with French versification written by Catherine Bessone, Professor of French Language and Literature. For singers, collaborative pianists, teachers, and any other musicians who want to understand more about the French texts with which they’re working, it is full of information. Some may find it most useful to start by looking up the French poetic forms and using those as guides for exploring the complexities of sixteenth-century French verse.

    Although the two volumes contain works for voice and piano, there are several instances of additional performance combinations: “Avril,” Rémy Belleau’s paean to nature’s bountiful gifts is set as a duet; and “A Cassandre, ” perhaps Ronsard’s best-known ode (“Mignonne, allons voir si la rose”) features a cello obbligato, as does another of the poet’s most celebrated verses, “A sa maîtresse,” which contains a favorite sixteenth century poetic theme—carpe diem—an exhortation to seize and enjoy the moment since youth and love are fleeting. As Ronsard spins his web of seduction, the cello echoes its own tempting subtext.

    Gouvy produced his large body of songs in the compressed time of several years; they were not well known in his life time, and they remain so today, yet here is a composer who had an extraordinary warmth of feeling for the human voice and produced not only songs, but larger vocal works and two operas as well.  In the notes that accompany her CD of Gouvy songs, MeeAe Cecilia Nam writes that the songs have both a French and German character, which might well have caused some confusion in classifying them as French mélodies or German Lieder.  We might conclude that his songs were too German for the French, and too French for the Germans.

    Gouvy’s musical style has been likened to Mendelssohn or Gounod. It may be that like Gounod, Gouvy intended his songs for the consumption of the bourgeoisie, interested in in taking French song into their parlors along with Schubert’s Lieder. Gouvy’s beautifully crafted songs helped establish that French song could blend lovely melodies, expressive accompaniments, and fine poetry with the same results as the German composers did with Lieder. There is a fluid lyricism in the piano accompaniments, and an adherence to classical French style, which combines lyricism and precision.  The songs are notable for their French sense of proportion—graceful and well crafted. Gouvy was himself a pianist, and in his songs, the piano writing often collaborates with the voice, most especially in creating the emotional mood and overall poetic atmosphere.

    Rather than languishing in obscurity, these songs definitely deserve careful consideration as both teaching and performing material. We applaud Dr. Nam’s passion and research for bringing them to light so that teachers and singers may give them careful examination. They have their own unique voice that deserves to be heard, full of melodious vocal phrases rather than subtle details, underpinned with undulating accompaniments encased in colorful rhythmic figures which sustain overall emotional mood. They are inventive, engaging, quite approachable musically, and pose few vocal difficulties. They deserve a place in the body of standard French song repertoire.

    We are fortunate to live in a time in which the rediscovery of musical treasures long forgotten is more possible than it has ever been. Many thanks to Dr. MeeAe Cecilia Nam for her dedicated efforts in bringing this fascinating and substantial catalog of songs to light. In doing so, she has further enriched the art song catalog for singers, scholars, and the many artists for whom discovering new repertoire is always an important part of the vocal experience. Chapeau!

     


    Dr. Carol Kimball is Emerita Professor of Voice, and Barrick Distinguished Scholar at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is the author of Song: A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature; Art Song: Linking Poetry and Music

     

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