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WESTERN WIND PERFORMS "FLOWING LIGHT" ON MARCH 25TH IN GREENWICH VILLAGE

Harris's Flowing Light, a National Endow-ment for the Arts commission for the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble. is a song-cycle on poems by China's 19th-Century lesbian poet, Wu Tsao (translated by Kenneth Rexroth). Though first written with accompaniment, Flowing Light will make its debut as an a cappella work on the upcoming Western Wind concert, WOMEN OF NOTES. The performance is Saturday, March 25th at 8pm at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson St. (corner of Grove St.) in New York City. More info here.

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NEW AMSTERDAM SINGERS PREMIERES "SHAKESPEARE SONGS, BOOK VII" ON JUNE 1ST

The New Amsterdam Singers commission-ed Harris to write his seventh book of Shakespeare Songs and will premiere the work on Thursday, June 1st, 8PM at St. Ignatius Church , 554 West End Ave. (entrance on 87th St.) in New York City. Details here. Publication of the score by G. Schirmer will follow.

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"LA GUITARRA" GOES INTERNATIONAL!

Portugal's Associaçào de Guitarra do Algarve, the Tel-Aviv Collegium Singers and Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid are each planning performances of Harris's three Lorca choral settings: "Two Lorca Songs" and the more recent "La Guitarra" with guitar (naturally). The latter will soon follow the former into the G. Schirmer catalog.

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The recently released Novello Shakespeare Choral collection, edited by David Wordsworth, includes three Harris Shakespeare Songs. Wordsworth has turned the anthology into a touring concert and is taking it around the UK and Ireland, as well as Poland and China.

 
JOURNAL
 
     
  03-30-17  


 

IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY BUT THIS IS RIDICULOUS!

Dear Young Composer (Who Shall Remain Nameless):

You get a commission to write a piece for the same group that commissioned me ten years before and what do you do? Rewrite my piece! If you take the same unknown poems (but leave out the dirty one), put them in basically the same order and give each the same treatment I gave, what does that say about your imagination (or lack thereof)? All that was missing from your sanitized version were my good tunes, dissonances and chromaticism, leaps into the unexpected, six-part counter-point, tongue-in-cheek stylings, subtle word-painting, sense of irony and, most of all, the freshness of doing it for the first time, at the right time. It’s not 2006 anymore: my piece came out of the world of Sex in the City and Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time, when women were desperately trying to find Mr. Right and get married (now they’re enjoying the single life). I captured the zeitgeist; you did a composition exercise. Throw it into the file with your student inventions and fugues and start over with a piece in your own voice, saying something that hasn’t been said. I know you can do it!

...............

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

Where has that quote been all my life?

...............

In my first instrumental piece since I had the occasion to write since Elliott Carter, a former composiition teacher, passed away, I found myself saying goodbye to him with Carteresque cello solos and scorrevole string passages, things that hardly ever showed up in my music but now couldn't stop.

...............

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

Early Music Hawaii and France's La Douce Voix are two of the choruses that included Harris's Shakespeare Songs on their Shakespeare 400 celebration concerts.

Edition Peters included Harris's On this Starry Night in their recently released "On Christmas Night: 32 Carols and Anthems for Choir."

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.

Choral Art Society of New Jersey,
led by Director Martin Sedek, performed "OCEANIC EYES" for chorus, string orchestra and guitar last May in Westfield, NJ.

The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble premiered Harri's NEA-commissioned work, Flowing Light last June ummer at the Abigail Adams smith Auditorium in Manhattan.

The New York state Counsel on the Arts and Kyo-Shin-An Arts commissioned Harris to write Interludes for Artistic Director, shakuhachi virtuoso James Nyoraku Schlefer and the internationally acclaimed string trio, Ensemble Epomeo. The performers premiered the work at the Tenri Cultural Institue in Manhattan in May then gave a repeat performance at the University of Pennsylvania in October.

Edition Peters included Harris's On this Starry Night in their recently released "On Christmas Night: 32 Carols and Snthems for Choir."

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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