SONGS OF WAR
Paul Green, the revered North Carolina playwright, saw gruesome fighting in France and Begium during World War I. His wartime poems and diaries form the text of composer Kenneth Frazelle's new work for chorus, Songs of War. On November 23 the piece will receive its premiere by the sixty voices of the Carolina Chorus, conducted by Susan Klebanow, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In Songs of War, Frazelle captures many facets of Green's wartime experience, from anxiety and nightmares before battle to the comedy of “forty-seven kinds of snorin'” in the barracks. One song depicts the plight of desperate refugees, many with empty sleeves. Through it all is Green's pervasive longing for the “greening hills” of home.
Green (1894-1981) was a freshman at the University of North Carolina when he enlisted in the army. He served in the war for three years before returning to his studies at UNC, where he would eventually teach. He is best known for The Lost Colony, the outdoor “symphonic drama” produced in Manteo each summer since 1937. Earlier, however, Green's plays were produced on Broadway, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning In Abraham's Bosom. He was a member of the influential Group Theatre and collaborated with such notables as Kurt Weill and Richard Wright. He also wrote scripts for Hollywood films.
Green's is considered one of the first Southern writers to sensitively portray the struggles of African-Americans. Through both his plays and direct actions, he challenged racism, political oppression, poverty, the death penalty and anything else he viewed as an encroachment on human rights. This lifelong advocacy was rooted, in part, in Green's experiences on the battlefield.
Frazelle is a lifelong admirer of Green and his work. His childhood piano teacher was Green's sister, Gladys Sylvester. Frazelle met Green as a high school student at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, which Green helped establish, and where Frazelle now teaches.
In 1994 Frazelle was commissioned by two of Green's grandchildren, cellist Nancy Green and pianist Frederick Moyer, to write a piece commemorating Green's centennial. They have performed A Green View numerous times.
The Paul Green Foundation commissioned Songs of War. The project was conceived by Green's daughter, Betsy Green Moyer.
The performance on November 23 will be at 8 p.m. in Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall, 135 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill. Ticket information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hearken, a New Work for Horn
Maria Serkin and Allison Gagnon premiered Frazelle’s Hearken (Blue Ridge Airs III), a work for French horn and piano, at the 50th International Horn Symposium at Ball State University in August of 2018. They will perform the work in Winston-Salem, NC, and five cities in Florida in the winter of 2019, before a performance at the Southeast Horn Workshop at Western Carolina University in March. (Details here.)
Hearken is the third work in Frazelle’s “Blue Ridge Airs” series, following Blue Ridge Airs I (1988) for solo piano and Blue Ridge Airs II for flute and orchestra (1992) and flute and piano (2001). Like its predecessors, the horn piece evokes the landscape of the Southern Appalachian mountans, and it incorporates a traditional ballad from the region. “Young Hunting,” about a hunter murdered by his lover, appears midway in the composition. A magic bird, witness to the crime, is heard in the piano. Hearken also explores foxhunting horn calls from the region, with the sounds of baying hounds echoing through the hills.
Jodi Burns and Kenneth Frazelle to Perform Frazelle's Appalachian Music
Two chances to hear an evening of Kenneth Frazelle’s popular Appalachia-inspired music with soprano Jodi Burns and the composer himself on piano:
• In Blowing Rock, NC, at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum. Sunday, July 22 at 4 pm. Tickets at blowingrockmuseum.org.
• In Winston-Salem, NC, as part of Music Carolina SummerFest, Salem College. Wednesday, August 1, at 7:30 pm. Tickets at musiccarolina.org.
For over three decades, Kenneth Frazelle has explored the landscape and soundscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains through his compositions. He will perform selections from Wildflowers and Lullabies and Bird Songs, for solo piano, and will be joined by Jodi Burns in selections from Appalachian Songbooks I and II and Songs in the Rearview Mirror.
Jodi Burns was described by The New York Times as singing with a "plush voice and rich expressivity." Of her recent leading role in Piedmont Opera's production of Silent Night, The Winston-Salem Journal noted, "Burns dazzled with her lustrous soprano and bright charisma." She sings frequently with the Winston-Salem Symphony and North Carolina Symphony, and performs her own compositions with her band, Judy Barnes.
"Songs of Clay and Stone" Premieres
Kenneth Frazelle’s “Songs of Clay and Stone” will receive its world premiere August 27 at the The Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mezzo soprano Kathryn Findlen and pianist Robert Brewer will perform the song cycle inspired by Frazelle’s long fascination with the American southwest, particularly the region’s vast landscape and the art and architecture of its native peoples. One song brings listeners to the desolate New Mexican site of Chaco Canyon, where stone doorways through interconnected rooms create rectangles within rectangles, seemingly into infinity. Another song honors Nampeyo, the matriarch of contemporary Hopi pottery, who infused prehistoric designs with her own inimitable vision. The Eiteljorg Museum houses an extensive collection of Native American art, as well as Western American paintings and sculptures, making it a most fitting venue for Frazelle’s new work. "Songs of Clay and Stone" was commissioned by Kathryn Findlen and Richard Masters.
Frazelle Music and Art Featured in New Dance
"April," a dance work choreographed by Brenda Daniels and set to Kenneth Frazelle's solo piano work, "Wildflowers," premiered at UNCSA's Spring Dance concert April 21-24, 2016, in Winston-Salem. Sets, designed by Elizbet Puksto, were inspired by Frazelle's watercolors. Pianist Owen Dodds provided live accompaniment. Choreographer Daniels said of her work: "'April’ is my own exploration of this very special time of the year. . . its joy, beauty, mystery and power. The dancers portray and embody exactly who they are — beautiful young people in the springtime of their lives." Photo copyright Rosalie O'Connor.
Songs and Piano Works at NC Museum of Art
An all-Frazelle concert! On May 3, 2015, mezzo soprano Kathryn Findlen and pianist Rick Rowley performed selections from five of Kenneth Frazelle's song cycles and four of his solo piano works. The concert, at the North Carolina Museum of Art,was presented by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild. See a rave review here.
Organ Premiere at Westminster Abbey
Matthew Michael Brown premiered Kenneth Frazelle's work for organ, Aria (with Diversions), at his December 7, 2014, recital at Westminster Abbey. Yes, that Westminster Abbey, where all the kings and poets are buried. Matthew might not draw the kind of crowd that turns up for a royal funeral, but he brought with him a large contingent from First United Methodist Church in Salisbury, where he is music director, as well as the entire organ department of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where Matthew received his bachelor of music degree. He received his masters degree at Eastman School of Music and served on the music staff of Grace Church in New York City. Aria (with Diversions) was commissioned by UNCSA with funds from the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.
Ken on the Cover
Kenneth Frazelle's watercolor is the cover art for Joseph Mills's fifth collection of poetry, This Miraculous Turning, to be published in September by Press 53. (You can pre-order a signed copy now!) Joe teaches at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he holds an endowed chair, the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities.
Tami Petty Wins Joy in Singing
Congratulations to soprano Tami Petty, 2014 Joy in Singing Award Artist Winner. At the prestigious competition's finals, held at the New York Performing Arts Library on April 2, Tami's program included selections from Kenneth Frazelle's Appalachian Songbook. Her awards from the competition include a recital at Merkin Concert Hall this fall.
The first public exhibition of Kenneth Frazelle's watercolors is up through March 29 at Inter_Section Gallery, 629 N. Trade Street, Winston-Salem, NC. You can see images of some of the works in the show, along with Barbara Lister-Sink's pastels, here. Other Frazelle watercolors are here.
Triple Concerto for Meadowmount
Kenneth Frazelle's Triple Concerto, commissioned by the renowned Meadowmount School of Music in Westport, NY, was premiered by the Meadowmount String Orchestra at the school's 70th Anniversary Gala on August 4, 2013. Soloists were the esteemed Meadowmount alumni James Ehnes, violin, and Robert deMaine, cello, along with Meadowmount director, Eric Larsen, piano. James Albritten conducted.