Friday, August 29, 2014

North American Premiere of Fredrick Kaufman's "Guernica Piano Concerto"

GUERNICA / Navona Records
We at PARMA are excited to share that the American premiere of PARMA composer Fredrick Kaufman's "Guernica Piano Concerto" featuring Kemal Gekic will be held tomorrow night (Aug. 30th) with the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra.  

The premiere is part of the "Festival Interamericano de las Artes 2014" taking place in San Juan, P.R. Read more on Fredrick and the festival over at Fox News

The "Guernica Piano Concerto" is the cornerstone of Fredrick's GUERNICA release with PARMA Recordings available by streaming, download, and physical below.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PARMA Music Festival 2014 Recap

Day One: August 13th, 2014 

Juan Álamo
The festival kicked off on Wednesday, August 13th at the North Church of Portsmouth NH with a PARMA Artist Showcase featuring pieces from composers and performers. The rain was coming down in buckets, but that didn't stop us from setting the tune for the whole weekend.

Festival goers enjoyed solo performances on the marimba by Juan Álamo, piano soloist Karolina Rojahn and The Larksong Trio, wrapping up the performance with electronic pieces from composers Greg Bartholomew and Pamela MarshallLater that day another performance featured the works PARMA has placed for programming with C-SPAN, in attendance was C-SPAN President, Robert Kennedy. These pieces included some of PARMA's own composers, such as Paul Osterfield and Yves Ramette. 

The evening kicked off with an artistic experience with the works of Andy Heck Boyd and the musical stylings of DJ Nick Mainella at The Buoy Gallery in Kittery ME, followed by performances from Briana Cash and Ovidiu Marinescu.            

Buoy Gallery
Ovidiu Marinescu

We danced the night away with a packed house at The Dance Hall in Kittery with Shango!

Shango at The Dance Hall

Day Two: August 14th, 2014

Sophie Dunér
A bright and sunny Thursday started at the South Church in Portsmouth NH with chamber pieces highlighting styles of contemporary classical from Sweden. Composers such as Sophie Dunér and Adam O'Dell performed their own work. Electronic pieces by Garrett Schumann and Robert Fleischer awed all in attendance. Solo piano pieces performed by Chiharu Naruse presented composers Sergio Cervetti, Frederick Kaufman, and Robert DeGaetano. 

The audience was wowed by the Boston New Music Initiative that played small ensemble works by contemporary composers, including PARMA Artist, Ingrid Stölzel. The evening continued with a visit to the Portsmouth Music & Arts Center to enjoy tunes from three talented guitarists, Michael Gregory Jackson & Tim Webb,  and Alex Lubet & Maja Radovanlija.

The night wrapped up at The Underground Lounge at The Red Door with an experimental performance of alternative and classical music coming together.

The Underground Lounge at the Red Door, Portsmouth NH

Day Three: August 15th, 2014

C-SPAN President Robert Kennedy
"The performances were top notch and to coin a phrase, my 'brain was full' with new music concepts by the end of the third day. I don’t think I’ve ever had a musical experience quite like it!" - Robert Kennedy

A beautiful Friday morning began with PARMA's PENDULUM Album Release Concert. This featured PARMA composers on the release, Chris Arrell, Doron Kima, Alex Freeman, Jorge Variego, Philip Carlson, Eric Nathan, and Clifton Callendar. Works were performed by trios, duets, small ensembles, and piano soloists. The concert also included works by PARMA Artists Gregory Hutter, Rain Worthington, Jim Rhinehart, and Mei-Fang Lin

The afternoon brought about the LUNAR Ensemble for a magical experience of Shakespearean pieces. The evening kicked off with a mini concert featuring Matthias Muller on the SABRe at The River Run Bookstore followed by a meet and greet with composers and performers. 

The Thirsty Moose Taphouse hosted a showcase for international clarinetist Matthias Muller and local Boston based talent, the Will Dailey Trio.

Ovidiu Marinescu and Matthias Muller

Day 4: August 16th, 2014

The final day of the festival! We started the day with a morning gathering at The Music Hall Loft with the mood set by composer and improvisational pianist Gregory Hall, followed by a music licensing panel discussion, with moderator and film composer Mason Daring, Christian Hanlon, Dustin Levine and Justin Poirier. Following the discussion, local artist Joe Young played while festival goers were able to meet with the panelists.

Kids and parents alike were grinning ear to ear when the Great Bay Academy of Dance, Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra & NHPR's Amanda Loder teamed up for a performance of Peter & The Wolf. The performance was followed by the New Orleans Jazz-style band, Soggy Po' Boys.  

Saturday night ended with a bang! THE MAIN EVENT! The event was held at The Music Hall's Historic Theater and featured composers and performers of all types. The night started off with a performance of a piece by Michael Mikulka, winner of the 2014 PARMA Student Composer Competition. Performances by Portsmouth Pro Musica, Our Big Band, Taylor O'Donnell, and Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra completed the night, the weekend, and the festival! 

Ovidiu Marinescu with conductor John Page and the PSO
“I cannot say how much fun I had at the festival last week/weekend - I echo both your exhaustion after all of that and the joy you took in having me there. I am so happy I could make it and hope it isn't my last time in attendance!” - Garrett Schumann

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PARMA Student Composer Competition & Anthology of Music

Each spring, PARMA Recordings holds the Student Composer Competition as a means of furthering our commitment to the next generation of great composers. The competition is open to current students of composition under the age of 30; the outpouring of submissions which we get yearly is an exciting indication of a generation of boundless talent on the horizon. 

Each year, we assemble a group of composers and performers from the PARMA family to coalesce a list of the 10 best from all of the submissions to be included in our yearly anthology. This anthology is made available to anyone, anywhere, free of charge, in the hopes of shining a spotlight on the future of contemporary classical music. The anthologies from the past 2 years are available here.

Michael Mikulka
Out of the 10 pieces which were picked for inclusion in the 2014 PARMA Anthology of Music, we chose one Grand Prize Winner to be awarded an additional prize. This year, University of Texas student Michael Mikulka was awarded the honor of having his piece To Throw performed live on stage at the main event of the 2014 PARMA Music Festival by the Redline Brass Quintet

Michael is currently pursuing his DMA in Composition and is active as a player in the UT Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, New Music Ensemble, and Horn Choir. He is also the founder and conductor of the Vine Orchestra, who held a call for scores under 6 seconds in length in late 2013 and played 52 of the over 150 submissions live in concert in December. He is also founder of, a website which offers a free service for emerging composers to self-publish their wind ensemble pieces.  

Congratulations to Michael and all of the other PARMA Student Composer Competition participants! Keep an eye out for the 2014 PARMA Anthology of Music later this year.

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!