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HARRIS COMMISSIONED TO WRITE FOR LEADING SHAKUHACHI VIRTUOSO JAMES NYORAKU SCHLEFER AND ENSEMBLE EPOMEO

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THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT OF THE ARTS COMMISSIONS HARRIS TO WRITE "SOTO VOCE" FOR THE WESTERN WIND

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NEW AMSTERDAM SINGERS PRESENTS SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW FROM HARRIS ON MARCH 6 & 8 IN MANHATTAN

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KANTOREI OF KANSAS CITY'S HARRIS CD HITS 1ST ANNIVERSARY STILL GOING STRONG

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Kyo-Shin-An Arts has commissioned Harris to write a work for its Artistic Director, shakuhachi virtuoso James Nyoraku Schlefer and the internationally acclaimed string trio, Ensemble Epomeo. The work will be premiered at the Tenri Cultural Institue in Manhattan, May 2016.

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The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Harris a commission to write "Soto Voce," a large-scale work for the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble based on poems by China's once widely-celebrated 19th-Century lesbian poet, Wu Tsao, translated by Kenneth Rexroth.

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The New Amsterdam Singers will present the New York premeire of Harris's If Music and Sweet Poetry Agree plus Three Choruses from Tess on Friday, March 6 at 8pm and Sunday, March 8, at 4pm at The Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 E 88th St. (between 1st & 2nd Avenues) in Manhattan.

 
JOURNAL
 
     
  03.06.15  


 


THE FIRST BOOK I'M READING ON MY NEW IPAD is Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner. As I'm working through this extremely thorough and heavily researched tome full of Lutheran and German history, I can't help but wonder how this guy manages to write such a thing in between a full schedule of gigs, rehearsals and recording sessions. Wouldn't that be the time one would need to study the scores or, you know, have a life?

And yet the book is better written and more engaging than those from your average full--time biographer, historian or musicologis, just as his recordings are better than the averge full-time conductor's.

The odd quotes from tither and yon are enough to keep you turning the pages even if you hit a dry spot. Here's one I really like:

Gottfried Leibniz: "Music is the hidden arithmetical exercise of a mind unconscious that it is calculating."

Where has that quote been all my life?

11.09.14

I'm teaching Music Appreciation and Piano I at City Tech, CUNY in Brooklyn this school year. The fundamentals of a discipline, having long ago shifted into our second nature, must be brought back to consciousness in order to teach them. In so doing, we learn them all over again as something strange and new. Even so, early childhood memories of the first time around become unlocked, and all of a sudden there you are, five years old. with a bored and impatient grown-up at your side asking you to "try it again." So here I am, trying it again, but adding in the joy of (re)discovery so I don't become that grown-up.

Speaking of childhood, I'm happy to report my Child's Chtristmas is Wales has performances lined up on both coasts this winter. More on that later.

How shocking to read of composer Lee Hyla's sudden passing. I barely knew him but we were both at New England Conservatory for a year. Aside from his musical gifts, he was into titles before title were cool: I'll never forget "White Man on Snow Shoes." RIP.

 Those who would like their performances of my works listed here, please feel free to e-mail me.

 
Recent News

The chicago-based women's vocal ensemble, La Caccina, commissioned Harris to write My Lady's Shakespeare, a set of arrangements of his Shakespeare Songs.

Kantorei of Kansas City's album, Music and Sweet Poetry: Choral Music of Matthew Harris received this review from Classical Net: "This is a major release for choral fans...His diversity of styles, accessibility, and real feeling for the choral idiom continue to appeal to choirs around the world...harmonically challenging and quite stunning in terms of contrast and emotion...one of the finest choral composers working today...Harris has the good fortune to have a really fine choral ensemble willing to champion his works...If you care at all about choral music, you need to hear this." The album's on iTunes, Amazon and the London-based Resonus Classics's own site.

Edition Peters released three new Harris scores: If Music and Sweet Poetry Agree [EP68465], i love you much(most beautiful darling) [EP68494], and My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold [EP68466].

The Tempus Vocal Group iin Wales, Bridgewater University Chorus in Massachusetts, Camerata California in Sacramento and North Country Chorus in Vermont were some of the groups perofmrning the cantata for chorus and orchestra, A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES in November and December.

In October, Harris and Morten Lauridsen were Oklahoma State University's Visiting Artists. Harris conducted parts of the program, which was performed at the school and then in Fort Worth.

Also in October, the Pacific Repertory Theatre's The Winter's Tale production at the Golden Bough Theatre in Carmel, CA, ncluded Harris's choral settings of Shakespeare.

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From Recent Seasons


DO I
AMUSE YOU?
Perhaps I did last June when the Manhattan women's vocal ensemble, Amuse, performed a set of my Shakespeare Songs which I arranged for them...Also in June, Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble was ending their Shakespeare-themed concerts with a bang — that's to say, with the 16-part When That I Was and a Little Tiny Boy...Camerata California gave the West Coast premiere of In the Arms of Music (for soloists, chorus, children's chorus and orchestra) in Sacramento in February, the composer conducting. (Watch for their reprise of A Child's Christmas in Wales in December.) Speaking of which, earlier in the season, Chor Plan b of Bremen gave the German premiere of A Child's Christmas in Wales (a cantata for chorus and orchestra on the Dylan Thomas tale) with German uber-titles projected above...In the fall, Mastersingers by the Sea performed Oceanic Eyes (sultry Neruda love songs for chorus, string quartet and guitar) in venues around Cape Cod.

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Chelsea Opera
premiered the Harris-Quinn opera The Mark of Cain in lower Manhattan in November. Blythe Gaissert and Brace Negron sang the lead roles; Steven M. Crawford, formerly of The Metropolitan Opera, conducted. St. Francis College (Brooklyn) gave a concert performance of the opera later that season with Laila Salins and Bruce Negron in the lead roles and Samuel McCoy conducting. Center for Contemporary Opera had previously produced a semi-staged reading of the opera at the Flea Theater in downtown New York City...Golden Fleece's 21st annual opera commission went to Matthew Harris to create a condensed version of his three-act opera, TESS. Golden Fleece's concert performance took place at Opera America's NYC Recital Hall in June.

Uptown in Manhattan, the New Amsterdam Singers gave the U.S. premiere of my 8-part, William Carlos Williams triptych, Three Plums and the New York premiere of Fantasy on La Bamba while downtown, Amor Artis premiered Three Sacred Pieces at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York City...Kantorei performed the Harris album material around Kansas City — one of the pieces was a setting of e. e. cummings's i love you much(most beautiful darling), which the Voce Chamber Singers had commissioned and premiered earlier that season around the D.C. area...Amuse gave a reprise performance of Women in Love, the 6-part Wendy Cope song-cycle they commissioned from Harris in 2006.

A shout-out to some Shakespeare Songs performances I saw or heard about: Connecticut Chamber Choir/MixTape Dance, University of Washington Choir, Houston Cecilia Chamber Choir, Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale, La Caccina (Chicago), Harmonium Choral Society (NJ), LOCUS (Japan), Treblemakers (England) and Con Brio (New Zealand).

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The Astoria Symphony and Symphonic Choir (NYC) conducted by Adam Eggleston, performed Arias and choruses from TESS...CHELSEA OPERA presented A Child's Christmas is Wales — other recent performances of this work: Wellington Shropshire, England: New College Chorale, Newtown, CT: Newtown Choral Society, and giving the West Coast premiere in Sacramento: Camerata California.

Cois Cladaigh, the Galway group that commissioned Three Plums, performed it at the Cork Festival and on their 30th anniversary concert with guest conductor Donal Doherty...Western Wind continued their 14-year tradition of performing little tree on their Holiday Light concert in New York City. Chicago A Cappella, a group with a CD of various Shakespeare Songs, performed On This Starry Night on their holiday concerts...And a shout-out to the U. of Arizona Symphonic Choir, McDaniel College's Madrigal Singers, Wisconsin Lutheran Choir, and Southern Oregon Repertory Singers.

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Various and Sundry:

On Disc: 1)Kantorei of Kansas City's Music and Sweet Poetry: Choral Music by Matthew Harris is out (see above). 2) Voce released a CD of the complete Six Books of Shakespeare Songs. 3) Montage Music Society's Starry Night Project — Music Based on Visual Art [MS 1264], featuring Harris's award-winning "Starry Night: Seven Paintings for violin, cello & piano," is available at MSR Classics, Amazon, and CD Baby, etc. Of course, for any of these albums, you can also go to iTunes.

On The Air: 1) On WQXR (105.9 in New York), Choral Fixation (about 14 minutes in) played seven Shakespeare Songs from the New Amsterdam Singers CD. 2) Harris was interviewed at WWFM (89.1 in NJ and on the web) on Cadenza and Sounds Choral. 3) An NPR Morning Edition segment: Barenaked Ladies Meet Shakespeare, wherein Harris's It Was a Lover and His Lass is compared with the rock group's version.

In Print: 1) British scholar Charles Pettit has been in touch with Harris for an article he's writing for The Hardy Review (the journal of the Thomas Hardy Association). It will include information about Harris's opera Tess, based on Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. 2) The American Choral Director's Association publication, Choral Journal, featured an article titled "Matthew Harris's Shakespeare Songs: The Bard's Lyrics Meet American Popular Music" by John M. Petzet, based on his doctoral thesis. 3) The other doctoral thesis on Harris, by Joseph Ohrt is an overview of all the choral works.

In Books: There's an entry on Matthew Harris in Choral Repertoire, a new book by Dennis Shrock, published by Oxford University Press, covering composers from the Medieval era to present date. Harris is also in Choral Music in the Twentieth Century, by Nick Strimple, published by Amadeus Press.

More performances of A Child's Christmas in Wales: North Country Chorus (Vermont and New Hampshire), Buck's County Choral Society (Pennsylvania), Village Voices (New York State) Manchester Choral Society (New Hampshire) and The West Side Singers (Greenwich Village, NYC).

More performances from here and there: San Francisco Lyric Chorus, Da Camera Singers (Amherst, MA); Dallas Chamber Singers, Voce Novae (Louiville, KY) and Carroll U. Vocal Collective (Waukesha, WI), Concora's 35th Anniversary Gala (New Britain, CT), and the Virginia Chorale.Macalester College and the Festival Chorale: Minn., Musica Sacra: Cambridge, Ma; Amare Cantare: Exeter, NH.; George Fox University Chamber Singers: Newberg, OR; University of Virginia Chamber Singers: Charlottesville, Acappellago: Chicago, and the Bowdoin College Chamber Choir.

And across the Pond: Romulus Singers in Hale Barns, Yeovil Chamber Choir, Somerset Chamber Choir, The Levens Choir in Kendal, The Nonesuch Singers and The Oriana Choir in London, The Ebor Singers in York Minster, Ave Maris Stella in various British cities.

Google Catch of the Day: Accragio, a chorus in Ghana, performed "It was a Lover and her Lass."

For the Children: Recent commissions for younger choruses: Beannacht (Blessing), on a poem by the late Irish poet, John O'Donohue, for the Lexington High Chamber Choir, Jason Iannuzzi, Director. (To be premiered this December)...La Guitarra (Garcia Lorca), for chorus and guitar, for Central Buck's West High, Dr. Joseph Ohrt, Director..To You, (poem by The Mark of Cain librettist Terry Quinn) for James Rensink, Artist in Residence and Choral Director at The Storm King School.

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