New York-based composer Gerald Cohen (www.GeraldCohenMusic.com) is set to release a new CD of music – SEA OF REEDS – on the Navona Label on November 11th, 2014. The four pieces on this recording reflect Cohen’s affinity for the clarinet, featuring the instrument in various trio settings. The album will be released in both physical and digital formats and will be available for purchase at ClassicsOnline, iTunes, Amazon, and other online music distributors.
Cohen, whose music is noted for its dramatic and lyrical qualities, aims with SEA OF REEDS to explore the multifaceted clarinet through the lens of his classical, Jewish, and jazz influences. The composer writes: “I love the clarinet for its wide variety of character and dynamics, and its ability to either blend beautifully with other instruments or to stand out in a crowd.”
Variously Blue is a vibrant group of variations on a twelve-bar blues pattern, highlighting an interplay between jazz and concert music; the title collection Sea of Reeds arranges five of Cohen’s Jewish vocal works, turning them into virtuosic clarinet showpieces. Yedid Nefesh, based on a delicate Sephardic song, explores both meditative and exuberant aspects of that melody, while the wide-ranging variations of Grneta Variations take advantage of the wonderful virtuosity and unique musical personalities of the three musicians of the Grneta Ensemble.
As with the CD release concert, the recording features the Grneta Ensemble (Vasko Dukovski and Ismail Lumanovski, clarinets, and Alexandra Joan, piano) with violinist Jennifer Choi and violist Maria Lambros.
Works on this recording (all composed by Gerald Cohen) are:
Variously Blue, for clarinet, violin, and piano
Sea of Reeds, for two clarinets and piano
Yedid Nefesh, for two clarinet, viola, and piano
Grneta Variations, for two clarinets and piano
Total Running Time: 70 minutes
About Gerald Cohen
Composer Gerald Cohen (Yonkers, NY), has been praised for his “linguistic fluidity and melodic gift,” creating compositions with “a strong sense of tradition — one that embraces Brahms, Bartok and Britten on one hand and his own Jewish heritage on the other” (Gramophone Magazine). His deeply affecting compositions have been recognized with numerous awards and critical accolades. According to Gramophone, an earlier CD of his compositions, Generations, “reveals a very personal modernism that…offers great emotional rewards.”
His opera, Steal a Pencil for Me, based on a true concentration camp love story, had its semi- staged premiere in 2013. Lucid Culture’s review noted the effectiveness of Cohen’s “…mesmerizingly hypnotic, intricately contrapuntal” music, with moments of “…Bernard Herrmann-esque, shivery terror…”. Cohen’s operas Sarah and Hagar, based on the story from the book of Genesis, and Seed, a one-act opera about love and choices for a post-apocalyptic couple, have been performed in concert form.
Cohen’s best-known work, his “shimmering setting” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) of Adonai Ro’i (Psalm 23), has received thousands of performances from synagogues and churches to Carnegie Hall and the Vatican. A cantor at Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, NY, Cohen’s experience as a singer informs his dramatic, lyrical compositions. He also serves on the faculties of both the Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College.
Recognition of Cohen’s body of work includes the Copland House Borromeo String Quartet Award, Aaron Copland Award, Westchester Prize for New Work, American Composers Forum Faith Partners residency, and Cantors Assembly’s Max Wohlberg Award for distinguished achievement in the field of Jewish composition. Cohen received the Yale University’s Sudler Prize for outstanding achievement in the creative arts, and has been awarded commissioning grants from Meet the Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and Westchester Arts Council. Throughout his career, he has been selected for residencies including those at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and American Lyric Theater.
Cohen’s music has been commissioned by chamber ensembles including the Cassatt String Quartet, Verdehr Trio, Franciscan String Quartet, Chesapeake Chamber Music, Grneta Ensemble, Wave Hill Trio, Bronx Arts Ensemble, and Brooklyn Philharmonic Brass Quintet; by choruses including the New York Virtuoso Singers, Canticum Novum Singers, Syracuse Children’s Chorus, St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City, Zamir Chorale of Boston, and Usdan Center Chorus; and by the Cantors Assembly of America and Westchester Youth Symphony. Cohen’s music has been performed by the Borromeo String Quartet, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Westchester Philharmonic, Riverside Symphony, Plymouth Music Series Orchestra, New York Concert Singers, Princeton Pro Musica, and many other ensembles and soloists.