In late August 2001, the Icelandic recording artist Björk put out her album Vespertine. The sound was intended to be intimate, if not domestic. Its mood of sonic experiment, inspired by her recognition of the new world of computer downloaded music, led her to employ sounds that wouldn’t be compromised when played on less than optimal sound systems.
In December 1983, organist Harry Huff was scheduled to play the New Year’s Eve service at the world’s largest (or second-largest) Anglican Cathedral, New York’s St. John the Divine, located by Columbia University in Morningside Heights in Manhattan. Mr. Huff specifically asked for a piece that would take advantage of the organ’s mammoth State Trumpet and commissioned Calvin Hampton for the work.
St. Stephen’s Day falls on December 26. On this day, it was tradition to kill a wren. A wren song is sung, about the wren as ‘King of all birds,’ and the ‘wrenboys’ go from door to door begging for money and food as they sing ‘The Wren Song’.
It isn’t often that an extended poem gets taken on a modern spin, but Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” beloved of children of all ages, has been set by composer William Goldstein against an orchestral and choral background. The poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore, first appeared anonymously in a newspaper in upper New York state.
The Austrian composer Joseph Marx (1882-1964) led Austrian musical culture and after his death, seemed to vanish completely from the musical scene. He’s best known for his vocal music and wrote more than 150 lieder.
The American composer Florence Price (1887-1953) used Dvořák’s ninth symphony, From the New World as the inspiration for her first symphony.
Despite those who sought to get Michala Petri to play a “real” instrument, she saw the possibilities of the old-fashioned instrument. From the beginning of her formal studies, she’s had composers writing for her. And she, in turn, has challenged them to create contemporary music that is as accessible as Baroque music.
Titled ‘In Gloucestershire,’ the work captures in sound the feelings that Howell had when he would go walking through Gloucestershire with his friend, the composer and poet Ivor Gurney (1890-1937).