Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Saturday, March 6, 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Riverside Recital Hall

John Muriello, baritone
David Gompper, piano

|| download program ||


Shades of Love
    three songs on the poetry of Constantin Cavafy (2003)
        I. To Call up the Shades
        II. I Went/One Night
        III. Return/Far Off
(b. 1954)
In the same space
    nine poems of Constantin Cavafy (1976)
        I. In the same space
        II. To call up the Shades
        III. Voices
        IV. Days of 1903
        V. When they are roused
        VI. Morning Sea
        VII. Gray
        VIII. Afternoon sun
        IX. In the evening
  Jeremy Dale ROBERTS
(b. 1934)
Love and Terror
    five poems of Konstantinos Kavafis (2009)
        I. To Call Up the Shades
        II. Terror ( I )
        III. Come Back
        IV. Terror ( II )
        V. I Went
        VI. Terror ( III )
        VII. Long Ago
(b. 1951)
Far Off
    A song cycle of poems by Cavafy, for baritone and piano
        I. Morning Sea
        II. Body, Remember
        III. At the Café Entrance
        IV. One Night
        V. In Despair
        VI. Far Off
  Richard Pearson THOMAS
(b. 1957)



John Muriello, Associate Professor of Voice, has carried on a varied performing career in opera, operetta, musical theatre and concert work.

Stage credits include Tartuffe in Kirk Mechem's Tartuffe, the Lecturer in Argento's A Water Bird Talk, Ko-Ko in The Mikado, Marcello in La Bohème, Voltaire in Candide, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Muriello has concertized in London at The Wigmore Hall and in Moscow at the Moscow Conservatory, as well as throughout the lower forty-eight.

Concert and oratorio solo credits include Mendelssohn's Elijah, Vaughan William's Five Mystical Songs, Orff's Carmina Burana, and the Brahms Requiem. Muriello has performed with several contemporary music festivals, at the Union of Composers Autumn Festival in Moscow, the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, at the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, and James Madison University. He has worked with the Skylight Opera Theatre, Opera Carolina, Lyric Opera Cleveland, L'Opera Français de New York, Ohio Light Opera, Seaside Music Theatre, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and La Gran Scena Opera di New York (as Miss Sylvia Bills, America's most beloved retired diva).

Muriello's directing credits include H.M.S. Pinafore for Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and The Fantasticks, She Loves Me and A Little Night Music for the University of Iowa School of Music


Notes & Bios


Shades of Love

Written at the end of my 10-month sabbatical in Moscow in the summer of 2003, I chose five poems that were subsequently embedded into three songs. I chose poems that stressed three voices—future, present and past, and unified them by highlighting three recurring themes: light/night, senses (vision, body, lips, etc.), and memory. The basic pitch set is derived from his last name, Kabaphes (B-flat, A, F, E-flat), and the inward motion inherent in the voice leading (perfect fifth, major third) reflects in many ways the thrust of his poetry and his life: itself inward looking, solitary, personal and still.

I have reflected upon Cavafy's poetry for some 25 years—only now to find resonance with such sentiments—, having been introduced to this work by my teacher, mentor and friend, Jeremy Dale Roberts, to whom the cycle is dedicated.

David Gompper has lived and worked professionally as a pianist, a conductor, and a composer in New York, San Diego, London, Nigeria, Michigan, Texas and Iowa. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Jeremy Dale Roberts, Humphrey Searle and Phyllis Sellick. After teaching in Nigeria, he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan, taught at the University of Texas, Arlington, and since 1991 has been Professor of Composition and Director of the Center for New Music at the University of Iowa. In 2002 - 2003 Gompper was in Russia as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching, performing and conducting at the Moscow Conservatory. In 2009 he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.

Gompper's compositions are heard throughout the United States and Europe. In 1999 his Transitus (for wind ensemble) premiered at Carnegie Hall, and a number of his works have premiered in London's Wigmore Hall, including: Homage a W. A. (William Albright) for piano; and Shades of Love, a song cycle on the poetry of Constantin Cavafy.

Subsequent returns to Moscow have included premieres and performances of Crossed, Music in the Glen, Six Love Poems, Star of the County Down, Butterfly Dance, Spirals and Ikon. His latest work for violin and piano, Ikon, was taken on a 14-concert tour throughout the US and Europe last fall with Wolfgang David, a violinist from Vienna with whom Gompper actively collaborates as a pianist and composer. They have recorded three CDs on the Albany and VDE-Gallo labels.

He recently completed several new compositions including a 28' song cycle called The Animals on poetry of Marvin Bell written for Stephen Swanson, and an organ work for Konstantin Volostnov. He is working on several new compositions including a piano trio and one for solo cello. His Violin Concerto and other orchestral works were recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (London) in December 2009 for a release on Naxos in early 2011.

Jeremy Dale ROBERTS

In the same space

I first came across the poetry of Cavafy as a very young man, browsing through the shelves of Rustem's dingy bookshop in Metaxas Square in Nicosia. I was electrified by its beauty, candour and sensuality; and although it never occurred to me for a moment to set those lines to music— I would not have been competent— Cavafy 'hung around' in the lumber-room of my imagination for the next twenty years or so— waiting.

Having not written for the voice for a long time, I was casting around for a suitable text. I was looking for something personal, authentic: 'taken from the life'. Not lyrical, but prosaic, low-key. I looked at diaries, letters— for instance, Ivor Gurney's wonderful letters and scraps from the Front in the Great War. All at once I realized that Cavafy's poems were exactly what I required: a kind of veracity—where the 'song' is in the head, and the music of everyday speech (demotic) is given value. Also— in my mid-forties— I was at last 'in synch' with Cavafy, looking back at his youth from a rather sad middle-age.

The work is about memory— also about timelessness— also intoxication: a half-life. Most of the poems I chose are brief— actually all facets of the same poem— and form an intermittently broken chain: a true cycle, in so far as the songs are bound together thematically, and the conclusion takes us back to the beginning. Memory is most obviously expressed in the form: in the repetition or 'recollection' of musical ideas, usually of a harmonic or textural nature. Indeed, the whole work is impregnated with a consistent harmonic tonality, or 'aroma': it is inescapable, obsessive— that is the point.

Memory is also resonance, vibration— for which the piano, with its three pedals, is the ideal medium. Often the texture is saturated with pedal: only the ~action~ of the words, often rapidly delivered as in speech, and the occasional injection of irony galvanizes the prevailing sense of reverie.

Jeremy Dale Roberts (b. 1934, Gloucestershire, England), who recently retired as Head of Composition at the Royal College of Music, London, was a Visiting Professor of Composition at the University of Iowa for the 1999-2000 academic year.

He studied with William Alwyn and Priaulx Rainier at the Royal Academy of Music, London. His compositions have been performed worldwide at the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals, the Venice Biennale, the Diorama de Geneve, and the festivals of Avignon and Paris.

They include the cello concerto Deathwatch, written for Rohan de Saram; Tombeau for Stephen Kovacevich; Croquis for string trio, written for members of the Arditti Quartet (BBC commission); In the Same Space, nine poems of Constantin Cavafy, written for Stephen Varcoe; Lines of Life, lyric episodes for ensemble, written for Lontano (BBC commission); and Casidas y Sonetos — del amor oscuro, for solo guitar (Arts Council commission) for Charles Ramierez.

Recent commissions include Hamadryad for alto flute, viola and guitar; Stelae, a work for gamelan; and Nightpiece for soprano and two bass viols.

"The first thing that strikes you about the music of Jeremy Dale Roberts is its concentration and economy. It is music of absolute integrity, always sensitive to the tiniest musical gesture, and never showy or pandering to fashion. It has the uncanny ability to make a very few notes tell – as if the fewer notes there are, the more is being said. His work has been described as 'interior in nature and reflective', and though often jewel-like, intimate and private, it is also uncompromising: the listener cannot get too comfortable, for there could be an outburst round the corner." -Richard Causton, The Guardian.


Love and Terror

Cavafy is sometimes difficult to relate to: his extensive use of irony and Hellenistic language (which is by itself alienating) was making my decision hard. But I did found these very personal songs that had a profound effect on me.

I used the four (all except "Terror") in a tonally static way. Still, I tried to construct them in a slight and "subdued" arch-form, with "I Went" as the peak of this arch.

"Terror" was split into 3 sections: each one starting from the beginning of the poem, but going just a little further with each section. The complete "Terror" poem is heard only as "Terror III". I used a form-by-itself for these 3 sets of the song: a simple arrow. My intention was that "I Went" (as the peak of the arch-form) would be intensified by "Terror III" and then drop into the resignation of "Long Ago".

Immobility, stagnation, resignation: these were my guidelines throughout the cycle.

For the "Terror" songs, I was further guided by the practices of the Chorus in an Ancient Greek tragedy: circling around in jerky movements, sometimes agonizing, other times imploring, or simply falling into a frenzy/trance.


At night, Jesus my Lord,
guard my mind and my soul
as around me start walking
Creatures and Things that bear no name
and their skinless legs in my chamber run
and form a cycle around my bed to watch me-
and look at me as though they know me
as though they burst out laughing speechless that now scare me.

I know, yes, they are waiting for me
as though they are studying abominable times
when I was dragged with them-into the darkness
with these creatures and things mixed.
And they rave for the old times to come back.
But they will never come; for I am saved,
in the name of Christ baptized.

I tremble when I feel the evening
as I feel into the deep darkness
these eyes fixed upon me....
Hide me from their sight, my Lord.
And as they talk or rattle, don't let come to my ears
any of their sayings the cursed,
so that they not bring into my soul
any hideous memory of the secret ones they know.
(translation: Katerina Stamatelos)

Katerina Stamatelos was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. She studied piano performance with Helen Papazoglou (State Conservatory of Thessaloniki), Gelert Modos (Pireus Association), Dianko Iliew (Conservatory of Vienna), Lois Rova Ozanich (Kent State University), and Uriel Tsachor (The University of Iowa). Her composition teachers include: Michael Eckert, David Gompper, Lawrence Fritts, and Jeremy Dale Roberts (The University of Iowa). She further attended composition master classes with Theodore Antoniou, Robert Platz, and Beat Furrer.

She holds degrees from The University of Iowa (MA and PhD in composition), Kent State University (MM in piano performance), the Conservatory of Vienna (Piano Teaching Certificate), and the Pireus Association (Piano Soloist Diploma). She also holds a degree in Fashion Design (Dimitrelis School of Fashion, Thessaloniki).

Her awards include: a full tuition scholarship and assistantship for composition (The University of Iowa, 2005-2006), the Henry and Parker Pelzer Composition Award (The University of Iowa, 1999-2000), the Rita Benton Scholarship for piano performance (The University of Iowa, 1999-2000), the Iowa Performance Fellowship (The University of Iowa, 1996-1999), Scholarship of the Hellenic University Club of Northeastern Ohio (1986), Scholarship of the Blossom Festival School (Kent, Ohio, 1985), full tuition scholarship and assistantship (Kent Sate University, Kent, Ohio, 1985-1986), Scholarship of The Music Friends of the City of Vienna (Vienna, Austria, 1975-1976), Scholarship of the Pireus Association (Pireus, Greece, 1970-1971) and a Panhellenic Piano Competition Award (Pireus, 1970).

Her compositions have been performed at the Midwestern Composers' Symposiums of 2006, 1998, and 1997 at: The University of Iowa, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Oberlin College, in Athens, and Thessaloniki. As a pianist she has performed in Greece, Austria, Germany, the United States, and Canada. She has appeared as a soloist with all major orchestras of Greece and on National Radio and TV.

She is an elected member of the Pi Kappa Lambda Society, ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers), and GCU (Greek Composers Union).

Visit her website.

Richard Pearson THOMAS

Far Off

was composed in 1991 and premiered in 1992 by tenor Tom Bogdan at the Greenwich House Music School in New York City. The text consists of six short poems by the beloved Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863 - 1933), translated by Rae Dalven. These sensual poems, all tinged with the haze of distant memory, could have been written in the time of Plato as easily as one hundred years ago — or even today. The cycle begins and ends with strummed modal chords which suggest the poet singing with harp. In between, he is swept away by the passions which these revived memories awaken in him. - Richard Pearson Thomas

Richard Pearson Thomas, composer and pianist, has had works performed by the Boston Pops, Covent Garden Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Banff Centre, Skylight Opera Theatre, and Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. His songs have been sung in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Joe's Pub, and before the U.S. Congress by artists such as Audra McDonald, Sanford Sylvan, Lauren Flanagan and Kurt Ollmann. He is a recipient of an American Composers' Forum Continental Harmony commission for the Alabama Tri-State Orchestra. His work Race for the Sky, which was commissioned as a commemoration of the events of 9/11, has been performed by the Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra and in recitals nationwide.

Mr. Thomas' musical Parallel Lives was produced Off-Off Broadway by the Riverside Opera Ensemble, as was Ladies in a Maze, produced by Encompass Music Theatre. His musical Golden Gate is winner of the Michael Stewart Foundation Award and was presented in concert version by the Monmouth County Civic Chorus in New Jersey. His original music for In Thinking of America: Songs of the Civil War has been heard in more than 140 cities.

Mr. Thomas is currently on faculty at Teachers College/Columbia University and has taught at Yale, and the University of Central Florida. He is composer-in-residence of the Gold Opera Project, Young Audiences/New York. In that capacity, he has composed 90 operas with students in New York City public schools. His work with children was featured on CBS's "The Early Show," and singled out for praise by President Clinton when Young Audiences/New York was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Additionally, Mr. Thomas has concertized with singers worldwide.

He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Southern California, and is a native of Montana.