Around the World and Back: PARMA Fall Recording Sessions

Dozens of ensembles and musicians, five countries, two continents: this fall of sessions has had us all around the world and back. From music for full orchestra with the birthplace of Western thought as a backdrop, to intimate solo guitar sessions by the ocean just miles from our headquarters, we’ve been connecting composers to the perfect ensembles for their music all across the map.

We started September off with familiar faces and streets — the streets of Ostrava, CZ with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, to be exact. The Janáček Philharmonic is no stranger to PARMA projects, having participated in multiple album recordings and Call for Scores initiatives over the years. This fall, we recorded works by Miguel Matamoro and Timothy Kramer, which will be featured on upcoming albums (Kramer in particular is releasing a full album of orchestral works). We later returned to Ostrava in October to record with composers Eric Simonson, Rain Worthington, and Bill Apollo Brown towards their upcoming releases.

A quick train ride connects Ostrava with our next session destination — Prague, where we met up with the esteemed voices of the Kühn Choir of Prague. The Kühn Choir was a participant in our 2019 Summer Call for Scores, and they elevated the submitted works of Deborah Anderson and William Copper (in a hall to match the beauty of the music, no less). Right on the heels of the choral sessions came a day of recording with one of PARMA’s longest recording partners, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, who brought the works of longtime PARMA composer Michael G. Cunningham to life in stunning performances.

Back across the Atlantic, our domestic team assembled for sessions with our friends at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA. Just outside of Boston, tucked amid cafes, shops, and a train station, the Masonic temple-turned-recording studio fits classical ensembles of all sizes, including the many luminous voices of its house choir, Vox Futura. Scott Anothony Shell and Kong-Yu Wong had their pieces recorded — impressively enough, Wong’s piece was written with Mandarin Chinese text, presenting uniquely challenging diction obstacles which Vox Futura handled with grace and finesse. Wong stated afterwards that “the musicians mastered the complicated passages easily and they spent much effort on simpler pages in order to deliver the best result.”

Vocal cords were soon replaced with violin strings as NYC-based Sirius Quartet assembled at Futura for their week of sessions. Eight composers had their works brought to life through the efforts of the genre-bending quartet, who are known for handling the unknown and experimental with welcome arms. These works will be featured on PLAYING ON THE EDGE VOL. 2, the second in a series of innovative quartet performances — the first of which was lauded as a “fascinating disc” performed by the “fine, adaptable” Sirius Quartet (Gramophone).

A couple quick days off between sessions was soon followed by a return to the Bay State — this time at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA, where composer and guitarist Stuart Weber animated his own pieces at the recording hall by the sea, with the Atlantic Ocean as his backdrop. Following the release of his touching album THE FIFTH ROW on Ravello Records, Stuart is gracing listeners once again with his music. Back in Boston, Bill Toutant, Fabio Antonelli, and Fred DeSena had their imaginative works recorded by members of Pedroia Quartet and a collection of chamber performers.

Stuart Weber at the Shalin-Liu Performance Center, Rockport MA

Just a couple of days later, we were back in Europe, this time with one of our newest recording partners. We arrived in Athens — a city of dichotomies, as recent economic struggles have left their mark alongside the scenes of ancient history and the foundations of thought. Nevertheless, it remains a place of inspiration for those who spend time in the city. We met up with the members of the Athens Philharmonia Orchestra to record works for orchestra from a recent Call for Scores, including Stellar Nebulae by Brian Belet and Secret Sky by PARMA composer Mara Gibson. Thanks to the joys of technology, we were able to watch alongside Mara and the team in Europe.

PARMA team members stream into Athens Philharmonia session for Mara Gibson’s Secret Sky

We also recorded with a trio of talented musicians hailing from Malta: soprano Gillian Zammit, harpist Britt Arend, and cellist Frank Camilleri. These three days were spent immersed in recording with the performers and some of our dear friends in that area of the music world.

These busy past couple of months culminated in one joyful performance — CEO Bob Lord, who had attended many of the international sessions, traveled up to Berlin as a guest attending a concert organized by the Hebei Department of Culture and Tourism in collaboration with the German National Orchestra and operated by JoyTitan. The evening’s performance was conducted by our own Miran Vaupotić and featuring soloists with our Chinese partners, resulting in a captivating experience had by all.

The work is far from over — we’re already back in Croatia for sessions with the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. As we start heading into the holiday season, we’ll be back on the road in New York City, Boston, and more locations, recording the music of Theresa Koon, Carl Vollrath, and a host of others. While the travels themselves are fun, and visiting new people and places enriching, the main purpose is simple: whether they’re in Malta or Massachusetts, Prague or Greece, the right ensemble exists for each piece. And we will travel to wherever it takes to connect the right score with the right people to bring it to life.

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