April 2017 New Releases on Navona and Ravello Records!

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Happy Friday! Are you ready for another round of releases featuring new ensembles and artists, compilations, and re-releases? Well, take a deep breath and try to relax as you take in these big releases…


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DRESS CODE  |  Altius Quartet

A bold treat of fresh arrangements of popular staples, effortlessly combining the appeal of classical, jazz, and pop, in such pieces as Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir”; Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me”; a-ha’s “Take on Me”; and a newer pieces Take It, an unlikely pairing of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.”

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  ArkivMusic  |  YouTube  | Spotify


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REAWAKENING  |  Jeffrey Jacob

A collection of varied works for orchestra and chamber ensembles, showcasing composer Jeffrey Jacob’s lush, mystical style.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  ArkivMusic  |  YouTube  |  Spotify


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ERGO  |  Zhen Chen

An impressive contribution to the decades-long legacy of composers blending Chinese and western instruments and musical materials.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  ArkivMusic  |  YouTube  | Spotify 


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THE CHAMBER WORKS OF ALLEN BRINGS  |  Allen Brings

A triple re-release containing a collection of works for small ensembles comprised of a diverse selection of instruments.

Amazon  |  iTunes  | Spotify


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WINTER’S WARMTH  |  Andrew Schultz, John A. Carollo, R. Barry Ulrich, J.A. Kawarksy

An orchestral compilation featuring works from John A. Carollo, J.A. Kawarsky, Andrew Schultz, and R. Barry Ulrich, presenting conceptual pieces that all act as soundtracks to our resiliency during the toughest moments of the human experience.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  ArkivMusic  |  YouTube  | Spotify


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SMALL STORMS  |  Meredith Blecha-Wells, cello; Sun Min Kim, piano

Features Bohuslav Martinů’s duos for cello and piano from the latter half of his life, with the performances of Blecha-Wells and pianist Sun Min Kim fully embodying the folkloric sensibility and conservative style that typify the composer’s oeuvre.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  ArkivMusic  |  YouTube  | Spotify


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TWILIGHT REMEMBERED  |  McCormick Duo

A re-release of a collection of contemporary compositions for percussion and flute, including works from various composers.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  Spotify


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RED LILIES OF BELLS GOLDEN LILIES OF BELLS WHITE LILIES OF BELLS  |  Alla Elana Cohen

Previously compared to the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, creative and evocative composer Alla Elana Cohen presents a collection of wildly imaginative works for string quartet, small ensemble, solo cello, and chamber orchestra.

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  ArkivMusic  |  YouTube  

*RED LILIES OF BELLS GOLDEN LILIES OF BELLS WHITE LILIES OF BELLS will be released April 21st, however the album is available for pre-order.

 

The PARMA Album of the Day: APPALACHIAN INSPIRATION

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Composer John Beall released his debut Ravello Records album APPALACHIAN INSPIRATION in 2014. The album illustrates the impact of Appalachian folk music on his often unconventional yet appealingly direct style, featuring three piano and string pieces that display a strong, expressive grasp of folk tunes and traditional classical techniques. Gramophone says, “Here three profoundly conservative works written over a 10-year span beginning in 1999, demonstrate not only the composer’s authentic embrace of cultural influences but also his keen ear from string-writing.”

Find APPALACHIAN INSPIRATION on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

The Inside Story: Altius Quartet

Altius Quartet is made up of Andrew Giordano and Joshua Ulrich on violin, Andrew Krimm on viola, and Zachary Reaves on cello. The Classics Artists Alive Grand Prize-Winning string ensemble is currently holding the position of Fellowship String Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Today the quartet is our next featured ensemble/artist for “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the personalities and inner workings of our artists. Read on to see how these guys keep a sense of humor.

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 *This is Zack answering for the group.

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

This is a funny story that actually led to a great friendship and to the production of this album!  A few years back we performed at a fundraising event for a concert series and the presenter had asked us to make a sales pitch for the silent auction before we began the 2nd half.  One of the auction items was to sponsor the various artists that would be performing at the festival a few months later, including us.

At this particular performance, we were wearing brightly colored bow ties with our suits, which many of the patrons commented on.  So to people to bid on our sponsorship, we jokingly offered a house concert to be performed in “only our bow ties.”  Several old women ran to the back to bid on us and the laughter among the audiences took several minutes to die down.  Ultimately two couples won with bid somewhere around $20,000.  They ultimately got their house concert, but (thankfully) our wardrobe was not bow ties only. One of these couples has become great friends and supporters of ours and gave us our first major donation towards funding this album!

Moral of the story: Always keep a sense of humor!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Fantasy Football!  We’ve had a league for about 5 years with friends from school.  None of us have won yet…  Two of us have achieved the last place.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, what are the three things you absolutely can’t live without?

Our spouses (assuming they’re not already zombies…), Torchy’s Tacos, and some good scotch.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?

Being based in Colorado makes for a pretty special place to rehearse and be creative.  The weather, the scenery, the proximity to the mountains.  It’s a pretty great place to be.  That said, we recently spent some time in Vienna and were very inspired by the musical culture there.  We had some deep and effective rehearsals while we were there.  So perhaps that would be our top spot for a creative destination.

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What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

For me, it’s the opening section of Stairway to Heaven.  I’m very proud of how that turned out and it’s a beautiful showcase of what a string quartet can bring to something normally played by a classic rock guitarist.

Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to compose/perform than the others?

“Take It,” for sure.  The solo section is really tough for each member to not get separated from the underlying groove.

What does this album mean to you personally?

This our way of saying that music is music and doesn’t necessarily have to be put in a specific box or category. We’re passionate classical musicians, but there is so much music out there to be excited about.  We wanted to bring a fun attitude to this album that bridges genres and gets listeners to hear something they might not expect from a classical ensemble.

Altius Quartet’s debut release on Navona Records DRESS CODE is available for purchases April 14th. Pre-order on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic. Until then, here’s a sneak peek:

The PARMA Album of the Day: STARS & DISTANCES

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STARS & DISTANCES, featuring works by internationally renowned and critically acclaimed composer Fredrick Kaufman, was released on Navona Records in November of 2015. This album presents a mystical journey through Kaufman’s compositional explorations of the unknown, the natural order, and universal human experience. New York Times has called Kaufman “Striking [and] individual…” and his work “an interesting combination of overwhelming pathos and infectious joy…”

Find STARS & DISTANCES on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic.

 

The PARMA Album of the Day: GOIN’ HOME…A RETROSPECTIVE

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For her second album release on Big Round Records, pianist and composer Gay Pearson presents GOIN’ HOME…A RETROSPECTIVE. This album, which is a live recording of her most recent annual chamber-jazz concert, features an eclectic ensemble with Pearson on piano, John Lockwood on bass, Phil McGowan on drums, Tracy McMullen on saxophone, Lea Pearson on flute, and Shannon Allen on cello. Kathodik says the album, “never ceases to surprise and fascinate.”

Find GOIN’ HOME…A RETROSPECTIVE on Amazon and iTunes.

The Inside Story: J.A. Kawarsky

Debut PARMA artist J.A. Kawarsky is a sixth-time recipient of the Composer Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the founder of the New Jersey Gay Men’s choir, and is currently an educator at Westminster Choir College. Today, Kawarsky is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the personalities and inner-workings of our artists. Read on to discover what “J.A.” stands for!

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J.A. Kawarsky

First Question should be “What does J.A. stand for?”  In truth: Julius Aaron.  The name “Julius was naming after my dad’s father.”  However, when I was a toddler, my sister who was 13 months older than I was, couldn’t pronounce Julius, and so she called me Jay Jay which continued until Kindergarten when I just became “Jay.”  Growing up in Iowa in the 60s and 70s, I feared the beginning of each school year when the teacher would call out for Julius, and the name brought on snickering from my classmates.  (That ended with the advent of Julius Erving, Dr. J. — which my first college students called me in the mid-80s.)

Who was your first favorite artist(s) growing up?

When growing up my favorite artists were James Taylor, Carole King, Marvin Hamlisch and Stephen Sondheim.  I remember wearing out the vinyl Broadway cast recordings of “A Chorus Line,” and “Pacific Overtures” as well as Carole King’s “Tapestry.”  We had a trampoline in our backyard and my sister and I would jump, flip, do backflips while blasting “Tapestry” to the neighborhood.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist/ composer/creator?

I knew that I wanted to be either an actor, composer and or a conductor (preferably a pit conductor) by age 13.  I got the acting “bug” in high school, but if there was a musical being performed, I always wanted to be the accompanist and teach the music…until I learned to conduct in college.  As for composing, I started composing when I was 8 years old when I started piano…jazz piano.   There was a lot of improvisation and when I was in high school and then college, I finally learned to write down, that which I wanted to express.  It was in college that I also learned that I wanted to be a teacher, or better yet, a professor…which I am, Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ.

What is your guilty pleasure?

As for guilty pleasures, I collect musical theater recordings (preferably Broadway or off-Broadway) and I love finding those lost recordings, or soundboard recordings of those shows that never got a commercial release.  I also collect music theater scores and have in PDF form nearly 3,000!

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What would you say to an artist performing your work that nobody else knows?

If an artist was to perform the solo part of Episodes with orchestra, I would kindly suggest that he/she stay strict to the tempi and use as little pedal as possible.  This composition is difficult but must not sound difficult.  It needs to dance.  The 7/8 sections should sound as enjoyable as Brubeck’s Blue Rondo `a la Turk.

Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to compose/perform than the others?

The moment I found most difficult to compose was the section where all ff, piano playing in octaves, and the orchestra playing in octaves also which alternates between 6/8, 3/4 and 11/8 time.  These loud sections alternate with solo strings in a simple 4/4 time playing softly.

When it “clicks” it is a tremendous filling of space alternating with the least filling, save for silence.

Is there a specific feeling you want listeners to tune into when hearing your work?

When people listen to Episodes, I want them to tune out the noise of the world about them, and listen to the anger, listlessness, tension and release in the work.  There are also points where I want them to smile…for whatever might humor them!

WINTER’S WARMTH is released on Navona Records Friday, April 14th. Pre-order on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic

The PARMA Cat Series: #catsofcroatia

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It has been a busy year so far for PARMA. Not only have we already had three successful months of releases (April releases coming soon),  two albums had featured works in the “Classical New Releases” playlist curated by Spotify, reaching over 160k listeners; we’ve also traveled the world and back again.

We began the year in Cuba, for our third recording session, this time with Apollo Chamber Players, John A. Carollo, J.A. Kawarsky, Mona Lyn Reese, and Meira Warshauer. Following Cuba, we were in the Czech Republic with Dwight Beckham, Hayes Biggs, Jan Järvlepp, and Paul Osterfield, which featured a flute solo recorded in Boston by the talented Lindsey Goodman.

Speaking of Boston, we’ve been in Beantown a few times this year. From late February into early March, we completed the first two PARMA sessions with GRAMMY-winning producer Brad Michel for recordings with Jonathan Little and Dennis Kam. Last week we were back again to pay a visit to composer Joseph Summer, founder of The Shakespeare Concert Series.

Our most recent abroad extravaganza brought us to Croatia where this orange furball, featured below, was spotted looking high and mighty on this roof, keeping an eye on on-lookers. We traveled to the beautiful capital city of Zagreb for a visit with Miran Vaupotić, the featured conductor on Moonkyung Lee‘s Global Music Awards silver medal-winning album TCHAIKOVSKY, which was performed with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The year is young and we have plenty more travels and recordings ahead, and with that, also many purrty cats ahead. Stay updated with all of our shenanigans by visiting our website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

New PARMA Project: The MOTO Series

PARMA is excited to announce the third installment in the MOTO recording and performance series! This new album will again feature PARMA lead cellist Ovidiu Marinescu and his group, Trio Casals.

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Trio Casals (L-R): Sylvia Ahramjian (violin), Ovidiu Marinescu (cello), Anna Kislitsyna (piano)

 

The first album, 2013’s MOTO PERPETUO, featured a set of moving works for cello and small ensemble.

 

The second release, MOTO CONTINUO, built upon the strengths of the first album and expanded the concept to include works for piano trio and solo cello. Both projects culminated in performances of the full programs at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York.

 

The new project is tentatively slated for release in spring 2018, with a concert to take place at Weill Recital Hall after the release.

We’ll be sure to keep everyone posted as the project continues to develop. In the meantime, please take a moment to get to know the featured composers on the album:

Stay tuned for more updates!

The PARMA Album of the Day: DEAR DARWIN

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DEAR DARWIN, the second release on Ravello Records by composer Scott Brickman, explores several themes relating to Charles Darwin‘s studies and interests including birds, love, world travel, and human boundaries. In a review by Gramophone, the reviewer Donald Rosenberg specifically comments on the track listing beginning with “A is for Apple” and ending with “Zygote” saying, “It’s a clever conceit, and Ellis’s [Kathleen Ellis, poet] verses provide much amusement amid serious consideration of the topics.”

Find DEAR DARWIN on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.