Release Date: July 13, 2018
Catalog #: RR7985
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Chamber
Vocal Music
Electroacoustic
Guitar
Voice

Waking The Sparrows

Duo Sureño
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.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Out of the Darkness into Light William Neil Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar; Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi, violin; Laurent Estoppey, saxophones; Helena Kopchick Spencer, bassoon & contrabassoon; William Neil, digital acoustics 24:03
02 Open the River Andrew York Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar; Danijela Žeželj-Gualdi, violin 6:18
03 An Unending Sorrow (Excerpts): The Nightmare Jing Jing Luo Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 1:38
04 An Unending Sorrow (Excerpts): In the Jade Tower. Love Scene Jing Jing Luo Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 5:59
05 An Unending Sorrow (Excerpts): The Dream Scene Jing Jing Luo Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 3:22
06 Cabaret Songs: No. 4, Waitin' William Bolcom Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 1:52
07 Cabaret Songs: No. 5, Song of Black Max William Bolcom Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 3:22
08 Cabaret Songs: No. 6, Amour William Bolcom Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 3:26
09 Waking the Sparrows (5 Haiku Songs): No. 1, The Ancient Pond David Kechley Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 4:59
10 Waking the Sparrows (5 Haiku Songs): No. 2, The Pheasant's Voice David Kechley Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 4:38
11 Waking the Sparrows (5 Haiku Songs): No. 3, Sparrows and a Nightingale David Kechley Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 5:51
12 Waking the Sparrows (5 Haiku Songs): No. 4, The Woodpecker David Kechley Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 2:51
13 Waking the Sparrows (5 Haiku Songs): No. 5, Spring Rain David Kechley Duo Sureño | Nancy King, soprano; Robert Nathanson, guitar 4:29

Produced by Robert Nathanson
Recorded and Mixed by Karen Kane
Edited by Robert Nathanson
Cover Art Photography by Carey Nathanson
Liner Notes by Nancy King
Liner Notes Edited by Helena Kopchik Spencer
Mastered by Toby Mountain, Northeastern Digital

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Brandon MacNeil

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy
Engineering Manager Lucas Paquette

Art & Production Director Brett Pickenell
Graphic Design Ryan Harrison

Artist Information

Duo Sureño

Performer

Collaborating as Duo Sureño since 1999, Nancy King and Robert Nathanson share a passion for commissioning and performing new music. As a duo, they have toured extensively throughout the United States, Germany and Austria, with world premieres most recently in Wilmington, NC and Honolulu, Hawaii. Waking The Sparrows, their newest release on Ravello Records represents an almost twenty-year journey, exploring the beauty of the human voice blended with the guitar, as expressed through the music of today's most compelling composers.

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