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Palaver Strings to Release READY OR NOT, A Collection Of Diverse Works By Female Composers

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Barbara Strozzi's Lagrima mie will be released as a single on February 11 and the Knowles/Moore fiddle set will be released on March 18.

Palaver Strings to Release READY OR NOT, A Collection Of Diverse Works By Female Composers

On Friday, April 15, 2022, musician-led ensemble Palaver Strings will release its new album of music by diverse female composers, Ready or Not, on Azica Records. Works on the album include Grażyna Bacewicz's Concerto for String Orchestra; Non può il mio cuore by Venetian singer, lutenist, and composer Maddalena Casulana; composer Barbara Strozzi's madrigal Lagrime mie featuring a performance by mezzo-soprano Sophie Michaux; Chicago-based multi-genre composer, vocalist, pianist, and producer Akenya Seymour's Fear the Lamb; and a set of fiddle tunes by two Portland-based fiddlers, Liz Knowles and Palaver's own Elizabeth Moore.

Listen to the first single from the album, "Bobo's Blues" from Akenya Seymour's Fear the Lamb. Barbara Strozzi's Lagrima mie will be released as a single on February 11 and the Knowles/Moore fiddle set will be released on March 18.

In the booklet notes, Palaver Strings shares, "Throughout classical music history, most women were excluded from the formal training and institutional support their male counterparts enjoyed, their work erased from the canon... While music by men is allowed to 'speak for itself,' women's creative output is still often viewed through a gendered lens." The ensemble looked both within and beyond the classical tradition and string orchestra medium for voices, compelling stories, and music that speak to the rich palette of human emotions to show that women's creative visions have always been here, whether the concert hall was ready, or not.

Polish composer and virtuoso violinist Grażyna Bacewicz's (1909-1969) 1948 Concerto for String Orchestra was hailed as a masterpiece, described by a colleague as "a red-blooded piece of healthy and tasty music written with male-like creative power." Like other concerto grossos, this piece contrasts solo voices with the texture of the full ensemble, but fragments and transforms the material with complex and dissonant harmonies, disrupting expectations.

Next on the album is Non può il mio cuore by Venetian singer, lutenist, and composer Maddalena Casulana (c. 1544-1590), the first woman to publish her own music in the Western classical tradition. In her four-voice madrigal, the music is a vehicle for a dramatic text about love and death.

Composed a century later, prolific composer Barbara Strozzi's (1619-1677) madrigal Lagrime mie (1659) is a setting of a poem by Pietro Dolfino, which laments the speaker's separation from his beloved. After growing up among the leading intellectuals of the day, Strozzi published over 100 works in her lifetime without ever securing permanent patronage. This performance features mezzo-soprano Sophie Michaux.

Chicago-based multi-genre composer, vocalist, pianist, and producer Akenya Seymour's (b.1992) Fear the Lamb (2019) recounts the life and death of Emmett Till in three vivid movements. The first evokes the jazz-infused landscape of Chicago; the second juxtaposes the lush natural beauty of Mississippi with the teenager's brutal lynching; and the last, an elegy featuring improvised reflections by each member of the ensemble.

The album closes with a set of fiddle tunes by two Portland-based fiddlers, Liz Knowles and Palaver's own Elizabeth Moore (b. 1989). Moore's nostalgic waltz Treehouse was originally written as a birthday gift for her father, who was a contra dance caller and always saved the last waltz of the night for her. Knowles' Jig for John #2 is a lilting jig in the traditional Irish style. The set ends with a modern take on the traditional Irish reel, Fore Street, written by Moore when she lived above a rowdy bar in Portland's Old Port.

About Palaver Strings
Palaver Strings is a musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization based in Portland, ME. Founded in 2014, Palaver has established itself as a forward-thinking ensemble whose mission is to strengthen and inspire community through music. In our musician-led model, Palaver's musicians share artistic and administrative leadership, guided by a passion for engaging new audiences, addressing social justice issues, and amplifying underrepresented voices. The ensemble has enjoyed residencies at Rockport Music, Boston Center for the Arts, and Bay Chamber Concerts, and presents a full concert season featuring diverse musical programming, cross-genre projects, and community collaborations each year. Palaver also offers music instruction through the Palaver Music Center in Portland, ME, currently serving over 325 students per year.

"Palaver" comes from the term "palaver hut," a traditional setting for discussion and conflict resolution found in Liberia and other West African countries. In its early days as an ensemble, Palaver Strings gave benefit concerts for the Liberian Education Fund, an organization co-founded by Managing Director Maya French, and were inspired by the concept of the palaver hut, as they seek to come to creative agreement when making music. Learn more at www.palaverstrings.org.

Ready or Not Track List


Grażyna Bacewicz - Concerto for String Orchestra
1. i. Allegro [5:03]
2. ii. Andante [4:46]
3. iii. Vivo [5:05]

4. Maddalena Casulana (arr. Jesse MacDonald) - Non può il mio cuore [1:49]

5. Barbara Strozzi (arr. Adam Jacob Simon) - Lagrime mie [9:36]
Sophie Michaux, mezzo-soprano

Akenya Seymour - Fear the Lamb
6. i. Bobo's Blues [3:15]
7. ii. Gorgeous and Gallant / Gory and Galvanizing [4:00]
8. iii. Elegy for Emmett Louis Till [6:54]

9. Liz Knowles and Elizabeth Moore - Treehouse/Jig for John #2/Fore Street [10:12]

Recorded at Rockport Music's Shalin Liu Performing Arts Center
Engineering and Editing: Kyle Pyke, Christopher Moretti, Tom Caulfield
Mastering: Jesse Lewis, Kyle Pyke
Producers: Kyle Pyke, Akenya Seymour
Cover Art: Alyssa Grenning
Album Design: Fiona Hilton
Catalog #: ACD-71342
UPC #: 787867134221


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