Columbian Harmony

Chamber Works

Gary Smart composer

Release Date: October 13, 2023
Catalog #: NV6565
Format: Digital
21st Century

Multi-genre composer Gary Smart explores a wide range of styles and transforms them into his own musical language on COLUMBIAN HARMONY. His soundscapes are sweeping, billowing meadows, often vast in their ambition and scope. At times richly textured, at times sparse, almost threadbare, Smart’s carefully designed works meander between grand rhapsody and heart rending simplicity. There is enough familiarity in this music to keep the listener anchored, but the element of surprise reigns supreme.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Prospero Gary Smart Bold City Contemporary Ensemble | Piotr Szewczyk, violin; Linda Minke, cello; Galen Peiskee, piano; Sarah Jane Young, flute; Boja Kragulj, clarinet 9:26
02 Ancient Moon Song Gary Smart Bold City Contemporary Ensemble | Dr. Erin Bodnar, conductor; Piotr Szewczyk, violin; Hannah Barrow, violin; Jorge Pena, viola; Linda Minke, cello; Sarah Jane Young, flute; Xiaodi Liu, oboe; Boja Kragulj, clarinet 13:47
03 Columbian Harmony Gary Smart Bold City Contemporary Ensemble | Piotr Szewczyk, violin; Linda Minke, cello; Galen Peiskee, piano; Sarah Jane Young, flute; Boja Kragulj, clarinet 9:13
04 Such stuff as dreams are made on Gary Smart Bold City Contemporary Ensemble | Dr. Erin Bodnar, conductor; Piotr Szewczyk, violin; Hannah Barrow, violin; Jorge Pena, viola; Linda Minke, cello; Jason Lindsay, bass; Sarah Jane Young, flute; Xiaodi Liu, oboe; Boja Kragulj, clarinet; Patrick Graham, bass clarinet; Charlotte Mabrey, percussion 14:36
05 Cut a Rug Gary Smart Bold City Contemporary Ensemble | Piotr Szewczyk, violin; Linda Minke, cello; Galen Peiskee, piano; Sarah Jane Young, flute; Boja Kragulj, clarinet 10:21

Prospero, Ancient Moon Song, Columbian Harmony
Recorded February 6-7, 2022 at Hendrix Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville FL
Recording Session Engineer Tim Ornato

Such stuff as dreams are made on
Recorded January 26, 2022 at the University of North Florida Fine Arts Center in Jacksonville FL
Recording Session Engineer Tim Ornato

Cut a Rug
Recorded January 21, 2020 at St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church in Jacksonville Beach FL
Recording Session Engineer Tim Ornato

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Chris Robinson

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Chelsea Kornago

Artist Information

Gary Smart


Gary Smart’s career has encompassed a wide range of activities as composer, classical and jazz pianist, and teacher. Always a musician with varied interests, he may be the only pianist to have studied with Yale scholar/keyboardist Ralph Kirkpatrick, the great Cuban virtuoso Jorge Bolet, and the master jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. A true American pluralist, Smart composes and improvises music that reflects an abiding interest in Americana, jazz, and world music, as well as the Western classical tradition.

Bold City Contemporary Ensemble


The Bold City Contemporary Ensemble (BCCE) is a collective of highly trained classical musicians who specialize in the performance of the world’s newest music. Led by founder and artistic director Boja Kragulj, BCCE boasts a roster of the finest musicians who both perform at the highest level, and engage the audience through a series of engaging, outside-the-box performances.

Modular in design, the ensemble ranges in size from 2 through 19 players, accommodating instrumentation for a variety of newly composed works, including electronics as well as acoustic instruments. BCCE’s flexibility is an asset as it travels both regionally and internationally to serve communities and interests that are drastically under-exposed to the arts. Without the constant, strict formality of concert-halls, BCCE engages with listeners to create an immersive, all-sensory experience.

If you think you know classical music, you need to hear BCCE. This release represents their 3rd recording project, and second with the PARMA Recordings, all available on streaming platforms world-wide.


Prospero is dedicated to and written for The Bold City Contemporary Ensemble, directed by Boja Kragulj. It is a musical portrait of the primary character in Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Prospero is a powerful magician who leads all the others on a merry chase. He is a wise and good man, who, when all is achieved, renounces his magic. I have written constantly developing musical motifs representing high drama, love, dark power, and transcendent light and attempted to blend them all in an entertaining fantasy.

— Gary Smart

Ancient Moon Song is an impressionist piece which might just serve as ballet music. I based my musical narration on an imagined ancient ritual ceremony, where a group of people gather to gaze at and worship the full moon. The flute, oboe, and clarinet are leaders. The string quartet represents all powerful nature, the people and the profound bond which ancient peoples must have felt with the sky and celestial bodies.

The piece features free rhapsodic wind cadenzas which represent the calling of group leaders. Near the end of the work cascading figures lead to a grand communal chant where the entire ensemble sings in praise of the moon. The music then returns to the timeless opening scene where all is silence, nature, and moonlit night.

— Gary Smart

My quintet Columbian Harmony was inspired by an article in The Washington Post. A Virginia state senator had found scores of headstones dumped on the shore of the Potomac River in King George County VA. The article further explained that a 1959 African American cemetery relocation had resulted in the loss of records, a reckless disposal of headstones and the desecration of many graves. The racism, injustice, and shocking lack of proper respect and dignity in the situation are obvious.

Columbian Harmony was the name of an African American cemetery that existed in Washington DC from 1829 to 1959. This cemetery was created by the Columbian Harmony Society, established in 1825 by free African Americans to aid the Black community. At this time people of color were not allowed to be buried in white cemeteries.

The private cemetery has been relocated twice, once in 1859 and again in 1959. Both relocations were at the time deemed necessary for reasons relating to community growth and commercial development. Columbian Harmony was among at least five major African American cemeteries in DC that have been obliterated in the past century for the sake of development. Most of the 37,000 graves of Columbian Harmony, which include the graves of many prominent 19th century African Americans and hundreds of African Americans that died fighting for the Union in the Civil War now lie in a rural area called National Harmony Memorial Park in Landover MD. Many of these graves remain unmarked.

With this work I hope to honor the memory of all those lives linked to Columbian Harmony cemetery and its checkered history. My quintet is an Ivesian fantasy which moves from a simple evocation of 19th century life to a warlike brutality to a blurred statement of a well known funeral hymn and on to a serene resignation and a long chorus of overlapping polytonal “Amens.”

— Gary Smart

This is a dream piece: abstract, spacious, mercurial, and mysterious. The title quotes Prospero, the magician, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little lives are rounded with a sleep.”

The five main contrasting theme-textures which appear and transform episodically throughout the piece are: 1) the clanging sustained chords at the opening, 2) the rolling sixteenth figures which represent the wind and the sea, 3) a herky jerky, almost silly melodic fragment accompanied by repeated notes, 4) a whimsical parody of Mendelsohn’s Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 5) sustained melodic music which represents love and helps unify all these musical elements. Other “stuff” interrupts the ongoing development of ideas, such as the several percussion solos and an unexpected violin duet later in the work.

The dramatic goal is reached in the closing section where a high repeated string figure floats into some final strange, ethereal percussion outbursts. And here the dream ends.

— Gary Smart

This one movement fantasy is dance music. More specifically, it is an homage to 1920’s American dance music. The piece works well as a concert music, but I think a choreographer might find it fun to work with. Cut a Rug is energetic, dramatic and abstract, often toying with the motive of an alternating third.

But there’s more than that. I found four pop tunes from the 1920’s which feature that alternating third interval and incorporated these tunes into the mix. You might listen for Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1925), My Buddy (1922), Coquette (1928) and Toot, Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye! (1922) — all great tunes from the Great American Songbook. This brings into play both old fashioned lyricism and a bit of comedy. This is carefully crafted ensemble music, sometimes serious, sometimes silly, oddly unique: seriously wacky. I think it’s safe to say that it’s quite essentially American.

— Gary Smart