NEW AMERICAN MASTERS, VOLUME 3
World Premiere Recordings of Newly Commissioned Works
Palisades Suite  (a trio for our time) - ERIC EWAZEN
ERIC EWAZEN was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. Receiving a B.M. At the Eastman School of Music, and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from The Juilliard School, his teachers include Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Joseph Schwantner and Gunther Schuller. He is a recipient of numerous composition awards and prizes. His works have been commissioned and performed by many soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras in the U.S. and overseas. Recent works include "Legacy" commissioned for the Bi-Centennial of West Point and performed by the USMA Band in Carnegie Hall and "Flight", commissioned by the USAF Heritage of America Band at Langley AFB, VA, celebrating the 100th anniversary of powered flight. Recent premieres of his Orchestral and Wind Ensemble works have been given by the Charleston (SC) Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife in Spain, Orquesta Sinfonica Carlos Chavez in Mexico City, Orchestre de la Garde Republicaine in Paris, the Jeju Music Festival Wind Ensemble in Korea and in Taiwan. Recent Wind ensemble premieres include his Bassoon Concerto for the University of Florida, a Euphonium Concerto (for Robert Grechesky and the Butler University Wind Ensemble), “Visions of Light” for Joseph Alessi and the Indiana University Wind Ensemble. He was also commissioned to write a Trumpet Concerto, "Danzante", for Allen Vizzutti by CBDNA which was premiered in Reno, NV in March, 2004 by the Intercollegiate Wind Ensemble. In January “Southern Landscapes” was premiered by the University of Georgia Wind Ensemble at the GMEA in Savannah. Orchestral performances of Mr. Ewazen's music have recently been given by the Juilliard Symphony, Stow Chamber Orchestra (OH), Flower Mound Chamber Orchestra (TX), Birmingham (UK) Philharmonic, Illinois Symphony, Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Le'Zion, Honolulu Symphony, Mankato (MN) Symphony and the Everett (WA) Symphony. He has been a guest at almost 100 Universities and colleges throughout the world in recent years including, Curtis, Eastman, Peabody, Indiana U., UCLA, U. of Texas, U. of Hawaii, Birmingham (UK) Conservatory, the Conservatory of Santa Cruz (Spain) and Boston Conservatory. He has been lecturer for the New York Philharmonic's Musical Encounters Series, Vice-President of the League of Composers--International Society of Contemporary Music, and Composer-In-Residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City. He has been a faculty member at Juilliard since 1980.
"Palisades Suite"  is gratefully dedicated to my dear friends in the Palisades Virtuosi. Having worked with them for many years, heard their beautiful performances and recordings of other works of mine--as well as works by some of the most distinguished composers of our time, I was delighted to have the opportunity to write a piece for the ensemble which captures both their wonderfully musical and heartfelt approach towards playing, and their truly dazzling virtuosity. The piece began life as a work describing the 4 seasons--but I also have realized that the seasons of nature are like the seasons of our journey through life--particularly in these intense times of both world unity and tragic, almost unfathomable confrontation. So I subsequently have subtitled this piece a "Trio for our Time": "...of beauty" where melodies excitingly sparkle with life and energy and the wonder of life is a joy to behold, as the instruments playfully toss those melodies throughout the ensemble as they skip and leap, "...of sadness" when the tragedy of some of our world's events, be it natural occurrences or man-made confrontations result in such sorrowful loss, and the melodies of the flute and clarinet soulfully sing a tale of loss and heartbreak over melancholy chords in the piano, "...of anguish" where sorrow shifts abruptly to anguished, dramatic cries to the Heavens--as the ensemble tosses the melodies around now with intense passion, anger and desperation. Cascades of emotion erupt as if a sudden storm has engulfed our world, "...of peace", where feelings of hope, renewal, rebirth are felt as the lines become purely lyrical, soft, gentle and caressing, as the piano supplies a buoyant support--life endures--the world endures--we go on in this wondrous journey with hope, resolution...and a heartfelt peace. --Eric Ewazen
Wind Space  (a 9-11 commemorative work) - BRIAN SCHOBER
BRIAN SCHOBER (b. 1951) has pursued an active career as a composer and performer throughout the United States and abroad. A native of New Jersey, Schober pursued his musical studies at the Eastman School of Music where his teachers included Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner in composition and Sue Seid and Russell Saunders in organ. He furthered his studies in Paris, studying composition with Olivier Messiaen and Betsy Jolas at the Paris Conservatory of Music while studying organ privately with Jean Guillou and André Isoir. Schober’s music spans all instrumental and vocal media. His music has been performed by the Gregg Smith Singers, The New York Treble Singers, Voces Novae et Antiquae, the Kitos Singers, nexus Arts, Scottish organist Kevin Bowyer, the percussion ensembles of The Juilliard School, Mannes School of Music and the University of Buffalo, and the New York Percussion Quartet. As a performer of organ music of all styles and periods, he has toured both the U.S. and Europe, particularly presenting concerts of new organ music. He has also performed with the new music group Speculum Musicae. A CD of works for chorus and organ recorded by the Gregg Smith Singers and the New York Treble Singers is issued by Ethereal Recordings, Manhattan Impromptus for piano, performed by Stephen Gosling, has been released by Capstone Records. He is presently Music Director of the First Congregational Church in Park Ridge, New Jersey.
“Wind-space” (a 9-11 commemorative work)  for alto flute, bass clarinet and piano was composed for the group Palisades Virtuosi in response to their request for a piece in memory of the events of 9-11. Although, the piece does not relate in any specific way to those events, it evokes the idea of empty and open spaces and the wind which passes through, as indicated by the title. The writing was greatly influenced by the Japanese bamboo flute or shakuhachi. The alto flute acts as a catalyst for the work in that the other instruments as commentators to it. The three performers are treated very independently of each other and rarely play together except in a few dramatic moments. --Brian Schober
Eine Kleine Abendmusik  - FRED MESSNER
FRED MESSNER (b. 1926) began studying piano at age eight and started playing professionally in his teens. A decade later he began what has become a long career as a piano teacher and also started composing. He is a composer member of ASCAP. In addition to this piece, premiered and recorded by the Palisades Virtuosi, he has written a number of popular songs which have been played on radio and television. He studied jazz piano with Harold Danko, now chair of jazz studies at Eastman School of Music, and also studied at Juilliard School of Music. In 2000 he wrote the book, music and lyrics for a musical show which was the climax of his hometown of Woodcliff Lake’s year-long millennium celebrations.
"Eine Kleine Abendmusik"  was written as a gift to the Palisades Virtuosi during the period that Mr. Messner was an officer of the organization’s board of trustees. His lifelong love of classical music and jazz and his commitment to the mission of the PV inspired him to compose this simple and elegant waltz for them in 2007.
Parable for a Parrot  - DICK HYMAN
DICK HYMAN's (b. 1927) career got underway in the 1950's , and since then he has functioned as pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and, in the present instance, as a composer. His concert compositions include his Piano Concerto, Ragtime Fantasy, a cantata on the autobiography of Mark Twain, chamber music of various instrumentations, and many pieces for piano. Mr. Hyman's film scores are numerous, particulary those written for Woody Allen, as well as the often-seen Moon Struck. He acted as musical director for 20 years at New York's Jazz in July series of concerts at the 92nd Street Y, and served similar duty at the Oregon Festival of American Music. In years past he was at different points musical director for Arthur Godfrey, pianist with Benny Goodman,and arranger for Andre Kostelanetz . He has recorded well over 100 albums of solo playing and many more in support of other artists. He continues to compose, perform in recitals and jazz festivals and has been recently featured in duets with clarinetist Ken Peplowski and in a staged dinner theater presentation with actor/singer Bill Hayes, an early colleague.
The present Parable for a Parrot , perhaps inspired by a neighboring Floridian bird, began life as a track recorded for the lengthy project known as Dick Hyman's Century of Jazz Piano, a mammoth audio and visual compendium and analysis of of the subject which presents its ragtime origins and progresses to the free improvisation of today. The tempo of Parable for a Parrot, one of these piano improvisations, was subsequently modified and arranged for the Palisades Virtuosi, who impart to it the more contemplative character of a brief concert piece.
Three American Portraits  - RANDALL E. FAUST
I. Traveling Toccata
II. Reflective Rhapsody
III. Homecoming March
RANDALL E. FAUST (b. 1947) writes from the perspective as someone who plays and teaches chamber music every day. He is a Professor of music at Western Illinois University--where he teaches Horn, Brass Chamber Music, and Music Theory and is the hornist of the Camerata Woodwind Quintet and the LaMoine Brass Quintet. Previously, he held appointments at Auburn University (Alabama) and Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (Virginia) where he taught a full range of music courses including Applied Horn, Composition, Music Theory, Electronic Music, and Brass Chamber Music. From 1985-2008, he was on the summer faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He holds degrees from the University of Iowa, Minnesota State University-Mankato, and Eastern Michigan University and studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy - Interlochen Honors Musicianship Project. Faust’s composition teachers include Rolf Scheurer, Warren Benson, Anthony Iannaccone, Peter Tod Lewis, and Donald Jenni. Recordings of the music of Randall Faust are available on various labels including MSR Classics, Summit Records, Crystal Records, and ACA Digital Recordings. His compositions are regularly heard in concerts and recitals at universities and festivals around the country and have been performed at Symposia of The International Trumpet Guild, The International Horn Society, The International Trombone Association, and The National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors. Among his many works featuring wind instruments are his Concerto for Horn and Wind Ensemble, the Concerto for Mallet Percussion and Brass Quintet, the Symphony for Band, Winter Landscape for Woodwind Quintet, the Concerto for Brass Quintet, Percussion, and Strings (written for the National Gallery Orchestra of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC), and his Celebration for Horn and Organ. He is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Detailed information on the compositions of Randall Faust may be found at www.faustmusic.com
"Three American Portraits"  - I. Traveling Toccata - Americans travel constantly - traveling for work or on vacations. Centuries ago the Native Americans traveled by canoe or on foot. Ironically, an American will now travel by train to the airport, fly across the country, and take a rental car to a remote location to go hiking or canoeing. II. Reflective Rhapsody - With their busy lives, Americans cherish moments of spiritual reflection. These spiritual moments may take place in traditional institutions, or when humming a folk song while walking in the woods or on a quiet city street. III. Homecoming March - American schools regularly have homecoming celebrations - complete with bands in parades. However, we also enjoy homecoming events with our families. Upon reflection, we find that the goal of all of our traveling is to come home.
The Spice of the Program  - BEN MODEL
BEN MODEL (b. 1962) is one of the nation's leading silent film composer/accompanists, and has been accompanying silent movies for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1984. He plays piano and theatre organ, and has written silent film scores for orchestra and concert band. Model composes or improvises all his own scores, and performs in a style that is evocative of music of the silent era, but also reflects film scoring techniques of the "sound era". He learned his craft from renowned silent film organist and composer Lee Erwin (1909-2000), while attending NYU's film school and playing for the silent film courses there. Model has also co-curated film series for MoMA, most notably a two-month Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle retrospective and the slapstick series "Cruel and Unusual Comedy". His musical scores can be heard on numerous silent film DVD releases such as "Sherlock Holmes" with John Barrymore, the 4-disc set "Edison: the Invention of the Movies", "American Slapstick" vols. 1 & 2, and "Becoming Charley Chase". He currently works full-time as a silent film accompanist and historian, playing for silent movies at MoMA as well as at universities, schools, churches, museums, historic theaters, classic film festivals and more. He also produces and provides accompaniment for the popular, long-running "Silent Clowns Film Series" in NYC, named for the book written about silent film comedy by NY Times drama critic Walter Kerr, who showed Model silents from his 16mm collection when Model was growing up. More information can be found online at Model's website, www.silentfilmmusic.com.
"The Spice of the Program"  is a tribute to the short comedy film of the silent era. The comedy two-reeler was the staple of every movie show during the silent film era, and was the bread-and-butter of every theater manager. During the 1920's, a theater marquee often displayed the star and title of the slapstick short on the bill as well as the feature attraction, because the new Harold Lloyd or Lloyd Hamilton comedy was often a bigger draw than the dramatic feature showing that week. Drawing on 25+ years of composing and improvising live musical scores for silent films, Model has constructed a piece of chamber music based on the structure of a typical comedy short, with themes (or leitmotifs) for the lead comic, his adversary, and the girl the comic is pining or fighting for, as well as the "standard" mood or incidental music essential for one of these cinema appetizers -- "busy" music, "trouble brewing" music and, of course, a chase that resolves with a recap of the love theme and the film's main theme. The listener should feel free to relax, forget where they are, and "tune out" -- imagining a fictional silent slapstick film as it unspools on the silver screen in their mind's eye. ?
Total CD [71:22]
Back Cover Credits:
John Ostendorf, producer
David Kowalski, recording engineer
Recorded at Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ
[Track 11 only - recorded & mixed by David Kowalski and edited by Palisades Virtuosi , final production  - John Ostendorf ]
Photos of trio: John V. Bentz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
other images: istock.com, Margaret Swinchoski
This recording would not have been possible without the generous contributions of these donors: Steve Coen, Richard Hatchett, Eric Ewazen, Randall E. Faust, Jean Geisler, Dick Hyman, Madelyn Levy and the Family of Edward A. Levy.
Special thanks also to our families without whose support we could not continue.