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Songs for Soprano and Piano

George Brunner, Tom Cipullo, Christian McLeer, Anne Dinsmore Phillips

Tom Cipullo, Noby Ishida, Christian McLeer & Anne Dinsmore Phillips, Piano



“Soprano Monica Harte has put together a most pleasing recital of new songs by current American composers, three of whom accompany her definitively in their own works. Harte is possessed of a pleasing, light voice that wears well on the ear. She brings the needed emotion, from drama to tenderness, dictated by the texts… The recital opens with Tom Cipullo’s Long Island Songs, a cycle inspired by his having grown up in the venue of the title, which comes from the bittersweet book Long Island Light by William Heyen. The vocal lines are beautifully conceived, and the harmonic underpinnings are imaginative and varied… Following are the Three Japanese Songs by George Brunner. These exquisite morsels are models of simplicity, both in the vocal lines and the lean piano writing. Their brevity leaves one wishing for more… Anne Dinsmore Phillips contributes four songs to the recital. Her style is completely immersed in tonality, and I suspect these songs all use key signatures. They exhibit influence from the American musical theater, but may also justifiably be considered art songs… Christian McLeer’s two cycles, Three Light Pieces and Longing Eternal Bliss, close the recital… The final song, “Comes and Goes,” is to my mind the most imaginative on the entire CD. It begins with a tuned thumping sound on the piano caused by the pianist holding the lower strings with one hand while playing the notes with the other. From there, the rhythms increase in complexity to create a most impressive display of drama. It is a terrific closer to the disc… Recommended… to anyone interested in art songs firmly rooted in the tonal American tradition, or to singers looking for worthwhile new repertory.”
David DeBoor Canfield, Fanfare - Issue 35:5 May/June 2012
"the version [of Long Island Songs] that Monica Harte sings is quite fresh. Her invocations of the rural eastern end of the island bring back fond memories for people who have spent summers enjoying the area’s unique nature...  George Brunner celebrates the smaller aspects of nature in his short but meaningful Three Japanese Songs... Anne Dinsmore Phillips has written both poetry and music for See the Lilies of the Field, In Remembrance of Me, and No Bird Soars Too High. Phillips also accompanies Monica Harte in her enthralling renditions of these songs with spiritual implications... 
Those thoughtful songs are followed by the pure fun that McCleer’s Three Light Pieces generate. Two of them deal with light or heat. The third speaks of the best in high-fat cuisine and is urged on by a chorus of made-up words. The final group is McCleer’s Longing, Eternal Bliss which also has a syllable-driven vocalise preceding two more serious songs...
Vocalist Monica Harte sings with exemplary diction and a secure dramatic line. The pianists are all excellent. I am particularly fascinated with Phillips’s playing... The record has clear and present sound that hides nothing in giving us the full content of the recital. The material is excellent and the singer communicates effectively. [Harte] gets her messages across to the listener."
Maria Nockin, Fanfare - March/April 2012
"Monica Harte brings her bright clarion voice to several short song cycles on this MSR disc. Tom Cipullo’s Long Island Songs maintain a solid harmonic palette by using plenty of textural changes that keep the collection sounding fresh. The serious “Invocation” is followed by a rigorous and busy “The Odor of Pear.” The third song, “The Nesconset of Crickets” is sparse and brief, leading seamlessly into the more traditionally narrative “The Crane at Gibb’s Pond.” Three Japanese Songs by George Brunner are wonderfully small gems of text setting and mood creation. The melodic line floats and twists in the air over extremely spartan piano touches. Most of the piano writing is monophonic, working in counterpoint with the featured melodic line. The longest of the three is still under two minutes long but each does such a fantastic job of capturing the poetry that I am never left wanting. Christian McLeer’s two collections are charming and lyrical. Harmonies can be very straightforward or a bit more intriguing and he carefully balances the textures of his accompaniment to not interfere with the vocal line. The four songs by Anne Dinsmore Phillips are much more conservative in taste. The voice sings a melody, the piano accompanies with traditional harmonies."
Jay Batzner, Sequenza21 - October 2011
"Monica Harte... has a good feeling for these works, and seems to understand the inherent context of each song, and shows excellent dramatic instincts according to the particular textual situation... Collectors of American songs will need to have this, and the sound is very well recorded."
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition - July 2011
The Long Island Songs were composed in 1992 and premiered in December of that year by acclaimed tenor Paul Sperry with me at the piano. The bittersweet poems, drawn from William Heyen’s book Long Island Light, brought back memories of my own youth on that island, a place far different than the traffic jams and strip malls of today would lead you to believe existed. The Long Island Songs underwent extensive revisions in 2005.
- Tom Cipullo
Three Japanese Songs is a cycle that was inspired by the poetry of Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. The poems, translated by Jane Hirschfield and Mariko Arantanspoke, are perfect and delicate works of art that seem to embody the very essence of nature.
- George Brunner
It is a delight to be invited into the classical world with this recording. The song “See the Lilies of the Field” is from Brush Arbor Revival. In the show, a young girl sings it on the morning of her wedding. “In Remembrance of Me” is from my show, A Spark of Faith and is often used as a communion hymn. “Why Faith Abides” is a setting of a poem by Phoebe Newman, herself from Ketchikan, Alaska where I conduct a twoweek vocal workshop every year. Phoebe’s words capture the rainy beauty of Alaska’s Inside Passage. “No Bird Soars Too High When He Soars With His Own Wings” is a William Blake quote I first encountered some years ago when a friend gave me a keychain with these words on it. It became the first line of the song.
- Anne Dinsmore Phillips
The cycle Three Light Pieces is a set of silly songs written as a tongue-in-cheek response to a commission. In need of a short set for a concert in Manhattan, and determined to include my music, Monica left the message “Can’t you just write three light pieces?” Of course I obliged, writing the first song about a firefly for right hand only; the second song about a bundle of wood for left hand only; and the last song, my homage to Southern cooking, for both hands. Longing Eternal Bliss was written for Monica Harte in 2001. It has been performed throughout the United States and was premiered in Europe in 2005. The cycle follows the emotional state of a romantic individual in the middle of a painful break-up. The opening vocalise portrays the heartbreak that leaves the person wordless. Fighting for words in “Lvieaeohn” (sung into the piano to use the natural reverberation of the piano’s soundboard) we hear, “love me as I love you or leave me alone” with the spelling in the music left unclear denoting the uncertainty of the individual. “Would” is the plea to reunite, ending softly as though it is obvious there is no hope for a reunion. “Comes and Goes” represents the new beginning. The devotion has shifted and freedom is embraced.
- Christian McLeer
George Brunner is an American composer of international acclaim. Among his residencies are Institut International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges, Electronic Music Studios of Stockholm and Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey. He has received commissions from the Royal Irish Academy, Morris Lang, Remarkable Theatre Brigade and the Relâche Ensemble, among others. Mr. Brunner is founder and director of Electronic Music New York and the International Electro-Acoustic Music Festival of Brooklyn College, which was founded in 1987.
Tom Cipullo, composer and pianist, has had works performed at major concert halls on four continents. He has received commissions from the Mirror Visions Ensemble, the Joy in Singing, Sequitur, Cantori New York, Paul Sperry and the New York Festival of Song, to name a few. The New York Times has called his music “intriguing and unconventional,” and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has called him “an expert in writing for the voice.” Mr. Cipullo’s works are published by Oxford University Press and distributed by Classical Vocal Reprints.
Monica Harte, soprano, has sung recitals of classical and contemporary art songs throughout North America and Europe. She is a featured soloist on the CDs McLeer’s Requiem, Landscape with Figures and Songs from Another Place [MSR MS1297]. Ms. Harte has performed numerous coloratura roles in the standard and contemporary operatic repertoire and is co-founder of Remarkable Theater Brigade. 
Noby Ishida, pianist and conductor, is artistic director of Satori Opera. He has served on the faculties of Bennington College, University of Miami, Temple University, CUNY and The New School. As accompanist, Mr. Ishida has performed in numerous concert venues in New York City, including Merkin Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Bechstein Center, Steinway Hall and Alice Tully Hall.
Christian McLeer, composer and pianist, received his first commission at age 14 for the American Cancer Society. By the age of 25, he had won numerous piano competitions, performed his works at Carnegie, Steinway and Merkin Concert Halls, received more than 20 commissions, had works recorded by numerous labels and co-founded his own professional opera company, Remarkable Theater Brigade. His three children’s operas are performed nationwide, while his serious works have been performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe.
Anne Dinsmore Phillips is a singer, pianist, composer and arranger who has been active in almost every area of the music industry. As a singer, her album Born to be Blue has become a classic and as a composer, her jazz opera Bending Towards the Light…A Jazz Nativity is a “new New York tradition” (New York Magazine), has been played at Avery Fisher Hall, The Lambs Theater, The Stephen Wise Synagogue, Birdland Jazz Club and most recently at B B King’s.
The Odor of Pear
The Nesconset Crickets
The Crane at Gibb’s Pond
No Color
Anne Dinsmore PHILLIPS
Christian MCLEER
Comes and Goes

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