Irish composer/guitarist Dave Flynn, Artistic Director of the Irish Memory Orchestra (IMO), has just released a new album — IRISH MINIMALISM through the UK label First Hand Records. Featuring Mick O’Brien (uilleann pipes), Breanndán Begley (voice), ConTempo Quartet, and IMO Quartet, the album was produced by 11-time GRAMMY award winner Judith Sherman, and has liner notes from WNYC’s John Schaefer. 

Available directly from firsthandrecords.com, and at all major online outlets.


No other ensemble in the world has the mix of instrumentation, repertoire, and performance style of the Irish Memory Orchestra — a unique ensemble that pioneered performing from memory as an orchestra — a trend that has caught fire among orchestras in the UK and in Ireland. Poised on the brink of wide international recognition, Flynn’s music, and the Irish Memory Orchestra have a wide appeal as indicated by successes from London to New York, Moscow to Japan.

Comprising 14 tracks, Irish Minimalism features two works for string quartet: The Cranning (String Quartet No. 2) and The Keening (String Quartet No. 3) — both performed by ConTempo Quartet. The two other pieces represented on the album, both featuring the IMO Quartet, are The Cutting (Quintet No. 1 for Uilleann Pipes and String Quartet) featuring Mick O’Brien uilleann pipes; and Stories from the Old World, where O’Brien is joined by the beautiful voice of Breanndán Begley.

With the title Irish Minimalism, composer Dave Flynn has laid down a marker. Minimalism is associated with America, and specifically with composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass (both of whom have spent a good portion of their careers disavowing the term).

But the hallmarks of the style — repetition; gradual, incremental changes that accrue over time; steady rhythms, often drawn from popular or traditional music; and a restrained sense of harmonic movement — are all compatible with Irish traditional music.

And after years spent as both a composer and performer working in the dual worlds of contemporary classical music and traditional song, By acknowledging the differences, and celebrating the similarities, Flynn has fashioned a personal musical language.


For more about Dave Flynn, please visit daveflynn.com
For more about the Irish Memory Orchestra, visit irishmemoryorchestra.com

On Friday, October 15th, 2021 at 8pm Notes for Growth Foundation presents Tremün: Celebrating Indigenous Roots — their debut concert at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City. Tickets are $15-30 and are available for purchase at carnegiehall.org.

This concert will feature the premiere of nine new works by Latinx composers Patricio Molina, Ramón Catalan, Aina Sandoval, Carlos Zamora, and Sebastian Vergara in collaboration with Mapuche poets Roxana Miranda Rupailaf and María Lara Millapan, amplifying their powerful poetry to a new audience in New York City. The compositional style is accessible, using indigenous rhythms, stylistic motifs, and stories.

Performers include Notes for Growth Ambassadors and internationally acclaimed BIPOC musicians Sonya Headlam, soprano, Alejandro Mendoza, violin, and Enriqueta Somarriba, piano, among others. The concert concludes with legendary opera singer Verónica Villarroel in a performance that is the first of its kind, in which Ms. Villarroel will perform folk songs of indigenous peoples from the north of Chile.

This concert is poised to show Notes for Growth’s mission dedicated to equity, sustainability, and music education. (Biographies of all composers and performers are available upon request.)

Tremün means “growth” in Mapudungun, the language of native Chilean people known as the Mapuche. Tremün is a celebration of music by and inspired by indigenous peoples around the world including Peru, Mexico, Jamaica, and Chile.

Dr. Patricio Molina, Chilean-Syrian composer and pianist, is a Dreamer immigrant to the US. He graduated this spring from Rutgers University with his second of two doctorates, a Ph.D. in Music Composition, after a D.M.A. in Piano Performance, the first double-doctorate in the history of the university. He was recently named a Cleveland Institute of Music 2021 Future of Music Faculty Fellow.

His studies of Arabic music inspired by his heritage influenced a recently commissioned piece with the New Jersey Youth Symphony in collaboration with the creation of a new app designed for his music by Nokia Bell Labs.

Dr. Molina is the co-founder and president of Notes for Growth, whose mission to create access to music education for all children regardless of their circumstances has donated nearly 30 pianos and other instruments to institutions providing free music education in Chile, the NYC Metropolitan area, and worldwide. 


The program includes several world premieres, such as: 

Kelülwe by Patricio Molina
Patricio Molina, piano

Kuruf by Sebastian Vergara
Daniel Lamas, viola
Enriqueta Somarriba, piano

El Condor Pasa Variation by Patricio Molina
Alejandro Mendoza, violin
Patricio Molina, piano

Otoño en Tierra del Fuego by Aina Sandoval
Daniel Lamas, viola
Darwin Cosme Sanchez, flute
Claudia Peñailillo, clarinet
Enriqueta Somarriba, piano

Nocturne Elegie for clarinet and piano
Claudia Peñailillo, clarinet
Ramon Catalan, piano

Kecha Tregüfle by Patricio Molina (in Mapudungun)
Sonya Headlam, voice
Alejandro Mendoza, violin
Patricio Molina, piano


For more information, please visit Notes For Growth’s website

Features moving guest performances by musicians from both sides of the Atlantic. Project honors the late Kermit Harden, World War II veteran who liberated the French city in 1944.

 

“During the pandemic, and with the distance which separates us, we’ve made
a pure moment of magic together. Thank you.” —Mayor of Thionville Pierre Cuny
On Memorial Day,  Monday, May 31st, 2021, the sister cities of Thionville, France, and Urbana, Illinois, USA honor the memory of those lost – to war and to the COVID-19 pandemic – by releasing a stunning video of the Beatles’ legendary “Let It Be”. Recorded in 2020, the City of Urbana and Thionville collaborated on this recording with the intention of providing joy, inspiration and togetherness, while helping grieving families. American and French musicians and celebrities – all together nearly 50 artists of all ages and origins – participated in this project under the co-leadership of Pierre Ananicz and James Barham.  
“Over the past year, the world has suffered from the COVID-19  pandemic. We  now share renewed optimism and hope as vaccines become available. Music is the universal language and it can help us heal. We’re honored to share this song with our Sister City, Thionville, and look forward to continued collaboration between our communities.” —Mayor of Urbana Diane Wolfe Marlin

Viewers of the video are encouraged to share it far and wide, comment on our Facebook page, and donate to Champaign-Urbana’s Refugee Center. Contributions can be made through the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois at their website www.CFECI.org.


Origins for these two cities’ connections go back to November, 1944, when Thionville was liberated by the American Army led by General Patton. Among the GIs who composed the battalions stationed in Moselle were several men from the Urbana area, including Kermit Harden. Harden was a decorated veteran and held four Battle Stars: Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe. Captured by the Germans in October 1944, he was held as a POW for 45 days before being included in the first prisoner exchange of the war. He returned to active combat and received the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action in Germany, the Bronze Star at the Battle of the Bulge and the Purple Heart in Northern France. For his service to the people of France, he was awarded the Order of the Legion d’Honneur by the French government. Kermit died in 2019 and is survived by his wife Ann, his son Andrew, and daughter Elizabeth.

In 2019, while Thionville was celebrating the 75th anniversary of its liberation, the representatives of Urbana and Thionville officially confirmed the twinning between the two cities. This connection was originally spearheaded by Elise Poillot, a University of Luxembourg teacher who went to the University of Illinois in Urbana as part of a partnership program between her University and the American Law faculty.

Thionville is the second largest city in the Moselle region of France with 42,000 inhabitants, and as it is only a few miles away from Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium and is less than two hours from Paris,  is located in the heart of what is considered the “three borders area”. With a similar population size, Urbana is a city in the county seat of Champaign County, Illinois, United States. Outside of the Chicago metropolitan area, it is the tenth-most populous city in Illinois, and is included in the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area.


French and American artists participating include: Fabien Miua, Rob Krum, Guillaume Vosgien, Candy Foster, Raphael Vitrano, Brandon T. Washington, Andy Abranrantes, Fabien Fritsch, Sam Payne, Cédric Vosgien, Ayla McDonald, Marie Helene Caroff, Patch Adams, Susan Parenti, Claire Cugnart, Bob Pearse, Gabriel Lalegge, Emily Blue, Yakou, Alexandra Choisnest, Maddie Brown, Kevin Roy, Anthony Mura, Quentin Zeimeth, Thomas Lalore, Franck Aubert, Alain Hombourger, Pierre Ananicz, Hannah Scalise, Maggie Ward, Lucia Cogliandro, Kate Levy, Wendy Hundley, Julie Salana, Mallory Simonds, Zilber Karevski, Raeann Dossett, Pascale Adrian, Scott Schwartz, Thierry Hummel, Dawn Clark, Evelyn Underwood, Chloé Gobbo, Dawna Nelson; Instrumentalists include Olivier Karim (drums), Christopher Fuentes (bass), Mickael Sanso (bongos), Rémi Encelle (piano); and the French band Ten Minutes Left (Kev, Flo, Gauthier et Val).

Special thanks to Executive Producer James Barham, and to Engineer James Treichler (Wave Upon Wave).  


 

 

On Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, celebrated folk-trio Sons of the Never Wrong (Sue Demel, Deborah Maris Lader, and Bruce Roper) are set to release their newest album Undertaker’s Songbook on their own label, Sons 3 Records. The album will be available digitally on all major platforms, and on CD via their newly revamped website: sonsoftheneverwrong.com 

Their ninth studio release (and eleventh overall) launches a 12 month long celebration in 2021-22 of their 30th anniversary as a group. While much of the album was worked on apart (as a result of the pandemic), these 15 songs find them closer than ever. 

Recurring thematic elements include love, loss, land, sea, saints, and martyrs. While often dark, Undertaker’s Songbook is anchored by an unwavering sense of hope and strikingly resonant harmony.  Both cinematic and intimate, this new body of work finds the trio bravely exploring the outer-reaches of their musicianship, while also maintaining the signature Sons’ sound.


Lead preview track Muddy Muddy River displays Sons’ inimitable blend, rife with nuance and lilt. A gospel-tinged mid-tempo in the vein of a reflective Natalie Merchant tune, bluesy hooks abound, carrying the listener along.

Listen to “Muddy Muddy River” on SoundCloud

Shorebird is a sincere, piano-led ballad that celebrates the interpretive skills and vocal acrobatics of member Sue Demel. A solo performance, she sings alongside a beautifully arranged piano part by John Erickson, invoking the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Rickie Lee Jones. Demel also takes the lead on her composition Set Us to Praying, a sparse, spiritual waltz dedicated to the late John Prine.

Om Not This Time finds Bruce Roper’s sobering vocal dancing around a playful rhythmic verse. Demel and Lader create a vocal soundscape against a bed of tablas and gritty guitar. The song itself masterfully blends a brooding synth style with boozy late-night horns, and a grounded, Tom Petty-like vocal performance. 

Deborah Lader’s apt closer In The End earnestly recalls a Jane Siberry-styled meditation, building into a wall of layered voices that include neo-folk singer Karen Savoca. With an underpinning of octave mandolin and a cool, confident drum pulse, the song’s lyric and uplifting melody round off the record with a reassuring calm.


For more about Sons of the Never Wrong, please visit: sonsoftheneverwrong.com

To request a copy for review, please email Peter McDowell: [email protected]

On May 28, 2021, Los Angeles-based Argentine pianist Fabio Banegas is releasing his new album, Bottiroli Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 2 · Nocturnes, on Grand Piano, the specialist piano label distributed by Naxos. The album notably includes narrations from Mr. George Takei — respected actor, author, and activist best known for originating the role as Star Trek’s Hikaru Sulu.

Fabio Banegas’ newest release displays not only his well-regarded abilities as a pianist, but also his sensitive and thoughtful curation sensibilities.  This volume – the sequel to Vol. 1’s Waltzes – features all world premieres, and continues Banegas’ passion for celebrating the rich, colorful work of his late mentor,  José Antonio Bottiroli (1920–1990). And like Bottiroli, Banegas also hails from Rosario, Argentina, and both have been acknowledged for their contributions to Rosario’s culture. 

Photo by David Carlson

Banegas has made it his mission to highlight “hidden gems” in the compositional world. In 2011,Banegas archived Bottiroli’s works, placing him with the unique authority to curate and establish the legacy of his compositions. This installment features Banegas’ interpretations of Bottiroli’s sparkling nocturnes. The composer had a deep fascination with the night sky and outer space, and these selections paint beautiful, vespertinal scenes.

Selections like Nocturne in  G♭ Major, B59 recall the best of Debussy; while the Six Album Pages exhibit Satie-like, impressionist insights. Elegantly waltzing in pentatonics is the first ‘page’ — specially dedicated Banegas by Bottiroli. (“To Fabio, surely its best interpreter.”)

Image courtesy of George Takei

The record closes with Five Piano Replies: selections that display Bottiroli’s lyrical prowess. Choice collaborator George Takei enters, lending his iconic timbre to sincere, sage, and resonant narration. His legendary connection to Star Trek — a beloved franchise that intelligently promotes exploration, peace, and awe of the universe — makes him a fitting ambassador for these celestially-inspired works.

Takei’s stellar interpretive skills as a narrator should come as no surprise: from his extensive stage and voiceover work, as well as his own personal love of poetry, he more than has the gravitas to deliver Bottiroli’s words. (Incidentally, Banegas and Takei met queuing for an architectural tour in Chicago, and became good friends, bringing this project full-circle as a celebration of cherished people in Banegas’ life.)


Entitled Bottiroli Piano Works (Complete), Vol. 2 · Nocturnes,
the album includes the following works:

※ 1 – 3 Tres Penas de 1984 (‘Three Sorrows From 1984’)

※ 4 – 9 Seis Hojas de Álbum (‘Six Album Pages’) (1976–77)

※ 10 – 13 Cuatro Piezas de 1974 (‘Four Pieces From 1974’)

※ 14 – 15 Dos Nocturnos en el Sol Bemol Major (‘Two Nocturnes in G♭ Major’) (1978/1984)

※ 16 – 20 Cinco Réplicas para Piano (‘Five Piano Replies’) (1974–80)


For more about Fabio Banegas, please visit fabiobanegas.com
For more about George Takei, please visit georgetakei.com

To request a copy for review, please email Peter McDowell: [email protected]