Nancy King soprano
Robert Nathanson guitar
William Neil composer
Andrew York composer
Jing Jing Luo composer
William Bolcom composer
David Kechley composer
WAKING THE SPARROWS, the premiere recording on PARMA RECORDINGS from classical and baroque guitarist Robert Nathanson and soprano Nancy King, performing as Duo Sureño, is the result of a twenty-year long journey exploring the grandeur of the human voice blended with the vibrancy of the guitar. Interpreting the work of five notable modern composers who were, in turn, inspired by the words of poets throughout the ages, Nathanson and King deliver a stunning performance that is rich in its variety and impressive in scope.
The album opens with William Neil’s “Out of Darkness into Light”, which adds violin, saxophone, bassoon and contrabassoon to Duo Sureño’s arrangement of what the composer described as a “mystery play interpreting through composed and improvisational music the prayer-like text written by Malgosia Sawczuk.” Along with violinist Danijela Žeželej-Gualdi, the duo interprets “Open the River,” with text from “To the Hand,” a poem by W.S. Merwin. The poem’s transcendental and archetypal imagery provides a rich underpinning for the piece.
The remaining pieces on WAKING THE SPARROWS feature only Nathanson and King. “A Song of Unending Sorrow” is a three-movement setting for guitar and soprano, inspired by composer Jing Jing Luo’s interpretation of a work by the Tang Dynasty poet Ba Juji. The performance, at once both simple and intricate, captures the ecstasy of love and the sorrow of loss. Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning composer William Bolcom’s “Three Cabaret Songs” – among the most beloved of his songs – arise from his collaboration with poet Arnold Weinstein and are here for the first time arranged for soprano and guitar by guitarist Michael Lorimer. Inspired by the seasonal aspect of much of haiku poetry, “Waking the Sparrows: Five Haiku Songs” was composed for Duo Sureño by David Ketchley. Its lyrical and dramatic exploration of the timbral possibilities of voice and guitar evoke a haiku-like aura of Spring, further emphasized by King’s singing of the lyrics to several of the movements in Japanese.
Guitarist Robert Nathanson is an active recitalist and orchestral soloist, now focusing on chamber music. He has been performing as part of the Ryoanji Duo (guitar and saxophone) and the North Carolina Guitar Quartet since 1992 and as part of Duo Sureño since 1999. He is also the Artistic Director of PRO MUSICA, a concert series celebrating the music of living composers. A champion of new music, Nathanson has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works by many modern composers. He has released five CDs in various musical configurations prior to his PARMA RECORDINGS debut, WAKING THE SPARROWS.
Soprano Nancy King is artistic director of Opera Wilmington and an active performer and guest lecturer. She has performed and recorded with the Wilmington Symphony, Chamber Music Wilmington, Toronto Classical Singers, and the Grammy Award-winning Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, of which she was a member from 1998 – 2004.