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Thomas Cabaniss' SKETCHES OF VENASQUE Released

Each movement serves as a tour de France, from the Bells of St. Siffrein to the peaks of Mont Ventoux, and offers listeners a chance to escape to France.

Thomas Cabaniss' SKETCHES OF VENASQUE Released

Composer Thomas Cabaniss and pianist Michael Shinn announce the release of their second collaborative album, Sketches of Venasque: Six Pieces for Piano, now available digitally. Recorded at Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University in 2019, Sketches of Venasque is a 6-movement set of miniatures for solo piano inspired by Cabaniss's trip to southeastern France with his wife Deborah in 1990. Each movement serves as a tour de France, from the Bells of St. Siffrein to the peaks of Mont Ventoux, and offers listeners a chance to escape to the south of France from the comfort of their own living rooms.

"Venasque is a beautiful hilltop village in the south of France, just east of the Rhone," says Cabaniss. "It was the nearby summer home to the Popes of Avignon during their reign in the 14th and 15th centuries; it overlooks groves of olive and cherry trees and the vineyards and villages of the southern valley of Mont Ventoux. These pieces were composed in a hilltop studio there, inspired by the daily rhythms of the village and the surrounding vistas."

Sketches of Venasque is released on the heels of Tiny Bits of Outrageous Love, a 7-movement piano four hands work by Cabaniss, performed by Shinn and wife Jessica Chow Shinn. Tiny Bits and Sketches will be included in a 4-volume compilation of Cabaniss's music to be released in Winter 2022.

Click to listen digitally.

Watch Michael perform The Mistral/Mont Mont Ventoux below!

To read a movement by movement breakdown, click here to view program notes written by Thomas.

Sketches of Venasque: Six Pieces for Piano was engineered by Anthony Barfield and Mixed/Mastered by Velocity Music, Inc. Album Art by Michelle Parkos.

About the Artists:

Thomas Cabaniss writes for opera, theater, dance, film, and the concert stage. His song "An Old Story" with text by Tracy K. Smith was premiered as part of Carnegie Hall's Ode to Joy: A Global Concert, performed by Joyce DiDonato and Yannick Nézet Séguin. Recent commissions include Double Rainbow, a concerto for two pianos and orchestra (Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra), One Silken Thread for Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine; four works for Carnegie Hall's orchestra education program (LinkUp!), and My Song Is A Fire, an oratorio for the Fairfield County Chorale. Other works include The Reclamation, Noise + Speed, It's All True, and The Short-Cut for choreographer Hilary Easton. The Sandman, a chamber opera based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, was premiered at the Connelly Theater in New York in over thirty performances.

His theater scores include: The American Plan (Broadway), Buffalo Gal (Primary Stages, Studio Arena Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival); Old Comedy (Classic Stage Co. and Target Margin) Mamba's Daughters (Target Margin Theater, Spoleto Festival USA); Galileo (Yale Repertory Theater); The Guest Lecturer (George Street Playhouse); A Streetcar Named Desire, A Christmas Carol (Dallas Theater Center); Pericles, The Marriage of Bette & Boo, Twelfth Night (Center Stage, Baltimore). His concert music has been performed by The Orchestra of St. Luke's and over 100 orchestras in the U.S. and around the world.

He helped to create Moving Star, a vocal improvisation laboratory in residence at the Resnick Education Wing at Carnegie Hall, and over the last three years it has produced an opera for babies (Otoyotoy) with libretto by Zoe Palmer and Blessing, an interactive singing experience. In 2019, it premiered a new opera for babies: Nooma.

He has written for The Young People's Chorus of New York City and those commissions have been performed around the country. He serves on the theory faculty of The Juilliard School and as a consultant for the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, where he helped to create The Lullaby Project, collaborating with young parents in shelters, hospitals, and prisons.

Michael Shinn became the Dean of Music at Boston Conservatory at Berklee in 2017. In this capacity, he oversees the music division faculty and students, directs artistic planning and strategizing for the division, and works closely with the Vice President for Academic Affairs in leading curricular innovation. As the voice of the division, Michael represents all matters pertaining to the community in Berklee-wide committees, as well as in all external partnerships.

One of the first collaborations Michael brought to the Conservatory was with the Silkroad Ensemble, which has impacted the student experience in myriad ways ranging from performance collaborations at Symphony Hall to artistic risk-taking in the classroom. This long-term residency has been especially beneficial for students during the pandemic, as Silkroad artists have led modules connecting health, wellness, and mindfulness with artistry and creativity. To support both students and faculty during remote work, Michael also established relationships with industry leaders in music technology and audio and video production. As a result, Boston Conservatory students are now at the cutting edge in their career preparation for a new normal in the performing arts.

Michael's diverse career in music reflects his deep passion for performance, education, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the arts. Prior to this appointment at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Michael was chair of keyboard studies at The Juilliard School, where he taught piano, chamber music, piano pedagogy, and keyboard skills for both pianists and conductors. He also served as senior advisor for artistic and educational programs at Juilliard Global Ventures, where he was the professor for Juilliard's first online course, Juilliard Piano Class: Sharpen Your Artistry.

Based on the belief that musicians must successfully communicate through spoken word in addition to performance, Michael launched the Speaking from the Stage initiative at Juilliard, which prepares students to speak to their audiences at their graduation recitals and engage with arts lovers and future supporters. As a spokesperson for the arts, Michael has presented and moderated panels about the future of arts education and the role of the arts in society at SXSW EDU, the Pebble Beach Authors and Ideas Festival, Sphinx Connect, and the Yamaha Educational Leader's Summit.

Michael has designed innovative lectures and courses on a variety of subjects, often focusing on his specialty, the music of Franz Liszt. In 2011, he was the artistic director of the Liszt Festival at Juilliard, a series of lecture-recitals celebrating the composer's bicentennial that brought together world-class artists and pedagogues including Jerome Lowenthal and Margo Garrett.

A passionate advocate for new music, Michael is a Yamaha Artist and frequently performs as a duo with his wife, pianist Jessica Chow Shinn. Additionally, they co-founded and direct the pianoSonoma Music Festival, a unique program that brings together musicians from all backgrounds to collaborate and perform in Sonoma County, CA.


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