COMMISSIONED AND PERFORMED BY APOLLO CHAMBERS PLAYERS
IMÁGENES DE CUBA
Literally translated as ‘Images of Cuba’, this work was commissioned by the Apollo Chamber Players as part of their 20X2020 commissioning project. Inspired by my frequent visits to Cuba over the past 10 years, and redolent with the memories of my time as a trombonist in salsa bands during my youth, the work is in three movements: Manisero, a playful examination of an ancient peanut vendor’s cry heard to this day in the plazas of old Havana; Guajira, a typically slow movement which deconstructs the unofficial national anthem of Cuba and, hopefully, depicts some of the yearning and sadness in the Cuban soul after so many years of misunderstandings and oppression; and, lastly, Timba, a boisterous colloquy between the members of the group displaying a panoply of salsa and pachanga motifs and rhythms, illustrating the inseparable alignment of music with dance throughout Cuban history. ¡Viva Cuba! ¡Cuba Libre!
JOHN A. CAROLLO
In your hour of need (Your soul now travels the cosmic waves)
For 4 Horns, Piano, Double Bass, and Percussion
Dedicated to the memory of William K. Dresser, M.D.
This work began as a Piano Etude. I transcribed it for Flute, Bassoon, Horn in F, Xylophone, Piano and Cello between 2-5-14 and 4-12-14 after my partner died. I needed a work to commemorate the day that his soul departed for a new adventure (3-8-14). Bill was a dualist, furthermore, he believed that those who you are close to in this mortal life play meaningful roles in your next life. We will be together again soon.
This new recording is a transcription from the sextet that was sent to the Cuban producer, Dayron Ortega, who collaborated with me on this project. His liberal use of percussion instruments is a welcome addition, especially the cow bell and the bata, which people traditionally use to summon the spirits of the deceased in Afro-Cuban ceremonies. The ending signifies the departing soul after leaving this mortal vale of tears.
It is traditional to read Psalm 27 during the month before and including the Jewish New Year, as part of the season of teshuvah or return. The simplicity of verse 4 always holds my attention and gives me strength throughout the year: “One thing I asked of the Holy Living Essence, this I will seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Holy One all the days of my life.”
In this composition, I hope to convey how it may feel to live (literally “sit”) with awareness of the Holy Presence. The first movement focuses on the word akhat, which means one: one request, one God, one holy Essence creating and pervading the universe in every moment. In repeating and overlapping that word, the chorus creates a texture to hold and embrace us in that intention.
It is understood that Hebrew is a holy language, and that the words themselves embody the meaning they represent. The second movement plays with the sounds of the words Otah Avakesh (this I will request). I felt more extroverted energy in these words, and the chorus sings them with a joyful dynamism that builds in excitement as the movement progresses. A sustained melody of the entire text holds the central core, while otah avakesh dances around it.
The last movement, Shivti b’vet HaShem (that I may sit in the House of the Holy One), returns to a state of calm, integrating the joyous connection with an inner peace, which radiates throughout.
Akhat sha’alti was commissioned by the Coastal Carolina Department of Music, with the support of the Nancy A. Smith Distinguished Visitor Series.
Oseh Shalom (Maker of Peace) is the last movement of my setting of Shacharit, the Jewish morning prayer service. It is the last sentence of the Kaddish, which marks the end of the service. The soothing counterpoint was written during a moment of inner turmoil, as an antidote to conflict. In the context of the larger work, it offers closure for the spiritual journey.
The complete Shacharit (Morning Service), with its full orchestration, can be heard on the Albany Records CD, Streams in the Desert (Troy 973). I subsequently created an arrangement of Shacharit with organ, percussion and chorus, premiered in 2016. The Schola Coralina recording here presents a 2017 a cappella version of Oseh Shalom.
MONA LYN REESE
¡LA HABANA, MI AMOR!
When PARMA suggested I record some of my jazz-style works in Havana, I selected several existing pieces and combined them into the jazz-suite, ¡LA HABANA, MI AMOR! (Havana, My Love!). One of my favorite pieces, “Food for Love”, is an aria from The Three Fat Women of Antibes an opera my husband, Tom, and I wrote. It was originally scored for mezzo soprano and orchestra. “Dîner Romantique”, is a romance for violin and piano and “Hot Chocolate!” is one movement of a work for string orchestra. Tom and I love to tell stories. All the pieces we chose are about food and love. We decided to create a new story and words for the two instrumental pieces. ¡LA HABANA, MI AMOR! is the story of a Cuban woman, Rubí, who falls in love with Evan, a musician who’s playing in Havana. They serenade and seduce each other with food and song.
I. Cena Romántica (Romantic Dinner)
When your date misses a romantic dinner, you sing the blues.
II. Mi Postre, Mi Amor (Food for Love)
“Mi Postre, Mi Amor” is a jazz standard-style song. Harmony and melody in the original reflect the 1930s crooners.
III. ¡Chocolate Caliente! (Hot Choc’late!)
Sultry and sexy ¡Chocolate Caliente! pays tribute to famous swing tunes in its theme and variations format. We're dancin’ and lovin’ Havana!
Variation 1: Miller Time (String of Pearls; composer, Jerry Gray)
Variation 2: The Band improvises on the main theme.
Variation 3: Mood Swings (In the Mood; composer, Joe Garland)
Son de la Loma
“Son de la Loma” by Miguel Matamoros was first performed by his group, Trío Matamoros. A prolific composer of the traditional Cuban “son,” Matamoros was a notable contributor to Cuba’s musical heritage.
“El Manisero” by Moisés Simons is a significant piece of Cuban culture that is hailed as one of the most performed and recorded works by a Cuban composer.
Grace Dances takes its name from the apocryphal “Acts of John,” written in the second century CE. The Nicene Council in 787 refused to admit this text into the New Testament as it made the personage of Jesus into a very human form and not enough of a godhead. Within this beautiful text is Jesus’ round dance. This ecstatic text, which is the inspiration for this work, brings out numerous emotions that I have attempted to present in this composition. The work, for oboe and string orchestra, is in three large sections: an opening slow section which becomes quite rhythmic and (at one point) perhaps, even amusing. The second section slows down the built-up emotion and is reminiscent of chant, only to return to a very rhythmically active and constantly changing metric dance.
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