Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August Releases on Navona, Ravello, and Big Round Records

Various Artists

The 28th edition of the Society of Composers, Inc. release series and the 4th on Navona Records, PENDULUM extrapolates and elaborates on several themes relating to variation, transformation, repetition, and more. This installment features works from seven SCI composers: Doron Kima's As From a Dream focuses on changes in texture as well as symmetry, developing varying thematic episodes throughout; Metamorphoses II by Clifton Callender is a gradual transformation of musical figures, employing harmonic extensions typical of folk fiddling; Jorge Variego, in Walls (flute nonet), presents a study on perception, using a nine-note block and rotating it in many directions as if it is three-dimensional; Alex Freeman's Night on the Prairies, taking its name from a Walt Whitman poem, preserves the purity of the mid-West prairies and alludes to simple campfire tunes of the region; Wing Over Wing, Eric Nathan's song-cycle, explores the various concepts associated with the definition of flight, taking imagery from Whitman's poems and his own... Read More

Sarah Wallin Huff

As in a Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov novel, composer Sarah Wallin Huff's music on SOUL OF THE MACHINE, her debut solo release on Navona Records, explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity. Wallin Huff's string quartet Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine is a reimagining of minimalist techniques, in the style of Philip Glass, and uses mathematical ratios to determine rhythmic and tonal patterns, setting a science fiction tale of a computer that is given the chance to experience human emotions. Another work that has an overarching tale, one of uncertainty and identity, is Courage Triptych, a cinematic suite of "images," while Adoré transforms the hymn "My Tribute" by Andraé Crouch into an open and ethereal piece, remindful of Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question. The sonata for violin and piano, Gypsy Wanderer, is a study of patterns, colors, and formula, creating rhythmic and harmonic wanderings. The three movements of Counterpoint Invariable follow a strict arrangement of phrases, varying only the compositional material, illustrating that mechanical designs can produce emotive beauty. Read More

Shuko Watanabe, Timothy Gaylard

What must it feel like to play an instrument that is one of seven known to exist in the world and is two hundred years old? Pianists Shuko Watanabe and Timothy Gaylard know this feeling, playing works written by Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) on a Clementi grandforte piano in pieces on the Navona Records release, CLEMENTI GRAND. 

The Clementi grand featured on this album was a gift by Dr. Lawrence Smith and his wife Ganelle to the Department of Music at Washington & Lee University in Lexington VA, and celebrates the bicentennial of its production this year. Some of Clementi's most well-known pieces as well as some lesser-known works are presented, including four preludes from Musical Character Pieces, two of his didactic sonatinas, the famous Sonata in B-flat that Clementi played in Vienna at a contest with Mozart in 1781, two symphonic-sounding four-handed duets, and a rondo for keyboard and flute, featuring flutist Byron W. Petty. Watanabe and Gaylard honor this Clementi grand fortepiano with energy and enthusiasm. Read More

Curt Cacioppo

On his latest Navona Records release, RITORNELLO, composer and pianist Curt Cacioppo revisits the beloved country of Italy, recalling places, friends, Italian tales, Don Giovanni, and more to create a detailed sonic story about his experiences and Italian heritage. The three movements of Divertimenti in Italia reflect on different regions of Italy: the town of Alberobello and its unique conical dwellings called trulli; the culture and mountainous terrain of northern Italy; and the musical air of Catania in Sicily. From the Dolomites to Etna, a group of seven piano pieces, not only illustrates various parts of the Italian landscape, but makes reference to stories such as Dante's Inferno in "Nel mezzo del cammin" and presents a musical parody of an aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni in "Burlesca." Women at the Cross is a collection of depictions of women who are significant in the Passion of Jesus Christ, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate, and Veronica, the woman who wiped Jesus' face. Read More

Various Artists

Continuing the mission of the original Capstone Records series by the Connecticut Composers, Inc., this debut Navona Records release of the same name, SPECTRA, highlights six contemporary composers from northeastern United States, who reflect the diversity and progression of today's music. 

The album showcases pieces by composers of Connecticut Composers, Inc.: Droyßiger Wald, by Michael K. Slayton, represents a life of simplicity in a small town outside of Leipzig, Germany. Ken Steen's piece for piano trio, re: Moon in the Afternoon, is a musical responsorial to a single chapter in Italo Calvino's novel Mr. Palomar. Stephen Michael Gryc's elegy for his father, deep-diving loon, takes its name from dervish Yunus Emre, who says a deep-diving loon "represents that individual who is willing to completely immerse himself in the mysteries of life and be transformed." The fast and aggressive piece BA(da)SS by Ryan Jesperson was written for bassist Ryan Ford and is an exercise in using techniques of repetition and double natural harmonics. A suite of five movements, Time Pieces by Margaret Collins Stoop explores various applications and portrayals of the word 'time' while Rose Sonata by Elizabeth R. Austin explores imagery of the rose, quoting a theme from Brahms' Intermezzo No. 2 as well as poetry from Rilke, William Carlos Williams, and Goethe. Read More

Peter Vukmirovic Stevens

Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly applauds Peter Vukmirovic Stevens' AUGUST RUINS (2013), saying, "[Cellist] Paige Stockley plays it stunningly; I would relish the chance to hear her do it live." The opportunity to hear a live performance of Stockley playing Stevens' compelling solo cello work is now available as a digital release through Navona Records, AUGUST RUINS LIVE. The performance by Stockley was recorded on the evening of April 19, 2014 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA, during the special concert event, "Music by the Sea," presented by the PARMA Music Festival. The live recording captures the dynamic nature of Stevens' cello suite, which Stockley describes as works that "reshape themselves over time" (Spotlight Magazine). Stockley's interpretation brings out the raw, expressive, and often brooding energy of Stevens' music. Read More

Walter Ross

On TRIUMVIRATE, composer Walter Ross' second release on Ravello Records, the concerto is showcased as a genre, illustrating that tension and opposition can create balance and richness. Throughout the three concerti, themes, timbres, rhythms, and tempos juxtapose each other, building webs of contrasting musical elements and textures. In Ross' Clarinet Concerto, the two outer movements, "Fantasia" and "Capriccio," move with the energy of dance rhythms while the middle movement, "Romanza," drifts with dreaminess and impressionistic lyricism. His Piano Concerto, Mosaics opens with an episodic first movement, pairing syncopated rhythms with tuneful melodies. The second movement, "Largo malincolico," dynamically matches a melancholic section with a celebratory section as the third movement, considered a "devil's dance fantasy," builds suspense and mystery before going into a playful and percussive flourish. Read More

The Daydream

THE DAYDREAM is the debut release on Big Round Records of children's music by The Daydream, a family music group consisting of Scott and Cathy Liebenow with their children McKenna, Mark, and Mia. Combining their music education and composition experience, the Liebenows present original, engaging, and educational songs for the whole family. Songs like My Amazing Nose, Billions of Bugs, What's in My Backpack, and 10 Little Bowling Pins teach kids about the wonders of the world around them while tunes like Fun on this Train, Pop Goes the Popcorn, and My Cell Phone are enjoyable sing-alongs. Entertaining and informative, this album is geared towards the development of a child's appreciation of music and the world, whether it be in the classroom or at home. Read More

Kickstarter: "Three Songs" for Trio Casals

We at PARMA are proud to announce that we recently recorded NY based composer Diane Jones' "Three Songs" for Trio Casals in Pennsylvania with the trio last month. These three pieces will showcase Diane's flexibility and range as a composer, as well as Trio Casals' instrumental mastery.

The "Three Songs" that make up this work are:  "Street Song" - a frantic movement inspired by busy streets and sidewalks.  Everyone vies for space on the street, all the while driving endlessly forward, forward, forward; "Mountain Song" - gentle breezes, fresh air, and clear skies are a dramatic change from city streets.  This movement is flowing and lyrical, with the melody introduced by the 'cello and brought to a beautiful end with the violin; and finally, "Sky Song" - music filled with mixed emotions and love, the melody evokes the essence of Diane's late brother, as he watches over his wife and children, left behind far too soon.

Diane has created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the cost of production. Check out her video below to get a taste of the songs and support this campaign!

Nice and Easy

Since I started playing, listening to, and studying music over ten years ago, I've noticed that there's a faction of people who don't find much reward in music that doesn't make you want to groove, nod your head, or drive twenty miles over the speed limit.

While the upbeat stuff is all good fun (and probably outweighs everything else on my CD shelf 2 to 1), by closing off your ears and your minds to the other side of the spectrum, you're missing out on half a world's worth of heartfelt artistic expression.

And in the words of Garth Algar, that's just really sad. Because you're not just going through life without the music itself - you're living without taking in the beauty and the serenity that it embodies.

As we ramp up into the home stretch of preparations for this year's PARMA Music Festival, we understand now more than ever how important it is to find a minute or two amid the chaos to click your brain off and just relax. The songs on this playlist have helped to keep me mellow as we count down the hours before the nonstop action and excitement that the festival will bring, and I think they'll help you unwind and float off to your happy place too.

So have a listen and take it easy for now, and we'll see you at the Kickoff! event tomorrow morning at the North Church of Portsmouth.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New PARMA Artist: Edgar Barroso

We are pleased to announce that composer Edgar Barroso has signed on to release his debut album with PARMA Recordings! He joins a growing roster of artists committed to exciting and adventurous new music.This album will feature a mix of programmatic and process-oriented chamber ensemble and electro-acoustic works from the past 10 years of Barroso's career.

Born in Mexico in 1977 and currently doing research at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology in Switzerland, Barroso recently received his Ph.D. in Music Composition from Harvard University, where he was appointed Director of the Harvard Group for New Music from 2010 through 2014. Barroso is part of the inaugural class of Harvard Horizons Scholars. His works have been interpreted in important forums in North America, Ibero-America, Asia and Europe. During 2006-2012 he received several National and International Prizes in Music Composition and Multimedia, including the Francis Boott Prize in Music Composition, Best Audio Award from the International Black&White Multimedia Festival, Grand Prize from the Harvarrd University Live Electronics International Composition Competition, and the "Young Creator Award" from the National Fund for Culture and Arts, Mexico.

Lately, his work has divided between music writing, social activism and the study of trans-disciplinary collaboration. He is the founder of the Open Source Creation Group dedicated to the implementation and analysis of trans-disciplinary academic programs along with entrepreneurial and social innovation.

The instrumentation on Barroso's debut album will run the gamut from solo accordion to string quartet to six vocalists to various other ensembles and combinations of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. Check out the links and video below for more information and examples of his work, and be sure to keep an eye out for updates on this upcoming release.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

PARMA Music Festival Composer Spotlight: Rain Worthington

Rain Worthington
Today we are pleased to shine the Festival spotlight on longtime PARMA composer Rain Worthington.  Rain lives in New York and serves as the Director of Development for New York Women Composers, Inc.  Her music has a distinctly unique voice within the field of contemporary music that touches the human heart with delicate, powerful, and emotionally evocative writing.

Rain's music has been performed internationally and has been featured in articles and reviews in American Record Guide, IAWM Journal, Chamber Music magazine, Fanfare, and MusicWeb-International.  She has been awarded grants from Meet the Composer, ASCAP, the American Music Center, NYFA, and the American Composers Forum.

Rain's music has been featured on three PARMA releases and she is currently working with PARMA on releasing selections from her chamber works.  Rain's violin duo, "Night Stream," was recorded with PARMA in 2013 and will be performed at the PARMA Music Festival Friday, August 15th during the PENDULUM Chamber Music concert.

Listen to an excerpt of Rain's upcoming release, LUMINESCENCE, below, keep an eye out for her next release, and hear some of her music live next week.