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:

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:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Releases on Navona and Ravello Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Common Threads

Back when I was a college radio DJ, I really enjoyed mashing up new and old music, electronica and folk, post-modern and Classical - you get the picture. Part of the fun was finding that common thread tying one track to the next, maybe a closely-related key signature or a similar rhythmic phrase, sometimes even a shared word in a band name, something to justify placing one otherwise-unrelated track next to another, next to another... Another big part of the fun was knowing that many of the people listening hadn't heard of most of the music before; they were learning something new, and hopefully enjoying it enough to seek out more.

I've created a playlist in this spirit; some of these artists I've listened to for years, some I've come across within the past few months, some rock, some electronica, and a number of works from PARMA artists as well. The selection is pretty diverse, but see if you can find some connecting threads interwoven throughout - enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New PARMA Artist: Mel Braun

PARMA is pleased to welcome baritone Mel Braun to our roster of artists. Mel will be joining PARMA artist Laura Loewen (of the Harrington/Loewen Duo) to release an album called BY THE RED on Big Round Records.

BY THE RED is a collection of traditional Canadian folk songs featuring piano, baritone, mandolin, percussion, and electric bass. 

Mel has earned attention and acclaim throughout Canada for his versatility as a singer, performing a broad range of music from baroque repertoire to premiering new works, to folk and rock.

Mel is the head of the Vocal Program at the Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. In addition, he maintains an active schedule as an educator and clinician, collaborating with a number of music education initiatives including the Annual Opera Theater School Tour, the Professor Bach Project, and the Contemporary Opera Lab.

BY THE RED will be released on Big Round Records in 2015. In the meantime, stay tuned for updates on the Big Round debut from Mel and Laura's longtime musical partnership.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New PARMA Artists: The Collegiate Chorale

PARMA is pleased to welcome The Collegiate Chorale to our lineup of artists and ensembles. The New York-based ensemble will be recording and releasing their performance of "The Road of Promise," a concert adaptation of Kurt Weill and Franz Werfel's four-hour epic "The Eternal Road" on Navona Records in 2016.

Founded by acclaimed choral conductor Robert Shaw in 1941, the Collegiate Chorale began rehearsing in its namesake, the Marble Collegiate Church, and grew to eminence through innovative performances of choral masterworks, contemporary pieces, and concert adaptations of operatic repertoire.

Featuring 150-175 voices of varied ages and backgrounds, The Collegiate Chorale has regularly performed for decades under renown conductors on radio, on television, and on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and beyond.

"The Road of Promise" will be performed under the direction of Artistic Director Ted Sperling and recorded at Carnegie Hall on May 6-7, 2015. Tickets range from $30 to $135 and go on sale on January 8, 2015. The Collegiate Chorale will be joined for these performances by the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

Stay tuned for more updates on "The Road of Promise" as the performance draws near. For more information about the performances, please visit 

To learn more about what the Chorale has done, what they're doing now, and what's next, see the video below.