On June 28, 2011 Naxos American Classics and the Nashville Symphony will release a recording of compositions by Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Schwantner including two world premieres. Performed by the GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony and conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, the recording features Schwantner's Morning's Embrace (2005), Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra (1994) with soloist Christopher Lamb, and Chasing Light... (2008), a work commissioned by the Ford Made in America project in conjunction with the League of American Orchestras and Meet The Composer.
To celebrate the release of the Schwantner recording, Naxos of America and the Nashville Symphony will be hosting a party at the Centennial Park Picnic Pavilion (at the corner of 27th Ave. N. & Poston Ave.) on June 21, 2011, from 5:30-7 p.m. The NSO Brass Quintet will provide Americana music, and Naxos and the Nashville Symphony will supply water, lemonade and popsicles. All are welcome to bring a picnic dinner and to enjoy an informal discussion with Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero and Executive Director Alan D. Valentine. Following the picnic at 7:30 p.m., the Nashville Symphony will perform a Regions Community Concert at the Centennial Park Band Shell featuring music of American composers, including Aaron Copland, Richard Rodgers and Leroy Anderson, among others.
The Joseph Schwantner recording is the latest in a long line of projects that have resulted from the close partnership between the Naxos and the Nashville Symphony. To date, Naxos (whose North American distribution arm, Naxos of America, operates out of Franklin, TN) has released 19 recordings featuring the Nashville Symphony. The Naxos/Nashville Symphony collaboration began in 2000 under the orchestra's late Music Director, Kenneth Schermerhorn, with a recording of the orchestral works by Howard Hanson. That relationship, and a focus on recording American composers (including five world premiere recordings to date), continues today with Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero. Since 2007, Nashville Symphony recordings on Naxos have earned six GRAMMY® Awards.
Launched in 2005, Ford Made in America is the largest orchestral commissioning consortium in the country's history. Made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund, the program's inaugural composition, Joan Tower's Made in America, received rave reviews from critics and was performed over 80 times throughout the 50 states during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons. Made in America went on to win three prestigious GRAMMY® Awards: the piece was recognized as Best Classical Composition, and the Nashville Symphony and Music Advisor Leonard Slatkin won GRAMMY® Awards for their recording of Made in America, in the categories of Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.
For the second round of Ford Made in America, 58 orchestras, including at least one in each of the 50 United States, jointly commissioned a new work by Schwantner. Chasing Light... was given its world premiere performances by the Reno Chamber Orchestra (Nevada) on September 20 and 21, 2008. Chasing Light… was then heard by audiences nationwide when orchestras in all 50 states performed the work during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 concert seasons.
Chasing Light... is based on and inspired by a poem written by the composer himself. In explaining his inspiration for the work, Schwantner comments: "Chasing Light... draws its spirit, energy and inspiration from the celebration of vibrant colors and light that penetrate the morning mist as it wafts through the trees in the high New England hills. Like a delicate dance, those images intersected with a brief original poem that helped fire my musical imagination."
Morning's Embrace was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra in celebration of its 75th season and draws its spirit and energy from the intensely vibrant early morning sunrises of rural New Hampshire.
The Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic for its 150th Anniversary and its Principal Percussionist, Christopher Lamb, who performs the piece on this recording. Schwantner states, "The extensive array of highly diverse instruments that form a percussionist’s arsenal frequently demands wide-ranging instrumental skills and techniques. Within this daunting performance environment, Mr. Lamb's astonishing virtuosity and compelling musicianship provided an endless wellspring of inspiration that helped shape and propel the flow of my musical ideas for the concerto."
Ford Made in America is made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. The program offers an unparalleled opportunity for ensembles in smaller communities to premiere a new work by an established American composer of national repute, and brings music by a living composer to audiences nationwide. Major support is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts and The Amphion Foundation.
"Ford Motor Company Fund has been proud to partner with orchestras across the country through Ford Made in America," said Jim Vella, president of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. "This project has furthered Ford's commitment to bringing diverse audiences together as audiences in all 50 states listened to Joseph Schwantner's composition. We are excited that this recording will extend the reach of this important project."