Field Report: PARMA Recordings Sessions

This summer was a busy and fun one for PARMA’s production teams, even more so than normal for us. I was in Russia and the Czech Republic for 4 weeks early in the summer working on orchestral projects, and simultaneously our domestic team was working here in New England recording chamber music… all while planning out the Festival, working on new products, keeping the release schedule in alignment, generating new placements in media, and all the rest. Variety is indeed the spice of life!  

And I don’t mean spice like “Dune” spice, that’s a different spice, that spice makes your eyes blue, and all the Fremen women like blue eyes, so they make you their leader, and then you generate rain storms on a dry planet while your really freaking weird sister talks about how you ARE the Kwisatz Haderach. Different spice. But I digress.

I just returned from another set of orchestral sessions overseas this past weekend and had a moment to sit down with our Artist Coordinator Derek Thibault to talk about what’s been happening at our domestic sessions here in New England while I’ve been away. 

One of our recent sessions was to record Scott Pender’s string trio “Veil of Ignorance,” which was performed at the PARMA Music Festival in August to great acclaim. A couple days after the performance we were in the studio with Scott and members of the New England String Quartet to record the piece while it was fresh in their minds and hands from playing it.

Derek told me he had a revelation at the session: “It’s OK to write tonal music! Scott’s piece instilled an incredible amount of raw energy and emotion in us that day, and confirmed that there was still much to say in the world of key signatures,” he said. “The vision the New England String Trio brought to the piece pushed it to new heights, especially with its delicate but steadfast nature.”

A similar experience was had recording Michael Murray’s “Three Donne Songs” with members of the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, which, like Scott’s piece, was performed at the Festival in advance of recording.  

“Hearing William Blake and John Donne come to life on a hot summer in Boston was a positively unique experience for me. Ann Moss didn’t tire or skip a beat as she sung her way through the day-long session, and the music seemed to give impressions of the poets themselves, questioning and reassuring all at once,” Derek told me. “Having the chance to talk vocal-composition techniques with Mike was a highlight, as well hearing ‘The Little Vagabond’ for the second time since the festival – a personal favorite!”

Also on Derek’s plate was the recording of a new organ piece by our composer and friend David Stewart.  

“As the Dover Church’s organ approaches it’s twentieth anniversary in November, we decided to celebrate a little early by recording the organ works of David Stewart. New music, contrived on a relatively new organ, is a superb phenomenon, and I feel lucky to have caught a glimpse, especially with organist Libor Dudas giving a master performance.”

We’ll have news about release plans for all these works soon, but in the meantime… stay off the spice. You too Derek.


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