“… songs that elegantly combine personal fervor and worldly sophistication” (on “From a Book of Hours”) —Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times

“… James Primosch’s gorgeous ‘Dark the Star’… Set to texts by Rainer Maria Rilke, Susan Stewart and the Book of Psalms… it featured a brooding opening section, soaring and expressive vocal lines and creatively scored, beautiful instrumental writing.” Vivien Schweizer, New York Times

“… balm for the soul and food for thought.” —Christian Carey, Musical America

“Primosch’s text-setting instincts are seemingly unerring: his vocal lines always convey the words authentically and honestly, while the instrumental accompaniment provides added depth and drama…” —Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News

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Navona Records releases all-Primosch CD by The Crossing


Carthage includes 6 works for chorus performed by the Grammy award-winning chamber chorus The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally. The title track sets an excerpt from the novel “Housekeeping” by Marilynne Robinson while the other pieces include texts by Meister Eckhart, E. E. Cummings, Wendell Berry, and Thomas Merton. The centerpiece of the album is my Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus, which juxtaposes a setting of the Latin Ordinary with poems by Denise Levertov reflecting on the Latin texts. Engineer Paul Vazquez and his team captured the group’s exquisite singing in gorgeous sound. I’m deeply grateful to be able to share this superb document not only of my choral music in general, but of my working relationships with The Crossing, for whom I wrote three of the pieces on the album, and with Emmanuel Music, for whom I wrote the remaining three works. Go here for the Gloria from the Levertov Mass. Go here for a review of the album at All Music. UPDATE: Carthage has been nominated for a Grammy for best choral performance. This is an award for the conductor and the choir members; conductor Donald Nally and all the singers are richly deserving of the honor.

New CD with songs and piano music by Primosch and Harbison on Albany Records

descent return cover

Songs for soprano and piano, and music for piano solo are featured in this album, including the title work, an extract from my cycle for soprano and ensemble, A Sibyl. Susan Stewart wrote the poems specifically for that project. Three more of my songs close the disc, independent pieces that use texts by Sarah Williams, Robert Francis, and Kathleen Norris. Soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon performs the songs and her pianist is Ryan McCullough who also plays a set of piano pieces he co-commissioned, Pure Contraption, Absolute Gift.

I am very happy to share the album with John Harbison, my teacher at Tanglewood so many years ago. The disc returns his song cycle Simple Daylight to the active catalog, and includes the first commercial recording of his Piano Sonata No. 2.

Go here for a review of the album from the Broad Street Review. Fanfare Magazine described the album as a “most enjoyable recital”, speaking of the “imagination and skill” of my music, the “pure voice and sensitive phrasing” of Lucy Fitz Gibbon, and the “sublime piano artistry” of Ryan McCullough.

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Upcoming Performances

March 31, 2021: Pure Contraption, Absolute Gift
Clara Christian, piano
Newman Recital Hall
College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, MO
information on streaming to be announced

May 15, 2021: Two Whitman Love Songs
Andrew Fuchs, tenor
Danny Zelibor, piano
Brooklyn Art Song Society
Brooklyn, NY
online streaming information here

April 8, 2022: Fantasy-Partita on “Von Gott will ich nicht lassen” (premiere)
BWV: Cleveland’s Bach Choir
Dirk Garner, conductor
Baldwin Wallace University
Berea, OH

The following performances were scheduled for the 2019-2020 season but were postponed due to the pandemic. Definite new dates have not yet been determined.

March 14, 2020: Variations on a Hymn Tune
Delaware All-State Orchestra
Gary White, conductor
Glasgow High School
Newark, DE

March 29, 2020:  Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus
Emmanuel Music
Ryan Turner, conductor
Emmanuel Church
Boston, MA

May 6, 8, 9, 2020: Dark the Star
Jonathan Nussman, baritone
University of California at San Diego
La Jolla, CA

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Current Projects

—two new pieces for live instrumentalist and electronic sound: one for saxophonist Matt Levy, to be premiered in the 2020-2021 season and recorded by him for XAS Records; and one for flutist Emma Resmini. The project is supported by the Independence Foundation.

—a soprano and piano version of my Wind, Carry Me, a choral setting of a text by Susan Stewart. This is being written at the request of soprano Laura Strickling.

—a song, also for soprano and piano, based on the hymn tune “Beech Spring”, using words by Marty Haugen. Written at the request of Eliza Garth.

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