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Our recording project: three pieces commissioned by Musica Viva NY

In December 2023 Musica Viva NY is going to make a recording (with compact disc) featuring three pieces Alejandro has chosen that are close to his heart – each was commissioned and premiered by Musica Viva NY. They are Joseph Turrin’s World War 1 cantata And Crimson Roses Once Again Be Fair, Gilda Lyon’s Momotombo and Richard Einhorn’s The Luminous Ground. More detail about each is set out below. We are delighted to announce that the internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade will be singing the solo in the Turrin work for our recording.


Release plans for our recording

The recording will be released on the prestigious Naxos label in the fall/winter of 2024, to coincide with the unveiling in Washington, DC of a sculpture wall titled “A Soldier’s Journey” which will be the central feature of the World War I memorial there.


Funding the recording 

We are extremely grateful to all who have made this recording project possible with their generous support, including the prestigious Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Julia Lanigan, the Musica Viva NY Board of Directors and a generous Musica Viva NY Board member who proposed a match of $25,000 which we met with your support.

And Crimson Roses Once Again Be Fair by Joseph Turrin

Joseph Turrin wrote his cantata And Crimson Roses Once Again Be Fair to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. Musica Viva NY performed it with orchestra on that anniversary. The cantata is based on powerful poetry of the Great War by poets that fought, died, or were bereaved during the conflict. In fourteen concise but abundantly rich movements Mr. Turrin gives us vivid snapshots of the war. Horror, profound sadness, and hope converge to help us reflect on the war that overwhelmed the world from 1914 to 1918.  And now, in 2023, as we witness a raging war in Ukraine, with many warning that a conflict like this could lead to a third world war, it seems an appropriate, relevant and significant time to record and release this music. Musica Viva NY’s Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez says about the piece: “For me the most remarkable aspect of Mr. Turrin’s cantata is how the heart-wrenching poetry absolutely guides the music throughout,” while Joe Turrin says: “I found an extremely voluminous amount of poetry, letters, and stories, written by the men and women who lived, fought and died during one of the most horrendous periods in our world history. I literally spent months of intense research, reliving the pain, passion, and sadness that I found in many of these poems.  So I immersed myself into the darkness of what was WWI and the harsh reality, disillusionment and futility of war.”


Momotombo by Gilda Lyons

Gilda Lyon’s piece Momotombo is scored for a cappella chorus and Musica Viva NY gave its world premiere on March 27, 2022. Here is what the composer (whose mother is from Nicaragua) says about the work: “Nicaragua is home to a range of volcanic formations from young cinder cones and lava domes to calderas and steeply ascending stratovolcanoes. Of them all—observed throughout the ages by caciques, poets, first peoples, conquerors—the greatest may be Momotombo. In his poem Momotombo, Ruben Darío’s contrasting imagery is potent, with the train that keeps going, the volcano that stands seemingly unchanged for all time, and the soul that remains constant as the body changes and inevitably expires, all witness to accounts of and by people who have come and gone.”


The Luminous Ground by Richard Einhorn

Richard Einhorn’s piece The Luminous Ground, expands our interpretation of spiritual enlightenment. Musica Viva NY gave its world premiere on March 12, 2023. Einhorn’s inspiration for the work stems from Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna’s definition of “The Luminous Ground,” that which is the stage in a person’s progress towards enlightenment when “the pacifying light of wisdom dawns” and “attachment and aversion have thoroughly ceased.” This nearly unimaginable state of serenity materialized, for Einhorn, through the light sculptures of James Turrell, specifically, an installation at the Guggenheim Museum in 2013. “After writing (and rejecting) several extensive sketches that took a different approach,” Einhorn shares, “I returned to my initial impression of Turrell’s art and sought to turn its contemplative nature into a slow, gradually changing soundscape that always remains still and hushed. A wordless chorus performs long, sustained, overlapping drones that interweave with the strings. The piano plays simple chords and fragments of melody that, in the final section become a soft, chiming chord whose repetitions grow farther apart.”