Various Artists | Thomas Sleeper: Through a Glass Darkly

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Thomas Sleeper: Through a Glass Darkly

by Various Artists

Four major works by Thomas Sleeper, referred to as "...hauntingly mysterious", "...richly lyrical with soaring melodies", "...Sleeper avoids high-sucrose neo-Romanticism for a darker, more personal and edgy style, bristling with nervous energy."
Genre: Classical: Classical
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Adagio from Symphony No. 1
The Russian National Orchestra & Thomas Sleeper
15:39 $0.99
2. Through a Glass Darkly: I."...Traces..."
21st Ensemble, Zoe Zeniodi & Irini Kyriakidou
4:11 $0.99
3. Through a Glass Darkly: II."...Possessions.."
21st Ensemble, Zoe Zeniodi & Irini Kyriakidou
1:23 $0.99
4. Through a Glass Darkly: III."...Awakenings..."
21st Ensemble, Zoe Zeniodi & Irini Kyriakidou
3:09 $0.99
5. The Silver Mirror
Brno Philharmonic, Thomas Sleeper, Marina Radiushina & Hana Skarková
12:09 $0.99
6. Symphony No. 4: I. Adagio misterioso / Allegro giocosso
Meadows Symphony Orchestra & Paul Phillips
7:24 $0.99
7. Symphony No. 4: II. Lento (...Good Friday...)
Meadows Symphony Orchestra & Paul Phillips
4:12 $0.99
8. Symphony No. 4: III. Allegro
Meadows Symphony Orchestra & Paul Phillips
4:53 $0.99
9. Symphony No. 4: IV. Adagio estatico / Allegro furioso / Andante misterioso
Meadows Symphony Orchestra & Paul Phillips
6:00 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Adagio, completed in 1997, is a stand alone work, which was eventually used as the basis
for Sleeper’s first symphony*. The work uses two musical quotes from his opera
"Aceldama" (field of blood), without being specifically programmatic. It is cryptically
subtitled “ ****** ” and dedicated to visual artist Sherri Tan. Adagio unfolds in layers
of organic counterpoint revealing elemental gestures of longing and despair,
"...mixing memory and desire..."

* Symphony No. 1 was given its premiere by Paul Phillips and the Meadows Symphony in 2007 and recorded for Albany Records.

Through a Glass Darkly was written for Irini Kyriakidou, Zoe Zeniodi and the Broward
Symphony Orchestra. Texts explore a wide range of human perception, from ecstatic,
almost hallucinogenic visions, to very basic and primal essences of life itself, including
death. This song cycle exist in three forms: for soprano with piano, full orchestra with
expanded prelude and this chamber version.

Throughout time, we have either revered and deified or, persecuted, incarcerated, and
killed those who see and hear things, that for the rest of us, do not exist. We have
categorized them based on our ability to understand their perceptions and our perceived
threat level with terms such as “mystic,” “prophet,” “schizophrenic” and “delusional.”

The prelude, end-titled “nocturne,” can be thought of as an internal reflection, a close
listening to our inner thoughts and waking dreams including what T.S. Eliot so eloquently
referred to as the time “between sleep and waking.” The first song, end-titled “traces”
explores the evidence that something apart and different from the speaker has been
present – like waking from a dream and examining the ensuing confusion of realities.

The second song, “possessions,” is an awakening awareness that the speaker has been
“possessed” and is confronted with an array of powerful implications.

The final song, “awakenings,” is an acceptance of the speaker’s ecstatic visions, and
while not questioning their reality, acknowledging that others might not be able to see or
hear the same things.

The Silver Mirror was composed for the global documentary film on aging of the same
name, which was written, directed and produced by Ali Habashi. This work is a
symphonic poem which quotes and develops the final song of Sleeper’s cycle
Through a Glass Darkly. Featuring piano soloist Marina Radiushina and soprano, Hana
Škarková, the work is approached as chamber music in a symphonic setting.

Symphony No. 4 was commissioned by and written for Paul Phillips and the Meadows
Symphony Orchestra. It is dedicated to the composer’s parents, Jack and Tess Sleeper.
Part of the musical inspiration for this work comes from Sleeper’s early experience
with composer Jerry Willingham. Willingham had recorded a cluster of tubular bells
fading to silence and then reversed the tape so that - from silence, there grew a menacing
cluster of sounds ending abruptly with the strike of the bells. This sound had a profound
effect on Sleeper as a sonic metaphor for the cyclic nature of the universe.

Symphony 4: Movement I: Adagio misterioso/Allegro giocoso, starts with an explosive outburst
leaving behind seemingly random, asymmetrical melodies weaving in and out of the
residual sounds of the chimes. These are, in fact, the prima materia of the entire
symphony. These melodic materials coalesce and evolve into a martial principal theme
followed by a secondary section - stark and expansive, inspired by landscapes. The music
rebuilds through a small fugue to an explosive, unresolved moment where the first
movement stops abruptly and unexpectedly with the residual sounds of bells ringing in
the air.

Symphony 4: Movement II: Lento misterioso - “ good friday…,” opens with medieval-like melodies
in the winds, while the strings attempt to assert themselves with increasingly passionate
outbursts. There is continuous back and forth between these two ideas, until the strings
climb ecstatically to their highest point – only to be interrupted by the tolling of bells
with various quotes including the Dies Irae…

Symphony 4: Movement III: Allegro giocoso, presents a banal Irish jig alternating with martial music
in dramatic dialog. This progresses, until it is interrupted by a slower, pastoral section.
Eventually the initial themes return building towards a seemingly triumphant climax -
only to dissolve into an eerie memory from the start of the symphony… the initial
moment where themes evolved from the lingering bell sounds. This time, however, quiet
clusters of sound lead powerfully towards the bell strikes rather than emanating from
them. This flows without a break into…

Symphony 4: Movement IV, Adagio estatico/Allegro agitato/Andante misterioso, in effect, a
continuation of the first movement. A distorted recounting of the prima materia -
which resurges to the moment where the first movement seemingly ended abruptly,
the fugal theme, no longer quiet, aggressively returns, seeking completion. It explodes
into a majestic climax recounting the moment in the second movement when the ecstatic
strings were thwarted… they continue their ascent as before. However, this time, instead
of collapsing in defeat, the music transcends, and moves toward the stillness
of a single pitch –

“ Desire itself is movement, not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving, only the cause and end of movement …”
T.S. Eliot - Four Quartets

Thomas Sleeper enjoys an active dual career as composer and conductor. His early musical training with Daryl Rauscher of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra influenced the "charged lyricism" and "singing" qualities found in his music today. His oeuvre to date includes five symphonies, thirteen operas, fifteen concerti, four orchestral song cycles, works for chorus with orchestra, three string quartets, numerous other vocal and instrumental chamber works and music for film. Sleeper began his professional career as a member of Fermata, a group of composer/performers, founded by Jerry Willingham, which presented concerts throughout the state of Texas. At age 22, Sleeper was appointed Associate Conductor of the Dallas Civic Symphony and the SMU Chamber Orchestra
and Opera Theatre where he began studies with Maestro James Rives-Jones. While in graduate school at the Meadows School of the Arts, he founded Perspectives, a contemporary music ensemble, which became part of that division's curriculum.

Sleeper has been commissioned by artists such as Stefan de Leval Jezierski, Trudy Kane, Dale Underwood and Zoe Zeniodi. Sleeper's compositions have been performed throughout the USA, and in Europe, Asia and South America. His music for the documentary Film "One Water" was recorded by the Russian National Orchestra and has appeared throughout the world in theaters and on television. Most recently, he has composed music for Ali Habashi's documentary film, "The Silver Mirror" recorded by the Brno Philharmonic and multimedia collaborations with his wife, artist Sherri Tan, including “The Seven Deadly Sins” Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano and Violin Concerto No. 1 . Sleeper lives in Miami, Florida, where he is Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music and Music Director of the Florida Youth Orchestra.



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