This Son So Young
Rebecca Flannery, Harp
Total Playing Time: 56:42
About the music:
It has been my privilege to be personally associated with three of the composers whose works are heard on this recording: Louie White, Malcolm Williamson and Robert Edward Smith.
I became acquainted with them during my tenure at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey, in the late '60's and '70's.
While a student at Rutgers University I became acquainted with Louie White as one of his students. Only gradually (because he wasÝsuch a modest person) did I begin to learn of his considerable accomplishments as a composer. Upon first hearing his music I was immediately captivated by the beauty and originality of his elegantly crafted scores.
This Son So Young extracts maximum effect from the tonal colors and resources of the voice, harp and organ. This remarkable work won the 1952 composition award ($100!) from Church of the Ascension in New York City. It was dedicated to the American counter-tenor, Russell Oberlin, and was published by the H.W. Gray Co.
I first performed the organ part of this cantata in 1977 with soprano Louise Natale and Robert Edward Smith (who is represented on this recording as a composer) playing the harp part on harpsichord. Louie White had happily sanctioned using the harpsichord as a substitute for the original scoring for that performance. During that period I had the joy of performing on numerous occasions with the late Louise Natale, a favorite soprano of Toscanini, who was for many years the soprano soloist of the Riverside Church in New York where she sang accompanied by my teacher, the legendary organist Virgil Fox.
In 1972 I was overwhelmed when Louie White presented me with a dedicated manuscript of Reflections on Southern Hymn Tunes which he had written for me as a surprise "thank-you" for having accompanied his Rutgers Chorus in concert on short notice.
A native of the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Louie White loved the haunting melodies of the Southern mountain hymn tunes upon which his Reflections are based. The tune heard before and after Wondrous Love is an original hymn tune by Louie White.
Louie White was also well known and respected as a singer and choral conductor. His works include songs, choral works, cantatas, and instrumental works including Concerto for Harpsichord (1960) which was commissioned by the Spoleto Festival in Italy. A champion of his music has been Leontyne Price who performed his works at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York and in a nationally televised concert from the White House in 1978. Upon hearing of his death Miss Price said: "I have lost a dear friend, who was a distinguished composer."
I met Malcolm Williamson while waiting in a receiving line for Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen following their program for two pianos at Hunter College. At that time Malcolm Williamson was Artist-in-Residence at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.
Shortly thereafter I invited him to perform on the organ series at the Newark Cathedral and we became friends. From then on I performed a great deal of his music, especially with the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. The organ accompaniment heard in the Epiphany Carol was composed especially for the annual Cathedral Carol Sing which Louise Natale and I were about to perform. It became an instant favorite and she repeated it at that annual event for a number of years.
A native of Australia, Malcolm Williamson is now Master of the Queen's Music to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, a post he has held since 1975. He is a dynamic and extremely versatile composer of opera, orchestral, piano, organ, choral and vocal works.
My first encounter with Robert Edward Smith was as a dazzled audience member at one of his harpsichord recitals. A short while later he became my associate at Sacred Heart Cathedral where he regularly accompanied the Choir of Men and Boys. Only then did I discover that he also possessed remarkable talents as a composer. I quickly became the "pest" who constantly asked him to compose more works for the choir to sing.
After becoming College Organist and Director of Chapel Music at Trinity College, Hartford, I arranged for Robert to be appointed Composer-in-Residence of the Trinity College Chapel, a post he accepted in 1979 and holds to this day.
The Trinity College Chapel Singers, along with countless choirs around the country, enjoy singing his beautiful choral works which, in part, have been inspired by the Trinity College Chapel's sumptuous acoustics.
During one of the recording sessions for this CD, while we were trying to decide how to rearrange the SATB choral score of Saw You Never In The Twilight, Robert happened by the Chapel to see how the sessions were progressing. After asking his advice he requested some manuscript paper, sat down on the steps of the Music Gallery and wrote a beautiful new counter melody for Liesl (whom we have both known since her student days at Trinity College), solving the quandary in about two minutes flat! Parables was written in 1979 and was first performed by the late tenor Paul Orlando.
In addition to his work as a widely published composer, Robert Edward Smith continues his career as one of the world's finest concert and recording harpsichordists.