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Symphonies, Soundings & Celebrations

Barbara Harbach

DAVID ANGUS, conductor

World Premiere Recordings



“[ * * * * ] All these works are noteworthy, and well played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of David Angus. I like Harbach’s musical style and inventiveness. She has a sound all her own, she’s not doing a reduction of Copland or Ives... Recording-wise, this stereo disc sounds just fine. It’s very natural, separations are sharp, but not overblown. Strings are very smooth. A high resolution option would be nice, but the CD sounds excellent. The sound is well-captured.”
Mel Martin, Audiophile Audition [December 2015]
“The four symphonic works on Barbara Harbach’s new disc are decidedly cinematic… all are programmatic and unabashedly approachable... The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Angus delivers compelling and cogent performances... Harbach’s symphonic music as represented here is listenable, skillfully composed, well orchestrated, well performed, and beautifully recorded. The program notes are useful and the CD cover striking. Those who are usually not fans of contemporary classical music will probably be enchanted.”
Elizabeth Vercoe, IAWM Journal [2015, Vol.21 No.1]
“...the performances are first-rate throughout… the skill with which Harbach handles the large-scale works here is attractive in many ways... Harbach uses an orchestra with skill and creates more-accessible pieces than many contemporary composers produce.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [September 2014]
NIGHT SOUNDINGS FOR ORCHESTRA, commissioned by and dedicated to Thomas F. George, begins with Cloak of Darkness, the hour of the wolf, between night and light, just before the dawn awakens. It is believed to be the time when demons have intensified power, when our nightmares are the most real, and when the sleepless are haunted by their deepest fears. The only reality is unreality, and the terrified beating of our own heart. Beginning with chromatic whirlwinds of sound, evocative melodies emerge until the brass, with their rising themes, end the nightmare with a brief phrase of Dies Irae, our Day of Wrath. Notturno opens with luminous and eerie night sounds, twitters and chirps from the dark of night portrayed by the woodwinds over open fifths in the strings. Wisps of sounds and melodies portray the dry whisper of leaves, the rustle of night creatures, and the heaviness of a hot, languid night. Long melodies in the winds are reminiscent of John Field’s haunting nocturnes. Melodies float above the gentle rising movement of the strings. As more instruments enter the melodic fabric, the texture becomes more dissonant as the instruments intertwine and then wander away in the darkness. Serenity and quietness return to the landscape until all is silent as the dawn approaches. Midnight Tango is an exploration into the dance that originated in the 1890s in the Rio de la Plata in South America, with influences from both the European and African cultures. The dance quickly spread around the world. At this midnight hour, two lovers slowly approach, drawn to music that only they can hear – the midnight tango. They begin to
dance in the style of open embrace, softly, slowly and seductively. As the music sinuously builds in volume and energy, more instruments embrace the themes, enticing the lovers to dance in close embrace before driving to the ecstatic, frenetic ending.

The GATEWAY FESTIVAL SYMPHONY, commissioned by the Gateway Festival Orchestra for their 50th Jubilee Anniversary in 2013, is written for and dedicated to Dr. James Richards and the Gateway Festival Orchestra. It was premiered on July 7, 2013. Confluencity depicts the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers with the ebb and flow of two rivers playing and colliding, producing turbulence in early spring with melting snows and winds that whip the waters into a dangerous, dramatic frenzy. Other themes portray the waters as calm, with sparkling serenity. The themes interact, alternate and fuse before coming to the affirmation that the rivers will always be a life source. Sunset: St. Louis is inspired by the St. Louisan Sara Teasdale and her poem, Sunset: Saint Louis. The themes reflect the structure and majesty of the city’s natural and historic monuments coupled with the city’s myriad cultural influences. The movement begins with the slow languidness of the hot St. Louis summers. A slow tango intertwines with a rippling water theme. After Forever begins with a dramatic trumpet call-to-arms, reminding us of the struggle that Dred and Harriet Scott waged to win their independence; the struggle that helped catapult the United States into the Civil War. Of all the states, Missouri ranks third in recorded battles and engagements, not taking into account unrecorded guerilla warfare, which defined so much of the state’s involvement. The movement reflects the pivotal role Missouri played in the Civil War, and the lasting, enduring strength of its people.

A STATE DIVIDED – A MISSOURI SYMPHONY was commissioned by the department of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. It was premiered on October 23, 2012, at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. The Missouri Symphony contributes to the historiography of Missouri through music, and was inspired by the State’s entrance into the Civil War in 1862. The impetus for the Symphony was the 150th anniversary of the event in 2012. The composition is a continuation of Barbara Harbach’s music based on St. Louis and Missouri landmarks. Each of the three movements represents a major chapter in the history of Missouri’s involvement in the Civil War
Missouri Compromise – a slave state (1820) Missouri was initially settled by slave-holding Southerners coming up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Missouri entered the Union in 1821 as a slave state following the Missouri Compromise of 1820 in which it was agreed that no state north of Missouri’s southern border with Arkansas could enter the Union as a slave state. Maine entered the
Union as a free state in the compromise to balance Missouri. After a rising melodic introduction, a newly composed folk tune begins expanding. It is the same melody but with different harmonies each time highlighting the ambivalence of Missouri whether a free state or slave state. After a return of the introductory material, another newly composed folk tune emerges, flowing through many instruments with rhythmic activity in the high strings. Moments of unrest occur accompanied with a
melancholy sadness that a state divided brings grief and sorrow to both sides. Skirmish at Island Mound – African-American Regiment (October 27-29, 1862) The Skirmish at Island Mound occurred in Bates County, Missouri. This Union victory was notable as the first known engagement of an African-American regiment during the Civil War. Rising motives with increasing tension accelerates the ominous preparation for the fugal battle in the woodwinds and trumpet. A new spiritual, “When I Cross That River,” infiltrates the fugal melody, and the new melody is reminiscent of happier times in the past. The ominous opening material returns interrupting the heartfelt spiritual, and comes back at the conclusion of the battle as the troops celebrate their victory. The Battle of Westport – the battle that saved Missouri (October 23, 1864) The Battle of Westport was one of the Civil War’s largest battles west of the Mississippi, and was fought in October 1864 with some 30,000 soldiers participating. The Union victory dashed Confederate hopes of occupying Missouri, and the battle has been called “The Gettysburg of the West.” The Battle of Westport begins with a subdued trumpet call to arms. The battle begins with all instruments participating while a newly composed “Mourning Glory” supports the troops in battle.

JUBILEE SYMPHONY was commissioned by the University of Missouri–St. Louis for their 50th Jubilee Anniversary, 1963-2013. The symphony was premiered on October 9, 2013. The first movement, Bellerive, takes its name from the historical Bellerive Country Club, which became the location for the University of Missouri. The first building on the campus was the club house. The excitement of creating this new educational institution is portrayed by rhythmic energy and long soaring and sustained melodies. A fugue evolves from these opening materials to become a conversation among the many partners that were needed to realize this dream. The euphoria that resulted from this realization is based on a lively jig, before the rhythmic energy and melodies return.
Mirth Day Fiesta is unique to the university – a day of celebration, showcasing many cultures and ethnicities. The day dawns quietly, slowly building to a Mexican Cinco de Mayo party with a flavor of Mariachi music. Dance-like rhythms and playful flourishes by the winds exhaust the revelers, returning to the quietness of the opening, but the seductive rhythms and melodies draw the dancers into merriment once again. The mascot of the University of Missouri-St. Louis is the mythological Greek god Triton, the messenger of the sea. Like his father, Poseidon, Triton carried a trident. Tritons Ascending returns to the sea, beginning dark and mysterious like the deep recesses of the ocean. Slowly rising, swelling and ebbing, the melodies lead to the fugal section in the strings with countermelodies in the winds, all contributing to the surging and fast moving motion in the strings. The musical mood becomes noble and stately, with the low brass bringing Triton to the surface of the waters for the 50th Jubilee Anniversary celebration.

Barbara Harbach has a large catalog of compositions, including symphonies, opera, musicals, film scores, modern ballets, choral anthems and works for organ, harpsichord, piano, chamber ensemble, string orchestra and numerous brass and organ arrangements of Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of eighteenthcentury
keyboard composers, as well as historical and contemporary women composers. Her work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Agape Music and Vivace Press. In June, 2009, her musical Booth! was premiered in New York City, where it also won a competition at the Tisch School of the Arts. O Pioneers! – an American Opera was premiered in October 2009 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Harbach has toured extensively as both a concert organist and harpsichordist. Her lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers, and the body of work written for and dedicated to her is substantial. She was host of the weekly television music series Palouse Performance, seen throughout the Inland Northwest. Barbara Harbach initiated Women in the Arts-St. Louis, a celebration of the achievements of women creators. In recognition of her efforts in this regard, she was the recipient in 2006 of the Arts  Education Award from the Missouri Arts Council, Missouri Citizen for the Arts Award, Yellow Rose Award from the Zonta International Club, UM-St. Louis College of Fine Arts and Communication Faculty Excellence Award and in 2007 the Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award. In May 2011, she received the Grand Center Award for “successful working artist,” and in December 2011 the YWCA Leaders of Distinction Award in the Arts. Currently professor of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Barbara Harbach holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (BA), Yale University (MMA), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt and the Eastman School of Music (DMA). In 2002, she received an honorary doctorate in music, honoris causa, from Wilmington College in Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher. In 2014, Harbach was named a University of Missouri Curators’ Professor of Music and she was also initiated as a National Arts Associate Distinguished Member of Sigma Alpha Iota by the Buffalo, New York, Chapter. []

Born in England, David Angus spent his early years in Belfast. He was a boy chorister at King’s
College, Cambridge, under Sir David Willcocks, and read music at Surrey University where he specialized as a pianist. He finished his training with a Fellowship in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he won several prizes for his opera conducting.
In the United States Angus has appeared with the Utah Symphony and San Antonio Symphony, in Canada with the Calgary Philharmonic, and in the United Kingdom with most of their major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, Hallé Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Northern Sinfonia. He appears regularly with the London Philharmonic and London Mozart Players, both in concert and in the studio, and also conducts across Europe, particularly in Scandinavia where he is a regular guest with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and several Danish orchestras. Angus is Music Director of Boston Lyric Opera and Honorary Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Flanders, following several successful years there as Principal Conductor. He is heard frequently on BBC Radio 3 and on stations in Austria, Ireland, Holland, Denmark, Italy and Belgium.

I. Cloak of Darkness
II. Notturno
III. Midnight Tango

I. Confluencity
II. Sunset: St. Louis
III. After Forever

I. Missouri Compromise – a slave state
II. Skirmish at Island Mound – African-American regiment
III. The Battle of Westport – the battle that saved Missouri

I. Bellerive
II. Mirth Day Fiesta
III. Tritons Ascending

MSR Classics
The Sound The Stars Make LONDON …

Expressions for Orchestra LONDON …

Symphonic Storytelling LONDON …

Portraits in Sound LONDON …