Nancy Galbraith: Atacama

This program of five recent works by Nancy Galbraith vividly displays the composer's rich musical language and fertile imagination. Variously energetic, ethereal, passionate, mysterious, sacred and sensual, her music is always thoroughly unpredictable and profoundly fulfilling. The works are rendered with warmth and mastery by this diverse group of uniquely talented performers, many of them friends and colleagues of the composer.

Atacama Sonata,for flute and piano, was composed for Chilean artists Alberto Almarza and Luz Manriquez, who played its premiere in April 2001 at The Juilliard School. The sonata in three movements - Capricho, Nocturno, Volante - evokes intriguing visions of varicolored desert moods, and is named after Chile's Atacama Desert. The lively, jazzy outer movements frame the quiescent nocturne, to which Almarza and Manriquez added the dedication “in memory of the missing” to honor the victims of political violence who disappeared in the desert in the latter part of the 20th century.

Inquiet Spirits, Galbraith's second string quartet, was conceived for Mexico's Cuarteto Latinoamericano, who gave its premiere in September 2000. This intense and spirited one-movement work, with its tender middle section, provides an excellent vehicle for the Cuarteto's virtuosity and passionate temperament. A fast-moving festival of leaps and squeals and “Bartok pizz's,” fugal dances and prancing pizzicatos, the work also features a treasure of heart-wrenching solos expressed in turns by each instrument.

Wind Symphony No. 1 reveals three lush and haunting musical landscapes - Allegro, Andante, Vivace. This unique aural display of ominous fantasy was commissioned and premiered in April 1997 by the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band in Wisconsin for a benefit concert that celebrated the 20th anniversary of The Women's Center of Waukesha. The composer celebrates all the timbres and voices of the complex colorful machinery of the contemporary American wind orchestra, weaving a spell of sound through a pulsing framework of gently persistent heartbeats.

Piano Sonata No. 1 begins with an animated Fugue, an internal dialog of urgent questions and ardent replies. The nearly motionless Religioso lingers in still, prayerful meditation, slowly arcs to an anguished `miserere', then comes to rest in an emotionally drained, yet peaceful surrender to the faint steady flame of faith. Allegro begins and ends in jubilant song and dance surrounding a serene, dreamy landscape. The sonata was premiered in December 1998 by Jocelyn Chapman, and recorded for this album by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra pianist Patricia Prattis Jennings, one of the city's most cherished performers.

Dos Danzas Latinas, a woodwind octet in two movements, was commissioned by Mexico's Sinfonietta Ventus as part of a series of grants awarded to eleven composers. The concept for these commissions fell loosely into the category of “a Sunday afternoon in the park” where symphonic bands or marimba bands might be found playing arrangements of a variety of classical and popular dance forms. The composers were encouraged to suggest the flavor and rhythms of these dances in a freer style, rather than adhere strictly to form. Galbraith has cast her inimitable spell on two traditional dances, Habanera and Samba, creating an elegantly seductive concert work that was premiered in February 2002 at the Centro National de las Artes in Mexico City.

NANCY GALBRAITH has emerged as one of the present era's most original and influential musical voices. Her distinctive American style employs an exotic array of postmodern and postminimalist elements including lyricism, polyrhythm and diatonic harmony. Her work has been praised for its energetic combination of melody and rhythm, and its bright orchestral palette.

When the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra recorded her Piano Concerto No. 1 (New Energy From the Americas, Ocean Records, 1996) with conductor Keith Lockhart (Boston Pops, Utah Symphony) and pianist Ralph Zitterbart, the Cincinnati Inquirer offered this response: “A formidable work for piano in three movements, this is an equally virtuoso piece for orchestra, and a welcome addition to the concerto literature of this century.” On another recent recording, Nancy Galbraith: Four Chamber Works (ÉLAN, 1999), the composer's Rhythms and Ritualsinspired Chamber Music Magazine to write, “An example of the kind of piece that should be the `sound of classical music' on today's radio stations.”

Galbraith has enjoyed numerous performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, including premieres with conductors Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Mariss Jansons. In 2002 the PSO premiered her new symphony, De profundis ad lucem. Following the orchestra's premiere of Danza de los Duendes in 1995, the Pittsburgh Press wrote, “Galbraith has penned a score of bright allure, its minimalistic touches deftly applied and its energetic personality balanced by lyrical finesse.” She has also enjoyed two premieres by Argentina's Orquesta Sinfónica de Tucumán, and repeat performances of her symphonies in the US and Mexico.

In 1999 The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh commissioned and premiered Galbraith's epic and magnificent Missa Mysteriorum under the direction of Grammy-Award-winning conductor Robert Page. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described her Mass as “both spiritual and radiant, with an immediacy that can't be ignored.” In 2002 the Mendelssohn recorded a repeat performance of the Mass for their new disk on the Carnegie Mellon Record Label. The Mass has also enjoyed recent performances by The University of Chicago Chorus & Motet Choir, the Gettysburg Seminary Motet Choir & Schola Cantorum, and the Masterworks Chorale of Thief River Falls, Minnesota.

Her chamber works have been performed and recorded by three prominent ensembles from Mexico City - Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Sinfonietta Ventus, and Trío Neos - by various members of the Pittsburgh Symphony, and by Chili's outstanding duo Alberto Almarza (flute) and Luz Manriquez (piano). Nancy Galbraith: Four Chamber Works features compositions from the 1990's including Aeolian Muses, which also appears on Trío Neos' album Mujeres de las Américas (Quindecim, 2000).

Galbraith is also currently recognized as a leader in the field of wind ensemble writing. Her compositions for this genre have become standard repertoire for ensembles throughout North America, appear on many recordings, and have enjoyed performances in Japan and the Netherlands. Danza de los Duendes opens the program on the North Texas Wind Symphony's popular album Dream Catchers (Klavier, 1998), and Elfin Thunderbolt is featured on the new IUP Wind Ensemble disk Internal Combustion (Klavier, 2001). Concerto for Piano and Wind Ensemble (2001) is her latest contribution to the repertoire.

An accomplished pianist and organist, Galbraith has composed a number of works for those instruments. Her Piano Sonata No. 1has been performed by many artists, including Pittsburgh Symphony pianist Patricia Prattis Jennings. Galbraith serves as Music Director at Christ Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, and has composed dozens of choral anthems and liturgical settings for her choir. She enjoys a special relationship with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the community group Music Gettysburg!, who regularly commission and perform her music in concerts and worship services. Recently the seminary established a special library archive for the composer that will eventually house all her sacred works.

Nancy Galbraith was born on January 27, 1951, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was educated at Ohio University, West Virginia University, and Carnegie Mellon University, where she presently serves as Professor of Composition and Theory. Most of her work is published by Subito Music in Verona, New Jersey.

[For more information about the composer visit].


Alberto Almarza (flute), described as `a virtuoso flutist' by the Boston Globe, brings a unique and passionate approach to music. His versatility and musicianship have led him to perform and record some of the most adventurous and challenging pieces from the music of today, as well as works from the standard repertoire, and Baroque literature on period instruments.

A native of Chile, Almarza previously held the position of Principal Flute of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago. He later came to the United States to study with Jeanne Baxtresser in New York and Julius Baker at Carnegie Mellon University where he earned his Master's degree. He currently serves on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon as Artist Lecturer in Flute.

His skills as a pedagogue, lecturer and recitalist have led to invitations from international festivals in the USA, Mexico, Germany, Chile, Argentina and Peru. He is a resident artist and member of the faculty at The Jeanne Baxtresser International Master Class at The Juilliard School, and he was invited to give a recital, lecture and master class at the National Flute Association Convention in Dallas in 2001.

Almarza has recently appeared as soloist with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Memphis Symphony, BachFest Chamber Orchestra, and the Symphonic Orchestra of Chile, and has collaborated with such artists as Julius Baker, Andrés Cárdenes, Lionel Party and Cuarteto Latinoamericano. As a leading proponent of new music for the flute, Almarza has been instrumental in expanding the repertoire with numerous commissions and premieres of works by composers from around the world. He can be heard on recordings by New Albion, ÉLAN, Albany Records, and Centaur.

Luz Manriquez (piano), one of Chile's most distinguished musicians, has appeared as soloist and recitalist throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe. She was born in Santiago where she studied with Elena Weiss at the Escuela Moderna de Música. Upon graduation, she continued advanced studies under Edith Fisher in Switzerland and Maria Iris Radrigan at the Universidad Católica de Chile. Following the completion of her Master's Degree at Carnegie Mellon University, Manriquez was appointed to the faculty as Artist Lecturer in Piano and Chamber Music.

Her artistry, combined with an innate musical sensitivity to others, has placed Manriquez in great demand as a chamber musician and accompanist. She has been a featured soloist with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano and Renaissance City Winds, and performs frequently with principals of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She is a regular guest on the Shadyside Concert Series in Pittsburgh, and performs frequently in Chile's most prominent venues.

Manriquez is equally successful as a recording artist. She appears as supporting pianist in It's Peaceful Here on Arabesque Records, and in Made in the USA on Ocean Records, both featuring Pittsburgh Symphony Concert Master Andres Cardenes. In 1999 she appeared in a trio with Pittsburgh Symphony Principal Oboe Cynthia DeAlmeida and Principal Bassoon Nancy Goeres on the ÉLAN recording, Nancy Galbraith: Four Chamber Works. She has also collaborated on recordings of works by contemporary composers Reza Vali, David Stock, and Efrain Amaya.

Cuarteto Latinoamericano (string quartet),described as a “first rate ensemble of passionate temperament” by the San Francisco Chronicle, has distinguished itself with performances on radio, television and concerts on three continents.

Comprised of three brothers, violinists Saúl and Arón and cellist Alvaro Bitrán, with violist Javier Montiel, the group was formed in Mexico in 1981, and two years later was awarded the prize of the Music Critics Association in Mexico. Highlights of the quartet's recent seasons include performances in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Miami, Boston, Pittsburgh, Mexico City, Madrid, Milan, and London. Cuarteto Latinoamericano was described by The Times of London as “playing of a richness, a unanimity and an instinct that surely places it in the first division of string quartets.”

Despite a busy concert and recording schedule, the quartet is credited with having taught an entire generation of Mexican string players, and presently holds two residences: at the Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City, and at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, where they have been engaged as Quartet-in-Residence since 1987. Additionally, the quartet regularly teaches seminars at conservatories and universities in the USA and Latin America.

Cuarteto Latinoamericano has recorded the most important string quartet literature by Latin American composers for the New Albion, Dorian, and ÉLAN labels. Their first recording for ÉLAN was selected as a Critic's Choice for 1989 by the New York Times, and was highly praised by Music and Musicians, American Record Guide, HPR, Schwann, and Fanfare magazines, and by Le Monde de la Musique.

Patricia Prattis Jennings (piano) has been with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra since 1964, performing at the piano, organ, harpsichord and celesta. She holds the Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin F. Jones Principal Keyboard Chair. Her solo performances with the orchestra have won critical praise from many publications including the London Daily Telegraph and the San Antonio Express News. In 1999 Jennings was named Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in piano performance, she was a student of Harry Franklin. She also studied with Sidney Foster at Indiana University (Bloomington), Natalie Hinderas, Americo Caramuta, and Sheila Paige.

Jennings debuted with the PSO at age fourteen, performing Mozart's Coronation Concerto under the direction of William Steinberg. Since then she has soloed many times with the PSO, and with the Baltimore, Houston, San Antonio and Pacific Symphony orchestras. In 1987 she was the featured soloist for the PSO's Far East tour, playing Gershwin's Concerto in F conducted by Lorin Maazel. That collaboration was repeated the same year at the Edinburgh Festival. Jennings is one of the duo-pianists on the highly acclaimed PSO recording of Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals.

She performed four-hand Mozart sonatas with former PSO Music Director André Previn on the Emmy-nominated PBS television series Previn and the Pittsburgh, and appeared again on a later show teaming with Previn to perform Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos. In 1977 Jennings performed Gershwin`s Rhapsody in Blue at Avery Fisher Hall with Benny Goodman and a jazz band conducted by Morton Gould.

Much of Jennings' time is devoted to chamber music and recital performance. She has participated in the Marlboro Festival, appeared on numerous recital series, and in 1988 was voted Best Classical Instrumental Performer by In Pittsburgh magazine.

Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble, and conductor Denis Colwell, drew national attention and recognition in 1995 with the release of its album, Carnegie Mellon Composers, which featured works by Nancy Galbraith, Nikolai Lopatnikoff, Leonardo Balada, and Eduardo Alonso-Crespo. American Record Guide proclaimed, “This is one of the best band recordings in recent years. It is my favorite kind of disk: thrilling cutting-edge works performed by an excellent ensemble. It says volumes about Carnegie Mellon University's Music Department, and director Denis Colwell deserves praise for a well-executed project.” The ensemble is comprised of a choice assembly of outstanding student musicians recruited from around the globe.

Denis Colwell is a member of the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is Director of the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble. He served as Assistant Head of the School of Music from 1988 to 1995.

Colwell is also Conductor and Music Director of Pittsburgh's popular River City Brass Band. He joined the ensemble in 1982 as a cornetist, and was subsequently promoted to Assistant Principal Solo Cornet. In 1991 he was appointed Music Director. Colwell directs the band on four of their recordings: Christmas! (with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh), Big Band Brass, Heartland, and All American.

A Pittsburgh native, Colwell studied trumpet as an undergraduate and graduate student with CMU's renowned professor Anthony Pasquarelli. Colwell was a founder of the Carnegie Mellon Youth Brass Band and the River City Youth Brass Band, and has served as conductor of both ensembles.

Sinfonietta Ventus (wind octet),praised for its virtuoso performances and sterling ensemble playing, has carved a niche as one of Mexico's premiere chamber ensembles.

What began in 1994 as a group of colleagues from Mexico City's four main orchestras, who gathered to play eighteenth and nineteenth-century Harmoniemusik, became a true ensemble in 1996. In that year, the group won a grant from the Mexico-USA Fund for Culture, sponsored by Bancomer and the Rockefeller Foundation, to commission new works from Mexican composers Mario Lavista, Eugenio Toussaint, and Samuel Zyman.

Sinfonietta Ventus now performs frequently in Mexico and abroad, appearing regularly in seasons at the Carlos Chávez Hall, the Simón Bolívar Amphitheater, the Blas Galindo Hall at the National Arts Center, and at the Winter Festival in San Miguel de Allende, and the Zacatecas Cultural Festival. Their 1997 American tour included concerts in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New York's Carnegie Hall. They have played under distinguished conductors Guido Maria Guida, George Mester, and Carlos Miguel Prieto. In 2001 Sinfonietta Ventus appeared with pianist Jorge Federico Osorio in the Great Performers series at the Nezahualcóyotl Hall in Mexico City for the hall's 25th anniversary celebrations. In 2002, the group's tour to Rome, Turino, and Milan featured new compositions funded by a grant from Mexico's National Fund for Culture and the Arts.

The ensemble's first recording, Música Para Divertirse, was released by Urtext Digital Classics in 1999, thanks also to a grant from Mexico's National Fund for Culture and the Arts. The disk features premiere recordings of works by Eugène Bozza, Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc, as well as the commissioned works of Lavista, Toussaint, and Zyman. In 2001 the ensemble performed with Maestro Guido Maria Guida in a concert recorded live for its new Urtext disk, Sinfonietta Ventus en Vivo.


Project Producer: Matthew Galbraith

Recording Producers: Nancy Galbraith - all tracks except Dos Danzas Latinas; Eugenio Toussaint - Dos Danzas Latinas;

Recording Engineers: Riccardo Schulz - Inquiet Spirits, Wind Symphony No. 1, Piano Sonata No. 1; Chris Rice - Atacama Sonata; Juan Switalski - Dos Danzas Latinas

Editing: Matthew Galbraith - all tracks except Atacama Sonata; Chris Rice - Atacama Sonata

Mastering: Joe Lambert, Classic Sound Inc.

Recording Locations: Atacama Sonata - Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, PA - 12 Jul 2001; Inquiet Spirits - Carnegie Music Hall, Homestead, PA - 21 Sep 2001; Wind Symphony No. 1 - Carnegie Music Hall, Homestead, PA - 26 Apr 1997; Piano Sonata No. 1 - Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, PA - 3 Apr 2002; Dos Danzas Latinas - Sala Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico City, MX - 12 Feb 2002

Project Funding: Berkman Faculty Development Fund, Carnegie Mellon University; Office of the Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Carnegie Mellon University

Liner Notes: Matthew Galbraith

Cover Photo: David Ryan/DDB Stock Photography

Art Design: Bates Miyamoto Design

All works published by Subito Music Publishing

504 Bloomfield Avenue

Verona, NJ 07044; tel: 973-857-3440