Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano | Ofer Ben-Amots: Four Song Cycles

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Ofer Ben-Amots: Four Song Cycles

by Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano

Four song cycles by American-Israeli composer Ofer Ben-Amots, one in English, one Yiddish, and 2 Ladino, interweaving folk elements with contemporary textures.
Genre: Classical: Art songs
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. The Joyce Cycle: 1 - O Sweetheart
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:35 $0.99
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2. The Joyce Cycle: 2- My Love Is in a Light Attire
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:09 $0.99
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3. The Joyce Cycle: 3- My Dove My Beautiful One
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:03 $0.99
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4. The Joyce Cycle: 4- Rain Has Fallen...
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
1:19 $0.99
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5. The Joyce Cycle: 5- Sleep Now, O Sleep Now
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:56 $0.99
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6. The Joyce Cycle: 6- It Was out by Donnycarney
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
1:18 $0.99
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7. The Joyce Cycle: 7- Winds of May
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:20 $0.99
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8. The Joyce Cycle: 8/9- I Hear an Army-from Dewy Dreams
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
7:14 $0.99
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9. Shtetl Songs: 1- Bai Dem Shtetl
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
3:20 $0.99
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10. Shtetl Songs: 2- Bistu Mit Mir Broyges?
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:42 $0.99
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11. Shtetl Songs: 3- Klip Klap
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:47 $0.99
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12. Shtetl Songs: 4- Royz Royz
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:38 $0.99
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13. Shtetl Songs: 5- Die Drai Neytorns
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
3:54 $0.99
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14. Shtetl Songs: 6- Dinen
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:41 $0.99
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15. Shtetl Songs: 7- Bulbes
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
1:34 $0.99
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16. Shtetl Songs: 8- Kinderyohrn
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:47 $0.99
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17. Shtetl Songs: 9- Der Rebbe Tanzt
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
4:04 $0.99
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18. Kantigas Ulvidadas: 1 - Solo Kon Ti
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
7:04 $0.99
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19. Kantigas Ulvidadas: 2- Yo Kon Maor
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
5:45 $0.99
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20. Kantigas Ulvidadas: 3- Sivda De Mi Chikes
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
5:02 $0.99
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21. Songs from the Pomegranate Garden: 1- Dos Amantes
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
2:33 $0.99
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22. Songs from the Pomegranate Garden: 2- Mi Korason
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
3:55 $0.99
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23. Songs from the Pomegranate Garden: 3- Entre Las Huertas
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
3:58 $0.99
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24. Songs from the Pomegranate Garden: 4- Malato 'sta El Hijo Del Rey
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
8:47 $0.99
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25. Songs from the Pomegranate Garden: 5- Ven Mos Amaremos
Montage Music Society, Christina Martos, Soprano & Debra Ayers, Piano
4:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
PROGRAM NOTES FROM THE COMPOSER, OFER BEN-AMOTS

Note: Song translations are available at the Montage Music Society website.

The Joyce Cycle
Growing up in Israel, especially during my teenage years, James Joyce’s collection of poems, Chamber Music, was one of my most cherished literary works. It took, however, a few more years until I decided to set nine of these favorite poems to music. I finally completed the cycle as a student at the Music Academy in Detmold, Germany, in 1985-86. All of the poems are romantic in nature. Some are somber while others are playful, yet some are written in a language much reminiscent of the Song of Songs. The Joyce Cycle is special to me as the work that connected me with a deep and long-lasting friendship with pianist Debra Ayers. Her performance of the cycle at the 1995 Crested Butte brought about many more musical projects and collaborations including the current CD.

Shtetl Songs
Growing up in Israel a few years after its formation, I always thought of Yiddish as the “forbidden tongue” - spoken only by elderly immigrants, mostly Holocaust survivors - a language considered to be long vanished, representing a culture of exile, ghettos, pogroms, and endless suffering. The sound of Yiddish did not agree with the new image of a proud, strong, and free Sabra, the Israeli native to the old-new land. A period of music studies in Germany (1981-87) provided me with an excellent introduction to the German culture and language and, along with it, a key to the origins of Yiddish. The combination of High German with many Hebrew phrases gave me access to a wealth of Eastern European literary works by great Yiddish poets and. A great little treasure I stumbled upon one day, was an old, yellowing book with a few dozen Yiddish folk songs. The beauty of the tunes, and the humor and torment expressed in the texts were intriguing to me. As a composer my instinct was to rearrange these songs in a new way, in order to give them an artful, personal, and lively interpretation. In a way, I also felt as if I was doing my share to preserve these marvelous songs and save them from the abyss of forgetfulness. This song cycle is a musical tour of the Shtetl, the enclosed Jewish neighborhood or tiny Jewish village. It portrays the daily life where pain and despair blend with joy and hope.

Kantigas Ulvidadas
Kantigas Ulvidadas is a set of three songs using contemporary Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) poetry. This cycle is my second setting of Ladino songs in which I attempted to explore my own Sephardic roots. This cycle contrasts, in several ways, my previous cycle from 2004, Songs from the Pomegranate Garden. Whereas the Pomegranate songs are free contemporary arrangements of primarily traditional Ladino folk songs, the Kantigas cycle offers original music and original poetry throughout. While in the first cycle I tried to highlight the contemporary potential and interpretation of folklore material, in the current set of songs I attempted to give the music a flavor of an old, nostalgic, and even forgotten sound. The lyrics focus on the subject’s love and memories appropriate to the genre at hand. This short song cycle was composed with the hope that it would stimulate further interest in the slowly vanishing Ladino language and heritage, and contribute ever so modestly to its preservation.

Songs from the Pomegranate Garden
Canciones del vergel de granadas, or in its English translation, Songs from the Pomegranate Garden, is a cycle of five songs in the old Judeo-Spanish dialect, also known as Ladino. The lyrics of these songs are based on folk poetry from various centuries. They are magical, passionate, and encompass a wide variety of human emotions and experiences, ranging from love and longing to sorrow and death, and from lightheartedness and silliness to profound joy. The music is for the most part based on traditional Ladino tunes with only a few creative additions. However, phrases based on the ancient Ladino melodies are starkly modified and composed in such way to completely evoke personal imagery and interpretation. The only song that is entirely new and original in the cycle is the closing one, Ven mos amaremos. The vocal part portrays different characters in each of the five songs and ranges in expression from parlando secco to lirico espressivo. The role of the piano in this setting is more than just an accompaniment; it converses with the voice and serves as a musical “commentary” to the sung text. Thus, the piano part is equal to, or at times even more predominant than the voice itself.

OFER BEN-AMOTS, an American-Israeli composer, gave his first piano concert at age nine in Haifa, his home-town in Israel. At the age of sixteen was awarded first prize in the Chet Piano Competition. At about this age he also started composing his first songs. Ben-Amots studied at the Music Academy at Tel Aviv University with Joseph Dorfman, the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Academy of Music in Detmold, Germany, where he graduated with degrees in composition, music theory, and piano. Upon his arrival in the United States in 1987, Ben-Amots studied with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his Ph.D. in music composition. Since 1994, Dr. Ben-Amots has taught music composition and theory at Colorado College.
Ofer Ben-Amots’ compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and festivals Worldwide. His music has been performed by leading European and American orchestras such as the Zürich Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, the Austrian Radio Orchestra, Bruckner Orchestra, Moscow Camerata, Heidelberg, Erfurt, Brandenburg, the Filarmonici di Sicili, Milano Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, Portland Chamber Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony, among others. His compositions have been professionally recorded by the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Barcelona Royal Symphony, Odessa Philharmonic, the BBC Singers, and others.
Ofer Ben-Amots is the winner of major international prizes and awards including the Kavannagh Prize, the Gold Award at the Roodepoort International Competition for Choral Composition, the Kobe International Competition in Japan, the Vienna International Competition for Composers and the First Prize at the 4th Smareglia International Composers Competition in Udine, Italy, among others. Ben-Amots has received commissions and grants from the MacArthur Foundation, Fulbright Foundation, Amado Foundation, Geneva Camerata, the Montage Music Society, and many others.
Ofer Ben-Amots’ compositions are performed regularly in concert halls and festivals Worldwide, and professionally recorded. His works have been repeatedly recognized for their emotional and highly personal expression. The interweaving of folk elements with contemporary textures, along with his unique imaginative orchestration, creates the haunting dynamic tension that permeates and defines Ben-Amots’ musical language.

CHRISTINA MARTOS has appeared with the Washington National Opera, Central City Opera, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony in Miami, the Marilyn Horne Foundation Festival at Carnegie Hall, and the American Youth Symphony at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. She was also a member of Placido Domingo’s prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Recent engagements include the New Mexico Performing Arts Society, Chatter music series in Albuquerque, Ron Strauss’s Los Bufones at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Mozart’s Great Mass with the Santa Fe Community Orchestra, Montage Music Society, Abiquiu Chamber Music Festival, and Taos Chamber Music Group. A graduate of Yale and Carnegie Mellon Universities, Christina resides in Los Alamos, NM Fe Community Orchestra, the Montage Music Society, the Abiquiu Chamber Music Festival, and the Taos Chamber Music Group. Recordings include “Songs of Shakespeare” with Carlos Archuleta and Debra Ayers; a Shakespeare-themed joint recital which was featured in Chamber Music America’s National Chamber Music Moth. A graduate of Yale University, and Carnegie Mellon University, Christina’s other operatic performances include the title role in Suor Angelica, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Carlysle Floyd’s Susannah, Antonia in The Tales of Hoffman, and Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites. Christina moved to New Mexico in 2008 and currently resides in Los Alamos.

DEBRA AYERS, pianist, is a founder and director of Montage Music Society, which commissions and performs music inspired by visual art. She also performs with Abiquiu Chamber Music Festival, Albuquerque Chamber Soloists, Breckenridge Music Festival, Chatter, New Mexico Woodwind Quintet, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Serenata of Santa Fe and Taos Chamber Music Group. She has enjoyed collaborations with Aspen Music Festival Chamber Players; American, Apple Hill, La Catrina and Vega string quartets. A proponent of contemporary music, Debra has recently recorded premieres by Ofer Ben-Amots, Jeff Harrington, Bruce Wolosoff and is featured in the Milken Archive as well as on a number of critically-acclaimed recordings, including Montage’s “STARRY NIGHT Project…music based on visual art” (MSR). Montage Music Society is featured in “Creating Music Inspired by Visual Art” documentaries. An alumna of the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin, her teachers include Gwendolyn Koldofsky, Jean Barr, André-Michel Schub, Brooks Smith, Martin Katz, and John Barrows. Debra can be heard on a number of critically- acclaimed recordings, including Montage Music Society’s “STARRY NIGHT Project…music based on visual art” (MSR), Music of Ernst Krenek with soprano Ilana Davidson, and Music by Ofer Ben-Amots (Milken Archive.

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