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Maria Newman: A Scented Garden of Music Melodies Of The South Book 1

Maria Newman: A Scented Garden of Music Melodies Of The South Book 1

  • By Malibu Chamber Players
  • Release 29/01/2009
  • Media Format CD
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Price: €21.13

Product Notes

A Scented Garden of Music: 'Melodies of the South' Book I tells of the rich heritage of one American family's traditional southern ancestry. The stories told in this compilation are deeply important to the lives of five inextricably connected women; women whoes work and passions have melded together spanning three separate centuries. Poet laureate, Louise Moss Montgomery (1892 - 1978); former Goldwyn Girl and arts benefactress, Martha Montgomery (1920 - 2005); honored composer and violinist, Maria Newman (b. 1962); and Newman's daughters Martha Jeannette Thatcher (b. 1996) and Isabella Montgomery Thatcher (b. 1998), represent four generations of women connected not only by blood, but also by a fiercely similar value system, spirituality, the love of family, and a great admiration and profound respect for the arts. The stories detailed here, told in music and song, present four emotionally contrasting works that serve to illustrate just a little bit of the Montgomery family history. Two large song cycles, 'A Breath of Mississippi' and 'Songs on Motherhood,' are set to Louise Moss Montgomery's acclaimed 20th century poetry. Maria Newman set music to her own texts for her 'Montgomery Carols (Set I),' a collection of Christmas carols written for and dedicated to the composer's late mother, Martha Montgomery. Completing this collection of music inspired by the South is a set of violin duos entitled, 'Appalachian Duets,' an instrumental programmatic work depicting flavors of primitive Appalachian scenes. Martha Montgomery, born and raised deep in the Delta Region of the Mississippi, reared Newman to love the heritage of her southern roots, the warmth and security of family, the generosity of friends, the closeness of community, as well as the importance, strength and fortitude of art and music. And as Louise Moss Montgomery passed on the these qualities to her daughter Martha Montgomery, and Martha Montgomery to her daughter Maria Newman, so does Newman now pass on the roots of her artistry to her own beloved daughters and sons. 'A Breath of Mississippi' (2005) 'A Breath of Mississippi (Stories Your Mother and Daddy Told Me)' was composed in 2005 in memory of composer Maria Newman's beloved mother, Martha Montgomery. Newman's mother died on May 9, 2005, just six weeks after Maria Newman and husband Scott Hosfeld's fourth child, Noah Louis was born. The complete work was premiered in December of that same year in a pair of performances celebrating the life and legacy of Martha Montgomery. Since that time, 'A Breath of Mississippi' has enjoyed a rich and full performance life. Maria Newman was extremely close to her wonderful and kind mother. Cherishing Martha Montgomery greatly Newman relished in Montgomery's vivid childhood stories of growing up and coming of age in the Deep South of the 1920's and 30's. As a source of solace following Martha Montgomery's death, Newman turned to reading and studying the poetry of Montgomery's mother, Louise Moss Montgomery. IN doing so, Newman felt a strong desire to set a cycle of this compelling poetry to music, telling of the values and sense of tradition that the Montgomery and Newman families held in such high esteem. Martha Montgomery's mother, Louise Moss Montgomery, was named poet laureate of Mississippi in 1973, for her moving poetry about life in her Delta town of Clarksdale, Mississippi. In a din of sadness following her mother's death, Newman came upon an old hardcover volume of works by Louise Moss Montgomery. The book was lying open to a beautiful poem entitled, 'My Auntie Mother.' Newman was astonished by the surprise ending of the poem, as if her own heartbreak was being understood and absorbed by previous generations. Maria Newman had often heard the affectionate nickname, 'Auntie Mother,' in the heartwarming tales her mother had passed down. In point, Louise Moss Montgomery, who had been orphaned and raised by her Aunt Martha and Uncle Edwin, called her adored aunt and uncle, 'Auntie Mother' and 'Uncle Daddy.' 'My Auntie Mother, from Montgomery's publication of 'Songs for Soldiers' (1970), was the first of the poems Newman set. Choosing several other poems from the same publication for a song cycle, Maria Newman aptly named her work, 'A Breath of Mississippi,' after the handwritten dedication penned inside the well used volume where Newman had first read these poems. In her early publications, Louise Moss Montgomery often wrote from both a man's and a woman's perspective. As indicated in the subtitle, 'Stories your Mother and Daddy Told Me,' Maria Newman portrays her song cycle as the telling of events and memories passed down from one generation to the next, allowing the soprano soloist to become a third party storyteller as well as a protagonist. The result is a complete cycle of five songs for high soprano, two violins and piano. Opening with 'Little Songs,' Newman sets up a hypnotic piano ostinato combined with string harmonics. Here, Newman's setting atmospherically surrounds Montgomery's gentle poetic declamation of the values behind optimism. 'Watchword' provides stalwart advice for the listener over Newman's shyly emerging melody that gradually becomes increasingly pointed. Presenting the violins and soprano alone in a largely drone like setting, 'Under the Oak Tree,' laments the lost love of it's protagonist. 'My Auntie Mother,' (scored for soprano, one violin and piano) musically depicts it's storyteller in an ever moving rocking chair while over this gentle rhythm the teachings of a magnificent woman are told. In an extremely fast and good natured perpetual motion, 'That's Home' sets up the happenings in one family's life, telling of the comforts, leniencies and happiness of home! 'Appalachian Duets' (2001) 'Appalachian Duets,' scored for two violins alone, was co-commissioned by the Travers Violin Duo and the Angeli Duo, and has been performed on a large scale nationally and internationally. Intended for performance on the concert stage, the musical ideas behind the duets were taken from Maria Newman's original score to the gorgeously restored vintage 1919 silent film classic, 'The Heart O' the Hills,' starring 'America's Sweetheart,' Mary Pickford. The film, telling the story of an uneducated southern girl striving to change her circumstances while coming of age, takes place int he Appalachian Mountains. In keeping with the vernacular music of that area, Newman felt that the core orchestration of two violins would lend itself beautifully to the setting of the film. When the Travers and Angeli Duos concurrently approached Newman to write a concert duo, the composer believed 'The Heart O' the Hills' film themes would suit the task perfectly, if she could successfully transform and develop them for the concert stage in an interesting fashion. Newman chose the main title music, as well as four other contrasting themes from her film score to develop for the duet, including an extended, flashy finale movement. Indeed, the duets, which are an audience favorite, have proven to be one of Newman's most popular chamber works. The opening movement of the concert work (Heart O' the Hills) depicts a melodic and tranquil picture of southern life in Appalachia, striving to depict a classically based, yet vernacular musical language. Movement II (Goin' Fishin') sets up a quickly toggling pizzicato underneath a perky primary line, in which the players trade off their protagonist/supporting roles seamlessly. In a devilishly difficult movement requiring the constant use of thirds and other double stops in both violin parts, 'The Train' illustrates all the charming idiosyncrasies of the stops, starts, accelerations and decelerations of an iron horse chugging on it's way. Featuring each violinist in a sweetly singing solo, movement IV (Mammy's Little Lullaby) is replete with musical reminiscences and sentimentality. Here, the lower violin supports, both with rich double stop progressions and droning pedal tones juxtaposed with moving lines. The result is an orchestration that entices the listener to perceive he/she is hearing a larger ensemble. The breathless finale (Granpap's Fiddle) was taken from a seven minute clog dance scene in the film, in which Pickford's on screen grandfather picks up his wiry fiddle and performs at a barn dance. In the film, one violinist only performs the fiddle part for this truly hilarious scene. Expounding upon the initial instrumentation for her concert duo, Newman opened up the orchestration to two violins, encouraging a naturally raucous dialog between the two players. A slow and melodic middle section emerges and develops, accelerating wildly into a frenetic race to the finish! 'Songs on Motherhood' (1998) 'Songs on Motherhood' was written in celebration of the lives of infant twins who died tragically in February of 1997. Jacqueline Brand, superb violinist of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and longtime friend of composer Maria Newman, was the mother of the children, suffering endless agony at their passing. The effect of the deaths on the entire musical community of Los Angeles was heartbreaking, confusing, longstanding, and so unbearable that more than a year passed before a memorial concert was presented. It was for this momentous occasion that Newman was commissioned by JoAnn Turovsky (principal harpist of the Los Angeles Opera and Chamber Orchestras) and Emily Bernstein (Motion Picture Industry Recording Artist). 'Songs on Motherhood,' orchestrated for lyric soprano, clarinet, violin and harp, was premiered at the memorial by Brand, Bernstein, Turovsky, and soprano Anne Marie Ketchum. Maria Newman's cousin, songwriter and film composer great, Randy Newman, also performed at the long awaited memorial. For the initial text settings of the song cycle, Newman chose two unpublished and clearly biographical poems by Louise Moss Montgomery. For her finale, Newman set a well-known anonymous verse often attributed to Native American beliefs and writings. Montgomery's 'To a Refractory Father,' tells of a mother's plea to a disinterested father, compelling him to love his infant child. This opening movement is episodic, utilizing direct text painting to accentuate the emotions of the protagonist. The middle movement, 'Pirouetting,' portrays the love of a mother indulgently watching her daughter dance before a mirror. This depiction features the soprano and harp alone in a minuet/lullaby strophic setting. 'Do not stand at my grave and weep...' the aforementioned anonymous verse surrounded by conjecture of authorship, clearly states that death is not an end, but a metamorphosis that makes possible a melding with our physical earth and metaphysical surroundings. In this final movement, the voice emerges with a prayerful plainchant, as the tutti ensemble blossoms into the movement proper. Two joyful intermezzi, performed without voice, separate the three large song movements, and serve to celebrate the innocence of the baby twins at play. Newman and Bernstein had been friends since their conservatory days together at the Eastman School of Music in the 1980's. The two musicians, living and working in Los Angeles, had often collaborated musically. (Indeed, 'Songs on Motherhood,' was not the first commission Maria Newman had received from Bernstein and Turovsky). Several years ago, Newman received the news that her dear friend Emily Bernstein had been diagnosed with a fast growing cancer. It was not long after that Emily Bernstein passed away. She was 45 years old. The performance presented on this collection was recorded a number of years before Bernstein was diagnosed with her terminal foe. How grateful the artists represented here are for the opportunity to have worked with such a compelling musician and stellar human being as Emily Bernstein. She will never be forgotten. It is with great love that this work and it's performance are dedicated to the lives of two lost children and a lost friend: three angels who are surely playing together along paths of jewel lined gold in a garden of happiness. 'Montgomery Carols, Set I' (2001) Maria Newman's 'Montgomery Carols (Set I)' were composed in 2001 as a gift for her mother, Martha Montgomery, on her 81st birthday. The carols were premiered in Los Angeles by the Malibu Madrigals, at a private event on December 5th of that same year. The works emerge as true Christmas carols, toggling between chorus and verse in strophic form. Newman set the music to her own texts, intending to honor the values, beliefs, and profound faith of her mother. At the time of this recording, Newman had brought four of her five children into the world: Martha, Isabella, Samuel, and Noah. The opening carol, 'Ring Your Bells!', sets up the children, who were so beloved by their grandmother, as protagonists. (Joaquin Syrus, Maria Newman and Scott Hosfeld's fifth child, had not yet been born. However, Newman composed an original carol for Joaquin that was premiered in a set of three performances by Elemental Harmony A Cappella Women's Vocal Trio in December of 2008, at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture in Malibu. Joaquin was 9 months old at the time of the initial premieres.) In point of history, Maria Newman was born when her mother was 41 years old, often commenting that compared to the mothers of her peers, her own seemed the most youthful. Newman's mother was possessed of great energy and optimism, influencing Newman not only in life, but musically as well. Montgomery firmly believed in the talent of her musician children (two of Newman's brothers are award winning film composers), and groomed them to feel that with hard work, they could accomplish whatever they wished. Montgomery was far from a cloying stage mother; rather she garnered satisfaction from her children's happiness in their own right. A fabulous motivator, Montgomery set the stage for true creativity, as she encouraged originality from her children. Maria Newman grew up in this fortuitous environment, the youngest of the five children of Martha Montgomery and film music great, Alfred Newman. Alfred Newman died when daughter Maria Newman was eight years old, leaving Montgomery to both mother and father her. Montgomery rose to that occasion and mother and daughter were great friends until Montgomery's death in 2005 at the age of 84. Actively involved in the lives of grandchildren Martha Jeannette, Isabella Montgomery and Samuel James (Sonny), Martha Montgomery would have just a few weeks to get to know grandson Noah Louis. She died when he was six weeks old. Too young to establish a memory of the grandmother that so shaped his life, Noah and little brother Joaquin, born 3 weeks after Montgomery's death) would never know their exceptional grandmother. Yet the legacy and teachings of Martha Montgomery will most surely and vividly live on in the continued saga of this dedicated musical family. The stories will be told and taken in, the history passed down, the trail of ancestry understood.

Details

Title: Maria Newman: A Scented Garden of Music Melodies Of The South Book 1
Release Date: 29/01/2009
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 614325655724
Item #: 751337X
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