On Monday April 10th, 2017 a new work of mine will be premiered at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY. Long-time friend and collaborator Dave Veslocki will be playing my work "5 Elegies for Solo Guitar." Dave and I met in Middle School Regional Jazz Band many years ago in Connecticut and have crossed paths and stayed friends throughout the years. For a while, we had an active duet called "Duality," where we gravitated towards jazz/crossover compositions and originals that had a mellow vibe, complex harmony, and where melody was king. In the spirit of this, our concept for the new piece is to encompass all these elements in a new work consisting of 5 musical miniatures. The term "elegy" seems appropriate: melancholy, but deep. The 5 pieces will explore the range and abilities of the guitar, each with a slightly different flavor.
Dave is currently the owner and teacher at the Connecticut Suzuki Guitar Academy, in Norwalk, CT. He is also self-producing classical singles of Bach's lute works and has a successful career producing hits for pop singers/songwriters throughout the country. Among other new works for solo guitar and chamber works featuring other prominent guitarists and musicians, this 8:00 p.m. concert in the famed Weill Recital Hall will be a not-to-be-missed event!
This past weekend, 11 musical colleagues and I performed a wonderful concert in Hartford. Using the Couperin organ mass, Messe des Paroisses, as the foundation work and inserting the appropriate chants of the mass throughout, we recreated the entire musical liturgy of a Mass as if it were the 17th century in France. Over the summer, I had inquired about and received facsimiles of plainchant editions by Nivers as well as a source for a 3-part Chant du Credo en Faux-bourdon from libraries in France. I transcribed these sources into modern notation for our concert, and rounded out the order of the mass with a Communion piece by de Grigny and a Domine Salvum motet by Charpentier. Overall, it was a scholarly and worshipful experience for the performers and the audience! Below are the live recordings from the concert, as well as my program notes. Enjoy!
I recently put together a concert recreating a Mass as it would have been performed in 17th - 18th century France, using one of Couperin's organ Masses. When searching for a Credo, I came across a reference to a 1771 anonymous source from Paris entitled Faux-bourdons pour les fetes solemnelles. While mostly psalm tones were set to 3 or 4 part fauxbourdon, there is one setting of the Credo chant set to 3-part fauxbourdon in this source. I am grateful to have a received a facsimile of the score from the Biblioteque nationale et universitaire in Strasbourg, FR. Here is my transcription and a recording from our concert.
Recorded live, November 16, 2014
My wife and I have been together now for 9 years, and I was amazed when the other day she finally asked, "Hey - can you teach me how to understand jazz?"
I was really excited to hear this, as jazz is a very important part of my life, but for most listeners it is a foreign language. We decided the best way to tackle this was for me to create playlists on Spotify for her to listen to in the car, and then we could chat when we were home together.
We came to the understanding that she "gets" the big band era of the 30s, and would probably be ok with skipping over early jazz of the 20s too, so I've decided to start with small group jazz of the 40s and make my way from Bird and Diz, all the way to albums released in the 2010s. In my opinion, starting there would give her (or anyone tuning in) a good understanding of how small group jazz has developed into what it is today.
This was quite the task, and I'm still making small edits. What I decided to do was break it up into 9 playlists, tracking new developments in jazz, with only 4 tracks per play list. In general, I avoided offshoots of mainstream jazz, including free jazz developments, as well as Latin jazz, and most fusion, except for the early developments. Also, sorry I kind of skipped the 80s... And last disclaimer, the task kind of became impossible when I had to only pick 8 tracks from 1980-now, so I picked stuff that I thought was representative of different manifestations of jazz today - also some bias to albums I love.
There are definitely things missing, but I hope this tells the right story. Let me know what you think!
At church, we recently kicked off the John and Edie Murphy Music for Humanity Concerts with a Mozart spectacular, featuring the entire Requiem and the Clarinet Concerto. I had the honor of singing in the choir for the Requiem, and conducting the concerto with Tom Cooke on clarinet. Tom is featured on Guided Imagery and is a great friend and musical partner. We've sung next to each other, put down the recording premiere of one of Morten Lauridsen's works, performed chamber music, and now stood side by side for a performance of Mozart's well-known concerto.
The concert was a huge success, and all of the proceeds went to Loaves and Fishes in Hartford, as the concert was fully endowed. I spent sometime researching both works, and thought I'd share the program notes on my website!
In his second album release, Dan Campolieta demonstrates a personal approach to his music with his piano artistry at the center of every tune. An album of music for solo piano, piano and voice, and clarinet/piano duo, "Poems, Prayers, Images" features nine original compositions and two interpretations ranging from modern classical sacred music, to delicate settings of the poetry of Teasdale and Millay, to whimsical or thought-provoking instrumental compositions. Unlike his debut album which featured two larger, multi-movement works, this is a CD of miniatures. Even with the variety of musical genres and instrumentations throughout, there is a cohesive sound that permeates the entire album. The vocal talents of Campolieta's wife, Christen Hernandez, and soprano Kathryn Guthrie are joined by Campolieta's own voice, as the composer provides the vocals for two original songs and writes original lyrics. The album as a whole is intimate, yet powerful; complex, yet approachable.
Campolieta was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in May of 2017 and in many ways this album is a direct result of his struggle with cancer. However, aside from the original caberet/folk style song "Run," which speaks of the struggle metaphorically, the music is more centered around reflection, and even at times, celebration.
Among the five solo piano tracks on the album, three are original compositions in a classical/jazz crossover style. The opening track, "The Morning Pore Over," is titled after the habitual morning cup of coffee and the creative thoughts that can enter the brain before the main part of the day begins. Midway through the piece, an overdubbed Fender Rhodes splashes into the texture and takes the lead. Campolieta cites this morning, alone time as some of his most productive hours. "Valse False" is a through-composed piece which feels like an isolated movement of a dance suite. This piece highlights Campolieta's approach to harmony, utilizing familiar chords under a singable melody in a fashion unique to his pen. "Anelegie" begins with an introduction featuring musings on the Rhodes and clarinet loops laid down by DC clarinetist Tim Sutfin. The piece molds into a rhythmic elegy that wanders through several keys and colors. Campolieta cites his late mother, Anne, a pianist herself, as an inspiration for this piece. Unlike "...Pore Over," Campolieta does not take an improvised solo on the main body of this piece, but rather the piece vamps and fades to nothing.
The two covers on the album include Cole Porter's well-known standard "So in Love," and the 19th century hymn-tune "Nearer, My God, to Thee." These pieces are perhaps the most jazz-like selections you'll hear on the album. The Porter tune is performed at a speedy clip in a perpetual-motion style in 7/4 time. "Nearer..." functions as an epilogue for the entire album. Campolieta's reharmonization is creative, yet still pays homage to the classic tune which portrays Jacob's dream from the book of Genesis.
In addition to singing on the aforementioned "Run," Campolieta lends his voice to another original, "Sonnet V," a setting of the 14-line poem of the same name by Edna St. Vincent Millay. From her 1921 collection "Second April," the poignant Sonnet is written from the perspective of an individual who has lost his or her lover. Campolieta backs himself with Rhodes, which mimics the sound of "cold sweet water bubbling underground," as referenced in the poem. Another highlight of the album is "Meadowlarks," a setting of a Sara Teasdale poem in the style of a cabaret song. The short poem is augmented by some of Campolieta's original lyrics, and Hernandez's pure tone and flawless interpretation coupled with Campolieta's sensitive playing makes for an emotional musical pairing. Perhaps the most classical-leaning tracks on the album, "Magnificat" and "Nunc dimittis" are English settings of the two age-old prayers often performed in an Episcopalian evensong. The pieces feature rhythmic interplay between piano and voice and are executed with precision and power by soprano Kat Guthrie.
Rounding out the album is a haunting piece for clarinet, "Prière" which has hints of Messiaen's harmonic language, yet could also double as a jazz ballad from the 1960s. Sutfin's lyrical and controlled playing is the highlight of the track.
Though the album is certainly not simply an album about fighting cancer, the life perspective and developed artistry from the encounter is clear in Campolieta's compositions and playing throughout. "Poems, Prayers, Images" is an inspirational and enjoyable album on many levels, for a wide audience.
Music by Dan Campolieta, except where noted
1. The Morning Pore Over
2. Meadowlarks (poetry: Teasdale)
3. So in Love (Cole Porter, Chappell & Co.)
5. Valse False
8. Nunc Dimittis
10. Sonnet V (poetry: Millay)
11. Nearer, My God, to Thee (tune: BETHANY, Lowell Mason)
Dan Campolieta, piano and/or Rhodes (all tracks), voice (4, 10)
Christen Hernandez, voice (2)
Kathryn Guthrie, voice (7, 8)
Tim Sutfin, clarinet (6, 9)
Executive Producer: Dan Campolieta
Engineer/Co-producer: Scott Metcalfe, mindsear.com
Recorded at Peabody Conservatory, Recording Studio A, Baltimore, MD, January 11-13
Graphic Design by Bill Morgan, billmorganmedia.com
Stained Glass Art by Leigh Lafosse, rainbowridgestainedglass.com
Photography by Victoria Chamberlin, victoriachamberlin.com
All Original Music © 2018 Dan Campolieta Music
Hey Everybody! You know I love to write, here are my program notes for my upcoming Organ Recital this Sunday, April 3rd at 3:00. It's cleverly entitled the "Final Four" featuring works by Brahms, Mahler, Franck, and Vierne, and telling the story of how these middle and late Romantic composer helped usher in a new era of music.
I'm excited to announce that today I am undergoing the initial steps towards the production and release of my first CD as a composer. The CD will feature my "7 Sketches for Clarinet Trio," and the 40-minute song cycle "Guided Imagery." With a successful premiere of Guided Imagery this February, the energy among the performers and the audience was too strong to not take this opportunity to begin the process of this CD. More information will come soon, so stay tuned!
Don't miss the 3rd Annual "Brown Bag-It" concert in the Gross Memorial Chapel, led by Asylum Hill Congregational Church organist Dan Campolieta and featuring the works of Johannes Brahms. Bring a lunch to church (worship at 10:15 a.m.), or purchase a snack bag for $3, and join us in the Twichell Room after Sunday worship at 11:30 a.m. for a brief lecture on the life and music of Johannes Brahms, followed by the concert in the chapel. The concert will feature selections from the op. 122 Chorale Preludes for Organ, selected art songs sung by soprano Kat Guthrie Demos, and the Clarinet Trio featuring church member Tom Cooke and Hartford cellist and member of the West End Quartet, Carlynn Savot. This concert will also feature the last piece of music that Brahms ever wrote - attend to find out more!
Today, I began work on a new piece - one that is promising to be one of the most substantial works I have written in recent time. After reading the poetry of friend and colleague Linda Beher, I have been inspired to write an 11-movement work entitled "Guided Imagery" that will constitute some 45 minutes of continuous music, with seamless transitions between movements. The piece is scored for bass-baritone, oboe, and piano and will be premiered on the Asylum Hill Chamber Series on February 27th, 2011. I am so lucky that two of my closest friends, and two of Hartford's finest musicians, bass-baritone Marques J. Ruff and oboist Dylan Armstrong, will be joining me in this premiere.
Let's all be honest - in today's competitive musical climate the boundaries between musical styles, and the labels that we put on certain musicians are becoming more and more blurry. Very few musicians can make a living doing just "one thing", and almost no one is able to make it on pure creative output anymore. However, the term "selling out" becomes more and more derogatory to me every day, because in all honesty, musicians need to be versatile to survive in this climate and if you can't read, improvise, and even in some cases, write music, in at least the two general musical fields of common practice period classical music and creative improvised music (whether jazz, or R&B, or funk or whatever) then you are severely disadvantaged. There's nothing negative about playing in front of a crowd that loves your music, even if what your playing is not your best creative work.
I had the joy of putting together a concert with my colleague and friend, David Veslocki, recently. Instead of playing "the same old standards" we searched for new tunes that we never had played before. One of the tunes we found was an Eddie Gomez tune, "Next Future" off his 1992 album of the same name. The tune is reminiscent of the Chick Corea "3 Quartets" or compositions with the 80's band featuring Gomez and Michael Brecker, "Steps Ahead." The tune is a medium tempo bossa with swing solos, but almost every bar is a new chord change requiring a completely unrelated scale. Many of the chords are hexatonic shapes, or more simply put, chords that contain a Maj 7(#5) shape somewhere in their upper structure. When tackling a tune like this, the improviser needs to know all the ways around the changes--fluency in the augmented (hexatonic) scale, melodic minor modes, pentatonics (which I don't get into in this article), and even bebop scale. Also, we have to remember that many jazz composers (particularly bass players!) love to write chords in slash chord notation, which can add a different challenge to interpreting these types of tunes. Using "Next Future" and another Eddie Gomez tune, "Loxodrome" as examples, I will illustrate several ways to approach modern jazz tunes.
This past May, I started and completed my setting of the Prayer of St. Francis in one sitting. To date, it is the only piece I have written in one sitting. I have had compositional "sparks" like this before, but never so bright and so clear. The melody came to me as I was walking outside of my apartment to check my mail and was finished at 4:00am the night before I had to catch a 9:00am plane to Puerto Rico.
You may have noticed my new poll, "which jazz pianist was the most influential." First a disclaimer: the obvious answer for any modern pianist should be none of the above--Bud Powell. However, knowing this, I go to the next generation of pianists after the bebop era and search for meaning there. I often think about this question, reflect on my own style and approach, and have a hard time answering. The first jazz CD I bought was kind of a random one, "Intermodulation" by Bill Evans and Jim Hall. The track "Turn Out the Stars" absolutely mystified me. Bill Evans recorded that original composition often with his trios of the late 60's and 70's, but no version of it means as much to me as the one on "Intermodulation" with piano and guitar duet. What is it about the track that makes it so perfect? I would have to say one word: "Melody."
Connecticut's premier chamber choir, Voce, Inc. recorded a CD full of compositions by Morten Lauridsen over Memorial Day weekend with the composer himself in residence. As a member of Voce and the Voce Chamber Artists, I am proud to have been a part of this recording as a singer, and pianist. The CD is both cutting edge, and a retrospective of sorts, featuring selections from each and every choral and song cycle written by the composer, and also including a handful of works never before recorded. Dr. Lauridsen collaborated in concert with Voce in 2008 and after spending just days with the choir decided his next CD had to be recorded by Voce, a young choir which he believed had potential to become a representative East Coast chamber choir to interpret his music.
I was very fortunate to conduct the ensemble Voce di Coeli, a 24 voice all-female ensemble at Hall High School in West Hartford from 2008-2011. All 3 seasons I was with the group, they performed phenomenally and we did everything from Lady Gaga to Arvo Part, Paul Simon to Jacob Handl. Since I no longer conduct them, I have put together a little "retrospective" of my time with them. In 2009, we toured Montreal singing at Notre Dame and Saint-Jean Baptiste churches. We participated in several a cappella festivals and in 2011 did an east coast tour hitting NYC, Long Island, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. While I have moved on to new projects, I'll always have a place in my heart for this great ensemble I had the chance to conduct!