Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 2013 Releases on Navona Records

Today Navona Records releases four PARMA-produced albums: DANCES OF ETERNITY, A SINGLE BREATH, PERCEPTIONS, and AUGUST RUINS. Click "Read more" for info on each release and links to the catalog pages on the label websites.

April 2013 Releases on Big Round Records

Today Hawk and Dove's THIS YESTERDAY WILL NEVER END is available on Big Round Records! Click "Read more" for more info on the album and a link to the Big Round catalog page.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Recording Alex Freeman's BLUESHIFT: Do Chamber Sessions Need A Conductor?

Last week PARMA completed a fantastic recording of Alex Freeman's BLUESHIFT for chamber ensemble at Futura Productions in Roslindale, MA.  We enlisted some of Boston's best players (some of whom are also members of the PARMA Orchestra) to perform the work.  Here is the cast:

Lisa Hennessy, flute
Jan Halloran, clarinet
Peter Sulski, violin
Leo Eguchi, cello
Karolina Rojahn, piano
Robert Schulz, percussion

With this amazing ensemble, Lead Producer Andy Happel's expert guidance and Engineer John Weston (with help from Igor Stolarsky) on the board we were primed and ready to go.  Even luckier, we were able to have composer Alex Freeman here in Boston with us attending the session all the way from Minnesota.  A BU grad, Alex lived in Boston for some time and met up with his friend Matthew Guerrieri who also lent his ears.

On the way to the studio, I learned that Alex wrote the beginning of BLUESHIFT by hand rather than on Sibelius in order to convey fluidity and freeness in the sound.  When you hear this piece, you will understand why he wrote it this way and how important it is to create this soundscape (spoiler alert: there are gongs!).  Determining how to achieve this accurately in the studio lead us to agree that this piece could benefit greatly from the help of a conductor.

BLUESHIFT begs the general question of a conductor.  With chamber works, when is it necessary, or helpful to include a conductor for the recording session?  Does it depend on the size of the ensemble, the length of the piece, the level of difficulty, the amount of rehearsal time available?  With so many variables, sometimes it is complicated to determine if a conductor is necessary until we are in the studio working on the piece.

In the case of BLUESHIFT, Alex, Andy and I had discussed the possibility of including a conductor prior to entering the studio.  Because there was no conductor allocation in the budget for this particular project, we modified our production plans in order to yield the best musical results.  In this case, Alex agreed to conduct portions of the piece.

With Andy producing and listening closely to each take, we were able to gather the best material for post-production.  We also made sure that Alex had the chance to listen back to certain sections before moving on to the next portion of the piece.

Could we have completed the piece without Alex conducting?  Yes.  Would it still have been a fantastic recording?  Of course.  However, the session might not have gone quite as smoothly as it did and there is a chance that we would have had to extend beyond our allotted time frame.  

Overall, our first priority is capturing the best recording and musical vision of our composers.  In order to do that, we need to sometimes work with our composers and artists to shift production plans around in real time in the studio.  In the end we always arrive at the best recording possible even within tight parameters.

It was amazing to work with Alex in the studio – look for BLUESHIFT on one of our upcoming releases.  We will be sure to keep you posted!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Instrument Spotlight: Marty Regan

PARMA artist Marty Regan is known for the use of unique instruments on his releases. While most people are familiar with the sounds of the instruments Regan uses, a deeper look reveals the sounds' sources. On Regan’s recent Navona release, MAGIC MIRROR, a Japanese flute called the shakuhachi (尺八) is used on five out of six pieces.

What makes the shakuhachi so special? The flute is made from bamboo root, and like many wooden flutes, its length depends on its key. Originally brought to Japan from China, the shakuhachi has since garnered global appeal. The shakuhachi is resonant with traditional and cultural Japanese music, and it is very enjoyable to listen to. Click the link below to hear a shakuhachi quartet off Regan’s release:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beethoven's Tempi

I'm an avid podcast listener, and one of my favorites is WNYC's Radiolab. The show features in-depth explorations of topics in science and culture and is marked by a unique, light-hearted production style.

Recently, while driving on some New Hampshire backroads to visit some relatives, I heard an episode about Beethoven that called into question what his final intended tempo markings for his nine symphonies actually were. Could Beethoven have intentionally altered the his tempos later in life to keep performers on their toes for hundreds of years to come?

The episode is a refreshing look at music that many of us think that we have nothing left to learn about. I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Catalog Spotlight: Navona Records

MOTO PERPETUO: Moving Works for Cello

This week's catalog spotlight features the work of composer Nicholas Anthony Ascioti. Click the player below to stream "Adirondack Meditation" - released by Navona Records, performed by cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, violinist Sylvia Ahbramijan and pianist Janet Ahlquist.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stoltzman and Wyner in the Studio with PARMA

PARMA spent Monday at Futura Studios in Roslindale, MA with two superb musicians - Richard Stoltzman and Yehudi Wyner. They were joined in studio by PARMA CEO Bob Lord, PARMA Lead Producer Andy Happel, and Futura Engineer John Weston to record Hindemith's "Sonata in B-Flat." In addition to the recording, for the first time in the history of PARMA, the session was streamed live on the PARMA website. Check back soon to see more information about the upcoming 2013 Navona release that will include this recording and others by Stoltzman and Wyner.

Click "Read More" to view more pictures and a video of the recording.

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Middle C to Middle Earth

A professor I had in my sophomore year of college once told me, “If you want to be a successful composer – you need to steal.” He was referring to our studies of music, which involved a lot of composers with similar ideas. For example, John Williams has borrowed ideas from classical composers such as Wagner and Purcell. Click “Read More” to find out how even books can be derivatives of music.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 PARMA Student Composer Competition

On April 30th the submission period for the 2013 PARMA Student Composer Competition will close. If you have been considering submitting your work or sharing the competition details with an eligible composer, now is the time to act!

Ten winners will be selected to have their pieces published in the 2013 PARMA Anthology Of Music. One Grand Prize Winner will be selected to have their piece performed at the PARMA Music Festival this August in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

There is no fee for entry into the competition and all costs associated with the publication of scores, promotion of the Anthology, and performance of the Grand Prize Winner's piece will all be subsidized by PARMA.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A New Classical Instrument

Guest Post by PARMA Intern Alycia B.

The creation of new instruments is an essential part to contemporary music. 

We've seen the Theremin, electronic adaptations of instruments and even vegetable instruments created for the sake of new music. So what is the next classical instrument? Click “Read More” to find out!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sparky Davis - Songs for Spring Cleaning

The weather is finally starting to warm up here in New Hampshire. For most of us this means spring cleaning is right around the corner.  Personally, nothing gets me more excited to sweep the entryway or reorganize the living room than some good spring cleaning music.

Most people listen for upbeat, fluttery, and cheerful themes with their selection of spring music. PARMA composer Spark Davis exhibits these themes with his release "The Music of Sparky Davis".

Davis combines a mix of beautiful cascading compositions with the lively themes mentioned above.  Together with the pastel artwork (if you look carefully you can see his Parrot and Turtle) the music makes for some awesome spring cleaning music.  You also can't forget the classic "Morning" by Edvard Grieg.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yves Ramette Recording Session

April 2, 2013 – Award-winning pianist Eric Himy met up with the PARMA team to record the works of Yves Ramette in Rockport, MA at the Shalin Liu Performance Center. With the spring weather right around the corner, Himy’s elegant piano playing coupled with the beautiful scenery proved for a rewarding day of recording.

Click “Read More” to view pictures and video of the recording session.