Cleveland Chamber Symphony

Edwin London, Conductor

The New American Scene

Edwin London

una novella della sera primavera

Harry Sargous, oboe

John Eaton

Songs of Desperation & Comfort

Nelda Nelson, mezzo-soprano

Howie Smith

Songs for the Children

Howie Smith, wind controller

Ronald Perera

Music for Flute & Orchestra

William Wittig, flute

Ronald Perera

Ronald Perera (born Boston, December 25, 1941) is Elsie Irwin Sweeney Professor of Music at Smith College. His compositions include operas, song cycles, chamber, choral, and orchestral music, and several works for instruments or voices with electroacoustic sounds. He has received awards and fellowships from Harvard University, the Paderewski Fund, the Goethe Institute, the Artists Foundation of Massachusetts, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP. His teachers have included Leon Kirchner, Randall Thompson, Gottfried Michael Koenig, and Mario Davidovsky. His music is published by the E.C. Schirmer Music Company, Boosey and Hawkes, and Music Associates of New York, and is recorded on the CRI, Albany, SCI, and Opus One labels.

Music for Flute and Orchestra

Music for Flute and Orchestra was written for flutist William Wittig in 1990. The plan of the piece is quite transparent. The music which begins and ends the movement, marked "very rhythmic; dancing" in the score, presents a shifting array of sharply etched melodic motives in rapidly changing meters. This edgy, jazzy music encloses a central core of calmer music, roughly twice as slow (or half as fast), which enlarges upon the same melodic ideas.

William Wittig, professor of music at Smith College, is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he studied flute with Robert Willoughby and received both Bachelors and Masters degrees in music. Later he studied with Lucien Lavaillotte in Paris on a Fulbright Grant and with Kate Lukas in London. A former member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, he has been principal flute of the Springfield (Massachusetts) Symphony since 1970. He has appeared frequently as a soloist and most recently toured England and France with the London Chamber Players. As author and producer he has written numerous programs for television, including "The Orchestra Talking" and the series "Music and Me" which won the ACE Award in the category of educational programs for children.

Howie Smith

A virtuoso saxophonist, composer and jazz musician, Howie Smith does not easily fit into a single category. As a performer he has worked with musicians and composers as diverse as Louis Bellson, Aretha Franklin, Abraham Laboriel, Mike Nock, Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughn, Luciano Berio and John Cage. His recorded performances are equally diverse: from big bands to small jazz groups to saxophone concertos by Edward Miller and Salvatore Martirano (the latter recorded with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony).

His catalog of compositions is extensive. He has created works for conventional big bands and combos; for string, wind and percussion ensembles; for electronics; and for mixed media. He has been coordinator of jazz studies at Cleveland State University since 1979 and has twice served as co-chair of both the jazz fellowships and the music overview panels for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Song for the Children

The dedication on the original score reads: "It is a song for the children of Argentina, El Salvador, Lebanon, Nicaragua, South Africa, and so many other places where they seem to have been forgotten." At the time of this recording only the names of the principal offenders have changed.

Written in 1986, the work is scored for alto saxophone and WX7 MIDI Wind Controller, strings, 2 DX synthesizers and a pipe organ.

Edwin London

Edwin London, music director of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, has served living music throughout his distinguished career. He has formed two highly acclaimed ensembles: Ineluctable Modality, a new music choral ensemble, in 1968, and the award-winning Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 1980. He has earned the Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center, the ASCAP-John S. Edwards Award and the Laurel Leaf Award from the American Composers Alliance.

Born in Philadelphia in 1929, London began his career as a horn player in both symphony orchestras and the Oscar Pettiford Jazz Band. After graduation from the Oberlin Conservatory, he received a doctorate from the University of Iowa. Subsequent teachers have included Luigi Dallapiccola, Darius Milhaud and Gunther Schuller. He taught at Smith College, the University of Illinois and the University of California at San Diego before becoming a professor at Cleveland State University in 1978.

una novella della sera primavera

The Italian title of this one-movement work translates as "A novel of the Spring evening." The solo oboe is the central character in the "novel." In a further whimsical program note the composer suggests that his "music novel" might be construed as "the make-believe quintessence of oboe (a rebel dude) coming forward from ashes (a rubble deed!) to meet the challenge offered by anthropomorphic dialectics: vicissitudes in search of a character. A double read? Why not."

He cautions that the oboe-character is no specific person ("not George Washington, Orestes, Juliet Capulet, not Eugene Onegin nor James Joyce"), and that he as composer has seen to it that "nothing, once suggested, can remain the same." The varied episodes of the "novel" are articulated by shifting tempos, and the composer acknowledges the "out-of-this-world virtuosity" of soloist Harry Sargous suggested certain technical avenues of display to the composer, which he converted into "expressive opportunities."

The piece is "respectfully and affectionately dedicated to Louise Ingalls Brown for the inspiration and support she has offered for these many years."

Harry Sargous, oboe soloist, is a Cleveland native, a product of early studies at the Cleveland Music School Settlement and a Yale graduate. His principal teachers were Robert Bloom, John Mack, Marc Lifschey, Phillip Kirchner and Stephen Matyi. While a student at the Blossom Festival School, he also coached with Pierre Boulez, William Steinberg and Robert Marcellus. He was principal oboe of the Toronto Symphony from 1971 to 1982, and has also served in that capacity with the Kansas City Philharmonic, Toledo Symphony and the Toronto Chamber Winds. He is widely known as a chamber music coach and giver of master classes. Sargous is now professor of music at the University of Michigan School of Music at Ann Arbor and principal oboe in the Flint (Michigan) Symphony. He is now exploring contemporary performance techniques for his instrument, and has taken a sabbatical this year to work at IRCAM, the musical research institute in Paris, while also beginning study of the Japanese shakuhachi. He has released two solo Cds on the Crystal label.

John Eaton

John Eaton has been called "The most interesting opera composer writing in America today" by Andrew Porter in The London Financial Times. Through his work in a variety of mediums, he has received international recognition as a composer and performer of electronic and microtonal music andhis work has been performed extensively throughout the world.

Eaton has been the recipient of numerous awards. His music was chosen to represent the U.S.A. in 1970 at the International Rostrum of Composers (UNESCO). He has received a citation and award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, three Prix de Rome grants, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and, among others, commissions from the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations and the Public Broadcasting Corporation. Most recently, John Eaton received a prestigious fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. He is presently Professor of Music Composition at The University of Chicago. His music is handled by G. Schirmer.

Songs of Desperation and Comfort

My Songs of Desperation and Comfort were written in September and early October of 1993 during a residency in the Villa Serbelloni at Bellagio, Italy. They were commissioned as the 100th world premiere of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, directed by Edwin London. Three of the songs, Holy Sonnet no. XIV, Lullaby and Blind Man's Cry, are adaptations and orchestrations of earlier pieces, spanning my entire career as a composer. I actually spent much more time on the preparation of these than I did on the writing of the two entirely new songs, Lear on the Heath and To Old Roscoff. Nevertheless, I wanted the older pieces included in the cycle because they fit the general theme. The first song, a setting of Holy Sonnet no. XIV by John Donne dates from my 19th year. The first song of comfort is a setting of a lullaby which the librettist of three of my operas, the Irish poet, Patrick Creagh, wrote in 1975 for my daughter Estela when she was six months old. The center piece of my cycle looks to the future instead of the past. It is a setting of the first stanza of Lear's raging on the heath from Act II, scene 2 of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy, which will form the opening scene of my opera, King Lear, which is currently being written. The second song of comfort, also a lullaby, but to an old town rather than a young girl, is a translation by Patrick Creagh of a poem by Tristan Corbiere. The cycle concludes with a transcription for voice and orchestra of an electronic composition of mine from 1967, Blind Man's Cry, one of the first pieces written for live performance on modern sound synthesizers.

Mezzo-soprano Nelda Nelson has sung leading roles, such as Carmen, Rosina, Marguerite in Berlioz's Faust, Suzuki, Tancredi and Dido, with the San Francisco, New York City, Houston, and Heidelberg Operas and the Opera Orchestra of New York. She has been a soloist with the Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Oakland Symphony Orchestras among others, and has appeared on National Public Television and Radio. She has also performed and broadcast contemporary chamber music in Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal and throughout Latin America. Eaton's opera, The Cry of Clytaemnestra was written for, and dedicated to her, and she has done nearly 20 performances of it in various productions.

Nelson studied with Alice Mock, Martha Lipton, Virginia Zeani and others, including Luigi Ricci and Giogio Favoretto while holding a Fulbright Scholarship in Italy. She has received degrees from San Diego College for Women, the University of Southern California and Indiana University, and has also studied at the Accademia de Santa Cecilia. In addition to the Fulbright, she was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions and recipient of a fellowship from the Sullivan Foundation.

1. Holy Sonnet no. XIV

(The older pronunciations, or ones based on

the older spellings or elisions, have not been adhered

to in the musical setting of this sonnet,

or in the excerpt from King Lear.)

Batter my heart three person'd God, for, you

As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;

That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee, 'and bend

Your force to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.

I, like a usurpt town, to'another due,

Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,

Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,

But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.

Yet dearely'I love you, 'and would be loved faine,

But am bethroth'd unto your enemie:

Divorce mee, 'untie, or breake that knot againe,

Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I

Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,

Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

-John Donne

2. Lullaby for Estela

Peace gently light upon you,

till the dawn of day;

Dreams, soft as feather dusters,

brush your fears away.

Sleep, my bonny little baby,

all the deep night through;

We'll listen to the soft rain falling

for the love of you.

In your chrysalis of slumber,

may the dark hours pass,

Just as gently as the sun

goes over blades of grass.

Warm wings are spread above you,

in your little nest;

While wakeful ones who love you,

watch you while you rest.

Sweet sleep embrace you,

Soft wings caress you,

Bright dreams release you,

Good angels kiss you,

And heaven bless you.

-Patrick Creagh

3. 'Lear on the Heath' ("King Lear," Act III, Scene 2)

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!

You sulph'rous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Strike flat the thick rotundity o'th'world!

Crack Nature's moulds, all germens spill at once

That makes ingrateful man!

-William Shakespeare

4. To Old Roscoff: Lullaby in North-West minor

Old nest of filibusters, lair

Of corsairs! while the storm roars

Sleep your granite sleep upon your

Mattress of wavehaunted cellars

Snore at the sea, snore at the wind,

Your helmet in the grey mist,

Your sailor's foot set on the shore

But close the eye that has scanned

The Channel for an English mast

These three hundred years and more.

Sleep, old hulk, safely tied:

The seagull and the cormorant

Who are the poets of your torment

Will sing to you at flood-tide…

Sleep, old sailor's punk:

No longer will you reel with drink

On waves that make your gilded belt

Those nights red with wine, with flames

With blood! Sleepin your arms

The fat gold will no longer melt.

Where are your lover's names?

The sea and glory were distraught!

Names of giants! Heroic names

Spat from a blunderbuss's throat

Where did they fly, the banners

That once tore your sky to tatters?

Under your lead sky, on your dunes,

Sleep: tonight no bullets tear

The folliage of your church tower

Loaded, like a plum tree, with plums

Sleep: beside their cold fires

Listen to your children's dreams,

Cabin-boys for ninety years

Wreckage of your roaring times.

Even your good iron cannon sleeps.

Bedded in mus he is at rest;

Pitted by winter moons he keeps

His ageless grave repose of rust.

Come on: snore at the wind, old growler!

Keep your harsh throat of iron aimed

At trespassing English sails!and primed

With the meagre furze, in flower.

-Tristan Corbier, trans. Patrick Creagh

5. Blind Man's Cry

The murdered eye is not dead yet

A wedge still splits into it

Coffinless I am left to lie

Nailed through the jelly of the eye

But the nailed eye is not dead yet

A wedge still edges into it

Deus misericors

Deus misericors

The hatchet that will hack the cross

Batters my head into a hash

Deus misericors

Deus misericors

Over my body the birds of death

Circling thristy for my flesh

Golgotha without end for me

Lama lama sabachthani

Over my body the birds of death

Circle thirsting for my flesh

Red hot as the heart of Etna

Is the raw rim of this crater

Sodden and drooling lava

Like an old hag's toothless laughter

The red rim of this crater

Rabid as the heart of Etna

Circles of gold is all I see

And the white sun gnaws at me

Two holes pierced by an iron nail

Hammered in the forge of hell

A ring of gold is all I see

And the red fire enrages me

In the marrow bone a hurt

Tear shrieking to get out

Inside a glimpse of paradise

Miserere de profundis

Through my split skull the hot

Weeping sulphur seeping out

Blessed the happy dead

The good man who died in God

The martyr and the chosen one

Set with the Virgin and her Son

O blessed the happy dead

Delivered man beloved of God

Dreaming the peace of the just

An old knight heavy with his rest

Outside he sleeps under the rain

Endless siesta cut in stone

Safe in the sanctus of the just

His grey eyes in their granite rest

But still I feel you smile on me

O yellow moors of Brittany

My rosary in my fingers still

And Christ's bones bleaching on the hill

I still gape at the sea

And the dead sky of Brittany

Forgive me if I pray outright

O my God if this is fate

My eyes two blazing fonts their lips

Ripped by the devil's fingertips

Forgive me if I cry out

O my God against this fate

I can hear the north wind mourn

I hear the death-cry of the horn

Foot on the noble stag's neck

With it I cry against my luck

I can hear the north wind mourn

And the knell of the horn

-Tristan Corbier,

trans Patrick Creagh

The Cleveland Chamber Symphony

The Cleveland Chamber Symphony is the world class professional new music ensemble in residence at Cleveland State University. Since its founding in 1980, the orchestra has performed the world premieres of more than 135 works, 74 of which were commissioned by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. The Cleveland Chamber Symphony has three times received the John S. Edwards Award for the strongest commitment to American Music.

This recording is made possible in part by the generous support of

Smith College and the Ohio Arts Council.

Music for Flute & Orchestra and una novella della sera primavera recorded by Bruce Gigax · Songs for the Children recorded by John Charlillo · Songs of Desperation & Comfort recorded by James Abbot Mastering by Bruce Gigax · Recorded in Drinko Hall, Cleveland State University

Cover Art: Daniel Morgenstern and Frank P. Cucciarre

Cleveland Chamber Symphony

Edwin London, Music Director

Ronald Perera

Music for Flute & Orchestra (10:17)

William Wittig, flute

Howie Smith

Songs for the Children (11:38)

Howie Smith, wind controller/alto saxophone

Edwin London

una novella della sera primavera (19:58)

Harry Sargous, oboe

John Eaton

Songs of Desperation & Comfort

Holy Sonnet no. XIV (3:59)

Lullaby for Estela (4:13)

'Lear on the Heath' (2:33)

To Old Roscoff: Lullaby in North-West minor (6:24)

Blind Man's Cry (7:08)

Nelda Nelson, mezzo-soprano

Total Time = 65:12