Skip to main content

Contemporary Art Song - Ah Young Hong: A Breath Upwards (Innova Recordings - March 23, 2018)

Contemporary Art Song
Ah Young Hong: A Breath Upwards
(Innova Recordings - March 23, 2018)

Buy the CD

Baltimore soprano Ah Young Hong explores vocal works by composers Milton Babbitt and Michael Hersch in this striking release on the Innova Recordings label. In the works of the two contemporary American composers, she conveys the feeling that drives the often complex modern music.

Babbitt’s Philomel debuted in 1964, groundbreaking at the time for its use of recorded vocals and analog synthesizer along with voice. The words, sometimes just syllables, come from poet John Hollander. The story, which comes from Greek mythology, lends itself to an operatice treatment. In a nutshell, Philomel is raped by her brother-in-law, the king of Thrace, who then has her tongue cut out so she cannot tell her sister. She then weaves a tapestry that tells the story. When her sister figures it out, she kills her own son to punish her husband the king. The two sisters flee into the woods - the same woods where Philomel was raped - pursued by the king, and the gods then transform the three of them into birds. Philomel becomes a nightingale.

The gruesome story becomes an emotive journey. The combination of voice and electronics translates into an intense musical experience, with Ah Young Hong ably and elegantly jumping through all the hoops of a virtuosic performance piece.

Michael Hersh's a breath upwards made its debut in 2014. Here, Hong is accomapnied by Miranda Cuckson on viola, Gleb Kanasevich on clarinet, and Jamie Hersch on horn. Their contributions are precise and perfectly complement the vocals. The texts from Dante’s Purgatorio and Ezra Pounds’ Cantos also cover similar ground - running through forests, the flight of birds. There is a real sense of confusion and aching melancholy that permeates the music.

Ah Young Hong has a true affinity for the material. Her voice can pierce or whisper as it breathes life into the spare modernity of the music. She distills the emotion and delivers it along with the notes, by turns eerie, agitated, dreamy. Hong's superb vocal facility, along with the able instrumental accompaniment, highlights the sheer beauty of the works while drawing the listener into the emotional heart of the music on a grand scale.


Popular posts from this blog

Film News - imagineNATIVE Embargo Collective at the Berlin Film Fest

Hot Off the Presses:
(and gosh, doesn't that expression sound quaint these days?)

to have its European Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival 2010
(Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 11.-21.02.10)

(Toronto, February 3rd, 2010) The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is pleased to announce the official selection of the festival’s Embargo Collective programme for the Forum Expanded section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. This programme of works was commissioned by the imagineNATIVE festival for its 10th anniversary and will have its European premiere Monday, February 15th, 8.30pm at Cinema Arsenal 2 and a repeat screening Wednesday, February 17th, 4pm at CinemaxX 6.

Curated by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director Danis Goulet, the Embargo Collective is an international group of seven Indigenous artists at the forefront of the changing global landscape of Indigenous cinema. Inspired by Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructi…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …