Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New PARMA Artist: Sally Reid

Tennessee-based composer Sally Reid has signed on with PARMA to record "Three Trifles" for alto saxophone and multi-percussion to be included on an upcoming compilation. The percussion will include four tom-toms, two temple blocks, cowbell, suspended cymbal, four timpani, tambourine, two crotales, and bowed/mallet-ed marimba.

Sally is a faculty member and department chair at Lipscomb University in Tennessee. She has won a composition prize from Mu Phi Epsilon, annual ASCAP awards since 1987, and first prize at the Fifth International Festival of Women Composers in 1998. She also served for a time as editor of the International League of Women Composers Journal.

This will be Sally’s second inclusion on a PARMA release – her “Fiuggi Fanfare” for 5 saxophones was featured on MOSAIC through Society of Composers, Inc.

You can watch a live performance of "Three Trifles" below:


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year In Music

We've released a whole lot of fantastic music in 2014 on Navona Records, Ravello Records, and Big Round Records. Waltzes, symphonies, piano trios, string quartets, sonatas, music for prepared piano, music for shakuhachi and orchestra, music for electronics, music for C-SPAN... the list goes on and on!

For your convenience, we've put together a diverse selection of great tracks from our 2014 releases; take a listen below:





and from everyone at PARMA Recordings: have a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Michael Murray's "Neutral Tones"

Happy Holidays!  We're excited to announce that Michael Murray's "Neutral Tones" for baritone and viola will be played this weekend on Marvin Rosen's 25-hour radio marathon “Viva 21st Century” via WPRB Princeton, NJ.

"Neutral Tones" will be featured on Micheal's 2015 release, PERCIPIENCE.


You can find out more about the event via
Facebook and listen to the radio promo here.
 
Tune in on Sunday morning (12/28) from 8:00-10:00 AM over coffee to get an advanced listen to this track and visit Michael's site at 
www.michaelmurraymusic.com to lean more. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

New PARMA Artist: Jason Lovelace

PARMA is pleased to welcome Pennsylvania-based composer Jason R. Lovelace to our growing roster of artists.

Dr. Lovelace endeavors to apply structural and theoretical constructs to translate scientific and technological phenomena into music. He is particularly interested in developing cross-disciplinary collaborative compositions with experts from outside the field of music.

Lovelace has signed on to record "Nocturne: Inversions" to be included on an upcoming PARMA compilation. The work uses invertible counterpoint and melodic inversion to aurally depict a temperature inversion; a condition that precedes freezing rain. The College Music Society has selected the piece for performance at their June 2015 International Conference in Stolkholm and Helsinki.

You can read more about Jason and hear examples of his work, including "Nocturne: Inversions," via his SCI page: http://www.societyofcomposers.org/members/JasonLovelace/

We'll be looking forward to working with him in the studio early in 2015.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New PARMA Artist: David DeVasto

PARMA is pleased to introduce Chicago-based composer David DeVasto to our roster of artists. David is a pianist and Assistant Professor of Music at Elmhurst College, where he teaches lessons in composition, music theory, piano, and improvisation.

As a piano player, David has shared the stage with a number of well respected artists in the classical and jazz fields, including clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and bassist Tyrone Wheeler.

David has signed on to release “Winter Seven,” a 7-movement song cycle for baritone voice, choir, and chamber ensemble on an upcoming multi-composer release on Navona Records next year.

As poet Lance Wilcox describes, each movement of "Winter Seven" illustrates a different "of literal winter and the more 'wintry,' cold, even brutal aspects of human experience," while "[struggling] toward some intimation of acceptance and hope." The recording features a collaboration between students and faculty of the Elmhurst College Music Department.

To learn more about David and to hear some of his music, check out the SoundCloud player below or head over to his website here


The Tornado Project

Tornado Project - Esther Lamneck (clarinet), Elisabeth McNutt (flute) and computer

PARMA is pleased to announce our collaboration with THE TORNADO PROJECT to release a program of works for flute, clarinet, and electronics in 2015.

THE TORNADO PROJECT is a set of works written for and performed by clarinetist Esther Lamneck and flutist Elizabeth McNutt featuring computer-generated sounds.

Each piece highlights a unique approach to this combination of electronic and acoustic timbres, resulting in an eclectic album that breaks the barrier between instrumental chamber and electro-acoustic music.

Imaginary FriendsThis release marks the return of University of North Texas professor Andrew May, whose album IMAGINARY FRIENDS was released in 2012 on Ravello Records. Along with Andrew, we're happy to be working with a host of new PARMA composers, including Robert Rowe, Eric Lyon, Paul WilsonRicardo Climent, and Russell Pinkston.

THE TORNADO PROJECT will be released next spring on Ravello Records. For more information in the meantime, you can visit the official website here.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cellist Carmine Miranda Wins Gold and Silver Medals from Global Music Awards

We are pleased to announce that PARMA artist Carmine Miranda is the winner of Gold and Silver Medals from the Global Music Awards!

As stated on their website (www.globalmusicawards.com), "Global Music Awards is a showcase for original music, unique voices and emerging artists." Carmine is certainly a singular voice in contemporary music, being one of the youngest cellists to record Bach's Six Cello Suites and Alfredo Piatti's 12 Caprices for Solo Cello. Along with his Gold Medal for best emerging artist and instrumentalist, he has received the distinction "Best of Show."

Photo by Cody Vickers
Carmine also won a Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement for his Navona Records album PIATTI: 12 CAPRICES FOR SOLO CELLO, which was released in October 2014. Carmine's album has been hailed by critics such as Mary Ellyn Hutton who calls it "an important contribution to the cello’s recorded repertoire." In addition, MusicWeb International exclaims, "Miranda announces his arrival as a cellist of immense musicality and polished technique."

You can find out more about Carmine on his website as well as follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

PIATTI: 12 CAPRICES FOR SOLO CELLO can be purchased through all major retailers including the ones below:

ArkivMusic: bit.ly/1sB6Opu
ClassicsOnline: bit.ly/13uZNeu



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nicolas Kaviani: "Te Deum" Kickstarter under 48 hours left

Nicolas Kaviani
In September, PARMA teamed up with Los Angeles composer Nicolas Kaviani to record his setting of Te Deum, followed by an a'capella work entitled "Tous les matins du monde," both to be included on an upcoming release through PARMA Recordings.

Nicolas launched a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of the financial expenses he had to incur during the production of this project and is over 80% of the way funded! There are less than 48 hours remaining in his campaign and he needs a little more support. 


You can see a trailer from the forthcoming DVD by director Alexis Hellot and listen to an excerpt from his setting of Te Deum below. Learn more about the project and support Nicolas here - Some of the limited rewards are going quicklykck.st/1xDBBzu   

2015 PARMA Student Composer Competition Calls for Orchestral Scores

We're pleased to announce that the submission period for the 2015 PARMA Student Composer Competition is now open! 

Our 4th annual competition calls for scores for full orchestra with the standard configuration of 2, 2, 2, 2 – 4, 3, 3, 1 – percussion – strings, with optional piano and harp. Pieces should be no longer than 10 minutes in duration, and entrants should be 30 years or younger (as of January 31, 2015) and currently studying composition either at an institution or through private instruction. There is no entry fee.

Ten (10) winners will be selected to have their works published in the 2015 PARMA Anthology of Music. You can check out the previous Anthologies here.

Three (3) Grand Prize Winners will receive readings and archival recordings of their scores by a full symphony orchestra via PARMA’s PrimaVista program. All costs will be fully subsidized by PARMA.

Visit the competition's FAQ page for more information.

The submission deadline for scores is January 31, 2015

Submit your score by clicking here!


Student Composer Competition Timeline
December 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015 – Submission period
February/March 2015 – Judging period
April 2015 – Winners announced
Summer 2015 – Reading sessions

New PARMA Artist: Libby Larsen


We're very pleased to welcome Grammy-winning composer Libby Larsen to our growing community of PARMA artists. Libby is one of America's most performed living composers with a catalog of over 500 works. She co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum (now the American Composer's Forum) in 1973, and the organization has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts. She has held the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education at the Library of Congress, and, as the first woman to serve as resident composer with a major orchestra, has held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony.

Her music has been praised in Gramophone, Times Union, The Wall Street Journal, and Fanfare among other publications, and she has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America. Her opera, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus was selected as one of the eight best classical music events of 1990 by USA Today.

Libby's upcoming PARMA release will feature three of her chamber works from the past ten years. The instrumentation for these recordings features various combinations of violin, cello, mezzo-soprano, viola, and piano. Her music is known both for its American idioms and its eclectic mixing of styles and colors. You can listen to a performance of the first movement of her Piano Trio below:


Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This is Nick Minicucci writing to you from PARMA’s Licensing Department.  

On a normal day I’m fielding submissions to build up our licensing catalog, reaching out to companies to find placements for our artists’ music in all types of media, fulfilling our client’s creative needs, and snacking on whatever I can find in our kitchen.

However, this past Thursday our recordings team had two sessions with composers
David N. Stewart and Paula Diehl and I had the opportunity to attend both.

After picking David up from the airport at the time I’m usually leaving for work and navigating my way through the madness that is driving in Boston, it was time for some good listening.

From Left: David Stewart, Peter Sulski, Andy Happel, John Weston
And good listening it was – David composed a piece for solo viola entitled “Fantasy.” It’s only a three minute piece but it’s packed with harmonic movement, ascending and descending patterns that span the whole range of the instrument, tempo change, time change, and a mountain of expression.

The performer, Peter Sulski, had a wealth of emotion to give the piece and technique that was a more than efficient conduit for getting it there. Watching the interaction between composer and performer as they talked about specific techniques and where adjustments could be made to enhance playability 
while still maintain the composition’s integrity may have been the most fascinating part for me.

In Paula’s session we were recording three powerful art songs written for piano and baritone – seeing two performers work together for the first time and establish a professional and aesthetic chemistry from the very first note was captivating.

Paula was listening in remotely and our lead producer Andy Happel was on the phone with her at every pause in the session to hear her feedback – his skill for making sure this feedback was translated into the music was sharply demonstrated. It was also impressive to witness our Artist Coordinator, Matt Konrad, following the score in real time and making sure everything stayed on track.


The musicality in that room was substantial and provided a lasting inspiration as I made way to my own gig in Cambridge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art and Music, A Natural Pair | Matthew Cusick

Art and music, a natural pair. Both are interpretive and expressive so it makes sense for the two to come together in our package designs. PARMA's Design Department is constantly cultivating new relationships with talented fine artists with hopes to collaborate on album designs. This creates both more unique covers for PARMA's artists and helps to bring the fine artists' work to a new expanded audience.

One such artist we have partnered with is Matthew Cusick. TheHiddenPeople.com states, "Matthew Cusick is an artist to know, understand and admire. Inspired by topography, he uses vintage map cutouts as a surrogate for paint and creates the most compelling pieces of art. Each image is meticulously pieced together by pasting small map-snippets into either beautiful portraits or wide spatial landscapes."

When it came time to create the cover art for Matthew Malsky's album, GEOGRAPHIES & GEOMETRIES we immediately thought of Cusick's artwork. There was an obvious and immediate connection to the theme of the album, both visually and sonically. We were thrilled to facilitate the collaboration and we are all very proud of the result.

RR7891 - GEOGRAPHIES & GEOMETRIES
To learn more about Matthew Cusick's artwork please visit: http://mattcusick.com/


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Composer Lee Actor Chosen for Honored Artists of The American Prize

This year The American Prize, the series of national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts, chose five American composers as the first group of Honored Artists of The American Prize. One of the composers selected is PARMA artist Lee Actor from Monte Sereno CA.

The American Prize website states, "Honored Artists are individuals who have proven themselves to be musicians of 'sustained excellence' over a number of seasons as contestants in the competitions." Actor has been awarded several distinctions from The American Prize, placing second in the 2011 Music for Orchestra division, and as a finalist in the same category in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

After a long and successful career in the video game industry, in 2001 Actor devoted himself full time to composition and conducting. He was named Composer-in-Residence of the Palo Alto Philharmonic in 2002, following his appointment as Assistant Conductor.

In April 2011, Actor released SAXOPHONE CONCERTO on Navona Records. In their review, Gramophone Magazine hails, "... [There is a] consistent level of orchestrational prowess throughout this collection. Instruments, whether solo or in multiples, are always placed in their best light." Audiophile Audition named it as one of their Best of the Year Discs for 2011.

Actor is releasing another album of his orchestral works on Navona entitled PIANO CONCERTO, featuring Maestro Kirk Trevor and the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, early next year. Stayed tuned for more information regarding its release.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Look Inside Paul Osterfield's SOUND AND FURY

Paul Osterfield
Too rarely are we allowed a glimpse into the inception and development of art as intricate and engaging as that of PARMA composer Paul Osterfield, whose music has been hailed for its colorful, sensual, and dramatic style by listeners, students, and reviewers alike. When such an opportunity arises, we take it upon ourselves to share it with our audience and provide a deeper level of insight into our artists' creative processes.


Recently, Paul sat down with a couple of former students of his at Middle Tennessee State University to discuss his creative process on his latest release, SOUND AND FURY. In the interview, Paul discusses how these works progressed through the composition phase all the way through to their recording and release on his new album. 

You can view the video directly via the YouTube player below. SOUND AND FURY is now available on Navona Records via CD, digital download, and online streaming.






Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November Releases out on Navona, Ravello, and Big Round Records


BELLE NUIT
NV5983
Kathryn Goodson, Randall Hawes, Timothy McAllister, Donald Sinta, Gail Williams



A stroll along the Seine - Notre Dame reflected in the waters below - the Eiffel Tower illuminated in evening skies - bistro conversations echoing in the streets of the Left Bank. Parisian scenes such as these come to mind when listening to the nuances of pianist Kathryn Goodson's debut Navona Records release, BELLE NUIT, a collection of works from the La Belle Époque and beyond, with arrangements for piano and wind instruments. 

Presenting two programs, Sonate et Rhapsodie: 4 Major Works and Romance et Mélodie: 16 Miniatures, this album showcases the refined lyricism of bass trombonist Randall Hawes, saxophonists Timothy McAllister and Donald Sinta, and hornist Gail Williams. Combined with Goodson's colorful pianism, these musicians express the imagery of love, loss, and passion with bel canto phrasing, through works by Debussy, Duparc, Fauré, Franck, Messiaen, and more. Read More


JOHN CAGE: SONATAS AND INTERLUDES / IN A LANDSCAPE
NV5984
Kate Boyd



On her debut Navona Records album, JOHN CAGE: SONATAS AND INTERLUDES / IN A LANDSCAPE, pianist Kate Boyd performs two pieces by John Cage (1912-1992) that exemplify his range of compositional intuition and invention. Sonatas and Interludes, one of Cage's most substantial works, makes use of prepared piano, a concept created by Cage. Boyd says of the significance of Sonatas and Interludes, "This work bookends the piano as we know it today, grounding itself in a time before its inception and yet looking ahead to the creation of a new instrument and sound aesthetic." A marriage of Baroque form and contemporary techniques as well as of Eastern philosophy and Western musical styles, this work is unique for performers since every performance varies due to the preparation of each instrument. While Sonatas and Interludes augments the piano's sound, In a Landscape seeks to limit it. Influenced by Erik Satie, Cage's latter work predates yet anticipates minimalism with its light, ethereal, and recurring themes. These two works showcase Boyd's scope of technique, emotion, and dexterity on the piano. Read More


HAYDN AND THE ENGLISH LADY
NV5981
Patrick Hawkins

 

When listening to keyboardist Patrick Hawkins playing an 1831 William Geib square piano on his debut Navona Records release, HAYDN AND THE ENGLISH LADY, one can imagine men and women in elegant silk gowns and suits gathered in an opulently decorated drawing room of an 18th-century English estate. This collection of piano works by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Maria Hester Park (1760-1813) illustrate the diversity and refinement of Classical repertoire.

Park, who received notable recognition as a pianist and harpsichordist in her teenage years, composed pieces which use skilled keyboard techniques, from the virtuosic 32nd-note passages and three-against-two patterns in Sonata in E-flat Major to the double-dotted rhythms and sighing gestures in A Waltz in E-flat Major. Haydn's Sonata in D Major and Adagio in G Major were written during his second visit to London in 1794-95, the former thought to be written as a gift for Maria Hester Park. Throughout his performances, Hawkins exhibits control and stateliness, presenting these works in a renewed display of sophistication and delicacy. Read More


PARAGONIA
NV5982
Michael G. Cunningham



On his latest Navona Records release, PARAGONIA, composer Michael G. Cunningham explores ways in which the orchestra can interact with itself on several levels. Counter Currents presents contrary phrases and themes simultaneously stated while TransActions portrays dimensions of density, emphasizing orchestral blur and presenting gestures and passages that prompt interplay between the sections of the orchestra. In Cunningham's Piano Concerto, the orchestra and piano are equally matched, using elements of stylized jazz and vocal-like passages to structure the themes. Highlighting textural and tonal fragmentation within the orchestra, his Trumpet Concerto demonstrates different conversational techniques among the voices, such as chatter, flippancy, and imitation. Read More


SOUND AND FURY
NV5978
Paul Osterfield



From the serenity of the Smoky Mountains to the abstraction and boldness of Kandinsky's paintings, composer Paul Osterfield's debut solo Navona Records album SOUND AND FURY pulls inspiration from several experiences which the composer translates into refined, stimulating, and expressive chamber pieces. 

Osterfield writes many of his pieces for particular performers and ensembles, giving his music unique personalities that reflect the virtuosic capabilities of the musicians. Sound and Fury, written for the Blakemore Trio, uses ornate passages and driving rhythms with soaring lyrical melodies, while Etudes for Piano, Book 1, written for pianist Caleb Harris, demonstrates various technical faculties such as parallel chords, syncopated rhythms, and blazing strings of notes. Works such as Smoky Mountain Autumn and Kandinsky Images depict the imagery of the natural landscapes of East Tennessee and the intense, often dark, and striking expressions of the painter's pieces. Read More


SEA OF REEDS
NV5979
Gerald Cohen



The clarinet is an essential voice in many genres, from classical and jazz to klezmer and world music, and composer Gerald Cohen calls it one of his favorite instruments: "I love the clarinet for its wide variety of character and dynamics, and its ability to either blend beautifully with other instruments or to stand out in a crowd." Through this affinity, the composer offers new compositions featuring the clarinet in various trio settings on his debut Navona Records release, SEA OF REEDS. 

Cohen's dramatic and lyrical compositions explore the clarinet's colorful personality with his particular blend of classical, Jewish, and jazz influences. Variously Blue is a vibrant group of variations on a twelve-bar blues pattern, highlighting an interplay between jazz and concert music; the title collection Sea of Reeds arranges five of Cohen's Jewish vocal works, turning them into virtuosic clarinet showpieces. Yedid Nefesh, based on a delicate Sephardic song, explores both meditative and exuberant aspects of that melody, while the wide-ranging variations of Grneta Variations take advantage of the wonderful virtuosity and unique musical personalities of the three musicians of the Grneta Ensemble. Read More


LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET
NV5980
Mark Zanter



On his debut Navona Records release, LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, composer Mark Zanter presents recently commissioned chamber works for strings. The inspiration for the title track comes from Rainer Maria Rilke's letters to Franz Xaver Kappus, a correspondence in which his encouragement to a young poet becomes a vehicle for expressing his thoughts on the creative process and the transcendent qualities of art. 

Guitarist Júlio Alves comments: "In Letters to a Young Poet, Mark Zanter reveals through a complex mosaic of sonorities the correspondence between anguished apprentice Franz Kappus and disquiet Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet still wrestling to find his own artistic identity. The intricacies of the parts, individually and together, indicate that the role of each instrument in this correspondence was purposefully left undecided, allowing both the violin and the guitar to be either 'the apprentice' or 'the poet.'" Read More


HALFLIGHT
RR7896
Kim Halliday



Composer and musician Kim Halliday is no stranger to the aesthetics of contemporary rock music, having a diverse background in punk, new wave, and ska. While his work in film composition draws on these influences and beyond, Halliday says his music is "designed to comfort and disturb in equal measure" like the moonlight illuminating a path through the forest, yet awakening shadow beings among the trees. 

His latest Ravello Records release, HALFLIGHT, portrays Halliday as a composer of our age, bringing together progressive rock, electronic and ambient music, and film music. Halliday uses a range of instruments at his disposal, from guitar and piano to sound loops and synthesizers to drum machines and narration. These works are entrenched in mystery, suggesting emotions that may be real or delusional. As does a track from a rock album, these pieces are easily self-sustaining and satisfying on their own, but they carry an atmosphere and tone of thrill and complexity which give them the ability to work within a number of film settings. Read More


CHAT CHILL HIGHLINE
BR8937
Christina Rusnak



On her debut Big Round Records release, CHAT CHILL HIGHLINE, composer Christina Rusnak presents works arranged for big band and large jazz ensemble, illustrating manners in which we interact with others and our environments such as conversing, observing, and absorbing. Composed during the rising popularity of internet chatrooms, Chat reflects on the energy and the sounds of movement, the multitude of voices, and the interweaving of conversations created in virtual and real social gatherings. Chill captures the cool ambience of a jazz lounge with an air of relaxation, mixed with lively sections of swinging rhythms and solos, while HighLine emphasizes the expansiveness which outdoor spaces can provide for reflection, contemplation, and wandering. In the hands of a controlled yet nimble large jazz ensemble, Rusnak's works form their own atmospheres by threading intricate dialogues and phrases among the instruments. Read More

Monday, November 10, 2014

PARMA Guest Blogger: David Salvage, "In Praise of Low-Stakes Composition"

In the early 1970s, the composer György Kurtág found himself blocked. His large song cycle, The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza, which some had heralded as a milestone in the history of Hungarian music, was five years behind him, and he was having trouble writing something that could be considered a proper follow-up. At the suggestion of a friend of his—a piano teacher, Kurtág began composing some short piano pieces for her young students. Relieved at not feeling pressured to compose a masterpiece, he found himself enjoying the process. And he also found himself unblocked.

Though I’ve never had composer’s block, my series of Albumleaves has been and still is—despite my having to prioritize bigger projects lately—a refreshing outlet for low-stakes composition. When composing an Albumleaf, I don’t worry about being original: to paraphrase Brahms, any jackass can hear that many of them are derivative. I don’t worry about a piece being “just right”: it’s enough for me that an Albumleaf be momentarily effective—they don’t all need to be equally good. I don’t worry about pleasing this or that audience: I find tonality, atonality, minimalism, and jazz all interesting, and low-stakes composition lets me engage more intensely with these styles and techniques than even attentive listening does. And I don’t worry about being considered a dilettante, or lacking a “musical center” (as one reviewer put it): such criticism gives up a discussion of specific music for a discussion of generalized aesthetic values; talking aesthetics is wonderful, but let’s not pretend we’re making a substantial musical criticism when, noting the composer’s stylistic variety, we call a piece of music amateurish.

When you worry too much, you choke up, and you stop what you’re doing. And it’s critically important that any artist keep making art, no matter what. While we’ve all had the experience of ideas coming to us unbidden when taking a walk or a shower or whatever, nothing readies the imagination for ideas better than actually sitting down with pen and paper and getting to the work of sniffing around for them and trying them out and developing them or putting them aside. The more sitting down to work becomes an anxiety-laden encounter with the pursuit of Originality, Perfection, Audience, or My Musical Center, the more likely you’ll find reasons not to get to work; you’ll write less music, and many perfectly decent ideas—not to mention entire compositions—will have flowed away unnoticed. 

And having an outlet for low-stakes composition makes high-stakes composition more enjoyable. Working over the notes, polishing and perfecting them over the course of a long period of time with the intention of saying something fresh, getting things “just right,” pleasing your likely audience, and creating something that complements your other works becomes a refreshing change of pace; the quick and dirty low-stakes work is left behind for a more leisurely process where you feel more in control of your material. High-stakes composition feels like a privilege. 

In Kurtág’s case, he began publishing his low-stakes work, which now amounts to eight volumes of so-called Játékok (“Games”); and he often mines the Játékok for material for his more serious concert pieces for professionals—yet another potential benefit to low-stakes composition. It may even be that for its best practitioners the distinction between low-stakes and high-stakes composition gets dissolved into a virtuous swirl of steady music making. But for the rest of us, observing the difference is a fruitful way to keep the music going.

R. David Salvage’s Albumleaves are featured on LOCK AND KEY (Navona 5881). He is Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

Nicolas Kaviani: "Te Deum"

This September, equal parts excited and nervous, I left on my first overseas trip to the Czech Republic for a week of recording sessions with PARMA's production team.  For anyone who hasn't visited, the Czech Republic is a charming country with a rich and deep artistic culture (and great food).

While there, we had the pleasure of working with Los Angeles composer Nicolas Kaviani on the recording of his setting of Te Deum, followed by an a'capella work entitled "Tous les matins du monde," both to be included on an upcoming release through PARMA Recordings.

Olomouc, Czech Republic
Mr. Kaviani's setting of Te Deum is a beautiful and seminal work for full orchestra, chorus, and four vocal soloists.  We spent multiple days in the city of Olomouc, bringing together some of Europe's greatest musicians, to record this monumental piece of music.

It has been over a month since we have returned and captured all of the material that will be included on Mr. Kaviani's upcoming release.  We've been working together diligently on this project and now is your chance to be a part of it.


Nicolas has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of the financial expenses he had to incur during the production of this project.  He is offering some compelling rewards and as an added bonus, was able to bring along director Alexis Hellot to shoot the entire experience.  You can see a trailer from the forthcoming DVD and listen to an excerpt from his setting of Te Deum below. Learn more about the project and support Nicolas here: kck.st/1xDBBzu  

Help support great projects, music, and the arts if you can!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

CBC Classical Disc of the Week: SIX DEPARTURES by Trio Verlaine

This week CBC Radio 2's In Concert program selected Trio Verlaine's debut Ravello Records digital-only album SIX DEPARTURES, which was released in September, as its Classical Disc of the Week.

The Canadian ensemble Trio Verlaine consists of violist David Harding, flutist Lorna McGhee, and harpist Heidi Krutzen. All three musicians are highly regarded in their respective fields – Heidi is Principal Harp with the Vancouver Opera, David is Professor of Viola & Chamber Music at Carnegie Mellon University, and Lorna is Principal Flute with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra – and are drawn together by friendship and the committed desire to further the catalog of music for the ensemble's distinctive instrumentation.

SIX DEPARTURES features works by Arnold Bax and André Jolivet as well as world premiere recordings of R. Murray Schafer's Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp, and Jeffery Cotton's Six Departures. In the imaginative hands of Trio Verlaine, this album builds on the repertoire for this unique combination of instruments first dreamt of by Debussy, while embracing the future with open arms.


The album is available globally from many online retailers and streaming sites, including iTunes, Amazon, ClassicsOnlineSpotify, and Rhapsody.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nicholas Ascioti helps St. Jude School Chorus Record and Release Christmas CD

This Saturday (11/8) the St, Jude the Apostle School Chorus will release a Christmas Collection CD during a special concert and party at the Barnes & Noble in Albany, NY. The event will start at 11:00 AM.

On October 22nd, the SJS Chorus, directed by PARMA Artist Nicholas Ascioti, went into Cathedral Sound Recording Studio to record their second CD, a collection of Christmas hymns and classics. Artwork for the release was created by the chorus and the group collectively produced the CD - from picking the songs to figuring out distribution.

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) picked up the concert and has shared it online and in their print editions.  You can read more about the event here.

Congratulations to Nicholas and his students for producing such an important and fun project!

Nicholas Ascioti                                                                    St. Jude the Apostle School Choir  

Sing!

"The human voice is the organ of the soul." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The voice is the oldest musical instrument – it is the only instrument that we are born knowing how to play.  This is not to say that everyone is good at playing this inherently human instrument; the mastery of the voice is a technical feat, one that stems from years of practice, training, and learning.

PARMA has a vast catalog of music in all sorts of instrumentation, but to me, there is a basic human connection to works that feature virtuoso vocal performances.  I've compiled a playlist of a selection of some highlight vocal performances from the PARMA catalog.  I've also taken the liberty to include some of my favorite modern pop songs which feature a strong vocal performance.  The versatility and range of the human voice is the thing that sets it apart from other instruments.  Each voice is as unique as a fingerprint, and we should celebrate each voice for its distinctive qualities.


Friday, October 31, 2014

PARMA Takes Futura: The Pierre Schroeder Sessions

John Page conducts "Lowland"
Earlier this month, a few members of the PARMA team ventured down to Futura Productions in Roslindale, MA for a string of recording sessions for VOYAGE, a 50-minute, ten-movement opus by composer Pierre Schroeder featuring a host of chamber and ensemble players and covering an array of different styles throughout the contemporary music spectrum.

Pierre discussing "Late Harvest"  
Pierre and the production team met in the control room as mics were set and the players loaded into the studio early in the morning on the first of three days of sessions. Before the session for the first movement "Lowland" began, Pierre took a moment to thank the players in advance for their hard work and address a couple of quick questions with the conductor and concert master.

Producer Andy Happel (left) with Pierre (right)
After that, seats were taken, bows were raised, and we were off to the races. The musicians rolled right through the large ensemble movements with a strong sense of universal intonation and cohesion. No one voice stuck out - each player built their sound into the ensemble, which resulted in a beautiful blend of timbres that filled the hall with a singular robust, dynamic sound. 

As the day rolled along, the ensemble shifted shape into a number of subsets that demonstrated a more jazz-flavored ambiance, including the serene and cascading "Bleu Nuit" and the west-coast cool jazz vibe of "Highway," among others.

While the latter pieces differ thematically and stylistically from the larger ensemble works, they shared a similarly engaging character and sense of constant motion which greatly demonstrated the variety of Pierre's music and his aptitude for writing in a range of styles.

With these sessions in the rear-view mirror as we move towards post-production, I can say that this was one of my favorite recordings we've done to date and we're all excited for everyone else to hear Pierre's latest work. Stay tuned for news and updates leading up to the release of VOYAGE in 2015. 

Bailey, the studio dog, at attention between sessions

Robert DeGaetano and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra with Vladimir Lande

PARMA Recordings is pleased to announce the New York Premiere of Robert DeGaetano’s Piano Concerto No. 1, on January 12 at 8pm at Town Hall featuring the St. Petersburg State Symphony under the direction of Naxos recording artist Vladimir Lande. The performance also features Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

A Steinway Artist, DeGaetano’s playing has been hailed by the New York Times as “robust, precise, chiming, and propulsive.” DeGaetano’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which was commercially released on Navona in 2013, has been described by Christina Petrowska Quilico in the WholeNote Magazine,Virtuosic technique blazes through [DeGaetano’s] concerto. Scintillating runs and octaves are spectacular,” while Audiophile Audition hails it as “refreshingly indescribable.”

Recorded in 2012 with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, DeGaetano describes his concerto, "The piano concerto turned out to be an autobiographical work of my early years as an artist growing up and studying in New York. The entire work reflects different periods of my life up to the time I wrote it and on a more psychological level, and perhaps deeper spiritual level, periods I’m still going through.”

The St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Lande regularly record with PARMA. Their latest recording project with us included the recording of Art Gottschalk’s Requiem for the Living, set to release on Navona Records in 2015. Along with being a recording orchestra, they are heading out on a North American Tour in 2015, headed by Vladimir Lande, with one of their stops being the Town Hall on January 12.

In addition to being the orchestra’s principal guest conductor, Vladimir Lande is an oboist in the Baltimore-based Poulenc Trio, and performs often. He was a featured artist at the 2014 PARMA Music Festival, performing oboe for Yves’ Ramette’s Introduction Et Allegro.  

PARMA is proud and excited to be involved in the collaboration between these PARMA Artists, and are looking forward to the New York Premiere of DeGaetano’s Piano Concerto No. 1.  

DeGaetano's Concerto will receive its European premiere on February 6 in Vienna at the Musikverein Golden Hall.

Tickets are available at The Town Hall Box Office 123 West 43rd Street (between 6th Avenue & Broadway), or online at:
www.thetownhall.org.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PARMA Halloween Playlist

I've put together a Spotify playlist of music to use if you're looking to set an eerie mood this Halloween weekend. From skeletal marimbas to dark reverberations and atmospheric organ music, these tracks are hand-picked to make the hairs stand on the back of your neck. There are even a few standards included for good measure, so string up the synthetic spiderwebs, turn on those freaky fog machines, set out the creepy comestibles, and enjoy!


Happy Halloween from PARMA Recordings!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New PARMA Artists: The City of Tomorrow


Camila Barrientos Ossio (clarinet), Laura Miller (bassoon), Stuart Breczinski (oboe),
Elise Blatchford (flute), Leander Star (horn) 
PARMA is pleased to welcome travelling wind quintet The City of Tomorrow to our roster of artists. COT will be releasing their first in a series of albums dealing with an evolving perception of the Sublime; their first album will focus on the awe inspired by Nature itself. In line with this theme, the CD will be presented in eco-friendly packaging.

The only wind quintet to win a gold medal at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in over ten years, the City of Tomorrow "plays with an extraordinary sense of ensemble, not just in terms of rhythmic precision but in tone color, balance, gesture, and sensitivity" (Sidney Chen, NewMusicBox). The quintet was formed in 2010 and has since become known for their performances of virtuosic works.

COT have performed together across the U.S. and Canada, making their New York debut in April 2013 at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Other appearances during the 2012-13 season included Old First Concerts in San Francisco, New Music Edmonton in Alberta, the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series in Chicago, and the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival.

Check out the video below to see COT performing music from their upcoming debut album to be released in 2015, and stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Studio Update: Sergio Cervetti's "Concertino"


Karolina, Bob, Derek, and Laura
On Sunday the 12th, composer Sergio Cervetti went back into the studio with PARMA at Futura Productions in Rosindale, MA to record his new work "Concertino".

The piece, spanning three movements for piano, woodwinds, and timpani, was written last year and is dedicated to PARMA CEO, Bob Lord. The session was conducted by Geoffrey McDonald, who directs both the Longy Conservatory Orchestra and the Bard College Orchestra.

Sergio is a longtime friend of PARMA and has appeared on many of our releases over the years. His style incorporates folk elements, European tradition, and minimalist aesthetics. For a small taste of Sergio's style and range of compositions, check out some of his recent releases on Navona: NAZCA AND OTHER WORKS and UNBRIDLED.

From left: John, Andy, Bob, Sergio, Laura, Derek, and Dan 

"Concertino" is one of several compositions that will be appearing on a future Sergio Cervetti album - his fifth full-length release on our Navona label. We're all looking forward to presenting the final product!



Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Asylum Quartet live at the Boston Athenaeum

Before last night, I had never been to a place with a fraction in the address. The Boston Athenaeum is located at ten and a half Beacon Street -- last night the gallery/library played host to an energetic live concert from Hartford, CT locals The Asylum Quartet.

Asylum is comprised of four of Hartford's eminent young saxophone players, Joseph Abad, soprano saxophone; Tony Speranza, alto saxophone; Max Schwimmer, tenor saxophone; and Andrew Barnhart, baritone saxophone.


The large audience was captivated by the performance of their energetic and varied "American Icons" program. Alan Thomas's "Homage to Elliott Smith" was a celebration of the late pop-genius; the piece was adeptly performed by the ensemble keeping both the classical idiom and Smith's pop sensibilities in mind. 


Philip Glass' "String Quartet No.5" arranged for sax quartet by Asylum's own Max Schwimmer, was the longest and most formidable piece in the set. The technical skill and endurance of the group was put to the test by this melodic and demanding work. The end result was a triumphant performance.


PARMA composer Dr. Ryan Jesperson was also featured in the program. The quartet performed excerpts from a commissioned piece entitled "For Sounds in Winter Nights." The names of the movements in the piece are all borrowed from works by Henry David Thoreau. I believe that this piece will be remembered as a definitive work in the canon of Asylum -- their independent minded and self-reliant approach to a classical ensemble seems to fall very much in line with Thoreau's transcendental philosophy.   


The Asylum Quartet stunned the Athenaeum last night. I suggest that you see this group live if you have the chance, their vibrant energy captures a crowd. This won't be the last time you hear about The Asylum Quartet, I guarantee it.


Find out more about Asylum Quartet on their website: http://www.asylumquartet.com/


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Releases on Navona and Ravello Records

PIATTI: 12 CAPRICES FOR SOLO CELLO
NV5972
Carmine Miranda



A renowned cellist in his own time, Carlo Alfredo Piatti (1822-1901) is known for composing his 12 Caprices, a set recognized for its technical difficulty and complexity, and widely used as developmental exercises for cellists. On his debut Navona Records release, PIATTI: 12 CAPRICES FOR SOLO CELLO, Venezuelan-American cellist Carmine Miranda interprets Piatti's virtuosic solo cello pieces, masterfully showing them as works that withstand treatment as significant concert repertoire. 

Each of Piatti's caprices has its own character with distinct writing style, musicality, and emotion, while illustrating the prominence of violin music on Piatti's writing. As Miranda portrays, these pieces create a unity between the musician and his instrument, making the cello an extension of the player's body. Not only does this collection expand the possibilities of the cello, it explores the potential for self-accomplishment. Miranda's performance places these pieces among the esteemed body of concert repertoire that includes Niccolo Paganini's 24 Caprices for Solo Violin. Read More

GODDESSES
NV5973
Joseph Summer



GODDESSES is the third offering in Navona Records' The Shakespeare Concerts Series, which presents several works by composer Joseph Summer from his collection of settings of Shakespearean scenes, sonnets, and soliloquies, Oxford Songs. These particular works are reflections on feminine divinity, from the literal - as in the triumvirate of Roman goddesses in the piece Honour, Riches, Marriage-Blessing - by way of the metaphorical - as exemplified by the depiction of women in the sonnets, In The Old Age Black Was Not Counted Fair and Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day - and to the figurative - contained in the idealized, eternal female characters of Juliet, Olivia, and Ophelia, respectively portrayed in the works, Gallop Apace You Fiery-Footed Steeds, If Music Be The Food of Love, and There Is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook. Summer's deep knowledge of Shakespeare's works and rich compositional technique produce a musical and literary experience that adds layers of insight to Shakespearean characters and themes. Read More

DARKNESS TO LIGHT
NV5974
Jeffrey Jacob



Occasionally, moments of happiness and comfort can rise from experiences of anxiety and doubt, during which we learn about ourselves and our limits. Composer and pianist Jeffrey Jacob depicts the experiences of struggle and pain, and of triumph and joy on his debut Navona Records release DARKNESS TO LIGHT. 

Death and Transfiguration (Symphony No. 3), a contemporary version of Richard Strauss's tone poem, expresses the emotions of a dying man, who, fearing death, later finds exaltation in it. String Quartet No. 2 and Elegy portray turmoil, the former showing the defeat of inner darkness, and the latter referencing the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine. The short and lyrical piece Adagietto Misterioso builds tension to illustrate feelings of nostalgia and transitoriness, while Symphony No. 1 presents ideas about timelessness, taken from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets. Through his music, Jacob discusses the vulnerable moments of human existence and how through our vulnerability, we can open ourselves to growth toward a brighter perspective. Read More

HARD LISTENING
NV5975
Mitch Hampton



As composer and pianist Mitch Hampton admits, HARD LISTENING, his debut solo album on Navona Records, "aims to dissolve all boundaries of style or taste," while providing an earnest yet sometimes humorous reflection on the questions of society and musical aesthetics. Hampton explains the focus of his compositions is on the building blocks of music - rhythm, harmony, and melody - and their innate value regardless of "extramusical" or sociological meanings: "For me music is about the art object, the piece of music itself, which communicates emotion quite powerfully on its own, quite apart from specific representational associations." Petite Dirge places the style of 19th-century composers like Chopin in a 20th-century context while Large Dirge in memory of my father takes its form from the Rodgers and Hart tune "Where Or When." Pieces such as "Feminist Singer-Songwriter Song Without Words" and Goodbye Cornelius present extremes in both style and emotion. Read More

THE REAL BEELER
NV5976
Alan Beeler 




On his debut solo Navona Records release, THE REAL BEELER, composer Alan Beeler presents his refined and distinguishable orchestral voice, exploring various harmonic and melodic forms and structures as well as the serial techniques of the Second Viennese School. In Symphony No. 1 and No. 4, the composer creates intricate atmospheres and moving textural soundscapes, generally derived from the composer's preset tone rows. Beeler's Marimba Concerto in Sixths highlights colorful and open conversations among the instruments, while his Marimba Concerto da Chiesa builds dramatic ensemble passages, followed by reactionary interludes from the marimba. Homage to Roger Sessions and Mad Song After William Blake both retain stylistic elements from their original settings for solo piano and chorus. As Beeler himself remarks about his compositional style, "I write music that pleases me...form and technique are useless unless they produce a pleasing result." His symphonic music carries an air of mystery and abstraction, yet remains expressive, leaving space for the listener to take his or her own journey. Read More

SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE
NV5977
Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra; John Page



Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique (1830) is regarded as one of the most significant works from the early Romantic period, memorably portraying the introspective and troubled life of an artist. The French composer's use of materials such as the recurring idée fixe to illustrate the protagonist's obsessive mind-state has influenced composers ever since. Conductor John Page calls Symphonie Fantastique "unquestionably the most vividly programmatic symphony in the entire orchestra repertoire." 

This digital release captures a powerful live performance by Page and the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra. Recorded by PARMA Live on June 2, 2013 at the orchestra's 2012-13 season finale at The Music Hall in Portsmouth NH, Berlioz's dramatic work is given a compelling, dark, and ominous reading in the skilled hands of Page and the PSO. Read More

AND SO IT BEGINS
RR7899
Debra Kaye



Composer Debra Kaye's debut Ravello Records release, AND SO IT BEGINS, catapults the listener into her deep universe of sound - an expedition down one New York City street and up another, through the warp and weft of interior landscapes, to Taos Mountain, on a journey through a dream, a dying, a love - as she blends her classical roots with traces of jazz, pop, world music, the pulse of city rhythms, and the expansiveness of spacious landscapes. 

In Finding Accord, the 3-way conversation goes in and out of agreement in a tête-à-tête of musical opposites as the composer creates new timbres for the piano trio using prepared piano techniques and percussive accents of an ankle bell. Incidental Ducklings brings quacking ducks to life through Kaye's playful wit and irony. Béla Fleck meets Schubert in Africa in The Doppelganger as Kaye explores the colors of the trombone, while The Beauty Way and Visions bring us the light, the air, the magic of Taos NM. Read More

SOLO NON SOLO
RR7894
Sauro Berti



SOLO NON SOLO, the debut Ravello Records release of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma's bass clarinetist Sauro Berti, presents contemporary works for solo bass clarinet as well as for traditional and unusual duos, including those with percussion, saxophone, narration, and electronics. 

Reconciling Berti's passions for classical and jazz music, pieces such as Blue Buk and Cosmic Turtles Sidekick are inspired by the swing and improvisation of jazz while Due Pezzi Brasiliani uses two popular, distinctive Brazilian rhythms, baiao and choro, as its primary motifs. The latter work shows Berti's faculty of other woodwinds, specifically the basset horn, the instrument also employed in Adagio e Allegro. Spasm proves a remarkable piece for Berti by displaying his comfort with challenging scores, stretching the limits of his bass clarinet, and using electronic accompaniment. Read More

STARS STORIES SONG
RR7897
David Liptak / Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon



Our human history, our search for something greater than ourselves, and our discoveries in the process are reflected in the tales we tell. As with words, music can express our stories, and composers David Liptak and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon present several sonic narratives, referencing authors, poets, astronomers, folk musicians, and more on their debut Ravello Records release, STARS STORIES SONG. 

Each of the pieces in Liptak's Preludes focuses on a single idea, from movements of celestial objects to imagery of lightness and darkness to short phrases from literary works, while yo no / tú sí / yo tú / sí no and Flores de Viento III by Zohn-Muldoon respectively use texts by Raúl Aceves and Laura Zohn. Liptak's The Eye that Directs a Needle and Freight make reference to works by historical figures, the former being Maria Mitchell, one of America's first professional astronomers, and the latter being folk guitarist Elizabeth Cotten. Daphne, for solo marimba, by Zohn-Muldoon is a musical metaphor of the Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo, depicting the nymph's dizzying race from her pursuer. These two composers shape tales about what's real and imagined, and what's yet to be discovered. Read More