Chamber Works With Guitar

My original idea to record guitar quintets by Boccherini and Giuliani changed abruptly after meeting Andrew York at a Los Angeles Guitar Quartet concert. York's infectious compositional style appealed to me and I found myself working new music into what had been a 19th century program. When I approached Andrew about writing for my recording he enthusiastically accepted. This changed everything for me; if Andrew York was interested, then why not other composers as well? Before I knew it, five composers - some of them old friends, some of them new friends - were writing music for a now rethought ensemble of guitar, flute and cello.

Several times during this project when the inevitable problems arose, I felt that even if everything were to fall through I was still infinitely richer for the experience. To work so closely with these fine composers was a rare opportunity. And working with such incredible musicians and good friends as Jan Vinci and Ann Alton was a great pleasure. But the greatest reward is the privilege of premiering this music.

Joel Brown

Notes for the works on this compact disc were provided by the composers.

Vivian Fine Canzones y Dances (b. 1913)

Vivian Fine was born in Chicago. She studied there with Ruth Crawford-Seeger and Adolf Weidig. She moved to New York City at age eighteen, where she studied with Roger Sessions. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation. Among her commissions: the Koussevitsky Foundation, the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, the San Francisco Symphony, the Mirecourt Trio and many individual performers. She has also been active as pianist and teacher, having taught at New York University, the Juilliard School and Bennington College. Ms. Fine was elected a member of the American Academy and Institute in 1980.

Canciones y Danzas (Songs and Dances) draws on a variety of Spanish sources. I. Adios, Bilbadito (Farewell to Bilbao) has its origins in the Spanish Civil War of the 30's, when Bilbao fell to the reactionary forces of General Franco. 2. Oda a las Ranas (Ode to Frogs) is based on a poem by Pablo Neruda. …”The frogs' serenade/ rises into my dream and excites it/ rises like a twisting vine/ to the balconies of my childhood/ to my cousin's breasts….” (translation by Elsa Neuberger). 3. The Frog-Prince (of fairy-tale fame) and the Señorita speak with the voices of the guitar and flute while dancing a tango. 4. Soliloquio is dedicated to the memory of my long-time colleague, Louis Calabro. 5. Jiga de la Muerte (Death's Jig) reflects the direct confrontation with the power of death expressed in Spanish music.

Loris O. Chobanian Images (b. 1933)

Loris O. Chobanian is Professor of Composition and Guitar as well as Composer in Residence at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Highly versatile as a composer, he is at home with both complex contemporary textures and colorful orchestration. Winner of many ASCAP awards and grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Cleveland Arts Council, he has had commissions from the Cleveland Ballet, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. He was the recipient of the 1981 Cleveland Arts Prize.

Images—A Picturesque Suite for Flute and guitar was commissioned by guitarist Joel Brown and premiered with flutist Jan Vinci on their 1991-92 concert tour. The four movements were chosen for their contrasting characters and represent the composer's childhood reminiscences of programmatic images.

  1. The Sorcerer is inspired by an elaborately robed and turbaned fortune teller the composer witnessed years ago in the Middle East. 2. Twilight describes the calm and serene feeling one encounters watching a clear morning sky—the earliest glimmer of light. 3. Barcarolle marked doleful, depicts the sad song of a Venetian gondolier. 4. The Shepherd—On a hilltop, and East European shepherd plays his pastoral tune.

Anthony G. Holland Three Poems Without Words (b. 1955)

Anthony G. Holland began composing at age 10, winning an award for his first orchestral composition at age 17. He attended the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music in Berea, Ohio, where he received a B.M. in music composition in 1978 (working with Loris Chobanian) and The Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992. He completed two Master of Music degrees (composition, theory) and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1982. Since 1982 he has held the position of Professor of Music at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he conducts the Skidmore College Chorus and Orchestra. Director of the DREAMS (Digital Research in Electro-Acoustic Music) facility at Skidmore, Holland has spearheaded efforts to produce some of the first interactive computer tutorials for musicians utilizing the unique abilities of the NeXT computer. He has been an invited performer for the International Computer Music Conference for his work with digital synthesis and “extended” vocal techniques. His compositions have won various awards and grants including several Meet The Composer Grants. His works are published by Southern Music Publications and Zalo.

Written for flute, guitar and cello, this work was commissioned by Joel Brown for this recording. Composed in three movements, Three Poems makes virtuoso demands upon the performers. I had two goals in mind for the outer movements: 1) write some fast music that was fun and exciting to listen to and 2) write some music that would challenge Jan Vinci's technical abilities (which seem virtually unlimited!). In the second movement, I wanted to feature Joel's beautiful tone and sensitive lyrical playing with music that is more romantic in nature with “singing guitar chords.” I hope that the listener enjoys this music, finds the outer movements exciting, perhaps even dramatic, and finds solace, warmth and a kind of melancholy peace in the inner movement's simplicity and consonance.

Carver Blanchard LamentFrolic (b. 1943)

Carver Blanchard is a lutenist-guitarist from New Orleans, Louisiana who now lives in New York City. His works for guitar are performed internationally, and his album Lute Unleashed was recently released by Albany Records. Mr. Blanchard teaches guitar and lute at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Lament and Frolic is a dance piece in two movements. The first is a rhapsodic line over a harmonic grid, the second a polyrhythmic romp.

Andrew York Transilience (b. 1958)

“A truly gifted guitarist who plays with amazing ease and maturity… his playing always impresses… in his original works the real magic is found…” say critics of guitarist and composer Andrew York. Andrew performs his guitar compositions in solo concerts throughout the United States and Europe. His is also a member of the internationally recognized Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, whose 1991 tour schedule included performances in nine countries.

Mr. York's compositions and arrangements for guitar have gained him wide recognition among both musicians and audiences - besides his own performances of his works, classical guitarist John Williams has made York's compositions a consistent part of his world-wide concert programming, and recorded Lullaby and Sunburst on his CBS Records release Spirit of the Guitar, Music of the Americas. American guitarists Christopher Parkening and David Brandon feature York's Evening Dance on their Angel/EMI recording Virtuoso Duets, and Scott Tennant's debut recording on GHA Records includes two of York's compositions.

Mr. York's own discography includes his solo album Perfect Sky on Artifex Records, Ecstasy, an album of guitar duos on New World Records, and inclusion on the Windham Hill Records Guitar Sampler and Rhino Records' Legends of the Guitar. Mr. York's compositions appear in print from Guitar Solo Publications in San Francisco, Ricordi in London and Verlag Nogatz in Düsseldorf.

Mr. York was born in Atlanta, Georgia and grew up in Virginia. He received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 1980 at James Madison University, and completed his Master of Music Degree in Studio Guitar at the University of Southern California in 1986.

Transilient (L. Transillens, trans, across, + salire, to leap.) Leaping or passing from one thing or state to another.

Transilience is a three movement work for guitar, flute and cello, written in London during the summer of 1991. The title refers to the frequent shifting of pulse duration and meter, particularly in the first and third movements. The pulse varies between quarter, dotted quarter, and dotted eighth notes in value—there is also a perceptual choice between two pulse values in certain sections.

Joel Brown

Joel Brown is a versatile guitarist who performs regularly as a soloist and ensemble member. He has appeared as concerto soloist with the Hartford Symphony and played lute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He performed with the New York City Opera Company and played banjo in the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood.

With Crofut & Brubeck, Brown appeared on NBC's Today and CNN's Show Biz Today. He joined the duo for the compact disc Unsquare Dance and the recently released Red, White & Blues. Brown is also a member of the Crofut Consort, whose compact discs Lullabies & Dances and Bartok & Kodaly on Albany Records received critical acclaim.

Mr. Brown graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, and completed graduate studies at Ithaca College.

Joel Brown is on the music faculty at Schenectady County Community College, and is Artist-in-Residence at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Jan Vinci

Jan Vinci, a native of Maryville, Tennessee, is the 1987 First Prize winner of England's International Performance Competition. Ms. Vinci has performed at the Blossom Festival, the Electric Music Festival in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, and the International Computer Music Conference in The Hague, The Netherlands. The flutist has performed in Carnegie Hall with her Prism Flute and String Trio and as a recitalist and orchestral soloist in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. The Vinci/Dolan flute and guitar duo toured New York State with the support of the New York State Arts Council. Her flute and harp duo, Iridescence, has toured extensively, including a performance at the Toledo Museum of Art. Currently, besides performing with Mr. Brown and Ms. Alton, Ms. Vinci is a founding member of the two flutes and piano trio, Harkness, Vinci, and Lund Trio.

As a teacher, Ms. Vinci is Artist-in Residence at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She has conducted master classes at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and at the University of West Florida for the Northwest Florida Flute Club.

Ms. Vinci received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Juilliard School, as well as degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Bowling Green State University. Her principal teachers include Julius Baker, Samuel Baron, Maurice Sharp, Judith Bentley, and Martha Aarons.

Ann Alton

Ann Alton received her B.M. and M.M. degrees on scholarship from the Juilliard School, and a D.M.A. from the Manhattan School of Music. Her solo and chamber music concerts in the U.S. and Europe include performances at Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, and Salle Cortot, and she has been featured on American and German public television. She has performed as soloist with orchestras on both coasts and the upper Midwest, and has won awards from the National Music Teachers Association, the Koussevitsky Foundation, the Woolley Foundation, the National Arts Club, and the National Federation of Music Clubs. She is currently on the faculties of Skidmore College, the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division, and SUNY at Purchase. Ms. Alton is principal cellist with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta and the Valcour Chamber Players.

Thanks to Skidmore College for its generous support for this recording.

Very special thanks to Bill and Susie Crofut whose love of music and art, and whose incredibly generous spirit made these compositions and recording possible. This gift was made in memory of Porter McKeever.

Produced by Joanna Nickrenz & Marc Aubort. Engineering by Elite Recordings, Inc.

Recorded at Rutgers Church, New York City, January 20-23, 1992.

Cover art Tranquil Departure by Peter Stake, Associate Professor of Art, Skidmore College.


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