SONGS FROM ANOTHER PLACENew Vocal Chamber Music for Soprano by Brunner, Herbolsheimer and Lang
George Brunner, Bern Herbolsheimer, Morris Lang
MONICA HARTE, soprano
"MSR is a most enterprising firm that, like so many other pioneering independent labels, is dedicated to the notion that the greatest of all music has not already been enshrined in our recorded legacy. Composers far more contemporary than those of my generation are assiduously redefining the art. Prokofiev once stated that each age had to re-create music, and so, as is here most eloquently evidenced, the beat goes on.
Morris Lang has served as associate principal timpanist and percussionist with the New York Philharmonic for over 40 years. Among his triumphs, he is the first person to have recorded Elliot Carter’s Eight Pieces for Timpani. His settings of these Three Puerto Rican Songs (fanciful texts by Ester Feliciano Mendoza) breathe some of the same air as George Crumb’s settings of Garcia Lorca’s poems.
George Brunner, born in Philadelphia and the founder of Electronic Music New York in 1986, is also a sound engineer who has recorded music of Morton Feldman, Joan La Barbara, and Richard Kostelanetz... Brunner’s Songs from Another Place strikingly deploys the unlikely combination of soprano, double bass, and electronic enhancements in support of otherworldly and somewhat existentially unsettling texts by Mark Strand.
Ben Herbolsheimer is a most prolific composer who has written over 500 works. His The Visitation of the Priory of St. Michael the Archangel without Stamford for soprano, speaker, and chamber ensemble deals with a 15th-century inquisition of a group of nuns who had been accused of wrong doings of all types, including sexual licentiousness. It ends in an inspired moment of hymnody. This is the most convoluted and, at 19 minutes, the largest and most multidimensional piece on this release, one that delves deeply into, from the point of view of maleness, that most mysterious of phenomena, the eternal feminine.
Monica Harte is in possession of a small, but exquisitely controlled vocal instrument she uses to delve into the hearts of these texts with uncanny powers of penetration, providing us with three journeys into truly other places. Both the recorded sound and the contributions of the instrumentalists similarly rise to the task."
William Zagorski, Fanfare - November / December 2009
PROGRAM NOTESThree Puerto Rican Songs is based on poems that were discovered on a trip to Puerto Rico in the early 1960s. The poetry is so sunny and honest that the piece almost wrote itself. There are two percussion versions. One is for toy instruments: coffee cans, pieces of wood, plastic pails, the back on a mixing bowl. In this recording, we used the other version using four concert tom-toms, claves, conga drum, bass drum, auto brake drums, vibraphone. We did still use the back of a mixing bowl (and mouth sounds) under the recited part. The woodblock sound and rhythm in the first movement is an imitation of the Coqui, a tree frog said to be indigenous to Puerto Rico.
Songs from Another Place is based upon six poems by Mark Strand. Although all were originally written independently of one another, each poem so deeply inspired a feeling of the "unknown" that they immediately felt like a cycle to me. Written for Soprano, String Bass and Electronics, the cycle works and has been successfully performed with and without the electronic component. The themes weave from instrument to voice and back, each triggering the electronics as specific dramatic effects. The effects used in this recording create various dream-like qualities, including echoes, pitch variation, and distance among others.
The Visitation of the Priory of St. Michael the Archangel Without Stamford is a fictional reenactment of a mid-15th century yearly visit of a Bishop to a convent and the various nuns' once-a-year chance to vent their spleen. The personality of each nun is evident by her words and her music. And many of them mention Eleanor Croyland, the final young nun to speak. She had a relationship with the young groundskeeper, who said he was Jesus, the flower maker. Her final prayer is both a love song and an avowal of her faith.
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Monica Harte has performed more than 25 coloratura roles in the standard operatic repertoire and numerous world premieres. She has also sung concerts throughout North America and Europe. She is the soprano soloist on the critically acclaimed 2007 CD release, McLeer's Requiem, and the CD Long Island Songs, which features music by Tom Cipullo, Anne Phillips, George Brunner and Christian McLeer. She recently recorded works by McLeer and David Buddin for The Tempest Project CD to be released by POGUS Productions and the cycle Music in Motion for Rob Voisey’s CD, Starlings. Ms. Harte is the General Director and co-founder of Remarkable Theater Brigade, which produces contemporary operas and concerts in New York City.
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George Brunner is an American composer and performer. Born in Philadelphia, he founded Electronic Music New York in 1986 and has worked as Producer with renowned composers such as Pauline Oliveros, Noah Creshevsky, Morton Subotnick and Jean Claude Risset, among others. Mr. Brunner is also the founder of the Brooklyn College Electroacoustic Music Ensemble and the Director of the Music Technology Program for the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. His music has been commissioned for festivals and concerts in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America, including Electronic Music Midwest, Kungliga Musikhögskolan (Stockholm), and Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique (Bourges).
Bern H. Herbolsheimer has received international recognition for his more than 500 compositions, encompassing ballet, symphony, opera, chamber and choral works. His first opera, Aria Da Capo, won first prize in the National Opera Association's New Opera Competition. Mark Me Twain, his second opera, was commissioned and premiered by the Nevada Opera and his Symphony No.1, an NEA commission, was premiered by the Florida Symphony. His choral music is performed worldwide.
Morris Lang has served as Associate Principal Timpanist and percussionist with the New York Philharmonic since 1955. He has performed with all of the major conductors of the twentieth century and participated in Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts and Live from Lincoln Center. He has participated in the recording of more than 100 orchestral CDs and all the major works in the percussion repertoire. His many publications include The Beginning Snare Drummer, The New Conception, Dictionary of Percussion Terms. At PASIC 2000, he was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, and later given a Lifetime Achievement award by the Sabian Company and KOSA.
Nancy Merriam has performed for audiences throughout the United States and her native country, Canada. Her concert activities include solo, ensemble and orchestral playing. Nancy particularly enjoys performing concerts of contemporary music and concerts for children featuring the bass as a solo instrument. A former member of the San Antonio Symphony, Nancy is currently a freelance musician in the greater Philadelphia area.
Brian Willson has conducted, performed and lectured in 21 countries. He has performed with numerous noted artists, including Big Nick Nicholas, Frank Lacy and Terry Silverlight. He also has several Broadway show tours to his credit. His first CD, Things Heard Unheard, features Yuko Fujiyama and Dominic Duval and was released on the Deep Listening Label. He is the drummer for the Katy Roberts Quintet CD recorded in Paris, Live at L’Archipel. His conducting experience includes two film scores, a CD for Jose Halac, improvised music ensembles, and the Scandanavian-European tour of A Chorus Line.