I am very pleased to announce the release of my new choral music CD with Choral Arts Philadelphia on their 30th Anniversary. The recording is a long time in the making, since we started talking about the project five years ago. There’s an amazing and difficult story behind this recording and the pieces on it, but I’ll save that for a later blog entry. Here’s what’s on the disc:
Four Ladino Songs (2012) was inspired by songs I arranged for solo violin for Lara St. John. I was so taken with these songs and their wide range of emotional expression that I decided to set four of them for unaccompanied choir, as well. Some are set with a traditional four-part texture, others with percussive sounds and effects that would be familiar to Eastern Europe folk traditions.
The New Colossus (2003) was written for conductor Judith Clurman and the Todi music singers as a setting of the poem by Emma Lazarus (the one immortalized at the site of the Statue of Liberty). I wrote the work soon after 9/11 and I was very moved by the sentiment of welcome that Lazarus—herself an immigrant—conveys in the message: “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” welcoming everyone, even the “wretched refuse.” This to me was the true spirit of the United States embodied in poetry as our strength in diversity and tolerance.
The Hanukkah Cantata (2007) was written for CAP with funding from the Philadelphia Music Project. I wrote the cantata with the invaluable help of cantor and Rabbi Dan Sklar who assembled and translated the texts for me. Half of the piece is settings of traditional Hanukkah songs in Hebrew, and the other half—the part that tells the story in recitatives and arias—is in English.
The story of Hanukkah as a whole is of oppression, loss, and rebirth and rebuilding. After the destruction of their temple, the ancient Jews constructed a new altar brick by brick identically as before, acknowledging and never forgetting that loss. The number eight, which figures so prominently in the narrative of eight days of burning oil also is threaded throughout this piece (beginning with eight movements!)
I wrote my Kaddish (2006) for a commission from Robert DeCormier and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. This was my first work in Hebrew, and it was a meaningful challenge. Kaddish is a prayer said at funerals, but it makes no mention of death or dying. It is a prayer of praise for a creator and paradise, and a prayer for peace. The words celebrate life and living, and I wanted to capture both the revelation and awe of the words.
So these are the pieces on the CD.
I’ve had a few releases in the past year, including most recently two choral works on Judith Clurman’s “Celebrating the American Spirit” CD on Sono Luminus, my first flute sonata on Mimi Stillman’s “Odyssey” CD on Innova, and my double concerto for Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson on Bridge. We’re working on three more recordings at the moment: Claudia Anderson and SoYoung Lee are recording my second flute sonata “Canzoniere,” PRISM is recording my “Josquin Microludes,” and “Seasons Lost,” my double violin concerto, is in the works for Cedille.
But this CD with Choral Arts is the first release of all of my music on one disc, and I must say it’s been a wonderful and humbling experience to work with these folks.
You can go ahead and order a CD from this website if you want one, go to a CAP concert where they’ll be selling them, or soon just download the music from iTunes or some other of those newfangled fancy internet services…
I hope you enjoy the music!