Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Shudong Braamse

We're happy to introduce soprano Shudong Luo Braamse, who has signed on with PARMA to release an album of art songs by French classical composer, Jules Massenet.

Dr. Braamse has earned acclaim in the U.S., her native China, and throughout Europe as a coloratura soprano with a “fluid and true” technique. She earned her undergraduate degree from Fuyang College in China and her graduate and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University.

When she's not on tour giving performances, clinics, or master classes, Dr. Braamse can be found at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL, where teaches private voice lessons and vocal literature.

Look for Dr. Braamse's album to be released on Navona Records later this year. For more information about her work, visit her personal website here.

To hear her singing in the meantime, check out the YouTube player below.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Delvyn Case

Dr. Case conducting "Rocket Sleigh" in 2011 in Norton, MA
PARMA is pleased to welcome composer Delvyn Case to our family of artists.

Equally as active as a composer, conductor, pianist, and professor, Dr. Case studied at Yale College, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the University of Pennsylvania. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Wheaton College, where he has taught since 2010.

Dr. Case has signed on to record his Christmas-themed orchestral piece "Rocket Sleigh" in June to be released on an upcoming compilation of holiday music to be released on Navona Records in 2016. "Rocket Sleigh" has been programmed and performed to wide acclaim across the country, including a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC last year.

You can hear a live performance of "Rocket Sleigh" here. Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Jonathan Sheffer

PARMA is pleased to announce that composer/conductor Jonathan Sheffer has signed on to record and release his 25-minute orchestral work “The Conference of the Birds” as a standalone single with narrated and instrumental versions.

This work, commissioned for children, is for large orchestra and narrator. It tells a mythical story with a spiritual message, while at the same time, taking the listener through a colorful journey that introduces various instruments in the orchestra.

From the score: “The source material for this piece is an epic poem by Farid ud-Din Attar, a twelfth-century Persian Sufi. The poet dreams he has been transformed into a hoopoe. The birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king, because they need someone to lead them in a troubled world. The Hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird. The Hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault that prevents man from attaining enlightenment. When the group of thirty birds finally reaches the dwelling place of the Simorgh, all they find is a lake in which they see their own reflection."

Born in New York City, Mr. Sheffer graduated from Harvard University, where his teachers included Leonard Bernstein, and later attended The Julliard Extension Division and Aspen School of Music. 

Mr. Sheffer began studying conducting after working for nearly a decade as a composer and conductor of Hollywood film scores. He made his conducting debut with the San Diego Symphony in 1991. During the following two decades he founded two iconic chamber orchestras, the Eos orchestra in New York, and Red {an orchestra} in Cleveland, OH. In addition, his guest conducting included the American Ballet Theater, New York City Opera and international festivals. Eos was the focus of a PBS special about Aaron Copland, and the orchestra toured the US, appeared at the White House, and was nominated for a Grammy.

A prolific composer, Mr. Sheffer's range of works comprises television and feature film scores, works for orchestra, solo piano, concertos, musicals, and short operas. His work was the focus of a Guggenheim Works & Process series event in 1999. His opera, Blood on the Dining Room Floor, received the Richard Rodgers Production Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was produced off-Broadway in 2000. 

He has had fellowships at both Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony, and in 2003 he was a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. As part of his activities in arts and culture philanthropy and political action, Mr. Sheffer has served on the Board of Directors of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, as the appointee of the New York City Council to the Board of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and by Governor Andew Cuomo to the New York State Council on the Arts.

We'll be recording Jonathan's work with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra this June - stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Saint Helens String Quartet

Saint Helens String Quartet
We at PARMA are pleased to welcome the Saint Helens String Quartet to the PARMA family! The Saint Helens String Quartet consists of Stephen Bryant and Adrianna Hulscher on violin, Michael Lieberman on viola, and Paige Stockley on cello. They will be releasing their debut recording, AMERICAN DREAMS, with PARMA Recordings set for release later this year.

Hailing from Seattle, WA, the Saint Helens String Quartet takes its inspiration from the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  The group often commissions and performs works by 20th century composers in an effort to explore new musical territory in which genres like folk, world music, jazz, pop, and rock combine.

AMERICAN DREAMS is a collection of works from American composer Ken Benshoof, Janice Giteck, Bern Herbolsheimer, and Peter Schickele that pulls the listener back to the American heartland at the turn of the 20th century.

The Saint Helens String Quartet is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund this project.  You can listen to excerpts from each recording and learn more about the project via the video below.  Follow this link to check out the campaign and help spread the word about this important project:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Carmine Miranda to perform in Prague

Carmine Miranda
PARMA cellist Carmine Miranda will be performing at the historic Smetana Hall in Prague, CZ this Saturday with the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Yuriy Yanko. Carmine will be performing Schumann's Cello Concerto in A minor.

The concert will take place this weekend, April 18th, at 8:00 PM links to tickets and concert information are below.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Releases Out Now on Navona Records

Vytautas Smetona

On his debut Navona Records release, ALL THE WAY BACK, pianist and composer Vytautas Smetona presents a collection of keyboard repertoire that highlights his enthralling and committed interpretations of some of the great composers' masterworks as well as an example of his faculty as a cultivated and dynamic composer.

The pieces on this album offer Smetona technical feats and expressive themes, all of which the pianist handles with ease, determination, and eloquence. From Bach's lyrical and joyous Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp Major, BWV 848 to the somber and dramatic range of Liszt's Funerailles (October 1849), Smetona evokes passion and refinement in his performances. The technical mastery of works such as Brahms's Intermezzo in B-flat Minor, Op. 117, No. 2, Schumann's Fantasie in C Major, Op. 17, and Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23 is handled by Smetona with sophistication, lucidity, and powerful passage work. Smetona shows us a balance between accurately playing the notes on the score and interpreting the feeling between them.  READ MORE

Michael Murray

The history of setting literary text in music is a considerable one, from Schubert's Lieder to Benjamin Britten's Serenade to art songs of the 21st century. Composer Michael Murray presents four song cycles on PERCIPIENCE, all of which emphasize the deep connection between poetry and music as varying means of expression that can reveal different facets of the same idea.

Five Blake Songs explores the wide range of emotions in William Blake's (1757-1827) works, from cynicism and despair to playfulness and irreverence. Poetry from the Song of Songs is used in Four Songs of Solomon, in which Murray's settings, sung by tenor Andrew Childs, express the complex and various emotions depicted through both explicit and metaphorical descriptions of sexual intimacy in the biblical book. Neutral Tones: Four Songs of Thomas Hardy addresses common themes in Thomas Hardy's (1840-1928) writing such as the process of aging and how our perceptions of significant events in our lives change over time.  READ MORE

Joseph Summer 

On the fourth offering in Navona Records' The Shakespeare Concerts Series, ORPHEUS WITH HIS LUTE MADE TREES, executive director and composer Joseph Summer presents original works and pieces by composers from the 18th through the 21st centuries that celebrate the myth of Orpheus.

A character whose fame goes back to Ovid's The Metamorphoses, a collection that dramatically influenced Shakespeare's writing, Orpheus is a representation of the poet, composer, and performer. More than settings of texts about the Greek mythological character, these works illustrate the connection between the three aspects of Orpheus. Summer's Sonata for Violin and Voice is, as the composer states, "about itself, about the musicians, and about the composer" while his On the Death of Phillips mourns the passing of a 16th-century lutenist by his beloved instrument.  READ MORE

Joseph Summer

FULL FATHOM FIVE, the fifth offering in Navona Records' The Shakespeare Concerts Series, takes the story of The Tempest, from the shipwrecked crew and magical spirits to the imprisoned servants and their questions of identity, and presents a variety of works from the 18th to the 21st centuries that set texts and depict themes from Shakespeare's play. 

Regarding this collection, executive director and composer Joseph Summer says, "We are able to hear The Tempest from the very different perspective of six very different composers. As we do, we can hear their reflection on that sinking ship, on sojourners transformed from men to coral." From the intense and dramatic imagery of Beethoven's The Tempest to the angular arias of Stravinsky's Three Songs from William Shakespeare to the sorrowful and swaying sounds of Ives' A Sea Dirge, these works show the significant influence of The Tempest on composers of the past.  READ MORE

Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn

What do you get when you cross a composer, a bassist, and a conductor? It's no joke, and neither is Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn. It is, however, a piece called Joker's Wild which opens up Sternfeld-Dunn's debut Navona Records release FIREWORKS, and it's a doozy, a crackerjack double concertino expertly crafted and written to showcase the talents of the Cameradschaft Duo. The piece won Best in Show from the Global Music Awards in 2012.

Music for woodwinds is prominent in Sternfeld-Dunn's catalog and on this release. Variants, featuring flutist Leonard Garrison, utilizes the form and variations method frequently favored by the composer, while ...and I will love the silence... explores a very different type of structure designed to highlight the relationship between sound and its absence through the playing of English hornist Keri McCarthy. Virtuosic writing permeates FIREWORKS, and most especially so on its title track. A shimmering concerto written for saxophonist Robert Young, Fireworks puts on a spectacular display throughout the work.  READ MORE

Bruce Babcock

Don't mistake the inference in the title of Emmy Award-winning composer Bruce Babcock's multi-faceted new Navona Records album TIME, STILL - the music is serious and contemplative at points to be sure, but the effervescence of Babcock's metrically shifting style and sound percolates to the surface throughout.

At home in both the concert hall and on the scoring stages of Hollywood, Babcock possesses deep insight into the process of creating emotional responses in the listener and uses it to full effect in this collection. Irrational Exuberance is a burst of sonic joy that displays a propulsive rhythmic approach, while This Is What I Know highlights the composer's facility with shading and sculpting sound and meaning in a series of Dorothy Parker settings.  READ MORE

Thursday, April 9, 2015

PARMA Composer Gregory W. Brown Wins BCE Commissioning Competition

Photo credit: Samuel Masinter
We are pleased to announce that PARMA composer Gregory W. Brown has won the 8th annual Commissioning Competition from the Boston Choral Ensemble. As stated on their site, the competition started in 2007 and "aims to identify a talented composer and support her or him in the performance of a new work for chamber choir to be premiered by Boston Choral Ensemble."

Gregory lives and works in Western Massachusetts. He holds degrees from the Hugh Hodgson School of Music (University of Georgia), Westminster Choir College, and Amherst College, where he studied with the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan. His recent commissions for vocal ensemble New York Polyphony have been heard on American Public Media’s Performance Today, BBC Radio, Minnesota Public Radio, Kansas Public Radio, and Danish National Radio; his Missa Charles Darwin received its European debut in March 2013 at the Dinosaur Hall of Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde.

Gregory's new album, MOONSTRUNG AIR, released on Navona Records in February 2015, features New York Polyphony and The Crossing. Receiving critical acclaim, the works on the album "challenge in a number of very satisfying ways" (Planet Hugill) and "ring like higher-power-bells, those of science, faith and the human voice" (Q2 / WQXR). MOONSTRUNG AIR is available through AmazoniTunes, and other major retailers. Hear a preview below:

For more information about the Boston Choral Ensemble's 2015 Commissioning Competition, visit

To learn more about Gregory and connect with him, visit his website and social media pages:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New PARMA Artist - Zoran Scekic

Croatian composer Zoran Scekic has signed on with PARMA to release a collection of his recorded works for piano in just intonation.

In addition to composing, Zoran is also a guitarist who participates in jazz festivals, biennials, and independent concerts while writing music for big band, chamber orchestra as well as music for films, theatre, and dance. He has also invented several of his own musical instruments:

This release is part of a larger multimedia project called "Panmonism" exploring the characteristics, possibilities, and restrictions of natural intervals of just intonation through concert, exhibition, lecture, and seminar. As part of this project, Zoran constructed a microtonal keyboard for which he composed several pieces in just intonation, and these works will make up the program for his upcoming PARMA release.

The project takes its title from the Greek “pan”(all) and “monos” (single). This is meant to show that the difference between music and mathematics is not in structure but in perception. You can read more about "Panmonism" at

Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Douglas Anderson

Dr. Douglas Anderson conducting
We are pleased to announce and welcome New York based composer and conductor Dr. Douglas Anderson to the PARMA family!  We will be working with Dr. Anderson on the release of his "Chamber Symphonies" for various chamber ensembles, featuring fellow PARMA artists Eight Strings & a Whistle.  Dr. Anderson's Chamber Symphonies have been premiered and performed throughout the U.S. by Eight Strings & a Whistle and the piano trio.

When asked about the meaning and inspiration behind his "Chamber Symphonies" from violist Ina Litera, Dr. Anderson answers,

"A Symphony, to me, is a piece that is its own world, in which a variety of things happen; a multiplicity of this and that. Haydn was, especially with his late symphonies, the first to create a little universe of itself. It doesn’t have to have every aspect of everything but it does have to have enough range and variety. Certainly other composers have expanded on that.

When I first called a piece of mine a Chamber Symphony (my first was a student work), clearly it was composed for a chamber group, but I was also at that time referring to the first Chamber Symphonies I had encountered as a conductor, which were Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. Although very interesting and subtle pieces, they didn’t quite create the whole world kind of thing; their intent was slightly different from that goal. So in my Chamber Symphonies, as I have written more, I have tried to go beyond where I think Schoenberg went, aiming for a diverse yet interconnected universe of music." 

Dr. Anderson studied at, and received three degrees from, Columbia University, culminating in a doctorate in music composition. He made his professional conducting debut at the Beacon Theater on Broadway, leading the Boston Ballet (with narrator Cyril Ritchard) in a run of Peter and the Wolf (1973), and since his debut has conducted a variety of ensembles and over 75 world premieres, including the first electronic music opera and the first concerto for steel drum and orchestra.

In addition to his compositions for chamber ensemble, Dr. Anderson is also a composer of works for orchestra, concerti, vocal music, electronic music, radio drama, jazz, film, opera, and musical threater. His music has been performed internationally, featured in various radio dramas, including NPR's "The Radio Stage," and programmed in international festivals.  He has also been recently recognized as the featured composer with the Brooklyn Symphony in 2014, premiering Dr. Anderson's clarinet concerto "Spirit Guide," as well as the Composer-in-Residence with "A Potpourri of Song," at St. Mary's Church in Brooklyn, NY

Dr. Anderson is currently wrapping up audio post-production for this project and we will have release details in the coming months.  Keep checking back for updates and in the meantime, you can listen to and watch a live partial recording of a live performance of "Chamber Symphony No. 4," beginning with the second movement.