Music of Gardner Read

Gardner Read

Epistle to the Corinthians, Op. 144

Cornell Chorale,

Thomas Sokol, conductor

The Hidden Lute, Op. 132

Helen Pridmore, soprano

Jennie Oh, alto flute

Kathryn Rees, harp

Brian Bennett, percussion

By-Low, My Babe, Op. 138

Sanford Dole Ensemble

Sanford Dole, conductor

Concerto for Piano

& Orchestra, Op. 130

Randall Hodgkinson, piano

Eastman Phiharmonia

David Effron, conductor

Gardner Read

Born in Evanston, Illinois in 1913, Gardner Read has enjoyed a prolific and varied career as composer, conductor, teacher, and author. As a high school student majoring in music he studied piano and organ privately and took lessons in composition at Northwestern University's School of Music. During the summers of 1932 and 1933 he studied composition and conducting at the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan, where in 1940 he taught composition and orchestration. In the fall of 1932 Gardner Read was awarded a four-year scholarship to the Eastman School of Music, where his principal teachers were Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson.

In 1938, on a Cromwell Traveling Fellowship to Europe, he studied with Ildebrando Pizzetti in Rome and briefly with Jan Sibelius in Finland just prior to the outbreak of war in 1939. A 1941 fellowship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood enabled him to study with Aaron Copland. From 1941 to 1948 Read headed the composition departments of the St. Louis Institute of Music, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1948 he was appointed composer-in-residence and professor of composition at the School of Music, Boston University, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1978. He has taught at the Limberlost Music Camp in Indiana, and in 1966 was a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Read has held resident fellowships at both the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and the Huntington Hartford Foundation in California. In 1964 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Doane College. His activities as a conductor include two seasons with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra as principal conductor, and appearances with the major symphony orchestras of Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, leading his own works.

His major awards include first prize in the 1937 New York Philharmonic Symphony Society's American Composers Contest for his Symphony No. 1, Op. 30, and premiered by the orchestra under the baton of Sir John Barbirolli; first prize in the 1943 Paderewski Fund Competition for his Symphony No. 2, Op. 45, given its first performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer; the Eastman School of Music Alumni Achievement Award in 1982, and first prize in the 1986 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Competition for his Nocturnal Visions, Op. 145, for baritone and piano.

Epistle to the Corinthians (Corinthians I); Letters of Paul

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Composed between January 6 and March 4, 1985, the first performance took place on May 10, 1987, in Sage Chapel Cornell University, by the Cornell Chorale, brass choir, and organ, conducted by Thomas A. Sokol. The score is published by Media Press of Champaign, Illinois.

The Hidden Lute, Op. 132 (Poems of Po Chü-i, 8th Century A.D.)

I. The Island of Pines

Across the willow-lake a temple shines,

Pale, through the lotus-girdled isle of pines,

And twilight listens to the drip of oars

The coming of dark boats with scented


Of orange seed; the mist leans from the hill,

While palm leaves sway 'twixt wind and

water chill,

And waves of smoke like phantoms rise and


Into a trembling tangle of green jade.

I dream strange dreams within my tower


Dreams from the glimmering realms of even


Until each princely guest doth raise

His eyes, upon the full-oxbed moon to gaze

The old moon-palace that in ocean stands

Mid clouds of thistle-down and jewelled


II. Sleeplessness

I cannot rest when the cool is gone from


But haunt the dim verandah till the moon

Fades from the dawn's pursuit.

The stirrup-fires beneath the terrace flare;

Over the star-domed court a low, sad air

Roams from a hidden lute.

This endless heat doth urge me to extremes;

Yet cool of autumn waits till the wild goose


In the track of whirling skies.

My hand is laid upon the cup once more,

And of the red-gold vintage I implore

The sleep the night denies.

III. The Ancient Wind

The peach blooms open on the eastern wall

I breathe their fragrance, laughing in the


Of golden noontide. Suddenly there comes

The revelation of the ancient wind,

Flooding my soul with glory; till I feel

One with the brightness of the first far


One with the many-coloured spring; and all

The secrets of the scented hearts of flowers

Are whispered through me; till I cry aloud:

"Alas! how grey and scentless is the bloom

Of mortal life!": This this alone I fear,

That from yon twinkling mirror of delight

The unreal flowers may fade; that with the


Of the fiery flying Dragon they will fall

Petal by petal, slowly, yet too soon,

Into the world's green sepulchre. Alas!

My little friends, my lovers, we must part.

And, like some uncompanioned pine that


last of the legions on the southern slopes,

I too shall stand alone, and hungry winds

Shall gnaw the lute-strings of my desolate


— trans. L. Crammer-Byng

The Hidden Lute, Op. 132 was composed in 1979 especially for Joan Heller and members of Collage. The first performance took place on April 23, 1985, in an Omnibus concert at Boston University's School of Music, performed by Joan Heller and conducted by Charles Fussell. I had long wanted to write a work for this fine artist and the chance discovery of these three lyrics by one of ancient China's greatest poets provided both the opportunity and the inspiration for composing my song cycle.

The choice of alto flute, harp, and percussion seemed particularly apt to mirror both the general character and specific imagery of these evocative poems by Po Chü-I. In addition to utilizing a normal playing technique the alto flutist varies the tone production by alternations of senza vibrato (quasi "white noise") and an exaggerated vibrato producing microtonal inflections.

To create a lute-like effect, the harpist plays at times high on the strings near the tuning pins, as well as playing with the fingernails. Both instruments frequently utilize delicate, percussive effects such as key clicks on the alto flute and finger tappings on the sounding board of the harp. To preserve the generally restrained character of the three poems, the percussionist is limited to six instruments: three pitched (glockenspiel, vibraphone and crotales), and three unpitched (suspended cymbal, tam-tam and bamboo wind-chimes).

By-Low, My Babe, Op. 138 (1979)

By-low, my babe, Lie still and sleep;

It grieves me sore to see thee weep,

If thou wert quiet I would be glad,

Thy mourning makes my sorrow sad.

By-low, my boy, thy mother's joy,

Thy father breeds me great annoy.

By-low, lie low

When he began to court my love,

And me with sugar'd words to move,

His feigning false and flattering cheer

To me that time did not appear,

But now I see most cruelly

He cares not for my babe and me.

By-low, lie low

Lie still my darling, and sleep awhile,

And when thou wakest thou wilt sweetly smile,

But smile not as thy father did,

As thy father did to cozen maids, God forbid.

But yet I fear thou wilt grow near

Thy father's heart and face to bear.

By-low, lie low

I cannot choose but ever will,

Be loving to thy father still.

Wher'er he stay, wher'er he ride

My love with him doth abide.

In weal or woe wher'er he go

My heart shall not forsake him;

So by-low, lie low, my babe.

The text of By-Low, My Babe is by an anonymous early Anglo-Saxon poet. The musical setting was done between December 26, 1978, and June 22, 1979. The work was first performed on June 25, 1994, in Berkeley, California, and repeated on June 27 in San Francisco, by the Sanford Dole Ensemble under Mr. Dole's direction. A melancholy lullaby, its harmonic texture is frequently bitonal, the choral parts alternating with quiet commentary from the flute and English horn. The ending is subdued and resigned.

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 130 (1973-1978)

Composed over a four-year span, from 1973 to 1978, my concerto waited nineteen years for its premiere, which took place on January 31, 1996, in the Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York. It is scored for a fairly modest-sized orchestra consisting of pairs of woodwinds, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, timpani, percussion and strings. The music is largely polyharmonic and bitonal in texture, and is rhythmically very complex. In all the movements, excepting the second, quiet meditative passages in either the piano or the orchestra abruptly alternate with highly dramatic outbursts from the opposing instrumental entity.

The first movement is a free A-B-A form, the piano and the orchestra frequently exchanging their thematic and accompanimental patterns. A headlong scherzo constitutes the second movement, the piano and the orchestra constantly tossing thematic fragments from one to the other. The third movement is slow and introspective in nature, the solo piano frequently backed up by divided and muted strings. A rhythmically propulsive toccata, with the piano alternating a series of minor triads between the two hands, the fourth movement brings the concerto to a vehement conclusion.

Gardner Read

The Cornell Chorale has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, and New Haven Symphony, and has given first performances of works by Byron Adams, David Conte, Julius Eastman, Karel Husa, and Ann Silsbee. The organist in Gardner Read's Epistle to the Corinthians was William Cowdery.

Thomas A. Sokol, conductor of the Cornell Chorale, is Professor Emeritus at Cornell University. Before coming to Cornell in 1957, Professor Sokol was Assistant Conductor of the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society, and was Director of the Dessoff Choirs in New York City and the Buffalo Schola Cantorum. He has received grants from the Ford Foundation, Weyman Fund, and the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Conducting Award from the National Orchestral Association.

Helen Pridmore, soprano, is a native of Canada, where she received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music. She has performed throughout Canada as soloist and ensemble singer, and has been heard on CBC Radio. She recently completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music.

Jennie Oh, alto flute, is currently studying with flutist Bonita Boyd, as a doctoral candidate in performance at the Eastman School. Her Bachelor's degree was obtained at Northwestern University, where she studied with Chicago Symphony members Walfrid Kujala and Richard Graef. She received her Master's degree and Performer's Certificate Award from Eastman.

Kathryn Rees, harp, has recently completed her studies for a Master of Music degree at the Eastman School, as a student of Kathleen Bride. She obtained an Upper Class degree from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and has been heard on the BBC and BBC Wales, and has played solo and chamber recitals throughout Great Britain and Europe.

Brian Bennett, percussion, is a student of John Beck at the Eastman School, where he is working towards a Master of Music degree in Performance and Literature. He received his Bachelor's degree from Kent State University, where he was a student of Michael Burritt.

The Sanford Dole Ensemble, founded in 1991, was created to present new and rarely performed choral/instrumental chamber music. Based in San Francisco, the group has become a vital force in the Bay Area choral music scene, presenting twentieth century a cappella masterworks and new works scored for chamber chorus and small instrumental ensemble. This live recording of By-Low, My Babe is the world premiere performance, presented by the Sanford Dole Ensemble in 1994. The recording engineer was Don Ososke, using two microphones placed side-by-side, just behind and nine feet above the conductor.

Sanford Dole, composer, conductor, and tenor, was a founding member of Chanticleer, and sings with the new music a cappella quintet, Modus Novus. He is Assistant Director of the Grammy Award-winning San Francisco Symphony Chorus, and Music Director at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. In addition to working on projects with the Sanford Dole Ensemble, he finds time to compose, having written much choral music, as well as chamber works, orchestral pieces, and currently, is working on his first opera.

Carol Addee holds an MM from the Yale School of Music. She works with many orchestras and new music groups, from the Women's Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony and Opera to the Alternate Currents Performance Ensemble. Her solo recording Bach to Nature will be released on Well Tempered Productions.

Kathleen Conner has performed with many Bay Area musical organizations, including the Monterey, Santa Rosa, Napa, and Berkeley Symphonies as well as Pocket Opera. She coaches woodwind ensembles at B. Franklin Liddle School, and is an artist-in-residence at the School of the Arts. She is on the faculty at both Capp St. and Richmond branches of the Community Music Center in San Francisco.

Michael Rado is the principal harpist for the San Francisco Opera Center and Western Opera Orchestras, the Sacramento Opera Orchestra, the Santa Rosa Symphony, and the Anchorage Opera Orchestra. He has also played with the Sacramento Symphony and Ballet, San Francisco Opera and Ballet as well as the Joffrey, ABT, Bolshoi, and La Scala Ballet Orchestras. Managed by Columbia Artists from 1983 to 1991, Michael toured the United States and Canada as part of a harp duo with the late John Escosa.

Pianist Randall Hodgkinson studied with Russell Sherman, Rudolph Serkin, and Veronica Jochum, and has received Bachelor's and Master's degrees, as well as the Artist's Diploma (in 1982) from the New England Conservatory, where he is currently on the faculty. In 1976 he won the J.S. Bach International Competition Prize, followed by the International American Music Competition first prize in 1981. He gave his first Tully Hall recital in 1986, and has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Oakland Symphony. In addition to performing at such chamber music festivals as Seattle, Santa Fe, Blue Hill, and Music Mountain, Hodgkinson has performed in recital at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall, and on numerous university series. For the last two years Hodgkinson has appeared in Bargemusic performances at Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn. Currently a resident of Boston, he is a frequent performer of both solo and chamber works in Jordan Hall, and throughout New England. With his wife, pianist Leslie Amper, he performs two-piano and four-hand literature. A champion of American music, he has toured Eastern Europe with the Boston Musica Viva, and has recordings currently available on the Northeastern and GM labels.

As a member of the faculty at the Eastman School of Music and professor of conducting since 1977, as well as principal conductor of the Eastman Philharmonia, David Effron was previously associated with the opera companies of Central City, Cologne (Germany), New York City, and San Francisco. He has frequently appeared as guest conductor with the orchestras of Denver, Buffalo, Chautauqua, and Pittsburgh, among others. He was recently appointed director of the annual Brevard Music Festival in Spartanburg, North Carolina.

The Hidden Lute and Concerto for Piano and Orchestra were recorded in the Kresge Recording Studios of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music under the supervision of David Peelle, Director of Recording Arts and Services. Epistle to the Corinthians was recorded May 10, 1987 (premiere performance). By-Low, My Babe was recorded June 27, 1994(premiere performance). Recording engineers: John Ebert (The Hidden Lute); Justin Volpe (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra). Pre-mastering for the CD by Dusman Audio, Rochester, New York.

The Music of Gardner Read

Epistle to the Corinthians, Op. 144 (1985) (11:57)

Cornell Chorale, Brass Choir, and Organ · Thomas Sokol, conductor

The Hidden Lute, Op. 132 (1978)

The Island of Pines (5:27)

Sleeplessness (3:35)

The Ancient Wind (7:27)

Helen Pridmore, soprano ·Jennie Oh, alto flute · Kathryn Rees, harp ·Brian Bennett, percussion

By-Low, My Babe, Op. 138 (1979) (7:46)

Sanford Dole Ensemble · Carol Adee, flute

Kathleen Conner, English horn ·Michael Rado, harp · Sanford Dole, conductor

Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 130 (1973-78)

Broadly; with restless motion (10:46)

Fast and grotesquely (3:29)

Slowly and freely (13:50)

Broadly, intensely; Fast and nervously (6:09)

Randall Hodgkinson, piano ·Eastman Philharmonia ·David Effron, conductor

Total Time = 70:50