BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, today announced the album release of John Harbison: Full Moon in March. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison is one of America's most prominent artistic figures. As part of BMOP's ongoing effort to perform, record, and disseminate Harbison's significant, early works, the album includes two vocal works: his chamber opera, Full Moon in March (1977), which is based on W.B. Yeats's play of the same name, and Mirabai Songs (1982) which draws upon texts by the 16th-century Indian mystic poetess Mirabai. Also featured is Harbison's orchestral memorial Exequien for Calvin Simmons (1982).
The composer's kinship with BMOP dates back to the premiere of the complete ballet Ulysses in 2003. "Gil Rose and BMOP have been powerful advocates for my theatrical pieces," says Harbison. "They've helped bring them back to life." Ulysses was BMOP/sound's 2008 inaugural release and the recording has since received numerous accolades including "Best CDs of 2008" (Time Out New York). A third BMOP/sound recording of Harbison's music is scheduled for 2011, and will feature the composer's first opera, Winter's Tale.
Harbison composed Full Moon in March with the full intention of a staged performance; this after his disappointment with his inability to mount a production of his first opera Winter's Tale. As is evident in a great deal of Harbison's instrumental and orchestral music, Full Moon in March shares many of the same dance forms and visceral rhythms. The mysterious, sinister plot features the cold Queen (Lorraine DiSimone, mezzo-soprano), the coarse Swineherd (James Maddalena, baritone) who dares to woo her, and two Attendants (Anne Harley, soprano and Frank Kelley, tenor) who serve as narrators and chorus. In Mirabai Songs, the ecstatic poetry of Mirabai is resurrected in Janna Baty's masterful performance as she weaves through six songs, bringing to each a distinc and dramatic personality and vocal quality. The song cyle conjures up images of religion, ritual, love, and eroticism. Originally scored for soprano and piano, the final chamber version premiered in 1984 by Collage New Music with Gunther Schuller conducting. Completing the album is Exequien for Calvin Simmons, a musical eulogy composed in August of 1982, just after Harbison learned of his colleague's death. Calvin Eugene Simmons was the first African-American conductor of a major orchestra in the United States, and someone Harbison has described as a hero of our time.
BMOP/sound, the Grammy-nominated label of the acclaimed Boston Modern Orchestra Project, explores the evolution of the music formerly known as classical. Its eclectic catalog offers both rediscovered classics of the 20th Century and the music of today's most influential and innovative compsers. The label's 2008 recordings received several accolades including "Best of 2008" CD nods by The New York Times, National Public Radio, Time Out New York, and Downbeat Magazine. Additional 2009 releases include: Derek Bermel: Voices (February); David Rakowski: Winged Contraption (March); Louis Andriessen: La Passione (May); John Cage: 16 Dances (June); Ken Ueno: Kaze no Oka (July); Elliott Schwartz: The Chamber Concertos (August); Alan Hovhaness: Exile Symphony (September); Steven Mackey: Dreamhouse (October); Dominick Argento: Jonah and the Whale (November); and William Thomas McKinley: RAP (December).