November 07, 2004

Steppin' Out


Brent Michael David's “We The People” by The Choral Arts Society of Washington and Pacific Chorale (through a generous gift from the National Endowment for the Arts) in honor of the opening of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. The world premiere occurs on November 7, 2004 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Written for large chorus and full orchestra, the lyrics combine all of the Native-American tribal names in the United States with a tribute to the Indigenous languages of the Washington D.C. region.

Noël Goemanne by Cathedral Music Ministry in Corpus Christi, TX. The Dallas-based composer will write arrangements of various Gregorian chants for the cantor, choir and congregation.

Edie Hill's “The Bike Let Loose” by the Minnesota ACDA All-State Women's Choir. The commission will premiere in August 2004 and will be performed at the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall in February 2005 under the direction of Sandra Peter.

James Johnson to write “Toccata Gavle” for the 350th Jubilee of Heliga Trefaldighets Kyrka in Gavle, Sweden. The composer and organist will premiere the work in the town in July. He will also perform the work to conclude eight other organ concerts this summer in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Germany.

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. This piece is called “Icecut” and is written for two oboes, bassoon, two horns, trumpet and strings. The piece will be performed ten times with Anthone Princiotti conducting during the VSO's “Made In Vermont” tour in September and October. Dennis will be giving a pre-concert talk each night.


William Hoffman's “Conversations." This annual series of discussions with current major theatre and musical artists, sponsored by the Theatre Program of Languages and Literatures Department at Lehman College, will be aired on CUNY TV in New York.

Pitch Black Dream's “Invitation Only” on FX's The Shield in April 2004. The track is from their debut release called Never Going Home.

Alan Shulman's “Rendezvous” on the newly released Stuyvesant String Quartet with Benny Goodman on Bridge Records. This previously unpublished August 1946 radio program on WEAF featured Shulman's work, which was commissioned for this special occasion of the Quartet joining clarinetist Benny Goodman.

Rivethead songs “The End," “Silenced” and “Fade” during Dallas Stars hockey games in the 2003-2004 season. These Rivethead songs were played during warm-ups and game breaks on locally and nationally televised games on many networks.


John Axelrod by being named music director of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and chief conductor of the Lucerne Opera Theater, effective August 1. He is the founding conductor of Houston-based Orchestra X, a post he will relinquish this summer. A Harvard graduate, he studied piano, composition and conducting in both the U.S. and St. Petersburg. Axelrod also assisted Leonard Bernstein in the preparation of musical theatre.

George Balanchine by the New York Ballet. The opening night of the benefit for the ballet's season featured an all-Balanchine program in tribute to him. One of ballet's foremost choreographers, Balanchine would have been 100 in 2004.

Hal Blair inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, posthumously. This dedicated ASCAP member began his career as a songwriter for western movies. Blair wrote a number of songs made famous by Elvis Presley and contributed songs to nearly every Elvis movie between 1961 and 1967. He also penned songs performed by Nat King Cole, Jerry Lee Lewis and Rosemary Clooney. Blair passed away in 2001.

Susan Botti, Justin Dello Julio, Judd Greenstein, Matthew Kajcienski, Harold Meltzer, Tamar Muskal, Jeff Myers, Virginia Samuel and Richard Wilson by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with 2004 music awards. Dello Joio and Wilson received Academy Awards in Music, which honors outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice. Both will receive additional funds toward the recording of one work. Samuel received a Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award. Botti was honored with a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship given to mid-career composers of exceptional gifts. Meltzer received a Charles Ives Fellowship. Greenstein, Kajcienski, Muskal and Myers all were awarded Charles Ives Scholarships which are given to composition students of great promise.

Zona Cero with third place in “La Mega Estrella," a contest run by the New York City radio station La Mega 97.9 FM. Zona is a producer, musician and artist who has toured and sang with most of the salsa icons in the world.

Matthew Ferraro's score in Mango Kiss by winning the Gold Medal for Director's Choice for Music at The Park City Film Music Festival at Sundance. The film will also be part of film festivals in London, Miami and New York.

Edward Knight by San Francisco Song Festival as winner of the First Annual American Art Song Competition for Composers. Knight's much-celebrated “Life is Fine” was awarded Best Song Cycle in the “Established Professional” Category. For more information regarding Edward Knight, please visit:

Frederick Koch as the distinguished alumnus of 2004 by the Cleveland Institute of Music. Koch recently had concerts of his songs at the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory and Akron Univeristy.

Mark Laycock, music director of New Jersey's Princeton Symphony Orchestra, by being been named to an additional post as artistic director/conductor of the Lake Placid Sinfonietta in New York. Laycock, who has served as music director of Ontario's Orchestra London, and as associate conductor of the New Jersey Symphony, began conducting at age sixteen and furthered his studies at the St. Louis Conservatory. He is also a published composer whose works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New Jersey, Alabama, Canton, and Princeton Symphony Orchestras.

Remy Le Boeuf and Pascal Le Boeuf by the National Monterey Jazz Festival High School Competition for winning the Young Jazz Composer Competition. By winning this honor, Remy and Pascal will be playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Remy also won the Best Horn Player Award.

Dr. Elaine Murray Stone with the first Martha Rivers Ingram Award for excellence in the arts by Ashley Hall, a girl's preparatory school. Dr. Stone was recognized for lifetime achievements as a writer and composer. After attending Ashley Hall, Elaine went on to major in piano at the Julliard School.


Douglas Geers' compositions in How I Learned To Draw A Sheep, a music theatre performance. Humor, subtle harmonic motion and theatrical playfulness characterize Geer's electro-acoustic music. Geer has received a Fullbright fellowship among numerous career achievements.

Steve Heitzeg's Nobel Symphony, a symphony for peace and justice, by VocalEssence and Gustavus Orchestra, Philip Brunelle conducting at Ochestra Hall in Minneapolis on April 18, 2004. The work was performed alongside interactive media and motion graphics designed by artists from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Brad Ross' A Family For Baby Grand for Narrator and Orchestra will be performed during the '04-'05 season by The National Symphony at The Kennedy Center, The Rochester Philharmonic, and The Jacksonville Symphony. His piece Custard The Dragon And The Wicked Knight for Vocalist and Orchestra, based on the Ogden Nash story, will be performed by The Milwaukee Symphony in January '05.

Augusta Read Thomas, works by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The CSO's 14th season program will include new works by Thomas.

Phil Thrill (a.k.a. P.I. Hill) with Jess James at the Village East Theatre in New York City as part of the New York International Music & Film Festival.


Harold Blumenfeld's “Songs of Classics” and “Sterne and Stein” were premiered at Arkansas State University and Washington University in St. Louis respectively.

Mark Fish's “Pictures of Miró” by The Galapagos Quartet. This work, making its California premiere, is a set of evocative musical depictions of eleven paintings by the Spanish artist Joan Miró, a contemporary of Picasso, ordered chronologically to lead listeners through the artist's surreal world of fantasy and imagination. An image of each painting will be projected in tandem with a musical portrait. Fish is one of the founding members of Galapagos. His music has been performed widely in venues including Carnegie Hall, the Bear Valley Music Festival, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, France. His acclaimed work Ferdinand the Bull, based on the classic children's book by Munro Leaf, has been in great demand in orchestral, chamber and solo versions, and will soon be released on a compact disc narrated by actor David Ogden Stiers.

Garrison Hull's “Nancy” and “Violin Sonata No. 2." These two works are being premiered in the Washington, D.C. area.

Bruce Saylor's “Proud Music of the Storm." The Nashville Symphony Orchestra with Kenneth Schermerhorn conducting premiered this piece written for children's choir, chorus, Orff instruments and full orchestra.

Walter Skolnik's “Concierto for Viola and Small Orchestra." This world premiere occurred on April 21, 2004 performed by Eric Shumsky, viola, and the Elite Chamber Orchestra of Bucharest. The piece was conducted by Losif Lon Prunner at the National Military Place in Bucharest, Romania.

Raymond Vun Kannon's “Fantasy-Piece” on the March 24, 2004 at a concert by the Foundation for the Promotion of Music in Gainsville, FL. His “Romanza” was also performed in the program.

Curtis Wilson's “Fantasy Variations, Rainbows” and “Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble." Each work was premiered over the period of a few months at the Ed Landreth Auditorium at Texas Christian University.


Walt Andrus' Love’s A Song, containing 11 songs reflecting the many moods of love. The musical accompaniment on this CD ranges from trios to big bands to string orchestras. Andrus sings five vintage standards as well as six new songs from the musical Love’s A Song written by Al Petrone.

Jeff Austin's Songs from the Tin Shed. Austin, the mandolin player for Yonder Mountain String Band, has released this side project album with Chris Castino on guitar. Austin's beautiful songwriting shines on these songs that range from folk to bluegrass. A number of friends join the duo on this delicate recording including Austin's band mates.

Salvatore Baglio's Rock E. Rollins. This album along with the re-release of Baglio's 1980 album The Stompers came out on The Vinyl Frontier record label. For more information, go to www.

Dottie Burman's When The Palm Trees Grow In Central Park, featuring fourteen comedy songs, show tunes and ballads. Her longtime musical direction, arranger, keyboard player and backup singer, Paul Greenwood, joins her on this recording.

James Colley's California Skin. Alex James Muscat produced the album, which was released on his label, Last Stop Records.

Dirty On Purpose's Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow. This Brooklyn-based indie quintet has a delicate vocal interplay likened to Belle & Sebastian and the ability to craft a glorious wall-of-sound earning comparisons to U2 and Built to Spill. The shared vocal harmonies and intricately woven atmospheric instrumental sections make for a strikingly mature album.

Emerson Drive’s What If?, their second album on DreamWorks Records Nashville. Richard Marx produced this album as well as two tracks on their first release, Emerson Drive. This hard-touring group has received distinction by the ACM, Billboard, Canadian Country Music Association and CMT. For more information, visit

Sara Groves's The Other Side Of Something. After many recent struggles, Groves relied on the talents of long time collaborator Nate Sabin. The result is a mix of songs that find grooves and explore new musical territory while she remains true to who she is.

Jennifer Higdon's City Scape and “Concierto for Orchestra." This release consists of both works performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2002. Higdon is one of the most sought-after and prolific American composers. City Scape is dedicated to Robert Spano, the orchestra's music director, and the piece is a musical postcard of Atlanta.

Rupert Kettle recently had several pieces published by Frog Peak Music: Imaginary Variations #1, Three Pieces/ Percussionists and Randy Dances. Frog Peak also publishes Kettle’s adaptation of Johanna Beyer’s Three Movements for Percussion. Further information can be found at

Bruce Kingery and Al Dero wrote all the songs on Classic Theme, the latest from Sal Rainone, who co-wrote one ballad on the release. This CD emphasizes the kind of romantic, multilingual ballad and easy listening style that admiring and enthusiastic audiences have come to expect from Sal. For more information visit

R. Carlos Nakai's In Beauty, We Return. Nakai is the world’s leading performer of Native American flute, selling millions of albums and receiving six Grammy nominations. The release illustrates the range and versatility of his artistry and musical imagination. For more information, visit www.canyon

Mary Prankster's Lemonade, recorded live at Washington D.C.’s famed 9:30 Club. Lemonade features Mary Prankster on vocals and acoustic guitar along with a full acoustic band backing her. Prankster is touring extensively promoting Lemonade. For more information, visit at

Claude A. “Bennie” Benjamin Memorial Drive Established in St. Croix

Songwriter Claude A. “Bennie” Benjamin, who was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, in 1907, and who passed away in 1987, has received a special posthumous honor in his birthplace. Earlier this year, the legislature of the Virgin Islands honored Benjamin for his “outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the Territory” and passed a bill naming Route 79 in St. Croix the “Claude A. ‘Bennie’ Benjamin Memorial Drive."

Benjamin moved to New York City when he was 20 and began his professional music career in 1938 when he was under contract with Chappell Music Company. His first hit, written with his partner, Sol Marcus, was “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire," which was made famous by the Ink Spots. After serving in World War II, he teamed up with George David Weiss and produced 20 hit songs in the ten years of their collaboration. Among their hits were “Oh What It Seemed it Be," “Rumors are Flying” and “The Wheel of Fortune." His music was performed by Vic Damone, Pattie Page, The Ames Brothers and Frank Sinatra. Walt Disney also used two of his compositions as title songs, “Fun and Fancy” and “Melody Time." He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.

Before his death in 1989, Benjamin established a memorial foundation, named after his wife of 30 years, Martha Flores Benjamin, to help the Virgin Islands’ health care system. The foundation provides annual grants and scholarships to health care students and has provided the funds for important medical equipment and services.

Pieces of a Dream's No Assembly Required. The band is nearing thirty years of existence and this release merges the seasoned song writing skills of James Lloyd and Curtis Harmon with the talents of some new members to the group. In this album, vocalist Tracy Hamlin returns with an upbeat and inspiring rendition of Earth Wind and Fire’s “Devotion." One of the goals of No Assembly Required was to push a creative envelope, following some rules and breaking a few of them as well.

Jessie Rae's Out of the Blue. This album is roots/pop with a blues edge and a funky swagger that Jessie dubs “Funky Folk Pop."

Laurence Rosenthal and James Lipton's Sherry!. The world premiere cast recording of the 1967 Broadway musical Sherry!. Thirty-seven years after the show's three month run, Broadway superstars Nathan Lane, Bernadette Peters, Tommy Tune and Carol Burnett will be heard for the first time performing songs from the musical. Collectively, the cast and creators of the album have received 87 Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy nominations –- winning 31 of those awards. The score and sheet music had been presumed lost until they were recently discovered in mint condition.

Shawn Persinger is Prester John's The Art of Modern/ Primitive Guitar on Innova Records. This album contains 23 innovative pieces for solo acoustic guitar with a Leo Kottke meets Frank Zappa style, crossing boundaries that few finger-style guitarists have dared.

Melynnique Seabrook's Love Songs of the Zodiac. This album flows with poetry and melody for healing the soul with Melynnique's rich, full voice and heart-opening music soothing the spirit.

Roger Smith's Funky Folka-listyk Soul, showcases this Texas-born Brooklyn resident. Smith's character and soul expressed throughout these funky tracks that showcase him playing a number of instruments, although mainly sticking to his trusty Martin guitar. His sound is often described as a cross between Ben Harper and Tracy Chapman.

Michael Alan Snyder's Woven Windows. The release shows the writer's struggles with mental illness. He strives toward recovery with these songs. His music, poetry and artwork offer tranquility and inspiration.

Tripod's Tripod. This unique rock trio contains neither guitars nor keyboards opting instead for a bass, drum and horn instrumentation. Their sound ranges from progressive rock to jazz-inflected metal and possesses a full sonic assault.

Patricia Vonne's self-titled debut mixes country, rock, folk and Spanish elements. Vonne is able to assert her vibrant personality within a diverse range of music and thematic modes offering “something for everyone." Released on Bandolero Records, the album has drawn positive press and was featured in the movie Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

The Davenports' new album, Hi-Tech Lowlife (Mother West Records). Songwriter Scott Klass leads his Davenports through 12 effervescent songs of witty, melodic popcraft that calls to mind They Might Be Giants, Weezer and Fountains of Wayne. Awash in various keyboard and stringed instruments and other sonic trickery, the album also showcases the fine work of co-producer (with Klass) Charles Newman.

Magonia's third album, Frogman. Led by composer/ guitarist Greg Passler along with drummer Scott Sasek and bassist Parrish Heppenstall, Magonia create melodic and atmospheric music that is hypnotic and cinematic. Having released two earlier albums, Sonar and Dust, the band has had their music used on MTV's “Road Rules," a Volkswagen TV and radio campaign and in the Playboy Productions documentary “Behind Closed Doors." For more info, visit

Chris Richards' Tumblers and Grit (Lake Effect Records). With his sweeping, pan-country sound, Richards embraces and expands upon the glittering promise attributed to him in No Depression magazine two years ago. On his new collection, he merges his cozy baritone with his knack for skillfully marrying tune to lyric backed by an able crew of some of Nashville's most distinctive players.

Laws Rushing's self-titled EP, produced by Craig Krampf and Jason Moon Wilkins. Rushing writes powerful rock songs that crackle with noise and attitude. Backed by a tight band, his arrangements reflect a thinking man's approach to rocking out. For more info, visit

James Talley's new album, Journey, a collection of some of his best and most well known songs from his 30 plus career. Recorded live in Italy, Journey documents the cult country singer's recorded voyage through life, and presents five powerful new songs.


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