The McCormick Percussion Ensemble ~ Marimba Concerti with Percussion Orchestra

a closer listen

The marimba, an African-origins instrument typical of Central America (it’s the ‘national instrument’ of Guatemala) was introduced to the classical world by European modernists in the first half of the 20th century as a function of a brand of shocking primitivism very similar to the one that introduced jazz to the same area. Like most introductions of the kind, it was picked up later in the century by composers who stripped its presence of primitivism and valued it instead solely as a different percussive source of sound (think, for example, of Pierre Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître of 1955). Minimalists, in particular, have had a soft spot for it, perhaps because it produces the sensation of listening to light, sweet tones, to sounds that do not impose over others and have a very short duration. It is, in other words, a great alternative to the piano inasmuch as it…

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The PARMA Album of the Day: DREAM VAPORS

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Rain Worthington released her debut solo album DREAM VAPORS on Navona Records in February of last year. The album offers a selection of her orchestral works, presenting intense dreams, intangible perceptions, and musically evocative elaborations. Music Web International says, “This is important and interesting music, from a composer with something significant – and different – to say.”

Find DREAM VAPORS on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic.

The PARMA Album of the Day: EK IS EIK

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Anne Vanschothorst released her debut PARMA album EK IS EIK on Big Round Records in 2014. Since then, the album has reached over 50,000 plays on Spotify. EK IS EIK features works for contemporary classical harp with a distinct jazz twist. By way of solo harp pairing with instruments such as the trumpet, viola da gamba, percussion, and bass, Vanschothorst’s music mirrors her passion for experimentation and eclecticism. All About Jazz says “There is a stunning soundtrack quality to Vanschothorst’s music, but that should be no surprise as she has been called upon to provide such to the visual arts. The fun and gift of this music is the imagination of what life scene this music would accompany and enhance.”

Find EK IS EIK on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

The Inside Story: Stephen Ruppenthal

New PARMA artist Stephen Ruppenthal, a trumpeter, released his debut album FLAMETHROWER on Ravello Records last week. Ruppenthal, a West Coast man known for his electro-acoustic musical compositions, is also an educator and Technical Publications Director. Today, Ruppenthal is our next ‘Inside Story’ featured artist, a blog series exploring the personalities of our artists and composers. Read on and get to know him!

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

Let me think way back, at about the age of 16 or 17, I realized that I wanted to be making music and performing, rather than look into traditional (and more ‘responsible’ occupations). Some folks were not happy about that. But, after becoming thoroughly inspired and entranced by performing in musical groups (jazz and classical music), I was won over and never looked back.

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

I performed a lot of live electronic music with the Electric Weasel Ensemble (Allen Strange, Don Buchla, et al) back in the day when we were using patchable analog systems (Buchla, Synthi AKS, etc). It was always a crap shoot if/when a cord stretched across the stage was going to either get broken, unplugged, or simply give out and stop working. There was many a time that I thought that I was adding to the ensemble of 5-6 synthesizers, only to find out that I was no longer part of the sonic mix! Also, getting to a recording session without mouthpieces for my horns was another embarrassing, and sobering moment.

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

Well, I think that we are living through a zombie apocalypse right now, so essential items must include single-malt scotch, my studio (along with horns), and my library. Of course, my family must be with me; that’s a given.

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

We’ve always gravitated toward Italy and France. Would love to have a studio on the Amalfi coast, overlooking the sea, with another walk-up flat in Paris for late-night concerts and soirees, and attending programs at IRCAM. Up until recently anyway, both countries have been very open and accepting socially and artistically welcoming, profound performing and visual arts precedents, and, ah, the food and wine are spectacular. Much more supportive of progressive art forms that push the boundaries. I’m all about pushing boundaries.

Stephen Ruppenthal’s FLAMETHROWER is available on Amazon, iTunes, ArkivMusic, and Spotify. Buy and listen now!

The PARMA Album of the Day: LIVING BREATHING EARTH

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Composer Meira Warcshauer‘s LIVING BREATHING EARTH is inspired by the rhythms and shadings of the earth, representing our planet in its radiant fullness, pulsing with breath, and alive with all variety of creatures and plants living in symbiosis with each other. Hadassah Magazine says the album is “a shimmering, joyous and soothing ode to the world’s beauty.”

Find LIVING BREATHING EARTH on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

March 2017 New Releases on Navona and Ravello Records!

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Can you believe it’s March already? The year is flying by, the sun is starting to shine brighter, and with that, so are we. We’re ready for another round of releases. Are you ready? We have some big projects released today including some new PARMA artists such as Mark John McEncroe, long-time PARMA artists Michael G. Cunningham, and a project in memory of our dear friend Alan Beeler. Take a look…

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SHADOWING

Ruth Lomon | NV6080

Renowned composer Ruth Lomon displays her remarkable skill for piano writing on this album, pushing the instrument’s timbre and color to its limits to create animated sound worlds. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

AN ARC OF QUARTETS

Micahel G. Cunningham | NV6081

Five acclaimed, international quartets perform composer Michael G. Cunningham’s intricate and inviting string music, defined by a focus on rhythm, melody, and texture, as well as his gentle – yet often dissonant – harmonic language.READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

DARK CLOUDS IN LIFE

Mark John McEncroe | NV6082

Composer Mark John McEncroe draws from personal experiences with addiction and depression on this conceptual release, a collection of sweeping orchestral compositions performed by the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Helen Kennedy. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

FOREVER BEELER

Alan Beeler | NV6085

Presented in memoriam of prolific composer Alan Beeler, this sampling of his sonatas, suites, etudes, and solos contains works from throughout his musical career, which is generally defined by a commitment to compositional craft and structural clarity. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

THERE ARE MANY OTHER LEGENDS

Jonathan Santore | NV6086

Both the New Hampshire Master Chorale and the Manchester Choral Society elevate works from the expansive choral catalog of Jonathan Santore, a composer lauded for his writing and setting of texts that draws from themes of mythology, history, and distant cultures. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

BRIGHT CIRCLE

Beth Levin | NV6074

An exquisitely programmed showcase of the interconnectivity underlying the tradition of solo piano in Classical music. Pianist Beth Levin shines as she navigates the romantic masterpieces of Schubert and Brahms and a newer work from David Del Tredici. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

*BRIGHT CIRCLE will be released on March 17th. However, the album is available now for pre-order.

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FLAMETHROWER

Stephen Ruppenthal | RR7954

Written specifically for innovative New Music trumpeter Stephen Ruppenthal, these intriguing compositions for trumpet, flugelhorn, voice, crotale, and interactive electroacoustics allude to the works of Jon Hassell, Nils Petter Molvær, and Miles Davis’s Electric Era. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | ArkivMusic | Spotify

PIECE BY PIECE

Beth Mehocic | RR7955

This digital single, commissioned by the Erick Hawkins Dance Company of New York City, sees composer Beth Mehocic and the Moravian Philharmonic Chamber Players channeling the avant-garde music techniques of Lucia Dlugoszewski, the company’s former director, and composer-in-residence. READ MORE

Amazon | iTunes | SpotifySpotify

Mark John McEncroe ~ Dark Clouds in Life

Today is release day here at PARMA! Congratulations to all over our March artists, like debut PARMA artist Mark John McEncroe with his DARK CLOUDS IN LIFE. Take a look.

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cvrDark Clouds in Life is a rare creature, an album about depression that isn’t depressing.  Through it all ~ and especially in the album’s core, “Natalie’s Suite” ~ the composer remains empathetic and above all, hopeful.  Due to its approach, the suite is the antithesis of Max Richter’s lovely Three Worlds, which honors Virginia Woolf but closes on her suicide.

The impetus for the album is a second generation of addiction and depression.  Years after struggling with these illnesses himself, Mark John McEncroe watched helplessly as his own daughter Natalie fell prey to the same diseases.  Thankfully, both are on the mend.  But as the liner notes make abundantly clear, one never fully conquers these demons; they lurk beneath the surface, waiting for an opportunity to reemerge.

The first few notes of “Facing the Demons” are as stark as can be, striking from the left side of the piano…

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The PARMA Album of the Day: LINGERING LONGINGS

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LINGERING LONGINGS is Carl Vollrath‘s second volume in his clarinet and piano pairing works. Released on Navona Records a year after the first volume, PAST RECOLLECTIONS, volume two continues to celebrate past events through musical narratives, tenderly and radiantly performed by clarinetist Michael Norsworthy and pianist Yoko Hagino. Sonograma says “The authority Norsworthy and Hagino [have musically], based on the instrumental mastery, is the guarantee of a fully expressive and elegant interpretation.”

You can find LINGERING LONGINGS on Amazon and iTunes.

 

The Inside Story: Mark John McEncroe

New PARMA artist Mark John McEncroe didn’t start his music career until he was 35. Although music has always been an interest and he played many instruments, including trumpet, flute, and clarinet, it took some time before he settled into composition and piano, where he studied under PARMA artist Margaret Brandman. Mark John McEncroe is our next featured artist on “Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the personalities of our artists. Read on and enjoy!

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

I was always creative as a kid. I was allergic to reality & lived in my head. I was able to talk my way in or out of anything. My dad used to say I should be in public relations when I grew up. That was his code for saying full of bullshit but no skills that will earn him a dollar.  I used to draw & paint & build model sailing ships. I didn’t study music. The truth is I was too wild, so it was difficult for me to concentrate on studies or applying myself to studying music instruments.

It wasn’t till I reached adulthood that I realized I wanted to play music. During most of that time, I worked in the record business in Australia & Sweden for EMI records as a label manager. Studying music had to compete at that time with activities concerning girls & party time.  Guess which activities won. I would love to say that I was this intellectually gifted potential music genius, alas that’s so far from the truth.

My reality was as I got older & slowed down I was over time able to apply myself for long enough to start getting results. Mind you, when music teachers along the way tried to stuff my head with all this boring academic theoretical music theory & told me how I should approach my music, my response was far from nice;  let’s just say I wasn’t at all polite in response to their efforts. I do things by instinct. Any theory I learned I had forgotten it within 5 minutes anyway.  It’s not for me to judge if my music “ticks all the boxes” as the Nike add says I  “just do it”.

There is now a drive in me to write music which has gradually taken control & I’m compelled to do it. That’s it really.  I had to join AA over 30 years ago, now probably I’ll have to join “compulsive composer’s anonymous.

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If you weren’t a composer/performer, what would you be?

I have done many things already in my life; some well, & some things not so well. I have been a record company executive ( Label manager);  professional chef, for nearly 20 years having come from a restaurant food business/family background. I used to be a DJ in discos around Europe in my early 20’s. When I wasn’t doing that I doubled up as the bouncer throwing undesirables out of the disco.  It was the disco experience that landed me my job with EMI.

At 37 when I started to get serious about my music, I had to decide if it was going to be music or going to art school to study drawing & painting; something I was always drawn to. Music won.  Nowadays I’m also very busy trying to keep my daughter out of trouble who unfortunately for me is just like me when I was her age.

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

I can’t live without my music;  my Japanese bonsai garden & koi pond; or my football. I’m talking about Rugby League. So bring on the zombie apocalypse.

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

I already live in  Sydney Australia. Where else would I want to be?  My activities take me to Europe several times a year where I used to live for many years. Very soon I’ll be in the USA to check it out.

The culture of ancient/ traditional Japan has also always held great fascination for me. That’s why I’m into Japanese gardens, bonsai & koi ponds. I would also have loved to go back in a time machine to ancient Rome to check it out, provided I could get back. Probably would have ended up in the gladiator ring.

Mark John McEncroe’s DARK CLOUDS IN LIFE will be released  March 10th on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic. Pre-order now. To stay updated with McEncroe, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

The Inside Story: Jonathan Santore

Jonathan Santore, composer and educator at Plymouth State University, and recipient of numerous awards, including the American Prize and New Hampshire Composer of the Year, is releasing his debut solo album THERE ARE MANY OTHER LEGENDS on Navona Records this coming Friday, March 10th. Santore is also our next featured artist in ‘The Inside Story,’ a blog series exploring the personalities of our artists.

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Maundy Mitchell Photography

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

THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY! Despite the fact that my parents were both very good amateur musicians who played recordings of a lot of good music in the house (Dad jazz/swing/Great American Songbook, Mom classical), it wasn’t until I saw the Partridge Family that I perceived music as a thing that people did. Now, of course, I listen to those songs and hear solid, well-produced bubblegum, so there might have been worse things to listen to!

As I look back, I realize that I was also unconsciously cherry-picking the steady Top-40 diet of my childhood for interesting timbres, etc. – the piccolo and bassoon in “Tears of a Clown,” the big sweeping French horn lines in Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now,” etc. etc. Then I became a huge Elton John fan, and I realize now that a lot of that sprang from Paul Buckmaster’s orchestral arrangements on his early stuff.

In high school, I was a dedicated trumpet player and band kid, so I spent a lot of time listening to the 20th Century composers who wrote for wind ensemble. This prepared me for a 20th Century Music course in college where I heard SO MUCH life-changing stuff for the first time.

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

Oddly enough, I was already playing trumpet several hours a day, pretty engaged as a practicing musician (for a fifteen-year-old, anyway), when one of my high-school English teachers and his wife took me to a screening of Citizen Kane. I’ve tried to describe for years what that experience did for me and has meant to me. Up until that point, music had been fun, a challenge, something to persevere and try to excel at. That screening of Citizen Kane, however, was the first time I remember having a genuine aesthetic reaction to something – in other words, seeing something as ART for the first time, and feeling it as ART and knowing it as ART – having it act on me in a way that nothing else had before. The idea of getting to spend long stretches of time in that place, the place that only art can take us as perceivers, and of being able to bring others to that place as a maker, bit me right there and then.

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What was your most unusual performance?

Unusual and wonderful, thanks to my colleague, collaborator, and friend Dan Perkins, who conducts all the work on There Are Many Other Legends, and who commissioned most of it. I’m privileged to serve as composer in residence for the New Hampshire Master Chorale, which Dan founded with some like-minded choral singers over ten years ago. One of the things that interests Dan most is bringing performances of 20th- and 21st Century music to new audiences and new performance spaces. A few years ago, he told me that he was planning a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass as part of an annual summer solstice festival in Concord, NH, that the performance would be followed by a singalong screening of West Side Story, that the whole event would take place in a parking garage downtown, and what did I think I’d be interested in writing for that concert? My composition setting texts about the summer and winter solstices was well received by the audience – a standing-room-only audience that Dan had brought into a parking garage for a concert consisting entirely of works written after 1970!

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

I love San Francisco – I fell in love with the place the first time I went there, and have stayed in love with it ever since. This probably falls under the “guilty pleasures” category, but I especially love the area around Fisherman’s Wharf – but early, EARLY in the morning, when there are very few people around, many of them working fishermen headed for their boats. I can imagine living there or near there, with few material possessions, writing music for much of the day, and wandering around blissfully for the rest of the day in and out of the touristy chaos. And the fact that I imagine few material possessions is a very good thing since that’s the only way I could BEGIN to afford to live there!

Jonathan Santore’s THERE ARE MANY OTHER LEGENDS will be released on March 10th. Pre-order now on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic.