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PARMA Recordings Presents

New Songs from New England

June 24, 2021 7:00 PM EDT

From out of the silence and digital latencies of this pandemic, we offer an evening of songs celebrating hope within the context of hardship; songs exploring nature and its restorative properties; songs sung for the joy of singing with one another, together and in person. All of the music performed this evening was written for the performers featured.

About

PROGRAM NOTES

Scott Gendel’s To Keep the Dark Away is a fitting way to begin this evening, given that all of  the performers live and work in and around Amherst, MA, the proud home of Emily  Dickinson. In 1844 the United States shimmered with possibility. Vast expanses of the  American Midwest and West were completely untouched by European hands, unseen by  explorers’ eyes. The land was in its natural state, and the great majority of our young country  provided the magnificence that we experience today in our national parks. A boundless  optimism pervaded the American psyche, and this sense of optimism and opportunity was in  large part due to the natural bounty and vastness the continent afforded. With the crushing  daily news about climate change, rainforest deforestation, and the exploitation of natural  resources, those of us who are artistically-minded frequently turn to artists’ celebrations of  nature. Emily Dickinson in her interiority, simplicity, vividness, and immediacy was the match  for this inspiration.

BIO

Scott Gendel - composerScott Gendel (b. 1977) is a composer, vocal coach, pianist, theatrical music director, singer, keyboardist, composition instructor, and general musical polymath living in Madison WI. As a composer, his music has a wide-ranging scope, but Gendel is particularly obsessed with the artistry of the human voice in all its forms, including opera, art song, choral music, musical theatre, pop songs, and more. As a performing musician, Gendel collaborates on vocal and instrumental recitals around the country, plays in four different hard-to-categorize rock and electronic bands, coaches professional opera singers from around the country, and is the official pianist and principal vocal coach for Madison Opera.

In 2005, Gendel received his D.M.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also designed and taught an undergraduate composition curriculum as part of the faculty for two years. In 2014, Gendel recorded his piece “At Last” with soprano Camille Zamora and cellist Yo-Yo Ma as part of “An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing For Hope,” a recording released on Naxos Records and GPR, benefiting amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. More recently, his song cycle “Grandma’s Kitchen” was premiered as part of the 2019 SongSLAM Festival in New York, co-sponsored by Sparks & Wiry Cries and the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar, and his opera “Super Storm!” was performed in nearly 200 schools and concert venues around the midwest for about 65,000 audience members by Opera for the Young.

www.scottgendel.com

PROGRAM NOTES

Moonlight is Very White explores the boundaries between light and dark — flesh and air. The  poetry comes from Eleanor Goodman’s Griffin Award-winning translation of Chinese poet  Wang Xiaoni Something Crosses My Mind. Composer Greg Brown was grateful to reconnect  with fellow Amherst College alum, Goodman, in creating this setting.

Teasdale contemporary Edna St. Vincent Millay is perhaps best known for her early poem  Renascence. To The Bleak Shore uses three later poems to create a quasi-narrative about lost  love and the regaining of self. Images of the ocean tie the set together.

BIO

Gregory W. Brown - composerGregory W. Brown’s (b. 1974) works have been performed across the United States and Europe — most notably in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Cadogan Hall in London, and the Kleine Zaal of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Brown’s cantata un/bodying/s was premiered by two-time Grammy winning Philadelphia choir The Crossing in June 2017 and released on Innova Records. This 35-minute work for 24 voices uses new texts by poet Todd Hearon and focuses on issues of displacement and ecology around the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir.

His commissions for two-time Grammy nominees 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. Brown’s 2015 CD of original choral and vocal works — Moonstrung Air — was Q2’s Album of the Week for Feb 16th, noting that “[Brown’s] command of transcendent sound is constant… the pieces ring like higher-power-bells, those of science, faith and the human voice.” Voces Tallin’s recent disc A Black Birch in Winter features three pieces by Brown; This disc won the Annual Music Award of the Estonian Culture Endowment for 2019. Other recordings include releases on the Innova, Parma/Navona, Acis, and Albany labels.

Current and recent commissions include works for Variant 6, Grammy-nominated Skylark Ensemble, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Constellation Mens Ensemble (Chicago), Ensemble Nobiles (Leipzig), Boston Choral Ensemble, soprano Mary Hubbell (USA), contralto Kristine Gether (Denmark), countertenor Geoffrey Silver (UK), and others.

www.gregorywbrown.com

Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

ALBUMS

Evolutionary Spirits - Album CoverMISSA CHARLES DARWIN - Album CoverMoonstrung AirFINE MUSIC VOL. 5

PROGRAM NOTES

That We were Gone is Ronald Perera’s eighth song cycle for voice and piano. Sara Teasdale’s  evocative poetry has inspired many creative souls over the years, including Ray Bradbury’s  celebrated anti-war short story There Will Come Soft Rains. This new song cycle also  underscores Teasdale’s feelings about the futility of violence. Perera’s prolific work is  published by E. C. Schirmer and by Pear Tree Press Music Publishers. 

BIO

Ronald Perera - composer

Ronald Perera’s (b. Boston 1941) compositions include operas, song cycles, chamber, choral, and orchestral works, and several works for instruments or voices with electronic sounds. He is perhaps best known for his settings of texts by authors as diverse as Dickinson, Joyce, Grass, Sappho, Cummings, Shakespeare, Francis of Assisi, Melville, Ferlinghetti, Updike, and Henry Beston. Seven major pieces are represented on compact discs released in the late 1990s. Reviewing CRI CD 796 for Fanfare magazine, critic John Story writes, “Three Poems of Günter Grass is, quite simply, one of the most haunting works of the last 25 years.” Reviewing the Outermost House on Albany Troy 314 he writes, “When he is on form, Ronald Perera is among the finest living combiners of words and music…The music is simply lovely.”  Perera studied composition with Leon Kirchner at Harvard and electronic music with Gottfried Michael Koenig at the University of Utrecht. He also worked independently with Randall Thompson in choral music and with Mario Davidovsky in electronic music. Ronald Perera has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, ASCAP, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Artists Foundation of Massachusetts, Harvard University, the MacDowell colony, the Paderewski Fund, the Bogliasco Foundation, and Meet the Composer. In 1975 he co-edited The Development and Practice of Electronic Music for Prentice-Hall. His music is published by ECS Publishing, Boosey and Hawkes, Music Associates of New York, and Pear Tree Press Music Publishers. It is recorded on the Albany, CRI, Opus One and Navona labels.

Perera retired in 2002 from a 30-year teaching career at Smith College where he was the Elsie I. Sweeney Professor of Music. That We were Gone was written for Mary Hubbell and is receiving its premiere performance.

www.ronaldperera.com

Jamie-Rose Guarrine

Soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine is acclaimed for her “utterly thrilling, agile voice” and praised for bringing “pathos, beauty, and heartbreaking skill” to her performances. She has performed on the stages of Los Angeles Opera, Minnesota Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Chicago Opera Theater, Austin Opera, Utah Opera, Fort Worth Opera, the Madison Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, The National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, San Antonio Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony, among many others.

In recent seasons, Guarrine has been seen at the Austin, Utah, and the Florentine Operas in her signature role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, and Opera Omaha as Poppea in Handel’s Agrippina. She “traversed the Fiakermilli’s coloratura flights with ease and clarity” in Richard’s Strauss’ Arabella for the Minnesota Opera, and delivered “a lovely Pamina, singing with warmth, depth, and relaxed power” in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

Her diverse performance repertoire ranges from the masterworks of Bach, Handel, and Mozart, to modern works such as the roles of Xanthe/Aphrodite in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata and Maria Celeste Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei. In the fall of 2017, she created the role of “Fury” in Julian Wachner’s Rev.23 for performances in Boston and New York at Trinity Wall Street. A native of Peoria, IL, Jamie-Rose holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University, and received her MM and DMA from University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Distinguished Collins Fellow. She is an alumna of some of the country’s most prestigious young artist programs; the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, and Wolf Trap Opera as a Filene Artist. Dr. Guarrine has presented masterclasses to young singers throughout the United States, and proudly serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

www.jamieroseguarrine.com

ALBUMS

TRANSPARENT BOUNDARIES - Various Artists - Album Cover

Mary Hubbell, described in the New York Times as “a soprano with a sweetly focused tone,” excels in a wide range of styles, from early to modern music. Orchestral engagements include singing in the solo quintet in Louis Andriessen’s Tao with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of David Robertson, and the solo soprano part of Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 with the Orkestvereniging Musica under the direction of Hans Leenders. She has appeared as a featured soloist with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (Kapilow’s Green Eggs and Ham), the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra

(Mozart’s Exsultate jubilate), the South Hadley Chorale in Massachusetts (Haydn’s Creation and Mozart’s Mass in C minor), the Amherst College Choral Society (Schubert’s Ständchen), and the Williams College Wind Ensemble (Ogren’s Evening Music and Ticheli’s Angels in the Architecture).

An accomplished recitalist, Ms. Hubbell has performed art song and chamber music in a variety of venues, including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC. She frequently appears in chamber music series such as “Concerts at Seven” (Plainfield, MA), “Music in the Noon Hour” at Smith College (Northampton, MA), and “Concerts on the Canal” (Holyoke, MA).

Ms. Hubbell maintains a strong commitment to new music and has appeared at the contemporary music venues of the Young Composer’s Festival in Apeldoorn and the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam. In 2014 she performed with role of Katherine Wright in Jocelyn Hagen’s opera Test Pilot in Minnesota. She has appeared as a soloist with counter) induction, the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Composer’s Voice Series, and others.  She has also participated in the Women Composers Festival in Hartford, CT and the Queens New Music Festival in NY. She regularly performs with flutist Alice Jones as the duo conText, which presents 20th and 21st century music and has commissioned new works from the composers Gregory W. Brown, Inés Thiebaut, and Eric Nathan.

www.maryhubbell.com | Twitter

Lemuel Gurtowsky is a pianist and composer living in Hadley, MA. He works as a staff accompanist for UMass Amherst, Smith College, and the Springfield Symphony Choir. He is also the musical director of Act Too Studio’s opera workshop, a summer program for teens based out of South Hadley, MA. As a composer and songwriter, Lemuel has toured extensively, performing at The Music Hall of Williamsburg (NYC), Reading and Leeds Festivals (UK), and SXSW (Austin, TX). His songs have appeared on NBC’s Parenthood and MTV’s Fantasy Factory. Lemuel received his master’s degree in collaborative piano from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he studied under Nadine Shank, and holds a bachelor’s degree in music theory from The Hartt School in West Hartford, CT.

Karl Knapp

Karl Knapp is known not only as a devoted Suzuki educator but also for his solo and chamber music performances. He recently served as Principal Cellist with the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra as well as the Arctic Chamber Orchestra and the Juneau Symphony Orchestra. Karl graduated with his Master and Doctorate of Music degrees from University of Wisconsin – Madison where he was a member of the Hunt Quartet, an educational ensemble which took classical music into the elementary schools in the area. He has performed in the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Madison Opera Orchestra, and Minnesota Opera Orchestra. His studies have been with with Karl Lavine, Stefan Kartman, Nina Gordon, Uri Vardi, Parry Karp, and the members of the Pro Arte Quartet.

www.karlknappcellostudio.com

ALBUMS

TRANSPARENT BOUNDARIES - Various Artists - Album Cover

Program

  • Scott Gendel
    To Keep The Dark Away
    I. Letter to the World
    II. The Saddest Noise
    III. In Vain
    IV. Accustomed to the Dark
    V. The Crickets Sang
    VI. I Sing to Use the Waiting
    Jamie-Rose Guarrine, soprano
    Karl Knapp, cello
    Lemuel Gurtowsky, piano
  • Gregory W. Brown
    Moonlight is Very White
    Jamie-Rose Guarrine, soprano
    Karl Knapp, cello
  • Ronald Perera
    That We were Gone
    I. Winter Stars
    II. A Boy
    III. There Will Come Soft Rains
    Mary Hubbell, soprano
    Lemuel Gurtowsky, piano
  • Gregory W. Brown
    To the Bleak Shore
    I. Time Does not Bring Relief
    II. Ebb
    III. I Shall Go Back Again
    Mary Hubbell, soprano
    Lemuel Gurtowsky, piano

Texts

TO KEEP THE DARK AWAY
by Scott Gendel
text by Emily Dickinson

Letter to the World

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,–
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

The Saddest Noise

The saddest noise, the sweetest noise,
The maddest noise that grows,—
The birds, they make it in the spring,
At night’s delicious close.

Between the March and April line—
That magical frontier
Beyond which summer hesitates,
Almost too heavenly near.

It makes us think of all the dead
That sauntered with us here,
By separation’s sorcery
Made cruelly more dear.

It makes us think of what we had,
And what we now deplore.
We almost wish those siren throats
Would go and sing no more.

An ear can break a human heart
As quickly as a spear,
We wish the ear had not a heart
So dangerously near.

In Vain

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Accustomed to the Dark

We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye –

A Moment – We uncertain step
For newness of the night –
Then – fit our Vision to the Dark –
And meet the Road – erect –

And so of larger – Darknesses –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within –

The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see –

Either the Darkness alters –
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight –
And Life steps almost straight.

The Crickets Sang

The crickets sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came,–
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,–
And so the night became.

I Sing to Use the Waiting

I sing to use the Waiting
My Bonnet but to tie
And shut the Door unto my House
No more to do have I

Till His best step approaching
We journey to the Day
And tell each other how We sung
To Keep the Dark away.

MOONLIGHT IS VERY WHITE
by Gregory W. Brown
text by Wang Xiaoni
translated into English by Eleanor Goodman

Late at night the moon exposes every bone.

I breathe in a pale breath.
The world’s irritations
become falling fireflies.
The city is a lifeless skeleton.

No life
can match this pure night light.
Open the curtains
and before my eyes the universe mixes with silver
the moonlight helps me forget I’m alone.

Life’s last act
is silently rehearsed on a swath of white.
Moonlight arrives on the floorboards
my two feet are already pale.

THAT WE WERE GONE
by Ronald Perera
Three Poems in Time of War by Sara Teasdale

Winter Stars

I went out at night alone;
The young blood flowing beyond the sea
Seemed to have drenched my spirit’s wings—
I bore my sorrow heavily.

But when I lifted up my head
From shadows shaken on the snow,
I saw Orion in the east
Burn steadily as long ago.

From windows in my father’s house,
Dreaming my dreams on winter nights,
I watched Orion as a girl
Above another city’s lights.

Years go, dreams go, and youth goes too,
The world’s heart breaks beneath its wars,
All things are changed, save in the east
The faithful beauty of the stars.

A Boy

Out of the noise of tired people working,
Harried with thoughts of war and lists of dead,
His beauty met me like a fresh wind blowing,
Clean boyish beauty and high-held head.
Eyes that told secrets, lips that would not tell them,
Fearless and shy the young unwearied eyes?
Men die by millions now, because God blunders,
Yet to have made this boy he must be wise.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,
Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

TO THE BLEAK SHORE
by Gregory W. Brown
texts by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Time does not bring relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go,—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Ebb

I know what my heart is like
Since your love died:
It is like a hollow ledge
Holding a little pool
Left there by the tide,
A little tepid pool,
Drying inward from the edge.

I shall go back again

I shall go back again to the bleak shore
And build a little shanty on the sand,
In such a way that the extremest band
Of brittle seaweed will escape my door
But by a yard or two; and nevermore
Shall I return to take you by the hand;
I shall be gone to what I understand,
And happier than I ever was before.
The love that stood a moment in your eyes,
The words that lay a moment on your tongue,
Are one with all that in a moment dies,
A little under-said and over-sung.
But I shall find the sullen rocks and skies
Unchanged from what they were when I was young.

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