Friday, February 12, 2016

February Releases Out Now on Navona, Ravello, and Big Round Records!

Mark Dal Porto | Richard Campanelli | David Nisbet StewartPaula Diehl | Jason Lovelace | Mel Mobley

Navona Records presents FIGMENTS, a compilation of eclectic contemporary works for chamber ensemble that highlight the dramatic, the mysterious, and the inventive through diverse instrument combinations and use of extended techniques. The album features music by composers Mark Dal Porto, Richard Campanelli, David Nisbet Stewart, Paula Diehl, Jason R. Lovelace, and Mel Mobley. Read More

Sam Magill | Beth Levin

The regions of Austria and Hungary have a rich history of music, art, and culture, where composers such as Beethoven, Artur Schnabel, and Emanuel Moór, among many others, developed their craft and influenced the traditions of European art music. On his debut release on Navona Records, CELLO MUSIC FROM AUSTRIA-HUNGARY, cellist Sam Magill presents works by Beethoven, Schnabel, and Moór that not only expand the cello repertoire and illustrate the cellist’s virtuosity, technical aplomb, conviction, and expressiveness, but enrich our understanding of these composers, their music, and their heritage. Read More

Rain Worthington

Music can possess the power to take hold of our emotions, guiding us along an imagined journey that stirs our inner being, a concurrently unique and familiar experience. New York composer Rain Worthington writes music to captivate the listener, creating textural and lyrical worlds that are inhabited by various colors and tones. On DREAM VAPORS, her full-length solo debut on Navona Records, the composer offers a selection of her orchestral works, presenting intense dreams, intangible perceptions, and musically evocative elaborations. Read More

Craig Madden Morris | Paul John Stanbery

The modern romanticism of composer Craig Morris is one simultaneously deeply personal and broadly meaningful. His albums DREAMS (2011) and CIRCLE OF LOVE (2015), both on the Ravello Records label, in large part deal directly with musical representations of universal emotional states and concepts. Read More

Michael G. Cunningham

On his latest release on Navona Records, WISDOM-LOVE-ETERNITY, composer Michael G. Cunningham presents a collection of his choral works, performed by the Kühn Choir of Prague conducted by Marek Vorlíček, which explore the spiritual element of the human condition, addressing the uncertainty of death, the inexpressible emotion of love, and humans’ search for an understanding of God. Read More

Piotr Szewczyk

In 2005, violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk developed the Violin Futura Project, a collection of commissioned miniatures for solo violin that highlights over thirty international contemporary composers and how they are re-imagining the solo violin. “The purpose of the Violin Futura Project,” says Szewczyk, “is to sample the creative environment of our times by showcasing the wide variety of styles present in the 21st century, and to create a body of new solo violin repertoire.” Navona Records presents the album release of Szewczyk’s project, VIOLIN FUTURA. Read More

Michael J. Evans

Fusing together the areas of visual art, music, literature, and history, composer Michael J. Evans presents his multimedia project, MISERY, on Navona Records. Taking inspiration, text, and imagery from Russian author Anton Chekhov’s (1860-1904) tale of the same name, the composer’s work can serve multiple functions:  an anti-concerto for bassoon, the soundtrack for an illustrated graphic novel or silent film, the music for a stage work (dance, pantomime, shadow, or puppet theater), or any combination of the aforementioned. Read More

Joseph Koykkar

Composer Joseph Koykkar, described by American Record Guide as writing “music with a crystalline kind of clarity and rhythmic urgency that places him among the more exciting of contemporary composers,” presents his debut full-length release on Ravello Records DOUBLE TAKES AND TRIPLE PLAYS. Featuring works spanning a 20-year period in the composer’s career, this album exemplifies Koykkar’s practical approach to writing, dictated by the bounds and the interplay within chamber ensemble combinations, occasionally using computer-generated sounds. Read More

Alex Lubet | Maja Radovanlija

Transporting the listener to a mysterious and enthralling sonic world, composers and guitarists Alex Lubet and Maja Radovanlija present their debut release on Big Round Records, THE ENCHANTED GUITAR FOREST, which captures the duo’s Eastern European, specifically Jewish and Balkan, heritage. Read More

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Michael J. Evans MISERY - "A Way In"

Ever since we've began working with DC composer Michael J. Evans, we have known him to push boundaries and innovate new ways of sharing messages and music.  From our first release together, BLOOM, a collection of chamber works, to our last project, CIPHER, a spoken word and piano release of variations and translations, Evans has consistently evolved and impressed those around him. 

About one year ago, Evans came with us to the Czech Republic to record what has become his next project, MISERY, a 40 minute long anti-concerto for bassoon and orchestra.  MISERY is inspired by the Chekhov short story of the same name.

Rather than follow the traditional format of recording and releasing strictly audio, Evans commissioned a visual artist to set his recording to an animated story, creating a marriage of visual art, music, literature, education, and history.  The result is a unique work of art that introduces a new way of presenting and sharing music:

Evans has always had a way with words (and music!) and sharing his interpretations on art and culture.  We wanted to share a few words from Evans about this distinctive project: 

"What is MISERY?
It’s a multimedia project. But, more than that, it’s a way in.

A way into what?New music for one thing. If you asked people on the street, how many would say they recently listened to “21st century classical” or new music? Probably very few, to none.

In reality they listen to it all the time: commercials, movies, video game, TV shows. The reality is that it is out there, being heard all the time. So why isn’t it more accepted? Why aren’t more people packing into new music concerts the same way they pack into a new art exhibit?

Some of it has to do with the way we think of and market our music. There’s an intimidation factor: people think they won’t like or understand it. My way into the standard repertoire of Bach, Beethoven etc. was through cartoons when I was younger. The way in for today’s audiences, are films, commercials, and TV shows, but they are unaware that they are already in.

We need to credit composers and performers more when our work is being used for something, and let people know that they are hearing new music. They need to know that this piece exists alone and was not composed specifically as background music for some program. And, if they enjoy it, they can get it.

Another set of issues are the vestiges of the last century for both composers and the audience. For composers to write something at all consonant or accessible meant you weren’t a “real” or “serious” composer.

Even if you “started out” as a serious composer, the greater the success and acceptance you gained by the mainstream, the more suspect your music became, and the more suspect you became as not being a “real” or “serious” artist. The idea being that if someone who didn’t have a PHD in music could get it, then it clearly wasn’t intellectual enough. That was a problem with the music establishment and a lot of critics and fortunately that is changing, though it still may take a while.

It’s not enough to have a concert in a bar or places other than a traditional concert hall, although it is one way to get the work out there. I think we need to present works in a way that we experience them with visuals etc. not always, but sometimes.

It’s also a way in to classic literature, mythology etc. Again, ask a kid to read Chekhov, Kate Chopin, or something else, and unless it is required, most kids won’t do it. Give them a graphic novel, or a DVD of the same story and you will have their interest. It’s the same for most adults too. We have become so accustomed to receiving our information in a multimedia setting that it just makes sense to do it.

Now, I know film adaptations of books can be terrible, and that is why they can be discouraged. In school, part of the lesson might be getting a person to read words, which a film adaptation would not address. The projects I'm experimenting with now address this issue. The text of the story appears in MISERY the same way a graphic novel would. It is not edited down, but is the actual text, so the person is reading the story while watching the story unfold. 

Film adaptations can be poorly made due to an economic factor. So much is driven by the movie studios trying to turn out blockbusters and make a profit. It is the film establishment, as well, that is part of the problem. Capitalism and profit are another part of it: this idea we have that if something doesn’t make money it is not of value. Forget the cultural value, or the message: if it doesn’t sell it’s not valued, at least here in the US.

That being said, I do believe we are seeing the arts moving into a post-capitalist environment. What it will eventually look like will depend on lots of factors. There is experimentation with basic income in a few countries right now. If profit or making a living was not a motivating factor, and artists, including sound engineers, producers, etc., were all free to create and collaborate, without having to pay the expenses and worry about where their next meal was coming from, and, if those projects and collaborations were valued as contributing to the culture of the country and the world, then who knows what we might see and experience.

This multimedia project idea is a way in for composers too – a way in to film. There are so many composers now, and so many want to do film scores. That’s great. It depends on their motivation, however, as to whether or not the current system is going to actually be good, or work for them. I wonder if they realize that, barring a few notable exceptions, they are basically being hired to creating a product that matches the vision of some director. It is the director’s film, they choose a composer to continue that vision, and in many instances dictate the style of music.

The model I’ve created turns that paradigm on its head. The composer takes a story, and essentially becomes the director. The composer declares their independence and autonomy. More composers should be doing this. With this model, the composer is not subservient to a director or anyone. And the story unfolds differently. The end result is driven by the story and the music. The flow is different. Because it is, in essence, a “silent film”, (except even in those days the film was created first, and then music), the music and the story become the focal point. The visuals serve to enhance the story, but come after the music."
- Michael J. Evans
MISERY will be available this Friday, February 12th.  Evans will be celebrating the release with premiere showings of MISERY three times over the next week in Washington DC.  Details for the performances are below:

February 13th - Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library 3:30 PM

February 16th - West End Interim Library 7:00 PM
February 18th - Busboys and Poets 6:30 PM

PARMA on Spotify: Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and love is in the air, a love of terrific music that is! PARMA is here to help you celebrate with a selection of passionate love songs specifically designed to entice sparks and create lasting flames.

PARMA went way back in the catalog to 2009 in order to bring you old favorites such as the Ravello classic BLOOM from composer Michael J. Evans and the Big Round album PEGGO: IN LOVE by Peggo Hodes. Of course, the playlist would be incomplete without Craig Madden Morris' Ravello release CIRCLE OF LOVE which perfectly captures the blossoming and growth of new love.

Whether you're celebrating with a loved one or spending the night alone, please sit back, relax, and and let the PARMA Valentine's Day playlist get you through the holiday.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New PARMA Artist: Ferdinando De Sena

Please join us in welcoming Florida-based composer Fred De Sena to the PARMA community! 

We’ll soon be recording roughly half an hour of duos and trios by De Sena and releasing these in combination with a selection of his electronic/electroacoustic works for a full program of his music.

The finished CD will include the following pieces:
  •  “Deceptive Clarity” for flute and guitar
  • “Art Market” for fixed media
  •  “Eyes of Resurrection” for violin and harp
  • “Pulsonic Turn” for violin, clarinet and piano
  •  “The Wind From the Fire” for guitar, mandolin and electronic sound
  • “Anima Mea” for flute and alto saxophone
  • “Spalding’s Bounce” for tenor saxophone, cello and piano
  • “Lasting Virtue” for flute and viola

Fred served as Director of the Electronic Music Studio at the University of Miami and now teaches composition and electronic music at the New World School of the Arts, also in Miami. 

He is a former student of PARMA Artist Dennis Kam (whose "String Quartet No. 1" we recorded just last weekend), and the two keep in regular contact.

Fred’s music was also recently featured on the SCI release: ONYX. Check out his composition "Logic and Retoric" from this release below, along with a collection of other recordings on his SoundCloud page:, and stay tuned for news about the upcoming full album:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New PARMA Artists: University of South Dakota Chamber Singers

University of South Dakota Chamber Singers
We're excited to announce that the University of South Dakota Chamber Singers are the newest addition to the PARMA family of artists.

Led by director Dr. David Holdhusen, the USD Chamber Singers have performed around their native South Dakota, throughout the Midwest, and at state and regional conferences for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Last summer, the group toured Europe including performances in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Dr. David Holdhusen
The USD Chamber Singers are currently finishing the final recording sessions for the album, which will feature a program of folk songs, spirituals, and other works by American composers.

In the meantime, you can learn more about them on their website and keep up with them by following their Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also begin getting to know their work by checking out a stunning performance of Eric Whitacre's "Water Night" via the YouTube player below.