Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New PARMA Artists: Musica Pacifica

We're pleased to welcome new PARMA Artists Musica Pacifica, one of America's premiere Baroque ensembles. Musica Pacifica have signed on to release a collection of Baroque instrumental music and cantatas by Handel, Steffani, Telemann, and Rameau, with soprano Dominique Labelle.

The group's performances have been described as "a small miracle of precision and musical electricity" (Washington Post), "a wonderful feeling of vivacious spontaneity, belied by stunning precision of execution" (Los Angeles Times), and "the finest in historical performance today" (Early Music America Magazine).

At home in the San Francisco Bay area, the artists of Musica Pacifica perform with Philharmonia Baroque and American Bach Soloists, and they appear with many other prominent early music ensembles nationally and abroad. They have performed in many concert series across the US and abroad including three appearances at the Berkeley Early Music Festival, the first of which was cited in Early Music (UK) as "perhaps the standout of the entire festival," and most recently at the 2015 Boston Early Music Festival where "the performances were little short of sensational" (The Boston Musical Intelligencer).

Hear the group perform Telemann's "Paris" Quartet below, and keep an eye out for their next release in 2016!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Recap: PARMA Music Festival 2015

The 2015 PARMA Music Festival has come to an end. The weekend of August 14-16 in Portsmouth NH and Kittery ME was filled with concerts and events that brought together classical musicians and ensembles, pop and indie rock groups, electronic artists, and acoustic singer/songwriters. You never know what to expect at the PARMA Music Festival, and this year was no different. 

If you missed out on some of the events, or want to relive a magical moment, we’ve recapped the weekend below.


Friday night the PARMA Music Festival kicked off at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth with electronic and live percussion music by Ivonne Paredes, Bryce Craig, and Adam Vidiksis. Each artists brought their own unique style, modifying and enhancing their instruments with computer-generated sounds. Next to stage was the Chris Klaxton Group, an outstanding jazz ensemble from seacoast New Hampshire. They performed original songs as well as renditions of music by Ben Allison, the Beatles, and the Smashing Pumpkins.

stephaniesĭd at 3S Artspace
Then came stephaniesĭd from Asheville NC, who kept the energy going. Vocalist Stephanie Morgan danced along the stage, each movement bringing her words to light. Her emotional intensity and stage presence as well as the group’s dynamic outpouring was captivating. With all of 3S in high spirits and hunger for more, this concert certainly set the bar for the rest of the Festival.


Saturday morning began at St. John’s Church with a performance of works by Antonín Dvořák and Josef Suk by world-touring Czech violinist and concert manster Vít Mužík, accompanied by pianist and Boston Conservatory professor Karolina Rojahn. Although they had only played together for a short time before, their chemistry was amazing and Vít’s tone and technique was nothing short of exquisite. 

During the early afternoon concert at St. John's, Mac Ritchey, a New England master of various folk and world instruments, showcased solo oud works that placed listeners in different parts of the world. Following Mac, Joseph Summer’s Shakespeare Concerts from Boston MA presented contemporary and traditional pieces that brought the works and characters of Shakespeare to life. 

BUOY Gallery in Kittery ME was showcasing Kenny Cole’s "Flood," a unique exhibition featuring a series of encrypted messages flowing along the walls as well as sculptures of cellular phones scattered throughout the room. Salem MA singer/songwriter and DJ Qwill’s music complimented Cole’s exhibition of engaging in the world around us well. Following Qwill’s soulful set, NH composer William A. Fletcher’s clarinet duo Five Black Birds was performed passionately by Stephanie Ratté Jenkins and Katrina Veno.

Miss Fairchild at The Dance Hall
After filling up on art, engaging music, and wine, Festival-goers walked over to The Dance Hall in Kittery. TEss, a singer/songwriter and guitarist originally from New Hampshire now living in Italy, started off the night with care and captivation. Italian-American cellist Carmine Miranda followed, grabbing the audience with his virtuosic and emotive playing. His focused and intimate approach brought hush to the room.  

Boston-based R&B/soul group Miss Fairchild kicked up the volume a few notches and opened up the floor for dancing. The energy in the room was tangible and the band kept it going all night.


The Festival continued Sunday morning at the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center with an intimate and moving performance of a sonata by Samuel Barber with cellist Carmine Miranda and pianist Karolina Rojahn. Afterwards, Carmine and Karolina opened up the room to discussion, answering questions about collaboration, pop music, raising children in the arts, their idols, and everything in between. It was a wonderful opportunity for Festival-goers to hear from two touring and recording artists.

The Festival moved to Prescott Park with a performance of Prokofiev's works from the Manchester Community Music School flute choir, followed by Peter and the Wolf by members of the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Page, with visual representations by members of the Great Bay Academy of Dance and narration by Virginia Prescott of NHPR. It was a beautiful afternoon and a great places for families to hear a classic narrative expertly set to music and dance.

Kingsley Flood at The Music Hall
All the exciting, engaging, and emotive elements of the Festival culminated in the Main Event at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Icelandic violinist Eva Ingolf opened with An Evening Indigo by NY-based PARMA composer Rain Worthington. The piece was emotive and melodic, and flowed naturally and from Eva’s instrument. Following her was the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra with Maestro John Page, who played works by de Falla, Piazzolla, and Márquez. For Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla, Page and the PSO were joined by Czech violinist Vít Mužík. They were all in excellent form, performing with power and polish. After the orchestra’s overwhelming finale, Eva came back on stage to play another consuming work by Rain Worthington called Resonances

Boston-based roots rockers Kingsley Flood took the stage and flooded the room with energy and well-crafted and engaging songs. They closed out the Festival with a nothing less than a remarkable performance that exemplified the ethos of the entire weekend.

To recap the fun and tell us what your favorite part was, connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Thanks again to Lead Festival Sponsor Kennebunk Savings Bank, and all the other sponsors and donors, as well as the performers, volunteers, venues, and concert-goers! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

New Releases Out on Navona and Ravello Records

St. Helens String Quartet

The intersection of classical music and popular and folk music is where the journey begins for the Seattle-based Saint Helens String Quartet - consisting of Stephen Bryant, violin; Adrianna Hulscher, violin; Michael Lieberman, viola; and Paige Stockley, cello - exploring a sonic vision of American culture presented by four contemporary composers on their debut Navona Records release, AMERICAN DREAMS.

Grammy Award-winning composer Peter Schickele's five-movement String Quartet No. 1, American Dreams weaves together jazz, Appalachian folk, and waltz structures into a pastoral and Coplandesque work that evokes distant images of rural America. Swing Low by Kenneth Benshoof uses the traditional spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" for its motivic material, creating shifting tones of obscurity and clarity through alternating textures. Read More

Skyros Quartet

Follow three composers on a journey through early 20th-century Europe, reflecting on various experiences including the life of a student, the rush of bullfighting, and the folklore of Scandinavia on the debut Navona Records release by the Skyros Quartet, INTROSPECTIVE ODYSSEY. Consisting of Sarah Pizzichemi, violin; James Moat, violin; Justin Kurys, viola; and William Braun, cello; the quartet presents works by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), Joaquín Turina (1882-1949), and Jean Sibelius (1865-1957).

Written while he was a student, the Three Divertimenti by Britten creates a dazzling and witty display of youthful enthusiasm. Weaving a narrative tone poem set in Spain, Turina presents an exotic showpiece in La Oración del Torero ('The Prayer of the Bullfighter'), with a distinct flamenco flair through the idiom of French post-impressionism. Subtitled "Voces Intimae" ("Intimate Voices"), Sibelius wrote these words on the manuscript over three dark and hushed chords in the third movement, marking the center of String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56. The composer combines post-romanticism, 20th-century modernism, and Scandinavian folksongs influenced by the Kalevala, the national epic poem of Karelia and Finland. The captivating and emotive interpretations by the Skyros Quartet show them as a versatile, fastidious, and passionate group, versed in performing a number of musical styles and traditions. Read More

David DeVasto, John G. Bilotta, Paula Diehl

On CRIMSON & LACE, Navona Records' compilation of modern works for voice and chamber ensemble, composers John G. Bilotta, David DeVasto, and Paula Diehl present works that depict the struggles as well as the rewards of human experience, such as heartache, death, love, hope, uncertainty, tragedy, and the resilience of the human spirit.

John G. Bilotta's The Song of the Hermit Thrush for soprano, flute, oboe, violin, viola, and violoncello uses text from a section of Walt Whitman's poem "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." The excerpt is a celebration, welcoming "the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death." Winter Seven for baritone, choir, flute, viola, and piano by David DeVasto presents seven images of winter and the "wintry," cold, even brutal aspects of human experience. From natural phenomena to the Black Plague and the Civil War, this seven-movement work depicts a cycle of winter itself, from the onset of chill to the first glimpses of spring, illustrating a struggle toward some intimation of acceptance and hope. Read More

Kostov-Valkov Duo

On their debut Navona Records release, KOSTOV-VALKOV DUO: TRANSCRIPTIONS AND PARAPHRASES FOR CELLO AND PIANO, the Kostov-Valkov Duo - cellist Lachezar Kostov and pianist Viktor Valkov - present a powerful and invigorating program, showcasing their virtuosity and superior technique with commanding performances of works by Franz Liszt, Buxton Orr, Bohuslav Martinů, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

Exemplifying the Duo's ground-breaking and virtuosic arrangements, the three works by Franz Liszt include the first arrangement for cello and piano of the well-known Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 2. The Duo places Hungarian Rhapsody, No. 1, a lesser-performed piece of Liszt's collection, in a Romani style, building to a fast and wild Czárdás ending. The pieces by Orr, Martinů, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco paraphrase and reference earlier works by Bizet and Rossini. Buxton Orr's A Carmen Fantasy is a lively and romantic work, which illustrates Kostov's fluid vibrato and Valkov's harmonic control and elegance. Martinů's Variations on a Theme of Rossini sets passages from Rossini in a 20th-century style of form and variation, using playful and racing lines between the cello and piano. Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Figaro paraphrases "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Barber of Seville with a spirited yet graceful conversation. Throughout this album, the Kostov-Valkov Duo push the limits of their instruments, unraveling these inspired works with passion, aplomb, refinement, and brilliance. Read More

Michael Matthews | Clearwater String Quartet

Inspired by the worlds of literature and nature, composer Michael Matthews, in his Ravello Records release, STRING QUARTETS, follows in the tradition of such 20th-century composers as Webern and Shostakovich, using his expressive musical language to explore existential and humanistic discourses about society, nature, and our place as individuals in the world.

Performed by the Clearwater String Quartet, many of these works highlight the sharp contrasts, intensity, and varying textures of Matthews' style. At times, the music is mysterious and brooding, at other times it is intense, angular, and frenetic. The composer says of his music, "I want to compel listeners to step beyond the everyday and to dwell for a while in images of paradox, to consider the ever-changing tapestry of life." Reflecting on personal and societal conditions, Matthews' music is serious, intelligent, complex in thematic structure, and rich in motivic relationships. His String Quartet No. 2 is energetic and dramatic, recalling the Second Viennese School, while Miniatures focuses on exploration and discovery from a distinctly North American perspective. The string quartet genre provides a fertile and transparent vehicle for Matthews's music, with its dark timbre and textures emphasizing the clarity, tension, and brilliance of his works. Read More

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New PARMA Artist: James Zingara

We're pleased to welcome new PARMA Artist James Zingara with whom we'll be working on a new release of trumpet recordings.

This project will include works by contemporary composers Jeffrey Boehm, Valentin Bogdan, William Price, and PARMA Artist Carl Vollrath.

Dr. James Zingara is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where his responsibilities include applied trumpet and brass methods, coaching and conducting brass ensembles, performing with the UAB Faculty Brass Quintet and coordinating the annual UAB Brass Symposium. He has performed in 32 states as well as England, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Singapore and China. From 1989-1996 he served as principal cornet/trumpet soloist with the US Air Force Heritage of America Band. 

He has previously been featured on the 1998 SCI/Capstone release Transcendencies, and the Grammy-winning CD by P.D.Q. Bach: Music For An Awful Lot Of Winds &Percussion.

Take a listen below for another PARMA release featuring featured composer Carl Vollrath's music, and stay tuned for more info on James Zingara's upcoming release!

Friday, August 7, 2015

New PARMA Artist: Véronique Mathieu

Véronique Mathieu
We are pleased to announce that violinist Véronique Mathieu has signed on to release an album of modern repertoire for violin with PARMA.

Véronique began studying and performing as a soloist and chamber musician in her native Canada, where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Music from the Québec Conservatory.

After earning an Artist Diploma from McGill University, Véronique earned her Master's and Doctorate degrees in Music at Indiana University, where she studied with Miriam Fried and Mark Kaplan.

Her abilities as a performer have earned her numerous prizes including the 2012 Eckhardt-Gramatté Contemporary Music Competition, the 2010 Krakow International Contemporary Music Competition, and the Canada Council Bank of Instruments Competition, which she has won three times.

As an actively touring musician, Véronique has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Brazil, and all across Europe. Her recitals have been broadcast for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and Radio-Canada as well as Kansas Public Radio. Other notable performances have included the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, the Oakville Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, the Kokomo Symphony Orchestra in Indiana, the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and the Lucerne Academy Festival with Pierre Boulez.

Véronique currently serves as Assistant Professor and Director of the Division of Strings at the University of Kansas School of Music. The program for her debut album will feature works by composers Witold Lutoslawski, Pierre Boulez, and Franco Donatoni.

Véronique will begin recording her album in January 2016, but in the meantime you can hear her perform Gabriel Dufour-Laperrière's "De l'intérieur..." below.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

PARMA Music Festival 2015 Playlist

The 501c3 non-profit 2015 PARMA Music Festival is fast approaching and what better way to get ready than a preview of what is to come. Below is a Spotify playlist featuring some of the artists and diverse genres of music you can hope to hear throughout the Festival, August 14 - 16 in Portsmouth NH and Kittery ME. 

Head over to our Festival page for a full list of artists, the performance schedule, and much more.

Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Festival news!

DISCLAIMER - Unfortunately, David Bowie will not be narrating Peter and the Wolf as shown in the playlist. Our apologies for any hopes and/or dreams that may have been ruined by this information. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New PARMA Project - TJ Sclafani's "in transit"

New PARMA Artist TJ Sclafani has signed on to record his orchestral composition “in transit” in the Czech Republic this October. This is a short piece, inspired by the frustrations of his not-so-short commute to NYC. TJ plans to use the resulting recording in his portfolio.

NJ-based composer Sclafani received a BFA in Theater from NYU in 2012 with a minor in music. He now studies privately with composer Kenneth Lampl and plans to use this new recording to bolster his applications to grad school in the fall.

This composition “in transit” is a dynamic, challenging showcase of TJ’s capabilities, and we’re looking forward to working with him to produce a definitive recording of his work.