This album showcases recent works recorded for the first time by five living American composers. These compositions were introduced to New York City audiences through the exciting and unique North/South Consonance concert series.
While the featured composers make use of highly sophisticated personal styles, their music is decidedly evocative and appealing. Fashionable rhythms and harmonies inform Green's delightful journey through the seasons. Striking landscapes provide inspiration for Constantinides and Tann's depictions of nature. Lipper's work serves as witness to recent geo-political tensions. And Van Appledorn recalls the gentle rhythmic inflections of the old-fashioned Sarabande.
Great care was taken to preserve the integrity of the concert hall ambiance when this album was recorded and mastered. Indeed, the listener will find that the natural resonance of the concert hall and the music's wide dynamic range were captured successfully. Please use a moderate volume setting when playing this disc.
Since 1984, Edward Green (b. 1951, NYC) has been a professor at the Manhattan School of Music, teaching courses in Music History, Ethnomusicology, and Composition. He is also on the faculty of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York, where he has taught since 1980, and is composer-in-residence for the Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company.
Dr. Green's music has been performed by orchestras across the United States as well as in several countries overseas – including Russia, the Czech Republic, Argentina and England. His many awards include the top prize in the 1995 International Kodaly Composers Competition, and a 2004 Music Alive! grant, jointly sponsored by the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer. Several of his works are currently available on CD, including a Trumpet Concerto (Albany Records), a Concerto for Alto Sax and Strings (Arizona University Recordings), and a duet, Zhou, for two traditional Chinese instruments: pipa and erhu (Traditional Crossroads).
From 1974 to 1978 Edward Green had the honor to study with Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism. And in classes taught by this great poet and philosopher, the composer learned the core principle of aesthetics which animates his work. “All beauty,” Mr. Siegel taught, “is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
Dr. Green is currently at work on a book for Cambridge University Press about the music of Duke Ellington—and also is composing a ballet based on Milton's Paradise Lost. He makes his home in Manhattan with his wife, the actress and mezzo-soprano Carrie Wilson.
The Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra was composed for the Absolute Ensemble, which premiered it in 1998. On February 4, 2007, North/South Consonance presented the first public performance of the revised version of the work, the version featured on this recording. The composer writes:
“The Concertino is written in a single movement, but in five large sections—and has an underlying program: it is a journey through the seasons, beginning in Autumn and circling around again to it. The continuity and surprise of the seasons; their energy and calm; sweetness and harshness—these are opposites which I wanted to bring together in this music. And the solo part is conceived as being in partnership with the orchestra, as if it were a person traveling through the year, and seeing the landscape alter as the seasons do. “
This recording of Green's Concertino was made possible in part through generous contributions from Styra Avnis; Vasilis Kotas; James Mastroianni; Mary C. Solomon; and a lead gift from Jonathan Saggau/ Sounds Broken, inc.
Active as composer, conductor and educator, Dinos Constantinides (b. 1929) began studying violin and composition in his native Greece at the Greek Conservatory. He continued his training at Indiana University, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School. His teachers included, among others, Tony Schultze, Marios Varvoglis, Yannis Papaioannou, Ivan Galamian, Dorothy DeLay and Josef Gingold. As a violinist, Constantinides played with the State Orchestra of Athens in Greece; the Indianapolis Symphony; and also served as concertmaster of the Baton Rouge Symphony. Currently, he is the Music Director of the Louisiana Sinfonietta and the Head and Boyd Professor of Music Composition at Louisiana State University's School of Music.
His works have been performed throughout the US, Europe and Asia by prestigious ensembles including the American Symphony Orchestra in New York; the Memphis and New Orleans Symphony Orchestras; the English Chamber Orchestra; the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in the Czech Republic; the Athens State Orchestra in Greece and the Shenzhen Symphony in China.
Constantinides received the first prize in the 1981 Brooklyn College International Chamber Opera Competition, the 1985 First Midwest Chamber Opera Conference, and the 1997 Delius Composition Contest. In 1985 he was honored with the American New Music Consortium Distinguished Service Award and in 1989 with the Glen Award of L'Ensemble of New York. He has received several Meet the Composer grants as well as yearly ASCAP Standard Awards. In 1994 he was honored with a Distinguished Teacher Award by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.
Writing for the New York Times, Tim Page described Constantinides as a composer whose “music speaks simply, often combining Greek modes... with an attractive quality of ritual mystery.” The Romanian newspaper Cuget Liber acclaimed: “The music of the Greek-American composer Dinos Constantinides seduced the listeners with its unusual warmth and sincerity.” And the late Ernst Krenek described one of his works as follows: "There are many fascinating details…I am much impressed.”
Written in 1990, China II-Beijing for string orchestra is the second work of a cycle called China Quartet. The work is an attempt to portray an overview of the impressive history of China in the manner of a legend.
The work opens with the first violins, cellos and double bass playing a stately pedal tone on the pitch A. The other instruments quietly introduce a minor third motive that will be dramatically transformed throughout the piece. The strikingly sweet and sour high harmonics in the violins are used to represent memories of past centuries. The music gradually becomes more agitated: the rising dynamic levels and faster tempos are used to illustrate the struggles of many generations. After the first fast and dramatic section, the solo cello and then the violins intone a lyrical melody that grows in intensity culminating in an agitated and virtuosic climax - the apotheosis of string sound. The subsequent return of the opening material built around the pedal point on the pitch A brings the piece to a peaceful close.
Written in 2002, Landscape VI – Rhapsody for Harp and Strings was commissioned by Eleftherios Kalkanis for the Symphony Orchestra of the City of Athens. The composer explains: “It belongs to an ongoing series of landscape compositions describing various images of my homeland as crystallized in my memory over time. The work is subtitled Rhapsody as it was inspired by the rhapsodies of Homer's Iliad.” In a manner that recalls the classical rondo scheme (A-B-A-C-A), the single movement composition alternates lyrical, mysterious sections with two agitated and dramatic interludes where the strings indulge in a kind of apotheosis. The work received its New York premiere under North/south Consonance's sponsorship on January 11, 2004.
This recording of Dinos Constantinides' compositions was funded in part through a subsidy from the Boyd Professorship at the Louisiana State University.
Welsh-born composer, Hilary Tann (b. 1947), lives in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains near the Hudson River in Upstate New York where she is the John Howard Payne Professor of Music at Union College. She holds degrees in composition from the University of Wales at Cardiff and Princeton University. Her music is influenced by her love of Wales and her strong identification with the natural world. A deep interest in the traditional music of Japan has led to private study of the shakuhachi and guest visits to Japan, Korea, and China.
Numerous organizations have supported her work, including the Welsh Arts Council, New York State Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer, and National Endowment for the Arts. Many works are available from Capstone Records, Elmgrove Productions, North/South Recordings, Channel Classics and Deux-Elles. Her music is published by Brichtmark Music, Inc., Rowanberry Music, and Oxford University Press. Ensembles that have commissioned and performed her works include the European Women's Orchestra, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, North American Welsh Choir, Tenebrae, Meininger Trio, Louisville Symphony Orchestra, Women's Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and KBS Philharmonic in Seoul, Korea.
In the preface to her score, Hilary Tann writes:
“Shakkei – a diptych for oboe and small orchestra – was commissioned by the 2007 Presteigne Festival and premiered by oboist Virginia Shaw with the festival orchestra conducted by George Vass.
Shakkei, a term used in Japanese landscape design, means borrowed scenery. Two well-known examples of shakkei underlie the oboe concerto. The first movement, marked slow and spacious, is inspired by Mount Hiei as viewed from Shoden-ji, a temple with a dry landscape garden.
The second movement, marked leggiero, is inspired by the hills of Arashiyama as viewed from Tenryu-ji, a temple with a lush stroll garden. In musical terms, the spare landscape of the first movement is complemented by an overgrown second movement. In both movements the composer could not resist lightly borrowing from Debussy's Nuages since the idea of borrowing was part of the identity of the piece and a cor anglais was at hand.”
The performers featured in this recording gave the US premiere of Shakkei on June 10, 2008. This recording of the work was made possible in part, through a grant from Union College.
Binnette Lipper, a native New Yorker, graduated from Hunter College and did graduate studies at The Juilliard School. Her mentors included Louise Talma, Ludmila Ulelha, Ronald Herder and Meyer Kupferman.
Lipper's oeuvre includes compositions for piano, voice, chamber ensembles and orchestra. Her works have been performed throughout the United States and in Canada, England, Bulgaria, Armenia, Russia and the Far East. She has received grants and awards from ASCAP, The American Music Center and Meet the Composer, as well as numerous commissions. Frank E. Warren Music and the Hildegard Publishing Company publish her compositions, and her works appear on the Capstone, Musicians Showcase Recordings, Euterpe and North/South Recordings labels.
Binnette Lipper taught piano and composition for many years at the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, New York. She now serves on the Board of Trustees of that institution and is a former president of The Music Teachers Council of Westchester. Lipper frequently serves as a judge for composition competitions.
Reviewing Max Lifchitz's recording featuring two piano works by Ms. Lipper (North/South recordings No. 1043) The American Record Guide (Jack Sullivan, March/April 2007) said:“…the elegant classicism of Binnette Lipper's Bagatelles and Sonata 3 are a boon to the entire repertory, not just to female-composer circles.”
Fanfare Magazine's John Story stated: “Lipper's music is utterly unpretentious, extremely well crafted and wonderfully melodic. Her music is extremely well written for the chosen instruments, having an effortless quality that is usually the product of a lot of hard work.”
In the preface to her score, Ms. Lipper writes:
“Circles of Light is a one movement composition scored for piano and string orchestra. It was commissioned in 1996 by Russian pianist Elena Ivanina, who was to perform the piece at a special concert in Moscow. The concert was to serve as a vehicle to further cultural understanding between Americans and Russians. Moscow city officials, prominent Russian composers, and Americans would be attending the concert at the residence of the American ambassador to Russia.
The period of the late 1990's was a particularly exciting one for artists and musicians of the former Soviet Union, due to the new democratic spirit of openness to Western music, a freedom of expression heretofore forbidden by Soviet law. The thirst to hear what had been going on outside the Soviet bloc encouraged such cultural exchanges.
Considering the mood of the time, I wrote Circles of Light as a musical representation of intellectual freedom and the shedding of light, where previously, the darkness of secrecy, censorship and self-censorship had existed. As ripples form when a stone is tossed into a lake, I envisioned the intersecting circles as pebbles of knowledge and understanding, spreading ideas that would eventually merge into mutual compassion and trust.
The piece was awarded a Jory grant by the American Music Center. Less than two weeks before the performance was to take place, however, political intrigue and personal ambition caught up with the expression of artistic freedom: Circles of Light was dropped from the program. It is gratifying that, twelve years later, it was finally brought into the light as part of North/South Consonance's June 24, 2008 concert.”
Mary Jeanne van Appledorn (b. 1927; Holland, MI) was educated at the Eastman School of Music where her composition mentor was Howard Hanson.
Her works are available on the CRS, Century, Crest, Northeastern, North/South, Opus One and Vienna Modern Masters record labels. She has written for orchestra, band, chamber and choral ensembles, solo instruments and electro-acoustic means. Oxford University Press, Carl Fischer, Galaxy Music, Southern Music and Arsis Press publish her music.
Her compositions have been performed throughout the US, Japan and Europe under the sponsorship of organizations such as the Inoue Chamber Ensemble, North/South Consonance, the Society of Composers, the Women Band Directors National Association and the National Association of Composers, USA.
Mary Jeanne Van Appledorn is the Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Music at Texas Tech University where taught from 1950 until 2008.
The composer kindly provided the following statement about her work:
“Ayre for string ensemble was commissioned by the Texas Music Teachers Association in 1989 and completed the following year. It was inspired by the rhythmic gestures typically found in the Sarabande, the stately Baroque court dance presumably of Latin American origin. In triple meter, the music's metrical organization emphasizes the second beat of the measure by means of accents and ties. Eminently lyrical and expressive, the work employs an uncomplicated A-B-A design. It ends as quietly as it begins.”
Ayre received its first New York performance on June 10, 2008. This recording of the work marks the composer's 80th birthday.
Meet the Artists
Oboist Virginia Shaw is a member of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, UK. A joint first prize winner in the 1995 Isle of Wight International Oboe Competition, Ms. Shaw has appeared as soloist with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Pro Arte, Orchestra of the Swan and Britten Sinfonia Soloists.
A strong advocate of contemporary music, Ms. Shaw is a founding member of Okeanos, the new music collective based in London. She has premiered and recorded concerti, chamber and solo works by many British composers including John McCabe, John Joubert, Kenneth Leighton, Nicola LeFanu, Judith Weir, and Robin Holloway.
Susan Jolles is one of the foremost harpists in the United States. A founding member of the Naumburg award–winning Jubal Trio, she has been solo and principal harpist with the New York Chamber Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra, the Little Orchestra Society, Musica Viva, and the Group for Contemporary Music. In addition, she is an associate member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Since receiving a Fromm Fellowship in the performance of twentieth-century music in 1963, Ms. Jolles has been recognized as a gifted interpreter of contemporary music. Such composers as Elliott Carter, Luciano Berio, George Crumb, and Charles Wuorinen have chosen her to present their works.
Ms. Jolles is represented by an impressive discography. Three albums of French music with oboist Humbert Lucarelli are heard almost daily on radio stations from coast to coast. Her recording of Henze's Carillon, Recitatif, Masque is used by the composer to showcase his compositions. Ms. Jolles performed on two albums which received Grammy awards: Ancient Voices of Children (Contemporary Chamber Ensemble), and Dawn Upshaw's first album with the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Her recordings with the Jubal Trio stand as a rich archival source for emerging composers and performers.
Susan Jolles is on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes College of Music. Ms. Jolles has arranged many compositions for harp, several of which are published by the International Music Company. She maintains a studio with her husband, composer Jerome Jolles, in Forest Hills,
Pianist Helen Lin is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music where her mentors included Seymour Lipkin and Peter Serkin. The New York Times lauded her New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall as winner of the Artists International Competition. Colin Clarke, reviewing her recording of Marilyn Ziffrin's Piano Concertino (North/South Recordings No. 1038) for Fanfare Magazine wrote: “Lin plays with crystal clarity and real rhythmic verve.”
Ms. Lin has appeared as solo recitalist at the Trinity Noonday Concert Series in Lower Manhattan and frequently collaborates with vocalists and instrumentalists. In her native Taiwan, Ms. Lin was the winner of the Young Concert Artists Series, performing a solo concert at the National Concert Hall. In addition to touring extensively in Taiwan she has appeared as soloist with the Kaohsiung Symphony on two different occasions. She has performed and recorded with North/South Consonance since 1994.
Pianist Claudia Knafo has captivated audiences here and abroad with her distinctive programming and her passionate artistry. Acclaimed for “her fiery and passionate approach to the piano” and her “luscious sonority and definitive execution of technical complexities,” she has garnered an impressive list of awards and honors including first prize in the Baltimore Music Teachers Association Competition, the Artists International Competition; the Arlington Symphony Competition, the Julia Gontrum Hill Award, and the Rosenberg Prize.
She has conducted master classes in Campinas and Sao Paulo, Brazil and was invited to perform the opening recital at the 1998 Paulo Giovanini National Piano Competition and to serve as a member of the Jury.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Knafo began piano lessons with her mother at age five and continued her studies with Rosetta Goodkind at the Manhattan School of Music. She was awarded a Masters of Music from the University of Michigan and a Doctorate from Boston University, where she held a Director's Award Scholarship. She is on the faculties of Manhattanville College; the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division; and the Hoff-Barthelson Music School.
Max Lifchitz was awarded first prize in the 1976 International Gaudeamus Competition for Performers of Twentieth Century Music held in Holland. Robert Commanday, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "a young composer of brilliant imagination and a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist." The New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn praised Mr. Lifchitz for his "clean, measured and sensitive performances” while Anthony Tommasini remarked that he “conducted a strong performance.” Payton MacDonald writing for the American Record Guide remarked, “Mr. Lifchitz is as good on the podium as he is behind the piano.”
Donal Henahan, also writing for the New York Times, stated: “Mr. Lifchitz, who is the enterprising director of North/South Consonance, is also an ambidextrous conductor of complex music. His own piece required him to beat intricate polyrhythms -- not only fairly simple patterns like 4 with one hand against 3 with the other, but also such metrical puzzles as 3 against 11 or 5 against 13.”
A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, Mr. Lifchitz has appeared in concert and recital throughout the US, Latin America and Europe. Two recently released albums, American Women Composers and Final Bell (N/S R 1043 & 1044) featuring his performances of American piano music were greeted with much acclaim by the press. Essayist Jack Sullivan, reviewing the albums for the American Record Guide wrote that “Max Lifchitz, for whom much of this music was written, plays with his usual brave authority…. Engaging collections of new music played with color and commitments by one of America's finest exponents of contemporary piano music.”
Described by the New York Times as a "high quality ensemble" and by the Village Voice as "New York's lifeline to the rest of the country" the North/South Chamber Orchestra inaugurated its regular concert series in 1980 at the visually appealing and acoustically superior setting of Christ and St. Stephen's Church on Manhattan's West Side.
Daniel Webster, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, commented on North/South Recordings No. 1003 "enthusiastic performances ... enough to express the boiling power of the music." Robert Croan, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, referred to the same album as and "excellent disc." Joseph McLellan, of the Washington Post, stated that North/South Recordings No. 1004 contains "intriguing instrumental works, works that span the emotions from pain to ecstasy." Fanfare Magazine remarked as follows on the recently released Carnaval/Carnival (N/S R 1028): “Recorded within days of the September 11 attack, the performances all glow.” The Journal of the International Alliance of Women in Music declared: "For more than fifteen years the North/South Consonance Ensemble has championed new chamber music of the Americas. Its yearly concert series in New York City is a well-established forum for lively and adventurous performances, and its seemingly-indefatigable conductor and pianist, Max Lifchitz, has proved to be a true and open minded friend to contemporary composers of all musical persuasions."