The Resounding Lyre (1979)
||Miriam Gideon (1906-1996)
|| Constantine Cassolas, tenor
Susan Palma Nidel, flute
Stephen Taylor, oboe
Lauren Goldstein, bassoon
Stephen Burns, trumpet
Benjamin Hudson, violin
John Graham, viola
Eric Bartlett, cello
Robert Black, conductor
||Mobart Music (BMI)http://www.musicassociatesofamerica.com
"The Resounding Lyre -- a metaphor for the human heart -- consists of three settings of German poems ranging from the 13th century to the present. The first, 'Mutterbildnis,' by Frederic Ewen, is the portrait of a mother, a symbol of compassion for all humanity. The second, 'Wâhebûf und Nichtenvint,' in Middle High German, is the complaint of a 13th-century Jewish minnesinger who vows to leave his patrons because they lack respect for his art and withhold his proper reward; he will join his persecuted people. The third poem, by Heinrich Heine, 'Hallelujah,' is a celebration of glory and wonder at the 'masterpiece of creation' -- the human heart."
Miriam Gideon (1906-1996) is known primarily for her vocal music, which includes many choral works, songs and song cycles with differing chamber ensembles, and an opera. Gideon:
"When I was 19 I set a song -- to an American poem I've now forgotten -- and I knew I'd found my own idiom. I was hooked."
Gideon's free, personal atonal style is both lyrical and dramatic. Her text settings range from Horace to Edna St. Vincent Millay, and she would often set a poem in two dfferent languages within the same composition.
Born in Greeley, Colorado, Gideon began piano lessons at the age of nine when her family relocated to Chicago, Illinois. A year later they settled in Yonkers, New York, where she studied with pianist Hans Barth at the Music Conservatory of Yonkers. Gideon spent summers in Boston, Massachusetts with her uncle Henry Gideon, a choral conductor, organist, and music director of Temple Israel. She moved to Boston for the last two years of high school, enrolled as a French major at Boston University, and studied piano privately with Felix Fox.
Back in New York City in 1926, Gideon continued her musical education at New York University with Marion Bauer, Charles Haubiel, and Jacques Pillois. Her most important teachers proved to be the composers with whom she studied privately: Lazare Saminsky (1931-1934) and Roger Sessions (1935-1943). She then pursued a degree in musicology at Columbia University. Gideon's teaching career included faculty positions at Brooklyn College, City College of New York, Manhattan School of Music, and Jewish Theological Seminary, where she was awarded a doctorate in 1970. She received grants from the Ernest Bloch Society and the Coolidge, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations. Her music is recorded on Centaur, CRI, Leonarda, MMC, Newport Classic, New World labels.
Tenor Constantine Cassolas, a native of New York City, made his recital debut in 1964 and has since toured throughout the United States and Europe in solo and oratorio performances and with the Lyric Quartet and Waverly Consort chamber ensembles. He has been a frequent soloist with the Cantata Singers, Collegiate Chorale, Dessoff Choirs, Musica Sacra, Sine Nomine Singers, and Tarack Ensemble, and is also known for his performances of contemporary works with the Alliance for American Song, Da Capo Chamber Players, Group for Contemporary Music, Musicians' Accord, and Speculum Musicae. Cassolas taught for many years at City College of New York; his performances may be found on the CRI, New World, and Vanguard labels.
Since its formation in 1971, Speculum Musicae has become internationally recognized as one of the preeminent contemporary chamber ensembles in the United States. Comprised of twelve New York-based musicians working together in a democratic, musician-run organization, the group's goal is threefold: to preserve and present the classic musical works of our time, to participate in the development and expansion of the repertoire by collaborating with living composers, and to educate the musicians and audiences of the future. Speculum Musicae's repertoire includes 25 commissions, 52 world premieres, and 32 US premieres. In addition to its annual concert series in New York, the ensemble has performed at the Kennedy Center, Library of Congress, New Music Los Angeles, and abroad at the Bath Festival, Venice Biennale, and Warsaw Autumn Festival. The group is currently planning a tour of China for the spring of 2007. Speculum Musicae has been in residence at Brandeis, Columbia, Harvard, and Rice Universities and has recorded for the Albany, Bridge, Cambria, Centaur, Columbia, CRI, New World, Nonesuch labels. It received the Laurel Leaf Award from the American Composers Alliance in 1997.