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USC School of Music Faculty Release Notable New Recordings

Recent CDs by University of South Carolina music faculty are making news

In addition to performing and teaching, University of South Carolina music faculty stay busy recording and releasing new CDs. The Carolina family can enjoy dozens of free concerts on campus by the renowned musicians throughout the year. Sign up to receive the monthly e-newsletter to stay in the know about public concerts and events.


Released in March on the innova label, The Singing Gobi Desert, recorded by Prism Quartet, includes USC composer Fang Man’s “Dream of a Hundred Flowers.” Among the numerous positive reviews, On Sheet wrote, "Partnering here with the ensemble Music from China, PRISM presents works by four Chinese-born American composers: Bright Sheng, Lei Liang, Fang Man, and Huang Ruo. The Singing Gobi Desert reveals that saxophones and Chinese instruments have a natural, if unexpected, affinity. From Bright Sheng’s title track to Fang Man’s “Dream of a Hundred Flowers” this music is no simple fusion or mashup, but rather a deep integration of traditions, as reliant on the PRISM Quartet’s extended techniques — flutter-tonguing, multiphonics, breath blasts, and key clicks — as on the composers’ abilities to imagine new sound worlds." A Sequenza 21 review said, "Fang Man’s Dream of a Hundred Flowers (2011, erhu, sheng, pipa, yangqin, and saxophone quartet) finds each saxophone paired with one of the Chinese instruments in a study, really a celebration, of the melodic styles associated with Chinese opera, with some very jazzy harmonies popping up from time to time. Over the length of the pieces, the duos join with other duos and the two quartets explore different relationships, like characters in an opera. It is a shapely piece, expressive and lovely."


 Nonesuch Records released Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich’s album Radio Rewrite, featuring Alarm Will Sound with ensemble member Michael Harley, USC’s assistant professor of bassoon. Alarm Will Sound has roots with minimalist composer Steve Reich that goes back to the origins of the ensemble nearly 12 years. Others on the album are Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead lead guitar, songwriter) and Vicky Chow (Bang on a Can All-Stars pianist). Harley plays piano on the recording. As part of Alarm Will Sound’s residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a live audio stream of their all Reich concert was streamed live in November from the Met's Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. The Daily Telegraph stated, “It was a fine display of compositional mastery, which had nothing to do with remix culture, and everything to do with old-fashioned virtues of harmony and counterpoint.” Harley also played with Bang On A Can on a CD of bassoon music by composer Michael Gordon, "Rushes" for seven bassoons (Cantaloupe Music) that was released this past spring. An Albany Times Union review called the recording, "a shimmering stasis of sound . . . a gently pulsating dream."


 Assistant professor Greg Stuart and his principal collaborator Michael Pisaro, just released a three CD box set, Continuum Unbound, on the Gravity Wave Label. In the works for three years, the project includes field recordings from Congaree National Park in South Carolina, percussion, guitar and electronics. In addition to performing on all on all three CDs, Stuart also designed the cover image for the box, covers for two of the CDs and the cover for the booklet containing the liner notes. Writing for New York City's Other Music, Mikey Jones hailed the set as "one of the most truly moving and beautiful pieces of modern sonics that I've heard in ages," adding that the collection "is one of 2014's most ambitious, satisfying, and noteworthy experimental releases." Stuart's work on Continuum Unbound and his ongoing collaboration with Pisaro was also profiled in the Boston Globe, where Stuart was described as "a vital interpreter of [Pisaro's] works – a David Tudor to Pisaro's Cage."

Another of Stuart’s projects is an LP recording of Pisaro’s “Add Red” on Bánh Mì Verlag with both Stuart and Pisaro on electronics. The Village Voice wrote  “…a four-movement overture of stippling, atmospheric pressure, saturation. It's unusual to feel that a piece of experimental music is actively and intentionally manipulating one's internal weather, but that effect is achieved here, particularly through headphones.” 


 James Ackley, associate professor of trumpet and ensemble member of Bala Brass, a prize winning brass quintet (bronze medal in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition) released Bala Brass Revealed, Bala's first full CD release of never before recorded works for brass quintet with some of the most difficult literature for the idiom. Ackley’s latest solo CD, James Ackley Plays New American Works for Trumpet, features all new works for trumpet with music by Greg Bartholomew, Robert J. Bradshaw, and USC emeritus faculty Gordon (Dick) Goodwin. The CD was included on the Grammy Award ballot for new classical solo recording and chamber music recording.


 Plastic: The Death of Beauty is the second of three operas by USC alumnus and composer, Robert J. Bradshaw. USC faculty featured on the recording, released in October, were professors Tina Milhorn-Stallard, soprano; Janet Hopkins, mezzo-soprano; Neal Casey, conductor; Jennifer Parker-Harley, flute; Joseph Eller, clarinet; Joseph Rackers, piano; Michael Harley, bassoon; and James Ackley, trumpet.  


 Gershwin: Music for Violin and Piano was released in Juneby Opus Two, the piano violin duo with Carolina’s professor of violin, William Terwilliger, violin, and Andrew Cooperstock, piano, and with Ashley Brown, soprano.

“… this is the sort of disc to which a listener may turn from time to time for a new perspective on attractive music...” – Transcentury Blogspot.com


 Carbon Paper and Nitrogen Ink features works for solo marimba with percussion ensemble accompaniment. Students from the USC Percussion Ensemble provided the percussion ensemble accompaniment with professor Scott Herring on marimba. The University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble premiered Adam Silverman’s new marimba concerto in October at the Koger Center for the Arts. The recording project is a result of USC Provost's Grant for the Creative and Performing Arts.