January 2019

If you find yourself here - welcome! It’s a space where I want to share ideas and perspectives about the music that I have immersed myself in over the years. To hear more, explore my Soundcloud page. It seems that everything I have ever recorded (or said- along with publicity photos sporting those late 80’s hairstyles!) is up on YouTube through the effort of folks I do not know. While that’s nice, the sound quality is not the same as what one would find through the discs/other media platforms. Still, I appreciate the effort and hope it will give you an impression of my work.

On the Music of claude vivier

I was introduced to the music of Claude Vivier through my friends at the ASKO/Schoenberg Ensemble in the mid 1990's.  Although I did not know it at the time, it was the beginning of a ten year project in which we worked together on performances Vivier's strange and beautiful music for voice and ensemble.  These days, Vivier's music is better known; his works are found in the seasons of the more adventurous major orchestras and ensembles worldwide.  In those days, though, that was not the case.  We worked from manuscript facsimile and found our way into this incredible, terrifying and ecstatic world.  Vivier's writing for voice is wide ranging.  It vacillates between ravishing phrases of exquisite simplicity (with treacherously long span),  extended vocal techniques that evoke an ancient, exotic and completely imaginary world, and climactic passages of ecstasy and boundlessness.  His music is a journey worth taking and one that I found infinitely rewarding and for which I remain profoundly grateful. 

Bouchara is one of my favorite works.  Written for soprano and medium size ensemble, its intimate introduction belies the intensity that is to come. Vivier referred to it as "an endless love song"; it is music that is increasingly rhapsodic through its fourteen minute duration.  But what are the words?  None from this world; it is set to one of Vivier's invented languages, in which we can identify two names "Tazio" and "Marco".  However the work reflects on Vivier's life and art, I can say that from the point of view of the interpreter, it is thrilling to sing.  One could not say that it is written with comfort in mind (the singer has no rests for the entire work) but, as in all of Vivier's music for voice, is about exploring the limits of expression and endurance - and imagining the music that lies beyond both. 

For more Vivier please see the video of Lonely Child below or go to my Soundcloud page.

West london - Charles ives

This track is from “The Light That is Felt - Songs of Charles Ives” a recording that I made with my dear colleague Donald Berman. Ives’ powerful setting of Matthew Arnold’s poem speaks to contemporary American life. I return to it at the beginning of 2019, with hopes that we all may find that “better time than ours”.

West London - Matthew Arnold

Crouched on the pavement close by Belgrave Square,
A tramp I saw, ill, moody, and tongue-tied:
A babe was in her arms, and at her side
A girl; their clothes were rags, their feet were bare.

Some labouring men, whose work lay somewhere there,
Passed opposite; she touched her girl, who hied
Across, and begged, and came back satisfied.
The rich she had let pass with frozen stare.

Thought I: Above her state this spirit towers;
She will not ask of aliens, but of friends,
Of sharers in a common human fate.

She turns from that cold succour which attends
The unknown little from the unknowing great,
And points us to a better time than ours.

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