Our American patriotic month is the perfect time to shine the spotlight on our wonderful Great American Composers 6-CD Box set. These reflect the best of our American heritage — our spirit of freedom, respect for fellow human beings, and reverence for our natural environment. Get the box set for the low price of $19.98 from June 28 through July 31, 2019.
July 15 is the 100th anniversary of Delos’s remarkable founder, Amelia Haygood — an ideal moment to celebrate Amelia and her mission of giving American artists and composers a platform for international attention.
This remarkable woman spent much of her life helping others. When I first met her, in the 1960s, she was working tirelessly as a clinical psychologist, enabling troubled young people to reunite with their families. By the early 1970s, she had decided that American composers and performing artists needed a chance to be heard on the global stage. She created the Delos label for that purpose, ignoring the advice of others who predicted failure.
Famed conductor Gerard Schwarz was the star of Delos’s first two digital recordings. In the 1980s, Jerry and Amelia created the American Composers’ Series with his two orchestras — the Seattle Symphony and New York Chamber Symphony. As Jerry sums it up: “With Amelia, it was always about the music.”
Amelia made many trips to Washington for NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Committee meetings, to plead the case for the American Composers’ Series. These recordings were produced over several years, extending into the early 1990s, and received Grammy nominations and high praise.
Jerry and I both have many wonderful memories from those recording sessions (see Jerry’s new Gramophone Magazine article)! I’ll never forget working with the great James Earl Jones as he narrated Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” As noted in The New York Times, “Copland’s Lincoln Portrait… has finally found a speaker equal to its musical merits. James Earl Jones succeeds in making the text as relevant to our day as it was to the 1940s… vibrant, precise playing from the Seattle Symphony, captured with hair-raising presence.”
There was also the excitement of finding the right whale sounds for the Hovhaness “And God Created Great Whales;” delightful planning-lunches with composer David Diamond… and so much more.
Listeners will find this beautiful music inspiring and accessible, yet sophisticated in its artistic value. Portraits of Freedom, included in this box set, remains particularly inspiring. So let’s hear it for Amelia and the true American spirit — represented so wonderfully in this collection!