Mock-up Disk Cover - not for publication
a lad's love
My first experience with Ivor Gurney’s Ludlow and Teme was for a degree recital at the University of Michigan, which also happened to be the first time Steve and I performed together. The piece has stuck with me, its textures and harmonies simultaneously unusual and familiar, complex and transparent. A fertile musical landscape in which to set Housman’s A Shropshire Lad. When a recording project was proposed, I felt strongly about creating my own recording of the piece. But what to program with it? It seemed natural to focus on settings by Housman, from the early twentieth century, by British composers. From this rich repertoire, we discovered John Ireland’s settings of Housman’s later poetry, including a solo piano “song” with a title taken from A Shropshire Lad, and Ian Venables’ recent setting of “Because I liked you better”. But a theme emerged that took us beyond Housman, and beyond Gurney’s experiences during the Great War, and allowed us to connect more deeply to these pieces. From Quilter’s pleading setting of Shelley to Britten’s settings of W.H. Auden which are bolder, more self-assured statements of desire, we found an array of songs that, to our minds, tell stories of repressed or unrequited love with such variety, and yet such consistent emotional intensity, that they fit together beautifully. All the works on this program are, therefore, unified by the depth of feeling expressed by the lover, not by the gender of the object of his affection, which is conspicuously not specified in any of the texts.
about the artists
Recognized as one of today’s leading collaborators, American pianist Steven McGhee has established himself as a fixture of the art scene of Detroit as the artistic director and principal conductor of the city’s renegade opera company, Opera MODO. Redefining what opera can be in the 21st century, Opera MODO is dedicated to creating opportunities for young and emerging artists by offering intimate, site-specific experiences to captivate audiences through storytelling, musical integrity and innovative process. Dr. McGhee earned his doctorate in collaborative piano under Martin Katz, and has taught at the University of Michigan, Long Island University, New York University, Madonna University and Wayne State University. He has been hailed by critics as “an omnipresent musical narrator,” appearing with some of America’s most noted interpreters of song at the Kennedy Center, the Yale Institute for British Art, the Casement Fund Song Series in New York, the Cleveland Art Song Festival, and the Britten-Pears Institute in Aldeburgh, England. Dr. McGhee is known for his innovative song recital programming, challenging societal and gender norms in opera, and fostering empathy and compassion as a collaborative artist.
Countertenor Reginald Mobley fully intended to speak his art through watercolors and oil pastels until circumstances demanded that his own voice should speak for itself. Since reducing his visual color palette to the black and white of a score, he’s endeavored to open up a wider spectrum onstage as a highly sought after interpreter of Baroque, Classical and Modern repertoire. Recent performances include his Paris recital debut at the Musée d'Orsay, Handel’s Messiah with The Handel & Haydn Society led by Masaaki Suzuki (with which he also had the honor of becoming the first Black person to lead H+H in 2015), and an extensive tour around Europe singing Bach’s Matthäus-Passion with the Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner (recorded for commercial release on Gardiner’s SDG label). Other recent performances include concerts of Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Handel’s Dixit Dominus with Balthasar-Neumann-Chor und Ensemble led by Thomas Hengelbrock, Purcell’s King Arthur with the Academy of Ancient Music in London, Mozart’s Requiem with Orkiestra Historyczna, and with the Freiburger Barockorchester under the leadership of Kristian Bezuidenhout.
A winner of Astral’s 2016 National Auditions, violinist Katie Hyun has appeared as a soloist with NOVUS Trinity Wall Street, the Houston Symphony, Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Busan Sinfonietta and Incheon Philharmonic in South Korea, among others. On Baroque violin, Katie frequently performs with Trinity Baroque Orchestra and Seraphic Fire. Her self-curated program, entitled “Two Minstrels”, incorporates both her modern and Baroque violins in recital. Katie has appeared in numerous festivals, most recently at the Birdfoot Festival (New Orleans), Tippet Rise Arts Center (Montana), Chamber Music Northwest (Portland), OBX Chamber Music Series in (North Carolina), and New York in Chuncheon (South Korea). She has also appeared at Bravo! Vail (CO), Mostly Mozart (NY), and the American Bach Soloists Academy (CA). Katie is the founder and director of Quodlibet Ensemble, a small chamber orchestra that debuted to great acclaim in 2008. The Ensemble released its debut album of Corelli Concerti Grossi in the spring of 2014.
Ben Russell is a violinist, violist, vocalist and composer who has played all over the world with all sorts of people. In 2005 Ben won the Principal 2nd Violin chair of Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine which he held for 8 years. He is a member of American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) and co-creator of the songwriting collective Founders. Ben has recorded a solo album of original music for violin and voice, performed on albums by Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, The National, and Max Richter, and has shared the stage with Jóhann Jóhannsson, Björk, Jonny Greenwood and Paul McCartney. He has also performed with several ensembles including International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Talea, A Far Cry, Wordless Music Orchestra and Mark Morris Dance Group. After releasing his self titled solo album of original music for violin and voice in 2012, he co-created Founders which combines classical and folk music with original compositions and pop arrangements.
With playing that is “fierce and lyrical” and works that are “other-worldly” (Strad Magazine) and “evocative” (The New York Times), Jessica Meyer is a versatile composer and violist whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility, generosity, and emotional clarity. Jessica has premiered pieces for solo viola internationally – expanding the repertoire for viola by championing new works while also composing her own. Since embarking on her composition career only five years ago, premieres have included performances by the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, PUBLIQuartet, NOVUS NY, the Nu Deco Ensemble in Miami, a work for A Far Cry commissioned by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Juilliard School for a project with the Historical Performance Program, the Composer in Residence at Spoleto USA in 2020, and a work for the Lorelei Ensemble that received the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America.
Hailed by the press for his “bold, rich sound” (Strad Magazine) and “nuanced musicianship,” (The New York Times), Israeli cellist Michael Katz has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across North America, Europe, and Asia. His musicianship has been recognized with many awards, among them all three prizes at the 2011 Aviv Competition, and first prizes at the Juilliard School’s 2010 Concerto Competition and the 2005 Turjeman Competition. As the cellist of the Lysander Piano Trio, Mr. Katz was a winner of the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Competition, and was awarded first prizes at the 2011 Coleman competition and 2011 J.C. Arriaga competition. He has performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Anthony Marwood, Donald Weilerstein, Peter Frankl, Roger Tapping and Charles Neidich. His festival appearances include Ravinia, Music@Menlo, Mostly Mozart, Malaga Classica, Luzern, and Yellow Barn.
Recorded June 27-29, 2019, Drew University Concert Hall, Madison, New Jersey
Recording engineer, editor: Jeremy Kinney
Mixing and Mastering: Adam Abeshouse
Musical advisors: Andrew Fuchs, Charity Wicks DePinto
Special thanks to Ellis Hilton, Manager of Drew University Concert Hall
Photography: J. Demetrie Photography (Brian Giebler); Matt Madison-Clark (Steven McGhee)
Booklet design: Stephanie Grube
Copyright © 2020 The copyright in this sound recording is owned by Brian Giebler
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This project has been fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit public charity. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
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A project of this magnitude requires a significant amount of money. There are 7 world-class musicians, plus a producer and recording engineer, committing their time and talents to record these works. This project cannot happen without your support.
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I owe my sincere gratitude to the numerous generous supporters who have already contributed to the production of this album, including:
My true love Jordan Peterson, Gary and Barb Giebler, Adam and Stephanie Grube, Ginna Peterson, Dale and Debbie Peterson, Jack and Carole Giebler, Nancy Varnum - In loving memory of Ron Varnum, Kallie Ferguson, The Ivor Gurney Society, Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, True Concord Artists, Jeanne and Rick Farleigh, Jean and Jim Rautio, Peter Lee, Daniel Cohen, Robert Berg - In Memory of Diane Berg, Sarah Berg, Herbert and Paula Molner, Craig Scott Symons, James Wilson, Dail and David Richie, Naomi Cohen, Sarah Bedal, Jeannie Bourget, Michael Reynolds, Kurt Ollmann, Nathan Young, Rich and Rebecca Barkley, George and Nancy Cockerill, Mary RuDell Kylander, Sherry Root and Roger Craig, Katie Conwell, Paul Adkins, Jan Opalach, Kolene Bailey, Dorothy Falk, Naki Sung Kripfgans, Eric Holtan, Melissa Baker, Betty and Kevin Casey, Dolores Cenci, William Nemir, Sherezade Panthaki, Luthien Brackett, Terry Claus, Amy Justman, Brandon Ulrich, Steven Hrycelak, Jason Pesick, Gregory Sikora, Heather Yanke.