ASCEND, the latest collaboration between PARMA Recordings and the Society of Composes, Inc., is an enthralling showcase of leading composers and performers from around the world. Featuring fantastic ensembles, and with works that reference far-flung locations and historical events, this album journeys fascinatingly through time and space as it compiles a competitively selected sample of today’s best compositions.


One of the joys of ASCEND is the variety, which emerges from the album’s aim to include the music of as many composers as possible. Listeners can look forward to a range of vocal and instrumental chamber works featuring instrumentations from solo clarinet to a large ensemble of strings, piano, and solo oboe. And, even though ASCEND is a showcase of composers, the album’s performances are spectacular, and feature some of the world’s leading soloists and ensembles; namely, the famed JACK Quartet, which is broadly considered one of, if not, the best string quartets with a contemporary music focus in the United States. Renowned for their joyous embrace of the most intense aspects of avant garde aesthetics, the work JACK performs – Joungmin Lee’s Vexatious – is one of the most vibrant on the album. Thriving at the extremities of the string quartet’s sonic language, Vexatious is a visceral and dramatic composition given an outstanding and astounding performance on ASCEND.


Other remarkable works include Patrick Houlihan’s Snoqualmie Passages, for piano and alto saxophone, Paul SanGregory’s Shining Through Cracks, for oboe and ensemble, and Aaron Alon’s stunning art song, Dulce Et Decorum Est. All three share tremendous melodic writing and storytelling through the conversation of melody and accompaniment. Certainly, this characteristic comes across most clearly and compellingly in Alon’s Dulce Et Decorum Est, a setting of Wilfred Owen's poem of the same name illustrating the attrition and terrors faced by infantry in World War One. Scored for baritone and string quartet, Alon’s music is both heartbreakingly beautiful and intensely variegated, conveying the gritty detail of the text along with the innocence and sentimentality of the soldiers it depicts, men who left home with the hope of seizing glory only to find the filth and horror of trench warfare.




This album is primarily a composer showcase, but also features an incredible slate of performers, most notably the famed JACK Quartet


Despite the variety that defines the album’s contents, there are strong correlations between its contents; such as the beautiful, expressive melodic language in Snoqualmie Passages, Shining Through Cracks, and Dulce Et Decorum Est


Part of a series of albums from the Society of Composers, Inc., ASCEND presents a range of vocal and instrumental chamber works featuring instrumentations from solo clarinet to a large ensemble of strings, piano, and solo oboe





Snoqualmie Passages  Patrick Houlihan

Recorded October 11, 2016 at W. Francis McBeth Recital Hall, Mabee

Fine Arts Center, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia AR

Engineers Justin Isenhour & Patrick Houlihan


Vexatious  Joungmin Lee

Recorded December 4, 2015 at Center for New Music at University

of Iowa in Iowa City IA


Shining Through Cracks Paul SanGregory

(Live recording/world premiere performance)

Recorded December 6, 2013 at Hongjen Huang (Ad Parnassum Recording)

Kaohsiung City Music Hall in Kaohsiung, Taiwan


If You Walked a Mile  Mike McFerron

Recorded at the Staples Family Concert Hall at Central Michigan

University in Mt. Pleasant MI


Fantasia  Justin Writer

Recorded 2011 at University of Oklahoma School of Music in Norman OK

Producers Ricardo Coelho de Souza & David Carter

Engineer Alan Hiserodt


Dulce Et Decorum Est   Aaron Alon

Recorded December 8, 2007 at Rice University, Shepherd School

of Music in Houston TX


Breathing 2: Re/Inspiration  Michael Pounds

Fixed audio recording created by the composer in the studios

of Ball State University and in the composer’s home studio


Bombinate  Jeffrey Loeffert

Recorded May 15, 2015 at the University of Oklahoma School

of Music in Norman OK

Recording Engineer & Producer Sergei Kvitko


Embark  Stephen F. Lilly

Recorded May 4-18, 2015 in Washington D.C.

Recording, Mixing & Mastering Engineer Stephen F. Lilly


Producer Travis Garrison

SCI President James Paul Sain

SCI Executive Committee Chair Mike McFerron


Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R  Sam Renshaw

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy

Engineering Manager Lucas Paquette

Art & Production Director  Brett Picknell

Design Ryan Harrison






Release Date: July 14, 2017

Catalog #: NV6112





1 Snoqualmie Passages  Patrick Houlihan

Caroline Taylor alto saxophone  Lei Cai piano


2 Vexatious  Joungmin Lee

JACK Quartet Christopher Otto violin Ari Streisfeld violin

John Richards viola  Kevin McFarland cello


3 Shining Through Cracks Paul SanGregory

The Counterpoint Ensemble  | Akris Hung oboe Bonnie Lin violin

Chun Chang violin  Hui-Fang Hsu viola  Rou-An Hou cello

Yi-Chin Ou piano


If You Walked a Mile  Mike McFerron

Andrew Spencer marimba


5 Fantasia  Justin Writer

David Carter clarinet


6 Dulce Et Decorum Est   Aaron Alon

Mark Whatley baritone  Eva Liebhaber violin I  Kaoru Suzuki violin II    Elizabeth Charles viola  Jennifer Humphreys cello


7 Breathing 2: Re/Inspiration  Michael Pounds

electroacoustic music


8 Bombinate  Jeffrey Loeffert

Jonathan Nichol soprano saxophone I  Geoffrey Deibel soprano

saxophone II  Jeffrey Loeffert soprano saxophone III


9 Embark  Stephen F. Lilly

Stephen F. Lilly kalimba, egg shaker, and 5-bell desert chime




MODES (NV6051)

















ONYX (NV6020)


















NAVONA Records is the contemporary classical label imprint of audio production house PARMA Recordings. Dedicated to highlighting forward thinking composers and musicians from around the world, the New England-based label's eclectic catalog offers listeners a cross-section of today's up-and-coming innovators in orchestral, chamber, and experimental music.

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