“Greek mythology tells us that Apollo set out from the island of Delos every morning with his lyre in hand, bringing light, music and healing to the world. We at Delos share the awareness that our world needs the balm of music.” – Amelia S. Haygood, Delos Founder (1919-2007)
“Delos is the David that will remain standing after Goliath has fallen,” remarked the president of the nationwide Music Personnel Conference during the association’s opening ceremonies in 2001 — a fitting homage to the joyous and indomitable spirit of Delos founder Amelia Haygood. In his tribute to Amelia in 2007, James Jolly of Gramophone wrote: “Her zeal and desire for excellence created a label with a strong personality that not only attracted a host of major performers but which also gained plaudits for its technical excellence.”
Vocal Stars Series
Delos maintains its “strong personality,” and is generating particular excitement with its star-studded opera and vocal series. Our ever-expanding roster of great singers, which began with Arleen Auger, Renee Fleming, Hei-Kyung Hong and John Aler, now includes luminaries such as Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Sondra Radvanovsky, 2014 Grammy nominee Lawrence Brownlee, Ildar Abdrazakov, Marcelo Alvarez, Isabel Leonard, Ewa Podles, Nicole Cabell, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Dinara Alieva, and Adrianne Pieczonka.
Grammy-nominated American pianist/conductor Constantine Orbelian, “the singer’s dream collaborator” (Opera News), leads our superb operatic albums, including a recent studio recording of the complete Simon Boccanegra with Hvorostovsky in the title role.
“The Great American Label”
Amelia Haygood was a pioneer at heart, and that pioneering spirit has characterized the major developments throughout Delos’ history. Reminiscing about the early Delos days, she remembered “running around the country with my LP-size briefcase, hand-carrying samples of our first releases to new friends and acquaintances in press, radio and retail. Some said I was foolish; some said I was brave. But most everyone was interested in the idea of a label formed to give outstanding American artists an international platform.”
Delos has often been called the Great American Label — not only because of Amelia’s mission on behalf of American artists but also in recognition of her pioneering efforts for American composers. Beginning with Boston’s Musica Viva, she went on to produce the celebrated series featuring Gerard Schwarz, the Seattle Symphony and the New York Chamber Symphony. These recordings of music by Hanson, Hovhaness, Diamond, Creston, Piston and others received Grammy nominations for the artists, the engineer, and the label, and helped to reawaken American interest in its own classical music. American composers continue to have a voice at Delos, with recording premieres of works by Mark Abel, Jake Heggie, Sean Hickey, Michael McLean, Ben Moore, Tracy Silverman, Frank Ticheli, among others.
“A Host of Major Performers”
Delos’ “host of major performers” includes some of the most honored names in classical music. In 1979 Delos became a leader in digital recording when Amelia got together with another pioneer, scientist/inventor Thomas Stockham and his prototype Soundstream Digital Recorder. Among the very first artists participating in these history-making digital recordings were Schwarz and his orchestras, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, David Shifrin, Janos Starker and Susann McDonald. At that time I became guardian and partner to a noble Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano, which made its debut in Water Music of the Impressionists, and sang into the microphone for many more albums. Recording guru John Eargle, who wrote the bibles on classical recording, joined the team as Delos’ Director of Recording and beloved mentor to Delos’ younger engineers until his death in 2007.
The important orchestral series continued with James DePreist and the Oregon Symphony, and with Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony, also featuring a number of recordings of music by American composers. The OSO and DSO series were the first to be recorded with John Eargle’s much-praised “Virtual Reality Recording” surround sound. One of the recordings on the distinguished Delos series with Zdenek Macal and the New Jersey Symphony won John the Grammy for sound engineering in 2001.
Our highly-praised choral series includes Roger Wagner’s last recording, Dennis Keene’s Billboard-charting Voices of Ascension, Simon Carrington’s Yale Schola Cantorum, Yale’s Etherea, and John Alexander’s Pacific Chorale. Our outstanding guitar series began with Pater Familias Celedonio Romero, and continues with the remarkable 8-string guitarist Paul Galbraith, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Latin Grammy-winning Brazilian Guitar Quartet, Angel Romero, Italian guitarist Emanuele Segre, and innovative Greek guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou. Among many other well-known names appearing on Delos are clarinetist David Shifrin, the Shanghai Quartet, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, theremin icon Clara Rockmore, flutists Jean-Pierre Rampal, Eugenia Zukerman, Joshua Smith, Stefan Hoskuldsson and Raffaele Trevisani; pianists Nadia Reisenberg, John Browning, Bella Davidovich, Andrew von Oeyen, Tali Morgulis, Constantine Orbelian and Vadym Kholodenko; violinists Corey Cerovsek and Sasha Rozhdestvensky; cellists Janos Starker and Zuill Bailey; saxophone virtuoso Federico Mondelci and his Italian Saxophone Quartet.
Delos “Family Classics”
Amelia, who was a highly respected clinical psychologist before she switched careers to start a record label, considered Delos “Family Classics” to be among our most important ongoing projects. Our “Baby Needs” recordings have received worldwide recognition as the finest series ever produced for the very young. Perchance to Dream, a Lullaby Album for Children and Adults, was the precursor in this series, and in Amelia’s words “was welcomed for every human situation, beginning with the pre-natal. Parents found that it had a remarkably positive effect on infant behavior. We are gratified that the calming effect of this CD has provided solace to the very ill in hospital and hospice. Our aim with the entire ‘Baby Needs’ series is to call parents’ attention to the enrichment potential of such music for the very young. It has brought comfort and beauty to all ages; and parents comment that they are experiencing great music along with their children, having missed the opportunity themselves in schools that had cut out music programs.”
We continue to look toward the future with optimism and excitement. Our distribution partnership with Naxos enables us to extend our marketing reach, and tap into the world’s most efficient music distribution system, while maintaining Delos’ uniquely “strong personality” among independent labels. New Delos website developments, as well as our expanded blogging and podcast efforts, will keep you better informed about our artists and recordings, and make it easier for you, the musical public, to interact and explore the expanding riches of our catalog.
At Delos we remain ever true – both artistically and technologically – to Amelia Haygood’s singular spirit and philosophy. We are committed to bringing you the very finest performances, captured with splendid sound quality. And we remain ever on the lookout for fresh and eclectic approaches – not only to established classics, but also to stimulating new musical fusions and pioneering crossover efforts. We invite you to follow us closely on our journey into the future. I can promise you a fascinating — and rewarding — ride!
Pianist, and currently Delos Director