Jamie Jordan at Penn, “Alleluia” at Emmanuel

I am a bit frantic as I work to finish a quintet for oboe + piano quartet (requested by Peggy Pearson, to be premiered at the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival on June 9), so there is only time for a brief post to say thank you for some recent performances. Jamie Jordan and Steven Beck gave a splendid recital at Penn last week, including excerpts from my Holy the Firm (read more about the program here). Here they are with George Crumb, whose Apparition was a concert highlight. (How it is that Steve read the oversize score for the Crumb off what appeared to be an iPad mini remains a mystery.)

img_5634

Holy the Firm was heard in its entirety later last week, as Katie O’Mara, Sarah Cooper, and Rebecca Achtenberg, all students from Westminster Choir College, collaborated with pianist J. J. Penna in a performance as part of the 2017 Art Song Festival at the College. I wasn’t able to attend, but J. J. is such a splendid pianist and admired coach that I am sure the performances were excellent.

On Sunday, Emmanuel Music did my Alleluia on a Ground as part of the weekly Eucharist at Emmanuel Church in Boston. I count myself very lucky to have an ongoing relationship (23 years!) with Emmanuel, with virtuosic performances of my motets in the context of a deeply welcoming community that knows how to listen thoughtfully thanks to decades of Bach cantata performances as an integral part of worship. Thank you to conductor Ryan Turner and all the singers, especially Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellow Sarah Yanovitch who was angelic in the little solo near the end of my piece, and spectacular in BWV 51 later in the service.

Rehearsing in the Emmanuel sanctuary:

c5s6emjxmaisw7b-1

 

c5s6emjxmaisw7b

Emmanuel Music warming up before the service:

img_1891

And the cantata in full flight:

img_1893

“Holy the Firm” at Penn and at Westminster Choir College

h-the-fSoprano Jamie Jordan will be offering three songs from my cycle Holy the Firm as part of her recital with pianist Steven Beck at Penn tomorrow evening (2/22/17) – go here for more on the concert, and click here for a PDF of the program. The piece will be heard again later this week, as  J. J. Penna has programmed the complete cycle as the closing event of Westminster Choir College’s 2017 Art Song Festival. I don’t yet have the name of who will be singing at Westminster, but J. J. will be playing piano and I will update this post with the singer’s name as soon as I get it. The concert is this Saturday, 2/25, at 7:30 in Bristol Chapel on the Westminster campus. More information here. UPDATE: vocal duties for Holy the Firm will be shared by Katie O’Mara, Sarah Cooper, and Rebecca Achtenberg, all students at Westminster.

Thank You, Lyric Fest

Last night at Westminster Choir College, Lyric Fest presented a reprise of the program they first offered in Bryn Mawr and Philly this past spring, featuring settings of poetry by American women, and including my “Waltzing the Spheres”, on a text by Susan Scott Thompson. Kelly Ann Bixby, soprano, and Laura Ward, piano, gave a beautifully shaped and deeply touching performance of the piece – indeed, the performances were at a very high level throughout the evening. Thanks also to the CoOPERAtive program for hosting the event, and to the warmly appreciative audience. I am told there will eventually be a video of the concert available online for streaming – will let you know when I hear the details.

“Waltzing” at Westminster

A reminder that Lyric Fest will be presenting a program at Westminster Choir College next week, a reprise of this past spring’s concert that included the premiere of my “Waltzing the Spheres”. The concert will be Tuesday, July 15 at 7:30 in Bristol Chapel on the Westminster campus and is part of the CoOPERAtive program – read more here. Kelly Ann Bixby will be singing my song, with Laura Ward at the piano. Here’s a glimpse of the piece’s opening:

 

waltzing

Monday Miscellany

– It was a fantastic performance by The Crossing last Saturday. I thought my new Levertov Mass went very well, and the audience was warmly appreciative. I’m deeply grateful to every member of the group, especially those who performed the demanding “schola” parts – a quartet of singers positioned behind the audience – as well as the several singers who took on brief solos in the main choir, in front of the audience. Donald Nally prepared the performance with meticulous care, and the level of musicianship of all involved was quite dazzling.

UPDATE: go here for the Philadelphia Inquirer review of the concert by David Patrick Stearns.

– You can read an article here about the Westminster Choir College CoOPERAtive program, which will include a reprise of this spring’s Lyric Fest concert that includes my Waltzing the Spheres. Laura Ward will again be the pianist, while Kelly Bixby will be the soprano.

– There are eight Philadelphia Orchestra concerts at the Mann Center this summer – but five of them are either movie play-alongs or pop concerts, and a sixth is mostly given over to spirituals. The latter does have a premiere by Uri Caine, nice to see some new music being done. But only two entirely classical programs?

I grew up going to Cleveland Orchestra summer concerts at the Blossom Music Center – the first time it was the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos conducting Brahms #1 with Gina Bachauer, followed by The Rite of Spring. I also remember hearing Mahler #3 (Maureen Forrester, soloist), Mahler #8 with Leinsdorf, and Issac Stern playing Brahms. But that was then, and this is now…

UPDATE: a brochure just came in today’s mail for two July programs with the Philadelphia Orchestra – “Pixar in Concert” and “Classical Mystery Tour: A Tribute to the Beatles”. By the way, on the days that Philly will present “Pixar in Concert”, the Mostly Mozart Festival will present a John Luther Adams premiere.