The PARMA Album of the Day: THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER, BOOK 1

The Well-Temperes Clavier, Book 1

Regarded as “a gifted and obviously devoted Bachian” by the New York Times, award-winning pianist Kimiko Ishizaka, performs the work of  J.S. Bach in Navona Records release THE WELL-TEMPERED CLAVIER, BOOK I.  Gramophone Magazine says, “Ishizaka plays the 24 preludes and figures with impeccable taste and technique, finding many levels of musical meaning as she brings utmost clarity to the multiplicity of textures.”

In an interview with Robert Douglass, PARMA Recordings CEO Bob Lord talks about the project:

Want to hear more? Find the album on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify. Stay updated with Kimiko Ishizaka on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The PARMA Album of the Day: PARMA Music Festival LIVE 2014

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The 2014 PARMA Music Festival consisted of 14 concerts in 12 venues over the course of 4 days. The festival featured a diverse range of events, from concert performances of orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo instruments, and jazz groups, to an outdoor presentation of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and panel discussions about music licensing and multimedia composition, as well as improvised collaborations between indie rockers and classical instrumentalists.

Find the live performance album on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

The Serendipitous Road to NOT Becoming a Rock Star

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Photos Courtsey of Raya Al-Hashmi, Raya on Assignment

Once a month on a Friday morning in the center or Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a community of artists, writers, filmmakers, dreamers, and creators come together to listen to each other’s stories, drink coffee, and share breakfast at the Music Hall Loft for CreativeMornings.

CreativeMornings started in NYC back in 2008. Since then, it has spread all over the world. Each month creative professionals are given a topic and an opportunity to speak about their own personal, and professional journeys to their community. On Friday, May 19th, PARMA CEO Bob Lord was the star of the morning with the topic SERENDIPITY.

Even in a fast-paced, tech-savvy world where anything you want to know is in the palm of your hands, it’s hard to keep track of what unique people and companies are doing day to day; let alone the impact they’re making in their community, or around the world. PARMA Recordings, which has been a part of the New Hampshire seacoast since 2008, and has hosted events such as the PARMA Music Festival in Portsmouth venues, like 3S Artspace, has recorded music with the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, composer Jonathan Santore, among other NH local artists, many of the Creative Mornings-ers didn’t know a record label was in their neighborhood.

With this mind, Bob shared his story of how he “became a rock star” through serendipitous events and life lessons. Now, those who know Bob Lord, know that he’s a self-proclaimed improviser, or, in other words, a winger. However, with an audience of 100 people watching, he came prepared with notes, slides, and of course, a reminder a to himself not to use profanity. To kick off the talk, Bob spoke about the rules his family ingrained in him from a young age, including,  “If you have an ugly baby, I’m going to tell you that you have an ugly baby,” which prompted laughter and surprised nods of truth in the rule.

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Bob went on to tell stories about playing with his bands in high school, idolizing The Who, to working with a record company that wouldn’t let his band, Dreadnaught, make their own music, which lead to the future foundation of his own company. He told stories about writing the opening jingle for NHPR, to writing soft porn music (where the money for PARMA came from…no, really!), to working with MMC Records in Massachusetts under the direction of William Thomas Mckinley, where he learned how to run a record company with his own values. He reminisced about starting PARMA with just a few loyal hard workers, and about traveling the world, including being one of the first US music companies to travel to Cuba to make and record music with Cuban musicians. And, one of his favorite stories to tell, he circled back to his dream as a teen, where he had the opportunity to work and play with who his childhood idol, Pete Townshend of The Who.

Following the event, the Portsmouth community burst with reactions on all platforms…

Full house at @cm_portsmouth this morning! Bob Lord of @parma_recordings spoke about life's serendipitous moments.

A post shared by Darci Creative (@darcicreative) on

The power of CreativeMornings is not just about bringing people together to get involved with the creative community and to see its impact, it’s also meant to inspire. As the founders of CreativeMornings say, “Everyone is creative.”

Reflecting back on the morning, Bob said, “The expansion of CreativeMornings into Portsmouth has clearly been a welcome addition to the seacoast,” and “To be greeted with a full house was a real treat. So was not getting yelled at for swearing profusely.” (his reminder only worked for the first half of the lecture)

Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook and Twitter because we will be sharing the recorded lecture as soon as it’s available, which will also be cataloged on the global CreativeMornings page.

If you were at CreativeMornings: SERENDIPITY, tell us your favorite story.

Bert the Cat and the PARMA Anniversary

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This king, who is so elegantly laying across the cloud of blankets and plush pillows above, is the one and only Bert the Cat. This is not just any cat, we might add, this handsome man, with perky ears, white paws, and the most serious of stares is the PARMA cat.

The PARMA cat? You may be asking, How is he, of all the cats,  the PARMA cat? 

Well, friends, yes, we have traveled around the world and back again sharing photos of the many cats we’ve come across and the stories in which they tell on our recording adventures, but this cat tops it all.

Bert has been with PARMA since day one. On this day, nine years ago, PARMA began with just a few passionate minds coming together to “make music that sounds terrific,” with Bert purring by their side.

Each night, when not traveling the world, meeting staple composers and symphonies for projects, Bert has sat upon the lap of PARMA CEO Bob Lord.

It has been an incredible nine years for PARMA and Bert. Let’s put our hands together for a round of “appaws” to acknowledge our favorite mascot, and of course, the celebration and birth of PARMA Recordings, the music publishing label that began with just one project and is about to bring you a 500th.

The PARMA Inside Story: Alla Elana Cohen

Distinguished composer, pianist, music theorist and teacher Alla Elana Cohen, immigrated to the United States from Soviet Russia in 1989. Now living in Boston, Cohen is a professor at both Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music. Today, Cohen is our next featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings of our artists and their personalities.

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

My parents weren’t musicians, but they loved classical music very much – since when I was very young, I had the happiness to listen at home to many classical masterpieces on records, on radio and TV, and especially I loved piano music but also listened to a lot of orchestral and chamber music. By some reason, growing up, I much preferred instrumental music to vocal. My favorites when I was a child – and still now – great pianists Emil Gilels, Maria Yudina, Dinu Lipatti and many many others!

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

I realized it very early. My parents bought a piano for me when I was 5, and I started piano lessons at 5, and a year later I started to compose music, and since then I have never wanted to do anything else in life – I always felt that being a composer/pianist is the greatest blessing, and is my true vocation. But my first creative experience started even earlier – I composed my first little poem when I was 4, and it was about my favorite candy that had a picture of bears near the pine tree in the forest on its foil, in Russian it had rhythm and rhyme, and if to translate it roughly into English, it will be something like:  “Naughty little bear-cub put pinecones in his mother’s tub; his younger sister is of the same sort: all day she wallows in the dirt”!

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

My most unusual performance was in 2001, when 12-year old phenomenal prodigy cellist Sebastian Baverstam played with me my cello/piano duo in 3 movements at the concert of my music –a child played super-challenging cello part in a composition of extreme difficulty both interpretation-wise and technically, and he did it brilliantly, on the level of an adult master, and what is the most remarkable is that he received the music of this duo and learned it 10 days before the concert! I still have that amazing recording – from that concert. It was the beginning of our collaboration that lasts all these years and continues now – he played solo cello pieces and cello part in all the ensembles on my CD that PARMA releases now! And PARMA will release soon the CD, that consists of only cello/piano, solo cello and solo piano music, that we recorded with Sebastian.

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What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

For a composer all his/her works should be equally dear, otherwise, there is no sense to perform/record them! Each of the works on this CD highlights certain aspects and facets of my individual musical style, each piece has its own, unique character, so it is impossible for me to decide.

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

“Inscription on a Bamboo Screen” for soprano and viola (with cup-gong in the last movement) was the most challenging for both the singer and violist – vocal part is very challenging and requires very flexible voice and excellent intonation, and not less difficult viola part has certain extended techniques, with which my violist wasn’t familiar.

What does this album mean to you personally?

The release of my CD by PARMA, Ravello label, is very important for me – not only because it is the next step for me in my creative work, but because it is a start of my collaboration with PARMA, that will make my compositions more known to broader circles of listeners.

Alla Elana Cohen’s RED LILIES OF BELLS, GOLDEN LILIES OF BELLS, WHITE LILIES OF BELLS is now available on Amazon, iTunes, ArkivMusic and is streaming on Spotify

The PARMA Album of the Day: IN THE KEY OF C-SPAN

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THE KEY OF C-SPAN, Vol. 1 is the premiere release of the digital music collections featuring works from PARMA Recordings’ audio catalog which have been used in C-SPAN‘s programming. The Washington Post says “The dulcet tones of the new music collection “In the Key of C-SPAN: Great Works as Heard on C-SPAN Television, Volume One” isn’t just music to nerd out to, it’s the soundtrack to neutrality.”

Find THE KEY OF C-SPAN, Vol. 1 on Amazon, iTunes, and Naxos Music Library.

PARMA Album of the Day: SELECTED PIANO WORKS

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Pianist and educator, Cicilia Yudha, releases her debut PARMA album SELECTED PIANO WORKS, featuring piano works by composers Robert Casadesus and Henri Dutilleux on Navona Records in September of last year. Sonograma Magazine says the album has “musical expression with a depth worthy of his immense musical talent.”

You can purchase SELECTED PIANO WORKS on Amazon, iTunes, and ArkivMusic. Be sure to keep up with Yudha on Facebook and YouTube.

 

Lost Music of Deems Taylor Released on Mickey Mouse’s Birthday!

 

Today is a very special day for a special mouse. Happy Birthday to Disney’s own Mickey Mouse! And boy, do we have a gift for you…

You know Deems Taylor from the Disney classic, Fantasia. Yes, that’s right, you recognize him now, he was the narrator illuminated in blue hue on stage with the orchestra. However, Fantasia, although an important highlight of his career, was only a mere dent.

Deems Taylor, born in NYC in 1885, was one of the best-known musical figures of the first half of the 20th-Century. He had an incredible career as a music critic, journalist, a radio commentator, and as a composer. Taylor has written for The New York Tribune, The New York World, The New York American, and Music America, and is the author of The Well-Tempered Listener, Of Men and Music, and Music to My Ear. As a broadcaster and radio commentator for the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera, he brought new light on the classical and contemporary genres. In fact, Taylor is the first American composer to have an opera broadcasted on the radio, which was The King’s Henchman. In addition, Taylor served as ASCAP’s President from 1942-1948 and was a member of the board of directors from 1933-1966.


 

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In order to preserve the lost music of Deems Taylor, his grandson, Michael Cook, signed on with PARMA to release THREE CENTURY SUITE, which was only performed once before. With release day tomorrow, Michael Cook’s A&R Representative, Chris Robinson, had a chance to chat with Cook about his famous grandfather and the release.

 

ROBINSON: For those who may not already be aware, could you share the story behind how you re-discovered “Three Century Suite” and began seeking out a way to realize this project?

COOK: When my mother died, I found a cassette tape of the only live performance, which took place in 1961. Since this year is the 50th anniversary of Deems’ death, I wanted to do something to honor his music. At first, I thought it would be great if someone would perform this piece again. I retrieved the handwritten score from the Taylor archives at Yale and got it transcribed into Sibelius. I sent the score and the recording to several conductors, all of whom were interested, but none of whom could get it on their schedule this  year. So I decided to record it with PARMA.

ROBINSON: What’s your earliest or most-lasting memory of your grandfather and his work?

COOK: One of my vivid memories is when Deems visited me at National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, where I was a camper for three summers. It was there that Three Century Suite was performed, by the University orchestra, and I was sitting next to Deems at that concert. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that this was the first time he had heard the piece played, too!

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ROBINSON: What has been the most surprising and/or significant thing you learned about Deems’s work since you first embarked on this project?

COOK: Working to record Deems’ music has been a catalyst for significant growth in my own musical education. I have played several instruments from an early age, written hundreds of songs of my own, and written and produced two full-length musicals. I have studied composition with two teachers, and jazz improvisation with students of Lennie Tristano. But working with Deems’ scores has been an education in orchestration, and instrumentation, and has opened my mind to what orchestral composition is all about. In addition, I have read several books on the history of twentieth-century music, in order to better understand Deems’ place in history, and this has also been a revelation and a joy.

ROBINSON: What about this piece do you think best represents Deems’s writing?

COOK: The lovely melodies, and his use of countermelodies, especially in the last section, Bartholomew Fair. Of course, his orchestration is wonderful. Also – in the Pavan, the way he constantly alters his theme – by modulation, extension, etc. – is something he does a lot. The overall craftsmanship of the work is very impressive to me – he wanted to be an architect, and his feeling for form reflects this, I think. Finally, the overall sense of life – the emotions he communicates – are benevolent, and joyous. There’s no “angst”, anger, rage, fear, horror – hallmarks of much of twentieth-century music.

ROBINSON: What goals would you like to achieve for Deems and his music through this release?

COOK: I would love for many people to hear and enjoy this wonderful piece and be led to explore his other recorded works. I would also like to see some of his other unrecorded work recorded. He deserves to be rediscovered.

ROBINSON: How has his music shaped who you are as a musician today, and how do you think this project could help to continue his legacy?

COOK: As I said above, it has sparked an interest in the intellectual aspects of composition. This project has resulted in a period of intense listening and study which is ongoing. As for his legacy – again, his music is a joy and deserves to be heard. With Three Century Suite, we have made available something that was lost in the mists of time, buried in a box in a library in New Haven. I believe it is a significant find, and it is the last orchestral piece he wrote. In that sense, it is a major release.

ROBINSON: As this is Volume II of The Lost Music of Deems Taylor, what do you have in mind for Volume III?

COOK: One piece that is high on my list is Marco Takes a Walk, which is a lovely bit of program music based on Dr. Seuss’s first book And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Suite. A live performance can be heard on YouTube, from 1954 I believe.


So Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse! For a gift, THREE CENTURY SUITE is released on Navona Records, Friday, November 18th.

Pre-Order your digital copy on Amazon and iTunes. For now, here’s a teaser.

Interview with Ted Sperling on MasterVoices’ THE ROAD OF PROMISE

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Ted Sperling, MasterVoices Artistic Director

MasterVoices has been a major musical institution in New York City since their inception as the Collegiate Chorale 75 years ago, under the direction of renowned conductor Robert Shaw.

Their latest release, THE ROAD OF PROMISE, is a double-disc world premiere recording of the concert adaptation of Kurt Weill’s The Eternal Road.

In anticipation of its release, we caught up with MasterVoices’ artistic director Ted Sperling to discuss the new album and learn more about how it came to light.


What inspired MasterVoices to produce and perform THE ROAD OF PROMISE?

We’ve been big fans of Kurt Weill’s music for a long time. We already produced concerts of Knickerbocker Holiday and The Firebrand of Florence. So this is very much something we’d been aware of and interested in. When the critical edition was finished, it was time to take the plunge! In addition, this work is a great showpiece for our chorus and deals with subject matter that, unfortunately, is always timely.

This project has certainly been a long time in the making, from the premiere of Kurt Weill’s The Eternal Road in 1937 to the concert adaptation’s performance and recording in May 2015. How does the newer work interpret and expand upon the themes of Weill’s original epic?

The newer work is actually a distillation of the original into a more compact and performable version. The original production was close to five hours in running time and had a huge cast of principals. The Road of Promise concentrates on the relationship among the Rabbi, the Boy, and the Skeptic, with the Bible stories providing commentary.

What would you say is the biggest benefit to the album being recorded live, rather than in a studio?

A live recording is never perfect, which is sometimes hard for us to adjust to in this age of being able to manipulate nearly everything in a studio recording. But it captures a moment in time, with the sounds of an audience being engaged, so it has a special excitement. 


It is also, practically speaking, easier to pull off. You don’t have to reassemble the forces again in a recording studio, and as result, it’s also economically more feasible for a project that isn’t commercial in nature.

What message do you want your listeners to take away from this album?

I hope a greater understanding of Kurt Weill’s different voices as a composer… this is an interesting period for him, right between his European work and American work. The Road of Promise calls on both his classical roots and his showman’s talents.

What’s next for MasterVoices? What performances and recordings are you currently preparing?

We are currently preparing for two more performances at Carnegie Hall: Bach’s St. John Passion, in a newly commissioned English translation by our Evangelist, Michael Slattery, who sings the role of The Voice in THE ROAD OF PROMISE. Followed by the first major revival of Victor Herbert’s “Babes in Toyland” in over 75 years, with an all-star cast headed by Kelli O’Hara, Christopher Fitzgerald, Lauren Worsham and Bill Irwin.


THE ROAD OF PROMISE is available on Navona Records tomorrow — in the meantime, you can hear a preview of the album via the YouTube player below.

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