Thursday, January 29, 2015

Art and Music, A Natural Pair | Aja Apa-Soura

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 Aja Apa-Soura.

After pianist Kathryn Goodson asked for artwork in the French Impressionistic style for BELLE NUIT (Navona), there was an immediate connection with Aja Apa-Soura’s painting of the Eiffel Tower. The textures and colors of the artwork combined with the lyrical romanticism of the woodwinds and piano create a powerful cohesion.

To learn more about Aja Apa-Soura’s artwork please visit:


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Gay Pearson

Maine-based composer and pianist Gay Pearson has signed on to release an album of recordings from her recent 3rd-annual chamber-jazz concert in Newburyport, MA. Other performers on the release include Shannon Allen on cello, Jim Lyden on bass, Phil McGowan on drums, and Lea Pearson on flute and vocals. 

The release will feature jazz works composed by Gay Pearson along with a number of existing standards, including an excellent rendition of Steve Swallow's "Ladies and Mercedes," and an accompanied narration from the “Bert and I” collections of stories set in traditional Maine.

“Pearson gives her audience a double barrel of swinging excitement that’s married with a love for the lyrical melody.” – Jim Santella, Cadence Magazine

You can watch an excerpt from her 2013 concert below:

Stay tuned for updates on this upcoming release!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

January Orchestral Sessions

Louis Babin, David Arend, Salim Washington
Olomouc, CZ
Last week, the PARMA team returned to the frigid Czech Republic to produce four days of orchestral sessions with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra.  

While there, we recorded a new piece from longtime PARMA composer Alan Beeler entitled “Jabberwocky,” along with works from new PARMA artists Louis Babin and David Arend.

We had the pleasure of hosting Louis Babin in person for the recording of his orchestral work, "Saint Exupéry: de Coeur, de Sable, et d'Étoiles,” as well as composer/soloist David Arend for his bass concerto  “Sequoia Sempervirens” and his massive double concerto for bass and saxophone, “Voyager: Three Sheets to the Wind.”

We caught up with David Arend after his sessions via email and asked about his overall experience with the sessions.

“I was thrilled with the high level of artistry displayed by everyone involved in this project. The conductors, Petr Vronský and Jiří Petrdlík were consummate professionals. They were extremely congenial and easy to work with, while at the same time maintaining high standards and demanding quality performances from the orchestra and soloists.”   

In addition to writing and performing both of his concerti, David also enlisted the talents of renowned jazz-saxophonist, Salim Washington ( 

“Salim…played heroically in this, his first experience with conductor and symphony orchestra. His long set of flights from South Africa did nothing to diminish his energy, concentration and dazzling abilities on the sax. After finishing one of his improvised solos, the orchestra broke out in applause. Salim then went on to play an even more amazing solo on the next take.” 

Rounding out the ensemble for the "Voyager" concerto was percussionist, Ladislav Bilan, Jr. on drum kit.

Conductor Jiří Petrdlík, Salim Washington, Ladislav Bilan, Jr., David Arend 

The works recorded at these sessions are some of the finest sounding our team has captured to date – keep an eye and ear out for updates on Alan, Louis, and David’s projects.

You can find more information about Alan Beeler, Louis Babin, and David Arend at the following links:   

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Michael Lee

PARMA is pleased to introduce Michael Lee, the latest addition to our roster of artists. Michael will be recording his string quartet "Farewell..." with us this summer.

An alumnus of Juilliard and Eastman, Michael is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern Carolina's Thornton School of Music, where he also teaches music theory.

Michael's music has been performed throughout the world by a number of ensembles including the Serenata String Quartet, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Oradea State Philharmonic, the Kharkov Philharmonic, the Boston New Music Ensemble, and the USC Symphony Orchestra.

Among a wide array of awards and commendations, Michael has been named a winner of the Juilliard Orchestra Competition's Arthur Friedman Prize and the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers' Award.

For more information about Michael and his music, visit his website here. To hear some of his work in the meantime, check out the SoundCloud player below.

January Releases Out Now on Navona and Ravello Records

Heidi Jacob

Common threads between art forms are woven into the creative process of exploring and expressing our shared experiences, emotions, and uncertainties. On her debut Navona Records release, BENEATH WINTER LIGHT, composer Heidi Jacob finds inspiration in film and poetry, as well as in music from past centuries, illustrating her faculty of expanding on timeless themes within modern compositional settings.

Inspired by subjects on the nature of existence, divinity, and love in Ingmar Bergman's film Winter Light (1962), Jacob's work for violin and piano, Winter Light, uses a combination of minimalist and 12-tone techniques to create an often mysterious and ominous interaction between the deliberate remarks of the piano and the fluid patterns of the violin. Regard á Schubert: a Fantasy Impromptu, incited by Franz Schubert's Impromptu in C Minor, Op. 90, explores the idea of context, placing the initial motivic cell in various harmonic settings from Classical to 21st-century musical styles, while Fantasy surveys contrasts in texture, virtuoso gesture, and lyricism stemming from melodic elements in the opening material. The electroacoustic piece Salome Revisited uses reprocessed themes and spoken texts from Strauss' Salome (1905) to build a cerebral and tense atmosphere that reflects the dark imagery in the opera.  Read More

McCormick Percussion Group

Presenting contemporary works that blend multiple genres, from classical and avant-garde to heavy metal and world music, the McCormick Percussion Group, hailed as "a very skilled and important contemporary percussion ensemble" by Audiophile Audition, expands the boundaries and possibilities of the percussion ensemble's repertoire on their latest Ravello Records release BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE.

The title track, composed by Ciro Scotto, is a four-movement work that coalesces heavy metal and contemporary classical conventions, highlighting the connections between these two different yet similarly technical worlds of composition. Between Rock and a Hard Place-Unplugged substitutes electric and electronic instruments for classical guitar, contrabass, cello, and piano. Scotto says of his inspiration for this acoustic version, "Exploring the parallel dimension concept in Between Rock and a Hard Place-Unplugged allowed me to recompose the piece following ideas that did not develop in the original, so the new work is a complete rethinking and exploration of the material."  Read More

Mary Ann Joyce-Walter

Few events happen that shock all living generations, causing them to never forget their memories. For many, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. is such an event. In 1970, composer Mary Ann Joyce-Walter wrote a piece in honor of King, Immortal Diamond, the title track on her release single on Ravello Records.

The form of this orchestral and choral work is modeled after Bach's Passion of St. Matthew. While the work has excerpts from the Bible illustrating moments of Jesus' life and death, these are not separated by chorales as in Bach's Passion. Rather, these images are intertwined with "stream-of-consciousness" excerpts from 19th- and 20th-century texts, including Alice in Wonderland and selections from the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, John L'Heureaux, Robert Frost, and others. The piece is a realization of the composer's personal belief that the individual has a unifying spiritual connection to the suffering of Jesus Christ.  Read More

Various Artists

Ravello Records announces the second installment of its compilation series, VANGUARDS VOL. 2, presenting a deep cross-section of the label's contemporary and eclectic catalog. The album features performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, pianist Gregory Hall, the McCormick Percussion Group, mezzo-soprano Elaine Huckle, the Kiev Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, guitarist Alex Lubet, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and many more in works by contemporary composers including Mary Ann Joyce-Walter, Herbert Deutsch, Walter Ross, Rachel Lee Guthrie, Mark Vigil, Kim Halliday, Andrew May, Mel Mobley, Marga Richter, and others.  Read More

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New PARMA Artist: John Rojak

PARMA is pleased to welcome trombonist John Rojak to our roster of artists. John has signed on to release an album of new and modern works for trombone in 2015.

John has forged a reputable playing career as a member of many professional ensembles including the American Brass Quintet, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and The New York Pops, the big bands of Mel Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, and Bob Mintzer, and the pit orchestras for musicals Les Misérables, The Producers, and Sugar Babies. He has also played alongside rock acts including Metallica, Peter Gabriel, and Styx.

Equally as active as an instructor, John serves on the faculties at Juilliard, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers. He is also the Director of Brass Studies at the NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions.

Local audiences can catch John with The American Brass Quintet at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, MA at 8 PM on March 22. In the meantime, you can hear a sample of John's playing on Schumann's "Selections from Dichterliebe" from this summer's Colorado College Summer Music Festival.

Keep an eye and an ear out for John's album later this year on Navona Records!

The Collegiate Chorale Awarded NEA Grant for "The Road of Promise"

PARMA artists The Collegiate Chorale were recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of  "The Road of Promise," a concert adaptation of the Kurt Weill and Franz Werfel's epic "The Eternal Road." The grant goes towards the production and recording of two concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York City this spring.

The Collegiate Chorale performs "Not the Messiah" with Eric Idle (left)

"The Road of Promise" brings to life a number of biblical tales as they are told by a Rabbi to a young boy to calm him during an anti-Jewish pogram. The music is described as an eclectic mix of "opera, musical theater, and biblical pageant play."

"The Road of Promise" will be performed on May 6-7, 2015 at 8 PM and 7 PM, respectively. The performances will also feature the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the recording will be released on Navona Records in late-2015 / early 2016.

For more information about the Collegiate Chroale, "The Road of Promise," and to order tickets, visit the official website.