Post image for Album: DREAMS OF A NEW DAY — SONGS BY BLACK COMPOSERS (Will Liverman)

by Lamont Williams on February 20, 2021

in CD-DVD,Music


Cedille Records, marking its 31st season as Chicago’s independent classical record label, has announced its new release: Coinciding with February Black History Month, operatic baritone Will Liverman’s recital album, with pianist Paul Sánchez, highlights Black composers across generations, from early 20th-century pioneers Henry Burleigh, Margaret Bonds, and Thomas Kerr to Robert Owens, Leslie Adams, and contemporary composers Damien Sneed and Shawn E. Okpebholo. Here is the world-premiere recordings of Okpebholo’s Two Black Churches, which Liverman commissioned. This will be the label’s 200th front-line album.

Fast-rising American operatic baritone Will Liverman, tapped for major roles at principal opera houses across the country, makes his Cedille Records debut as a featured artist with Dreams of a New Day, an intimate, heartfelt recital he calls “a passion project . . . years in the making.”

Praised for his “unique combination of eloquence and unpretentiousness” (Opera News), Liverman has assembled a program of songs that portray the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the African American experience through poignant texts and expressive musical settings.

Liverman commissioned Okpebholo’s Two Black Churches, which he recently performed to great acclaim at his Kennedy Center recital in conjunction with his winning the 2020 Marian Anderson Vocal Award. The Washington Post review called the set “absolutely devastating, and one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard all year.”

“One of the most versatile singing artists performing today” (Bachtrack), Liverman concludes the album with his own powerful arrangement of American folk singer-songwriter Richard Fariña’s “Birmingham Sunday.”

On tap for future Cedille releases are the following:

  • Third Coast Percussion, Sérgio and Clarice Assad: Archetypes. The Grammy Award-winning percussion quartet joins forces with celebrated Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Assad and his daughter the dynamic vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Clarice Assad for a collaboratively written program conjuring a dozen universal archetypes. On this world-premiere recording, figures such as the Rebel, Lover, Magician, Jester, Hero, and Explorer come to life in 12 short works melding imaginative chamber music with Latin jazz rhythms. (March 12)

  • Ursula Oppens: Fantasy: Oppens Plays Kaminsky.  Pianist Ursula Oppens, stalwart champion of 20th- and 21st-century American music, celebrates her decades-long friendship and professional association with composer Laura Kaminsky on an album of world premieres that includes two recent works written for the much-honored pianist: the Piano Quintet, performed with the Cassatt String Quartet, and Reckoning: Five Miniatures for America for piano four-hands, with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, created expressly for the recording. The program also includes a large-scale Fantasy for solo piano and Kaminsky’s Piano Concerto. (April 9)

  • Lincoln Trio: Trios from the Land of Lincoln. The Lincoln Trio, comprising violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe, and pianist Marta Aznavoorian, plays piano trios by 20th-century Chicago composers Leo Sowerby, winner of the Rome Prize and Pulitzer Prize for music, and Ernst Bacon, recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and a Pulitzer Fellowship. Works include Sowerby’s Trio for Violin, Violincello and Pianoforte (1953) and Bacon’s Trio No. 2 for Violin, Cello and Piano (1987). The Lincoln Trio was Grammy-nominated for its 2016 Cedille album, Trios from Our Homelands, with works by English, Armenian, and Swiss composers. (June 11)

  • David Schrader: Organ Music by Frank Ferko and Leo Sowerby  Versatile keyboard virtuoso David Schrader, heard on more than 20 Cedille recordings and one of the label’s charter artists, performs solo organ works by two composers closely tied to Chicago and known for their mastery of the instrument. The Ferko works, all world-premiere recordings, include his 1987 Symphonie brève, dedicated to Schrader, Variations on “Veni Creator Spiritus,” Mass for Dedication, and Tired Old Nun. Also: Angels (Chaconne for Organ), Missa O Ecclesia: Communion, Music for Elizabeth Chapel, and Variations on a Hungarian Folk Theme. Sowerby repertoire includes Comes Autumn Time, Two Sketches (world-premiere recording), “March” from Suite for Organ, Toccata, Pageant, and Symphony in G. (July 9)

  • Andy Baker Band, Avalon String Quartet, and Chicago Pro Musica: Leo Sowerby: The Paul Whiteman Commissions & Other Works.  The album features world-premiere recordings of two Sowerby works originally commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman for his symphonic jazz concerts of the 1920s — Synconata and Symphony for Jazz Orchestra. Rounding out the program are chamber compositions from the same period, including Sowerby’s String Quartet in D minor, Serenade for String Quartet, Woodwind Quintet, and Tramping Tune for piano and strings. (August 13)

  • Dover Quartet: Beethoven Complete String Quartets Volume 2. The quartet-in-residence at Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music launches the second of three installments of their complete Beethoven quartets project with the composer’s five “Middle Quartets.” (September 10)

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