Southern California’s annual SongFest extravaganza is one of America’s largest and most comprehensive summer festivals devoted entirely to the vocal arts. Held at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, this year’s festival occupies almost the entire month of June, during which a host of distinguished singers, pianists and composers (among other artists) are gathering to celebrate the glory and power of the human voice. The festival is packed with a huge array of daily master classes, related concerts and vocal recitals offering a veritable cornucopia of different composers, genres and international “schools” of vocal art. Global A-list performers and composers – such as Libby Larsen, Thomas Hampson and John Harbison (among others) – lend their presence and prestige to the proceedings, in addition to a long list of well-known guest artists.
To appear or be represented at this important festival is a distinct honor – and such is the case this year for three California-based composers whose music has been featured on Delos releases: Mark Abel, David Conte and Jake Heggie. Their impressive contributions to the American musical scene are to be recognized at a special concert, A Celebration of California Composers* (5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 24th at Thayer Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles), where their art songs will be performed alongside music by composer Mark Carlson.** All of the composers will also be coaching the young singers who will be performing the songs.
The Abel pieces are two songs from his striking five-song cycle, The Palm Trees are Restless, setting poems by California writer Kate Gale. The complete cycle can be heard augmenting Abel’s debut opera on Delos, Home is a Harbor (DE 3495). Many more of Abel’s deeply affecting songs can be savored on his other two Delos albums, The Dream Gallery (DE 3418) and Terrain of the Heart (DE 3438). David Conte’s arresting music (among selections by other composers) can be heard on three outstanding Delos CDs: Inaugural Recital, Fisk Organ of the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas (DE 3148), as well as two choral releases: the Christmas album Light of Gold (DE 3485) and Facing West (DE 3524). Last but not least, Jake Heggie gave Delos the singular honor of releasing The Radio Hour – libretto by Gene Scheer (DE 3484), a funny and touching work billed as the “world’s first-ever choral opera.”
Not only are these three wonderful composers getting the recognition they deserve at SongFest 2017, but the fact that they are all Delos artists further validates our “Great American Label” ‘s role as a platform for American artists.
** Additional music by Conte and Heggie is featured in several other SongFest concerts and recitals as well.