BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, announces the release of its third CD, Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints. Based on captivating, evocative texts, Lives of the Saints features two religious monodramas—one Catholic, Live of the Saints, and one Buddhist, At Suma Beach. This CD celebrates Lee Hyla's long-standing relationships with both the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger.
Lives of the Saints serves as a natural outgrowth of the 11 years Hyla has spent working with BMOP. Starting with a performance of Pre-Pulse Suspended in 1997, BMOP has collaborated with Hyla on several projects, including commissioning his Violin Concerto, which BMOP recorded as part of its first, critically acclaimed all-Hyla disc, Trans (New World Records). Hyla says, "BMOP has had a serious impact on the music I write and how I write it." Lives of the Saints also pays tribute to Hyla's decade-long relationship with Nessinger, for whom the composer wrote both works on the new CD. Hyla notes that she possesses a unique ability to change character on a dime, which is necessary to fully realize this music.
The rapturous, intensely intimate Lives of the Saints is intended as more of a set of psychological character studies rather than a meditation on saintliness itself. The evocative texts are selections from a diverse group of writings including passages from Dante's Paradiso and personal accounts of Saint Teresa, Saint Jerome, Saint Lawrence, and Saint Francis. Through his masterful composition of colors, textures, and rhythmic impulses, Hyla illuminates the saints' words onto a turbulent and emotional musical landscape. At the heart of the piece is its imaginative leap of faith, merging of religion and aesthetics, voice and instruments.
After studying in Japan for two months, Hyla produced At Suma Beach, a four-movement epic sung alternately in Japanese and English. Based on the Noh play Matsukaze, each scene incorporates and transcribes elements of Noh into the larger flow of music for western instruments. The work's ubiquitous, yet subtle emotional momentum is based on a meditation on life, nature around Suma Beach, and the lives of two sisters.
Lee Hyla: Lives of the Saints is one of eight BMOP/sound recordings slated for 2008: John Harbison: Ulysses (released March 1st); Michael Gandolfi: Y2K Compliant (released April 1st); Gunther Schuller: Journey Into Jazz featuring Gunther Schuller (narrator) in June; Charles Fussell: Wilde featuring Sanford Sylvan (baritone) in July; Eric Sawyer: Our American Cousin (2-disc opera release) in September; Lukas Foss: The Prairie featuring The Providence Singers in October; Louis Andriessen: La Passione featuring Cristina Zavalloni (mezzo-soprano) and Monica Germino (violin) in November; and David Rakowski: Winged Contraption featuring Marilyn Nonken (piano) in December. BMOP/sound recordings are distributed by Albany Music Distributors, coupled with global online distribution. An interactive BMOP website with digital download capabilities is planned for later in 2008. For more information, visit http://www.bmopsound.org.