Songs of Mary Howe and Robert Ward

Mary Howe, Robert Ward

Margo Garrett, Piano



The American art song found a champion in Mary Howe (1882-1964) whose songs, though often sung by colleagues during her lifetime, were rediscovered slowly after the emergence of the women's movement of the late 1970's. Diversity of style, language, subject, and level of difficulty gives Howe's songs great appeal to a wide range of listeners and performers, allowing for the versatile programming contained on this disc. Typical of the songs of Robert Ward (b.1917), his love of language is apparent in the evocative settings of St. Vincent Millay's sonnets. Voice and accompaniment are tightly linked, producing stirring dramatic effects. Romantic and colorful in nature, yet injected with expressive chromaticism characteristic of the twentieth century, the songs are a welcome addition to the American art song repertoire.

Soprano Sandra McClain has appeared extensively in opera and concert throughout the eastern United States. A former national winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, she has performed operatic roles with such companies as Universal Opera, Pennsylvania Opera Theatre, Brooklyn Opera Society, New York Opera Ensemble, Lake George Opera, and the Long Island Opera Society. Her recent concert engagements have included performances in Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Illinois. She is also, along with saxophonist Carolyn Bryan, a member of The Arden Duo, which specializes in the performance and commissioning of music composed for voice and saxophone. At the meeting of the World Saxophone Congress in Minneapolis, MN, the Arden Duo performed the world premiere of "Living in the Body," a commissioned song cycle by American composer Lori Laitman, with texts by Minnesotan poet, Joyce Sutphen. Their most recent world premiere performance was another setting of Sutphen’s poems, "This Piece of Mind," in a cycle by Carolyn Jennings, at the March 2004 Seventh Annual Festival of Women Composers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. McClain is currently Professor of Voice at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. She was Professor of Music for 11 years at Georgia Southern University where she was head of the Vocal/Choral Committee and taught voice and vocal pedagogy and literature. She has also taught on the voice faculties of Mary Baldwin College, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Southern Virginia University, Teachers College (Columbia University), Queens College, Sarah Lawrence College, and The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She is in frequent demand as a Master Class Clinician and adjudicator, and served as President of the Georgia Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), Georgia NATS State Governor, and Vice President of Virginia NATS. A native of North Carolina, Dr. McClain received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Meredith College, a Master of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music, and the Doctor of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

Pianist Margo Garrett has long been known as one of America’s most esteemed collaborative pianists. She has partnered some of the world’s most outstanding artists in chamber, instrumental, and vocal recitals including violinist Jaime Laredo, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Sharon Robinson, clarinetist David Shifrin, and sopranos Kathleen Battle and Dawn Upshaw. Her recordings include a Grammy award-winning Deutsche Grammophon disc of Kathleen Battle’s Carnegie Hall Debut Recital, the first recital in the celebration of the hall’s Centennial.

MSR Classics