Grant Gershon, conductor
2. Itaipú – The Lake 8:23
3. Itaipú – The Dam 11:17
4. Itaipú – To the Sea 4:52
Crouch End Festival Chorus – Conducted by David Templ
5. Three Songs – There are Some Men (Leonard Cohen) 2:52
6. Three Songs – Quand les Hommes (Raymond Levesque) 2:59
7. Three Songs – Pierre de Soleil (Octavio Paz) 4:02
Premiered on November 2, 1989 by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Shaw, Itaipú is a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra set to a Guaraní text. Itaipú is the world’s largest dam located on the border between Paraguay and Brazil. The piece is cast in four movements: Mato Grosso, The Lake, The Dam, To the Sea. The piece is part of the composer’s interest Brazil, but also in indigenous cultures of the Americas which continues to this day.
Itaipú also belongs to a part of Glass’ catalog that presents poetic depictions of people, places, traditions, and ideas. This series of works include operas about figures like Einstein, Gandhi, Akhnaten, Galileo, Kepler, Columbus; orchestral pieces like The Canyon, Days & Nights in Rocinha (the neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro), The Light (the Michelson-Morely experiments) and reflections on wisdom traditions in Symphony No.5 “Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya,” and Symphony No.7 “A Toltec Symphony.”
Three Songs for Chorus a Cappella
Commissioned and written for the Québec Festival 1534-1984, Three Songs for Chorus a Cappella presents three short pieces set to poems by three different North American poets. The first song, There are Some Men, is by singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen (whose poetry was later the basis of an evening length song-cycle by Glass titled Book of Longing.) The second song, Quand les Hommes vivront d’Amour, by singer-songwriter/poet/artist Raymond Lévesque is a wish for peace and happiness through love. The third song, Pierre de Soleil, by poet Octavio Paz is mediation on existential selflessness (“les autres qui me donnent l’existence.”) Philip Glass has consistently written for choruses throughout his career including major operas (Satyagraha, The Voyage) and large orchestral works (symphonies Nos. 5 & 7, Passion of Ramakrishna). However, Three Songs is unique as the composer’s only a cappella choral work.
GRANT GERSHON is equally at home with symphonic and choral music, opera, and musical theater. He was named Music Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale in 2001, and in 2007 was named Associate Conductor/Chorus Master for Los Angeles Opera. During his tenure with the Chorale, he has led over 60 programs at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Gershon has also expanded the choir’s repertoire considerably, conducting dozens of world, U.S., West Coast and Los Angeles premieres. His Nonesuch recording with the Chorale of Steve Reich’s You Are (Variations) was honored with the WQXR Gramophone America Award in 2006. The New York Times, Washington Post and Newsday, among others, selected it as one of the top ten classical recordings of 2005. In 2002 he made his first CD with the Master Chorale, featuring the world premiere recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s first choral work as well as Philip Glass’s Itaipú (RCM 12004).
Gershon has also served as chorus master on two Grammy Award-nominated CDs, Sweeney Todd (New York Philharmonic Special Editions) and Ligeti’s Grand Macabre (Sony Classical). He has appeared on the Great Performers series at Lincoln Center leading the LA Master Chorale, and on the Making Music Series at Zankel Hall. Gershon conducted the Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s acclaimed opera The Grapes of Wrath, led subsequent performances of the work with the Utah Symphony, and also conducted the cast recording released in 2008 on P.S. Classics. In May 2009 he made his highly acclaimed Los Angeles Opera debut leading eight performances of Verdi’s La Traviata. Gershon received his bachelor of music degree cum laude in piano performance from USC, and currently serves on the USC Thornton School of Music Board of Advisors.
The Grammy-nominated LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE has been cited as a national leader for its innovative and dynamic programming. Los Angeles Times states the Chorale “has become the most exciting chorus in the country under Grant Gershon.” Since its founding in 1964, LAMC has presented more than 500 concerts, including choral music from the earliest writings to the most recent contemporary compositions. In 2003 the Chorale became one of two resident companies in Walt Disney Concert Hall, launching a period of incredible artistic and organizational growth.
The Chorale has premiered 61 new works – 41 world premieres and 25 works commissioned by or through the LAMC – and has recorded 6 CDs. The Chorale’s most recent recording with Gershon, Daniel Variations, was released on Nonesuch in spring 2008. LAMC performs a season of seven concerts at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, plus two performances of the Messiah Sing-Along; and the family-friendly Holiday Wonders concert in December; and also performs regularly with the L.A. Philharmonic.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale has more than 1,000 subscribers, serves over 40,000 audience members of all ages, and provides education outreach to approximately 13,000 children each year. In 2008, one of the Chorale’s highly successful outreach programs, “Voices Within,” earned the coveted Chorus America Education Outreach Award.
Three Songs was originally released on “Songs from the Liquid Days” – Recording Produced by Jeremy Marchant.
CD Produced by Don Christensen
Special Thanks to Terry Knowles and Kathie Freeman
Photo of Itaipú Dam by M. Cavalcanti
Executive Producers for Orange Mountain Music: Philip Glass, Kurt Munkacsi, and Don Christensen
Itaipú and three Songs are published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP).
Ⓟ and © 2010 by Orange Mountain Music.