Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ep 48 - Cover by Mike Newman

Mike Newman is a native Iowan and boyfriend to Washington (the state) transplant - we forgive you, Lisa - and Iowa classical composer/singer Lisa Leher. He doesn't have a website for his photography, but according to Neher, "he's just got a good phone camera and a nice eye!"

Original version of the photograph

Ep 48 - Song 1: "Wellington Victory, Symphony" (truncated) written by Ludwig van Beethoven and performed by Jason Weinberger and the wcf (Waterloo-Cedar Falls) symphony

"Conductor Jason Weinberger stands out among musicians of his generation for his passionate commitment to the entire life of his art form. Known for a wholly contemporary approach to programming, presentation, and performance, Jason is a tireless advocate for music among audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

"Jason is currently Artistic Director of Iowa’s pioneering ensemble wcfsymphony, having recently completed four years in a unique dual role combining his musical work with the responsibilities of CEO. Under his artistic leadership the orchestra has made major strides, performing a wide variety of new and recent American music by up-and-coming composers...
- from the wcf symphony website

"We are a passionate and energetic team of music lovers devoted to redefining the symphonic experience through live performances and community engagement. Day in and day out everything we do is in pursuit of this bold mission."
- from the wcf symphony home page

"Redefining the symphonic experience..."
- from their Twitter account

"wcfsymphony is a professional orchestra based in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa. Our mission is redefining the symphonic experience through live performances and community engagement. To this end we pursue inventive, contemporary approaches to ensemble performance as a means of engaging audiences more meaningfully in live music."
- from their Facebook page

Jason Weinberger - conductor

Due to time constraints, I had to cut some bits out of this song on the podcast. Here is a complete, unedited version:

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Ep 48 - Song 2: "Weihnachten (Frohlocket, ihr Völker, No. 1 of Sechs Sprüche, Op. 79)" and Song 3: "I Will Not Leave You Comfortless" by The Wartburg Choir

"The Wartburg Choir is a select auditioned a cappella choir from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Founded in 1937, the choir became one of the first American college groups to tour Europe. The Wartburg Choir performs sacred music from all historical periods and styles and often premieres new works by contemporary composers. Called a “mighty fortress of skill” by the Washington Post,[1] the Wartburg Choir is one of Wartburg's three musical ensembles that tour internationally on a triennial basis. Beyond national and international tours tours, the choir has received invitations for special appearances in the United States and abroad."
- from their Wikipedia entry

"The internationally acclaimed Wartburg Choir performs sacred music from all historical periods and styles and often features premiere works of contemporary composers...

"F. Melius Christiansen (1871-1955), founder of the St. Olaf Choir and mentor to Dr. Edwin Liemohn, founder of the Wartburg Choir, was seminal in shaping the aesthetic of the Lutheran choral sound in the early 20th century. By basing the sound of the choir on the sonority of the string quartet, he created a highly unified ensemble known for its tuning, technical abilities, and musical discipline.

"Preferring an unaccompanied performance style, Christiansen ensured that the choir would never be limited by the resources of each performance venue. Thus, he was able to extend the performance outreach of his ensemble to any congregation. The latter defined another key aspect of the Lutheran choir tradition through the emphasis on the touring ensemble. Directors of the choir stress the continuing importance of the tradition, explaining that the Wartburg Choir’s central goal is to sing the music historically and pedagogically as appropriately as possible while still honoring the legacy of the tradition." - from their home page

Dr Lee Nelson - conductor

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Ep 48 - Song 4: "Siren (Waterhouse)" written by Randy Wells and performed by Mariya Akhadjanova

"Randy Wells (b. 1992) began composing art music in 2012 after teaching himself keyboard and music theory during a winter of self-imposed exile after leaving a university science program. By 2013, he had finished his first compositions that were worth being cataloged, Coney Island Suite and a few guitar pieces.

"Randy’s music represents a continuation of the aesthetic philosophy of the Romantic era, and is characterized by emotional sensitivity and intensity, grandiose tendencies, and heavy influence of extra-musical ideas. Among his influences, Randy counts Mahler, Scriabin, Berg, and Shostakovich...

"andy enjoys playing guitar, piano, and organ, and is also an enthusiastic member of the UNI Varsity Men's Glee Club. Randy studies music composition at the University of Northern Iowa under Dr. Jonathan Schwabe. When not in front of a musical instrument, he can generally be found at the library, enjoying classic literature or reading up on the sciences (another source of musical inspiration)." - from Randy Wells' home page

"I believe that music must always invoke strong emotion, and I treat every job with great urgency and craftsmanship..."
- from Randy Wells' Upwork page

"Randy Wells specializes in Ultra-Romantic music of a programmatic or autobiographical nature. The music is characterized by hyper-emotionalism, grandiose tendencies, and heavy influence of extra-musical ideas. He considers himself an heir to the legacies of Scriabin, Borodin, Korngold, Berg, and Mahler, among others. For further listening, Randy invites you to visit"
- from an email to Iowa Music Showcase

Mariya Akhadjanova - piano

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Mariya Akhadjanova has no website that I could find!

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Ep 48 - Song 5: "Snapshots" Song Cycle: "Crocodiles"/"Rain"/"Sneaky Squirrels"/"A Simple Request"/"Turtle Fence"/"Tuesday and Thursday"/"Spoiler Alert!" written by Lisa Neher and performed by Olivia Betzen and Nate Salazar

"Mezzo-soprano and composer Lisa Neher thrives in the crossroads of the concert hall and the theatre stage... Lisa’s compositions are shaped by her keen sense of dramatic timing and feature aching, lyrical phrases, energetic rhythmic motives, and intensely dissonant pitch clusters...

"She is an active advocate for new music, frequently premiering new works as well as established masterworks of the last fifty years. Lisa is the creator of the One Voice Project, a call for scores, poetry, and prose which will be incorporated into a one-woman musical-theatrical performance in the fall of 2016. Through the call for scores, the project promotes the creation and performance of new works for unaccompanied voice...

Her compositions include solo and chamber music for instruments and vocal works in the operatic, song, and choral genres. Lisa is particularly passionate about writing works that set text and story to music, such as her chamber opera White Horizon, about a nineteenth-century Arctic expedition gone wrong, and her song cycle Snapshots...
- from Lisa Neher's home page

"A composer of unabashedly heartfelt, lyrical music, Lisa’s works include solo and chamber music for instrumentalists as well as vocal works in the operatic, song, and choral genres, which represent her deepest passion."
- from her Facebook page

Olivia Betzen - vocals
Nate Salazar - piano

Photograph by Alisabeth Von Presley

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Ep 48 - Song 6: "Polymetric Phrygian Plainchant" written and performed by Paul Hertz

Many people, who know of Paul Hertz, usually know him from his horn playing in various Ames bands, best known probably being Mumford's. Or they may know him from hosting the local music program, "Ready, Ames, Fire" and his classical music program, "Morning Masterpieces" on Ames community station, KHOI.

But what some may not know, is that Paul Hertz, is a composer and performer of classical music. He has done some performances in Ames playing his material and having a choir perform it.

"Among Hertz’s many projects are playing bass trombone for the Ames folk rock dance band Mumford’s, playing keyboards for Jordan Mayland and the Thermal Detonators, and being involved in the Ames Choral Society. (He will be singing in an upcoming cabaret show called 'Down the Hobbit Hole'). He is also a composer and serves as the organist at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Ames."
- from an article on the Snap Twig website

"Paul Hertz is a composer, improviser, organist, trombonist, and pianist who lives in Ames, Iowa."
- from an email Paul Hertz sent to Iowa Music Showcase

Paul Hertz - all instruments and programming

Painting by Kara Hedge

MySpace page;

Ep 48 - Song 7: "Entreat Me Not to Leave You" (truncated) written by Dan Forest and performed by Luther College Nordic Choir

"Nordic Choir, founded in 1946, enjoys national and international acclaim as a premier collegiate choral ensemble in the United States. The choir beings its tenure under the direction of Dr. Andrew Last this year. Last arrived at Luther in the fall of 2012 and begins his role as Director of Choral Activities in 2017. Previous conductors include Sigvart Steen (1946-48), Weston Noble '43 (1948-2005), Craig Arnold (2005-10), and Allen Hightower (2010-16).

"Nordic Choir is Luther’s flagship choir in a choral program that comprises three upper-class mixed touring choirs, two first-year choirs, and a women’s choir. More than 500 singers from these ensembles combine with Symphony Orchestra, Luther Ringers, and pipe organ for five Christmas at Luther performances each year...

'Traditions within the Nordic Choir include holding hands during all performances, the sapphire blue velvet robes, and singing Pavel Chesnokov's O Lord God as the signature benedictory since 1948."
- from their home page

"The Nordic Choir is a 62-voice a cappella choir of select mixed voices from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

"In 1948, just two years after its founding by Sigvart Steen, a Luther College alumnus, a young Weston Noble began a 57-year tenure as music director and conductor.[1] Together, Noble and The Nordic Choir cultivated the Lutheran collegiate choral traditions in the United States.

"Eventually five more choirs were added to the music program to accommodate the growing interest in choral music and voice at Luther. In 2005, Luther College named Craig Arnold to the position of Director of Choral Activities and conductor of the Nordic Choir following Noble’s retirement. Arnold held the position from 2005-2010. Allen Hightower was appointed conductor effective Fall 2010 and left for University of North Texas in 2016. The current conductor is Andrew Last."
- from their Wikipedia entry

"For those of you who don't know the Luther College choral program, this is a small school (about 2,500 students) of ambitious undergrads. Often when we hear great choirs from big schools we are hearing some much older, more mature voices (grad voice majors, grad teaching assistants, etc) in the top choir. The Lutheran singing tradition in Iowa, Minnesota, to some extent the Dakotas is remarkable. In addition to Luther, almost every college or university in the area fields outstanding choirs...

"This was something that I loved about this choir and Hightower- I felt that the choir under Arnold had one mode of bold, yet still warm singing and that it often sounded like a really great y'all come choir, in the sense that there was usually very little subtlety, nuance, phrasing, etc. Under Hightower every text and musical phrase is understood, and I also felt that the singers (holding hands in the Luther tradition) really heard all the other voice parts fitting into their own throughout every measure of every piece. There was an organic, communal process happening- seventy voices as one, if you will." - from a review on composer Paul Carey's website

Vocals - 2013-2014 Nordic Choir
Conductor - Allan Hightower

The song had to be cut down on the podcast for time reasons, but you can hear the complete version on this video:

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ep 48 - Opening and closing - Iowa Music Showcase theme (classical version) by Jessica Villegas

"Founder and songwriter/singer/guitarist Trevor Holt said via e-mail that neither he nor bassist Jessica Villegas had played in bands before Foxholes formed. 'Jessica didn’t even play bass prior to joining the band, so it took some time to figure out how to put on a good show, how to network, etc.,' Holt wrote. 'Over the course of that time, we figured out what worked and what didn’t in terms of the set list and even the structure of the songs themselves. That was the biggest thing to come out of that first year – the development of the songs. Had we recorded this album a year ago, I can honestly say that it would not have been good. The sound would have been there, but it would have been an unfinished product. We really took the time to continually develop the songs ... .'"
- from a River Cities Reader article on The Foxholes

"You might know Jessica Villegas as the lone girl in Foxholes, slappin da bass. She also rocks a badass half-shaved hairstyle. Villegas was always destined to go down a creative path. Her father, Johnnie, DJs around Des Moines, that is when he’s not playing percussion for Canby; and her mother Susan was constantly working on different projects, like painting, when she was growing up. It was only right that she take up both mediums. While music is one of her passions, she’s also a visual artist who makes incredible paintings. In fact, the entire living room of her apartment is a studio, with one half devoted to music and the other to painting.

"She’s constantly at work on something and is now venturing out on her own with her debut solo performance tonight at the Des Moines Social Club’s Basement Bar. She joins Eden Stokka and Jennifer Hall on an all lady bill cuz girls rule and boys drool. The show will be a different vibe from Foxholes in that Villegas is taking a self-described more experimental route with her solo work."
- from Band Bombshell's 8 Tracks column

"Music. Art. Bicycles. Rabble rabble rabble. Foxholes, Honeycreeper, Treebranchtwig"
- from her Twitter page

Jessica Villegas - cello

Photo by Katie Hayward

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