Songs from Spoon River, Reflections of a Peacemaker, and Other Vocal Works by Lita Grier
- CDR 90000 112
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These mostly world-premiere recordings project a musical panorama of the human experience from childhood to adulthood and beyond. Here are timeless truths told through enchanting poetry in settings that underscore the richness of their imagery.
The program opens with Five Songs for Children, with words by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Lowell, Walter de la Mare, Christina Rossetti, and Emily Huntington Miller.
Light and whimsical, Sneezles is based on an A.A. Milne poem about the author's favorite character, Christopher Robin. In Five Songs from "A Shropshire Lad," Grier's music underscores the urgency of the carpe diem message of A.E. Housman's poetry. Two Songs from Emily Dickinson are, by turns, wistful and impressionist.
The album's centerpiece, the Ravinia-comissioned, ten-song cycle Songs from Spoon River, comprises powerful portraits based on texts from Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology, in which fictional residents of a rural Illinois town reflect on their lives from beyond the grave.
This first-ever recording devoted exclusively to Grier's music concludes with Reflections of a Peacemaker: five life-affirming verses by the late teen poet Mattie J.T. Stepanek (1990-2004), sung by the Chicago Children's Choir conducted by Josephine Lee, with John Goodwin at the piano.
The stellar lineup of solo singers includes sopranos Michelle Areyzaga and Elizabeth Norman, tenor Scott Ramsay, and baritones Robert Sims, Alexander Tall, and Levi Hernandez, with pianists William Billingham and Welz Kauffman, President of the Ravinia Festival, taking turns at the keyboard.