Robert Paterson's WINTER SONGS out 12/3 on American Modern Recordings
American Modern Recordings, American Modern Ensemble (AME)'s lively outpost for superbly produced studio albums, issues Robert Paterson's finely crafted and expertly performed Winter Songs and other vocal works on Tuesday, December 3. To fete the occasion, AME presents an evening of selected winter songs from Paterson and others at the Dimenna Center's Cary Hall (450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018) on December 3 at 8PM.Produced by GRAMMY Award-winner Adam Abeshouse, the album is comprised of five song cycles by Paterson, pristinely captured and performed by a host of notable vocal talents. Anchoring the recording is Paterson's song cycle, Winter Songs, an artful setting of six selected poems inspired by the coldest season, featuring AME and the resounding depth of bass-baritone David Neal. The cycle reflects the contemplative and the whimsical, with "Icicles filled the long window" from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens; "Dark Day, Warm and Windy" from The Snow Poems by A. R. Ammons; "The Snow Man," from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens; "Boy at the Window" from Things of This World by Richard Wilbur; "Old Story" from The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley; and "Neither Snow" by Billy Collins. A vegan and top-notch cook featured in Vegetarian Times (October 2012), Paterson takes on Ron Singer's witty text for The Eating Variations, a light-hearted cycle of five songs based on Singer's collection by the same name. Baritone Robert Gardner joins AME, bringing life to Paterson's pithy and picturesque musical depictions of "My Body, A Temple," "The Hog," "Even the Dyspeptic Must Eat," "The Dietary Moralist," and "The Happy Medium."
With lesser texts, Paterson's knack for supreme vocal writing and effective, elegant structures becomes all the more apparent in CAPTCHA. Sung by baritone Jesse Blumberg, even nonsense will do. Says Paterson, "I decided to use CAPTCHA texts. To find interesting words and phrases, I spent many tedious hours in front of my computer loading CAPTCHAs. Actually, what I ended up using are reCAPTCHA texts, which are derived from a free version of CAPTCHA that uses combinations of real words from scanned books that need human confirmation and gibberish text." (The term CAPTCHA, for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart, was coined in 2000 by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and is a program that protects websites against Internet bots by distorted text presented as a graphic.) Adds Paterson, "Ultimately, my goal is to create an emotionally moving experience, despite the nonsensical nature of the words."Two piano-vocal cycles composed on the texts of collaborators Kenny Berkowitz and Bridget Meeds complete the album. In Thursday, each movement paints a literary picture of the central character via voice messages left by various people related to her. Soprano Nancy Allan Lundy sings the six short movements, each representing a different character. Tenor Dimitri Pittas takes over for Batter's Box, loosely based on the life of baseball giant Mike Piazza of the New York Mets. Each movement represents a different phase of the game, and thoughts of Piazza's ailing father bring the protagonist home. Batter's Box was featured in Sports Illustrated and on the Mets Jumbotron in an exclusive interview feature in 2012.
The "Winter Songs" program at the DiMenna Center on Tuesday, December 3 features two song cycles from the AMR album - CAPTCHA (world premiere) and Winter Songs. Adding weight to the program is the New York premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis's Pieces of Winter Sky, along with presentations of Two Whitman Panels by Russell Platt, The Snowman by Steven Burke, and Turning by Tania Leon. American Modern Ensemble is joined by Nancy Allen Lundy (soprano), John Matthew Myers (tenor), Jesse Blumberg (baritone), and David Neal (bass baritone). Robert Paterson conducts with all composers present. AME personnel: Amelia Lukas, flute; Benjamin Figland, clarinet; Robin Zeh, violin; Arash Amini, cello; Matt Ward, percussion; Blair McMillen and Stephen Gosling, piano. Tickets: $10 online, $25 at the door.