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Making Music

​​New graduate chamber ensembles elevate School of Music
 
Isai Jess Munoz CD Release

Isai Jess Munoz CD Release

Visca L'Amor: Catalan Art Songs of the XX and XXI Centuries
 
Jennifer Barker receives Masters Fellowship

Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship

UD Composition Professor wins DDOA Masters Award
 
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On the Record

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UD School of Music steps up their recording game in a challenging time for music

stage of gore recital hall with recording equipment

Article by Diana Milburn | photo courtesy of Christopher Nichols

This week in Gore Recital Hall at the Roselle Center for the Arts, UD’s quartet-in-residence, Calidore String Quartet, is reveling in playing Beethoven together, heard only by the silent encouragement of sound engineers in the empty hall.

In between takes, they paused to tell us why they chose this space for such an important occasion. “Gore is perfectly suited for chamber music recordings. It doesn't have any of the extraneous noises that often disturb recording sessions. This hall adds a warm glow to the sound, while maintaining clarity for each instrumentalist in the quartet.” 

Their time here in Gore Recital Hall was to be a culmination of 2020’s worldwide 250th Beethoven birthday celebrations, beginning with a series of public concerts at UD of all 16 of Beethoven’s titanic string quartets. The concert cycle for live audiences was interrupted by the pandemic shutdown, but the plan had always included this recording of the complete Beethoven string quartets. Although the Calidores have made recordings prior to this, recording these towering touchstones of the string quartet repertoire is the culmination of years of work together and a milestone in the artistic life of a string quartet, marking their arrival as mature artists in the genre. The classical music world will be listening.

Professionally engineered sound recording has been a gold standard of the music industry in general, and classical music in particular, since the turn of the early 20th century, marked by the arrival of commercially available recording technology. How many attics in America still have stacks of Enrico Caruso or Arturo Toscanini records piled in a dusty corner? Recordings made them household names in an era when it was not possible for artists to hop on a plane for a whirlwind world tour in front of live audiences.  


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Gore recital hall with a piano on stage

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with public gatherings curtailed and concerts, tours and festivals mostly ruled out, recorded music constitutes a shared experience even across the physical divide. In academic settings, musicians have always acknowledged the power and value of professional audio recordings and have now used this time away from live audiences for lovingly prepared and expertly executed recordings focused on the quality of the performance and the sound that can be achieved without the complications of the visual component. They are now tapping into their great resources: relationships with acoustic spaces, knowledge and colleagues with whom to record.

Multi-Grammy winner and UD instructor of recording Andreas Meyer has brought world-class musicians such as violinist Hilary Hahn to record in Gore Recital Hall’s world-class acoustical setting. “The beauty of recording in Gore Recital Hall is not just the superior acoustics and isolation, but the fact that artists can feel the freedom that this hall and stage offers, allowing them to escape the outside world and express their artistry to the fullest extent,” Meyer said. He recently recorded and engineered the just-released Visca L'Amor: Catalan Art Songs of the 20th and 21st Century, (Bridge Records) by associate professor of voice and opera, tenor Isai Jess Muñoz and faculty collaborative pianist Oksana Glouchko that is garnering critical attention for these UD School of Music personnel, and academic kudos for bringing to light many of these neglected songs by performing and collecting them and making them available to students at the University of Delaware.

Another recent recording in Gore under the expert ears of Meyer is associate professor of clarinet Christopher Nichols’ CD titled Almost All-American: 21st-Century Works for Clarinet. (Albany Records) Nichols’s UD collaborators include composer/alum Kevin Cope, former faculty pianist Julie Nishimura, alum countertenor Augustine Mercante, composer/pianist Jennifer Margaret Barker, professor of music theory/composition; and the faculty ensemble Christiana Winds.

More recordings of note released this year include that of Lawrence Stomberg, professor of cello and director of performance studies, performing on a disc called Double Images with music of composer Ketty Nez, released this past May by Albany Records. The UD Symphony Orchestra, under James Allen Anderson, director of orchestral activities, released a CD in December recorded in Puglisi Orchestra Hall titled Robert Moran: Points of Departure, (Neuma Records) featuring the works of distinguished composer Robert Moran; Metropolitan Opera artist Zachary James, bass; and UD alums Daniel Bubeck, countertenor, and Maria Rusu, viola. Composer and guitarist alum Kevin Cope’s CD Origin Unknown (Viduus Records) with faculty artist Christopher Nichols, clarinet, and many alumni guest artists was also recently recorded in Gore.

Topping it all off, Elicia Silverstein, assistant professor of violin, learned the big news in locked-down May of 2020 that her critically acclaimed disc The Dreams and Fables I Fashion (Rubicon Classics) had won the internationally prestigious BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award. It was quite the reward for a season spent without live audiences, and a feather in the cap of the newly-designated UD School of Music’s faculty.

And CUT - till we all meet together again in Gore Recital Hall.

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