My friends Cantala, led by Maestro Phillip Swan, will give the world premiere of Seikilos at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music on May 20. I have been fortunate to hear two of my previous compositions performed by Cantala (Quivi é la rosa and O Shining Light), and with this commission I wanted to capture their bright, shining energy musically. I chose for this setting the ancient Greek text of the Epitaph of Seikilos, which memorializes life’s impermanence and extols living to the fullest while life endures. The choir sings in the original ancient Greek, beautiful and harsh: For as long as you live, shine; do not be distressed in any way; life exists for a short while, and Time demands its due.
You can hear the premiere on the conservatory webcast live at 8:00 p.m. CDT on May 20 and streaming thereafter.
My Scottish friends Canty have released their stunning performance of O Shining Light on the CD Carmina Celtica. The CD features a collection of world premiere recordings of medieval and contemporary works that The Guardian calls "ethereally beautiful." The ensemble also sings new compositions by James MacMillan, John Tavener and Ivan Moody. International Record Review calls O Shining Light "extraordinarily beautiful" and Classic FM Magazine says it "seems to flash sparks."
You can find the CD on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de and amazon.fr or download it from Linn Records (just named Gramophone's Label of the Year 2010) or iTunes. I've posted a brief preview for you to listen to as the Clip of the Day.
The José Limón Dance Company performed Into My Heart's House by choreographer Clay Taliaferro at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing in December. Clay was commissioned to create the dance for the José Limón Centennial Commission and used recorded excerpts from Ka, an early work that I composed for myself in which I sing overtones and extended vocal techniques, and countertenor David James' glorious solo from Il nome del bel fior. The company also performed the dance throughout their weeklong season at New York's Joyce Theater in December 2008 as well as in Los Angeles, Minnesota, Florida and Massachusetts.
Conductor Jörg Genslein and Dresdner Kammerchor gave a series of Advent concerts at Dresden's ev. Kirche Großschirma and Dresden Schloßkapelle in early December in which they performed the four "Maria" movements of Il nome del bel fior under the title "Marien-Litaneien." The choir also sang Bach's "Schwingt freudig euch empor" BWV 36 and "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" BWV 62, accompanied by the Dresdner Barockorchester.
Lawrence University Conservatory of Music's Cantala, under the leadership of conductor Phillip Swan, will give the American premiere of O Shining Light on February 26, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The work was commissioned and given its world premiere in 2009 by the Scottish ensemble Canty. O Shining Light was composed to celebrate the memory of my dear friend, the composer Jennifer Fitzgerald.
The entire concert can be heard live on the conservatory webcast and will be available as streaming audio for a limited time thereafter.
Scottish ensemble Canty commissioned O Shining Light, a new composition for four women's voices. They gave the work its premiere on October 15 at St. Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen and will release it on the Linn Records label in mid-2010. The CD will feature both medieval and contemporary works, including pieces written for the group by John Tavener and James MacMillan. I'm happy to work with my Scottish friends again; in 1995 Cappella Nova (Canty's parent group) and the Scottish Arts Council commissioned Earlier Heaven, a large SSAATTBB work that features texts from the St. Andrews Music Book.
Mike Truesdell played Floating & Grooving on the opening concert of the 2009 Zeltsman Marimba Festival in July. The work was commissioned and premiered by festival director Nancy Zeltsman in 2005, and it was an extra special event to hear MT play it at the Festival again. The piece was inspired by Dutch techno music that I discovered while living in Holland, so Mike decided to amplify the marimba to amp up the bass and give it a superinstrument sound! It was a once-in-a-lifetime festival, with premiere performances of all the Zeltsman Commissions by ZMF's faculty.
Sometime last year, somewhere in Germany (possibly in Regensburg, but I'm not exactly sure...) Il nome del bel fior had its 100th performance. Singer Pur and the Hilliard Ensemble have performed the work in Europe, Asia and the United States since 1998, when they united to perform as The Hilliard Ensemble Meets Singer Pur, a singing supergroup to end all singing supergroups. The work has seven movements for different combinations of the ten singers, so the HE and SP have been performing individual movements in their own programs and the grand full version in their joint concerts. Westminster Choir College's Fuma Sacra gave the full version its American premiere in 2005, and excerpts have been performed by the Dresdner Kammerchor and Cantala as well.