IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:
Kurt Magnus Atterberg was born in Gothenburg on 12 December 1887. His father was Anders Johan Atterberg, an engineer and brother of the famous chemist Albert Atterberg. His mother, Elvira Uddman, was the daughter of a famous male opera singer. Though his name does not often appear in American concert programs, Kurt Atterberg was one of Sweden’s major living composers until his death in 1974 in Stockholm, aged 86. Probably no other Swedish composer of the twentieth century has been so extensively published, performed, and admired in his own country.
‘West Coast Pictures’ is the subtitle of the Symphony No. 3 (Västkustbilder) in D, Op. 10 dating from 1916 which last about 37 minutes. It is unequivocally the best of his nine symphonies, although the Symphony No. 4 in G minor Op 14 from 1918 (known as the ‘Piccolo’ for its brevity at 21 minutes) and his Symphony No. 8 are also deserved of being far more frequently played.
The Symphony No. 3 is a truly outstanding symphonic work. Highly demanding for the whole orchestra, it is in three movements:
I. Sonnenrauch (Sun Haze)
II. Sturm (Storm)
III. Sommernacht (Summer Night)
Perhaps, most extraordinarily, the work remains still in hand-written musical typeface from its publisher (making it substantively more difficult for the orchestra to read) indicative of the low demand for the work to be performed by orchestras around the world. Why this is so remains a mystery.
The work has been recorded three times, most recently by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under Neeme Järvi (2016). There is also an NDR recording by the NDR Radiophilharmonie from 2003 conducted by Ari Rasilainen with the earliest recording dating from 1982 by The Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Sixten Ehrling. Each of these recordings has substantial musical errors arising from errors in the orchestral parts that have never been corrected, and so an authorative recording of the work is yet to materialize.
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) is among the iconic and the legendary in American Film Music. With a career that spanned an unparalleled 5 decades, he composed more than 150 original movie scores and nearly 80 for television, creating some of the most recognizable and memorable themes in Hollywood history: the rousing Western anthem of The Magnificent Seven, the lyrical and quietly moving music of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the jaunty, thumb-nosing march of The Great Escape.
To Kill a Mockingbird is, indisputably, one of the finest American movies ever made. The familiar classic about racial prejudice, set in a small town in the depression-ridden South, won Oscars for Gregory Peck and screenwriter Horton Foote in 1962, and a nomination for Bernstein. His understated music, composed for a chamber-sized ensemble rather than the more traditional full orchestra, quickly became a new model for film composers.
Lisa Cheney is an Australian composer of acoustic and acousmatic music, living in Melbourne. Her music communicates through varied styles which often explore notions of connection and authenticity through fascinations with expression, poeticism, fragility, delicacy, resonant space, pacing, light and dark and atmospheric soundscapes. Her body of work incorporates orchestra, chamber, voice, acousmatic collaborations and works for theatre and ballet. Cheney is the recipient of several scholarships and awards and has had music performed by The Southern Cross Soloists, The Australian Voices, Plexus, Syzygy, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Ballet amongst others. She has also been a composition fellow at a number of international festivals including the Atlantic Music Festival, Brevard Music Centre, Yale Norfolk New Music Workshop. She is currently completing her PhD in Music at The University of Melbourne.
The Pool and the Star is inspired by a poem of the same name by the late Australian poet, Judith Wright. The composer writes, “I have often found Wright’s work a stimulus for creative expression, and on this occasion it was the vivid imagery and evocative language in ‘The Pool and the Star’ that invited my musical response.” The work loosely captures the narrative of the poem in which the pool, in love, each night awaits patiently for the rising of a star to bring to life the time and waters from which the pool gathers itself together. Venturing through and between two worlds, the music depicts earth and water on one hand, and on the other, sky and space. Accordingly, the piece is through-composed commencing with a portrayal of calm and tranquility and progressing through a series of changes of varying intensity, returning in the closing bars to music akin to the opening.
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was one of the most respected American classical composers of the twentieth century. By incorporating popular forms of American music such as jazz and folk into his compositions, he created pieces both exceptional and innovative.
During the early years Copland immersed himself in contemporary classical music and found, like many other young musicians, that he was attracted to the classical history and musicians of Europe. So, at the age of twenty, he left New York for the Summer School of Music for American Students at Fountainebleau, France. Upon returning to the USA, Copland understood that jazz was the first genuinely American major musical movement and, from it, he hoped to draw the inspiration for a new type of symphonic music – one that could distinguish itself from the music of Europe.
It was in 1935 with “El Salón México” that Copland began his most productive and popular years. The piece presented a new sound that had its roots in Mexican folk music. Copland believed that through this music, he could find his way to a more popular symphonic music. In his search for the widest audience, Copland began composing for the movies and ballet. Among his most popular compositions for film are those for “Of Mice and Men” (1939), “Our Town ” (1940), and “The Heiress” (1949) which won him an Academy Award for best score. He composed scores for a number of ballets, including two of the most popular of the time: “Agnes DeMille’s Rodeo” (1942) and Martha Graham‘s “Appalachian Spring” (1944) for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.
Paul Englishby (1970 – ) an award-winning British composer is prolific and versatile, producing critically acclaimed scores for Film, Theatre, TV, Dance and the Concert Hall. He is best known for his EMMY AWARD winning jazz inflected music to David Hare’s PAGE EIGHT, his beautiful orchestral score to the OSCAR Nominated AN EDUCATION, with screenplay by Nick Hornby and directed by LONE SHERFIG, and the thrillingly tense music for the BBC’s LUTHER series starring IDRIS ELBA, which earned him a BAFTA nomination, as well as his many scores for the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY with whom Paul is an Associate Artist. Theatre credits include West End and Broadway plays THE AUDIENCE, starring Helen Mirren, and SKYLIGHT, starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan. Paul is currently writing PINNOCHIO, a ballet for The National Ballet Of Canada. Other recent credits include the BBC’s THE MUSKETEERS, and the feature films A ROYAL NIGHT OUT, starring Rupert Everett, and The Proclaimer’s musical SUNSHINE ON LEITH.
Cecil Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960) is not one of the more widely performed and recorded English composers of the twentieth century, except for his songs which are highly regarded. Much of the rest of CAG’s vast output is unfairly neglected. He was both versatile and prolific, producing symphonies, concertos, opera, incidental music, cantatas, choral and sacred music, solo piano works, chamber music, and numerous songs and song collections.
By the time that CAG had come to compose his Symphony No. 3 ‘Westmorland’ he and his family were stricken by wartime tragedy. Their son, David, had been killed in action on 18 November 1943, and it is impossible not to hear and feel in this eloquent and moving work – perhaps the composer’s finest – that is long overdue for the recognition it deserves as an outstanding work of English symphonic music. The work has never previously been performed in Australia.
Ivor Gurney (1890-1937) is perhaps the most enigmatic poet and composer in Britain of the early 20th-Century. His prodigious compositional skill, even at an early age were well recognised. Charles Villiers Stanford told Herbert Howells that Gurney was potentially “the biggest of them all”, but he was “unteachable”. Gurney possessed a dynamic personality but had been troubled by mood swings that became apparent during his teenage years. He had a difficult time focusing on his work at college and suffered his first breakdown in 1913.
Although gassed in 1917, Gurney seemed to thrive after the war, when he was regarded as one of the most promising men of his generation, his mental distress continued to worsen. He studied for a brief time with Ralph Vaughan Williams upon returning to the Royal College of Music but he withdrew from the college before completing his studies. He continued to compose, producing a large number of songs, instrumental pieces, chamber music and two works for orchestra, War Elegy (1920) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1919–1921). His music was being performed and published. However by 1922, his condition had deteriorated to the point where his family had him declared insane.
A Gloucestershire Rhapsody is Gurney’s most important extant orchestral work. It finally received its first performance during the 2010 Three Choirs Festival, in Cheltenham Town Hall, given by the Philharmonia Orchestra. It is one of the most striking and evocative natural environment inspired musical works in the repertoire. It only became possible to create a performing edition due to the outstanding work of British composers, Philip Lancaster and Ian Venables. The ADO’s performance, an Australian premiere, is with the permission of The Ivor Gurney Society.
Susan Kander’s music has been heard across the United States and around the world. Her recent adaptation of the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, commissioned by Minnesota Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, premiered in 2012 in both cities to sold out houses and added performances; it received its third production in January 2015 at Tulsa Opera. Hermestänze (2013) for violin and piano, commissioned by Jacob Ashworth, artistic director of Cantata Profana, is, apparently, the first large-scale dramatic cycle written for the violin and will be the title work on an upcoming CD on MSR Classics in Fall 2016. Her operas and instrumental works have been performed on four continents so far, and she is excited to make her debut in Australia with Miranda’s Waltz, commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra. Her chamber music has been recorded on the MSR, Navonna and Loose Cans labels. She lives in New York. www.susankander.net
From the very beginning, my choice for Miranda’s Waltz was not to write an introduction to the instruments, or even the families, of the orchestra since we have several magnificent and enduring works that do that: Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, A Young Person’s Guide. I chose, rather, to explore the orchestra as a whole in all its thrilling and theatrical flexibility and color. Also, I wanted to present ‘The Orchestra’ the way I see it: as the greatest team sport I know of. “Who’s on first?” is small beans compared with “where’s that sound coming from?” and “will every single player play at the right time and not in the wrong place?” and “if the four French horn players don’t play as one person, will the Warm Safe Hiding Place music accidentally turn into Silly Popcorn music?” – something easily done if players don’t play as a team.
Additionally, I want to celebrate the specific sounds and styles that America has given to the world in the last century or so. My sources and inspirations range from Charles Ives to Duke Ellington to Loony Tunes to contemporary Big Band to John Adams to American musical theater: styles of music that children (and big people!) will hear throughout their lives and which are uniquely American contributions to world music. Lastly, I wanted Music – with a capital M – to be the point of the piece, not just its medium. Mary Hall Surface provided that exquisitely in her story. Miranda herself is the antithesis of that famous wolf-bagger Peter: she is small, doubtful, uninterested in the larger world when we meet her. She goes to her neighborhood park and meets something/someone that is even smaller than she is: a little brown mouse. Though this is not a talking mouse, and he has no name, he uses music to teach Miranda to open both her ears and her mind to the larger world around her. Because that’s what music does for me, every day.
Philip Lancaster is British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK, where he teaches poetry and is undertaking a major research project which will bring Ivor Gurney’s complete poetry to publication for the first time, in a 3 volume edition co-edited with Prof. Tim Kendall.
In 2006 Philip collated the first full catalogue of Gurney’s musical works, which has changed the perception of Gurney’s place as a composer. He has subsequently brought numerous works by Gurney out of the archive to performance, recording and broadcast; songs, choral and chamber works, and, with Ian Venables, the extant orchestral works. Philip’s orchestration of Gurney’s choral work The Trumpet has been released on CD by Naxos Records, and his recreation of the original scoring for winds and harp of the Five Elizabethan Songs was premiered in 2013. At present, alongside the work on the poetry edition, Philip is completing and orchestrating a major post-war cantata, Anthem of Earth, and is also writing a book on Gurney’s music and poetry.
Philip lectures widely on twentieth century British music and poetry, performs in recital and oratorio as a solo baritone, dabbles in the writing of poetry, and is starting to make his way as a composer. In July 2016 his major new chamber oratorio was premiered at the Three Choirs Festival: War Passion, a setting of the Passion with commentary taken from the poetry of the First World War.
The ADO is entirely indebted to Dr. Lancaster for his generous assistance.
Anthony Piccolo is Children’s Chorus Director of the Metropolitan Opera, where he teaches nearly 100 children, preparing them for their solo and chorus roles in as many as ten productions each season. www.anthonypiccolo.com
Born in New Jersey (USA) Anthony holds degrees from the Peabody Conservatory (now a division of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore), where his composition teacher was Earle Brown. He studied further at the Britten-Pears School at Snape, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and privately with the singing teacher Ina Partridge. He played auxiliary keyboard parts with the (Washington) National Symphony Orchestra under Antal Doráti. As a member of the Academy Chorus of St. Martin-in-the-Fields he toured Europe, played harpsichord continuo in Handel’s Messiah, and sang on the music track of the film Amadeus.
With fulfilled commissions from the Atlantic Three Choirs Festival, Bath Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, the Oakham School, the Harrow School, the Southampton Chamber Music Festival, the period instrument group “Parthenia” and the Fairfield Orchestra among many others, Anthony Piccolo enjoys a trans-Atlantic composing career and is thrilled to be played and heard now in Australia. In addition to live concert venues such as St. John’s Smith Square in London, and Weill Recital Hall and the Main Stage at Carnegie Hall, his works have been heard numerous times on BBC Radio and on N(ational)P(ublic)R(adio) in the states. An entire album of his symphonic and chamber music is released as “Imaginary Symphony and Other Tales” on Navona Records NV5904.
Described as …”Britain’s greatest living composer of art songs…” (Musical Opinion) and “…a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney…” (BBC Music Magazine), Ian Venables has written over 60 works in the genre of art-song as well as many fine chamber works. He studied music with Professor Richard Arnell at Trinity College of Music, London and later with Andrew Downes, John Mayer and John Joubert at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
Since 1986 he has lived in Worcester, and the surrounding landscape has often inspired his compositions. His continuing work on the music of Ivor Gurney has led to orchestrations of two of his songs (2003) – counterparts to the two that were orchestrated by Herbert Howells – and newly edited versions of Gurney’s War Elegy (1919) and A Gloucestershire Rhapsody (1921) with Dr Philip Lancaster. He is President of the Arthur Bliss Society, Chairman of the Ivor Gurney Society and Vice-President of the Gloucester Music Society. His music is published by Novello and Co (Music Sales) and has been recorded on the Regent, Somm, Signum and Naxos labels. www.ianvenables.com
The ADO is entirely indebted to Mr. Venables for his generous assistance.