an opera in two acts

Ross Crean





Chicago-based composer Ross Crean’s opera The Great God Pan soars in this new release, the first collaboration between the composer and PARMA recordings. The Great God Pan takes its story from an eponymous 1890 novella by Welsh author Arthur Machen, which explores themes of scientific hubris, transcendental medicine, and unexplainable supernatural behavior. Impressively, Crean adapted Machen’s narrative into the work’s libretto himself, an ambitious and rare undertaking for a composer. Crean’s familiarity with the story shows through in the emotional resonance of his music, which matches and communicates the character’s concerns and feelings with unflinching precision.


The key to Crean’s musical portrayal of the story is twofold. First, beginning with the overture, much of the opera’s accompanimental music is defined by pulsing ostinato ideas. This characteristic is inviting to the listener and draws us into the musical world of Crean’s opera. More importantly, the relentless quality of these rhythms wordlessly establishes the ominous mixture of tension and mystery at the heart of The Great God Pans narrative. Second, Crean’s text setting is extremely clear, so the story is conveyed with crystal clarity in this recording.


Without giving too much away, the tale at the heart of The Great God Pan begins with a surgery gone wrong. The first character we meet, Dr. Raymond, has invited the opera’s protagonist, Clarke, to witness an important experiment based in elements of non-traditional, ancient rituals. Dr. Raymond sacrifices his wife Mary as the subject of his attempt to access a higher spiritual plane – referred to as, “seeing the Great God Pan” – and unwittingly initiates a serious of mysterious supernatural occurrences that Clarke encounters over the next few decades.


This recording represents a chamber version of Crean’s opera that includes a full cast of ten superb vocalists and a pair accompanying pianos. The piano parts yearn to be orchestrated, and, in many moments, the listener can easily imagine the lush mixture of brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion Crean will employ once he has the opportunity to fully orchestrate the piece. With this said, the performance on this album never neither feels incomplete, nor does it ever lack any intensity it might enjoy in a full production. This owes to the excellent quality of the album’s vocal performances, and to Crean’s ingenuity in composing the accompanying piano parts with the sounds of strumming and plucking, which combine to make the music that much more vibrant.





Ross Crean is a multifaceted artist, composing and active in many genres of music.  As a vocalist, he has studied rock, opera, and many disparate vocal styles.


He received his degree from Illinois State University in Music Theory/Composition and has worked with or received commissions from Oberlin College, Opera on Tap Chicago, and Loyola University Museum of Art.


Crean’s song cycle, A Passive-Aggressive’s Guide to Mother Goose, was a 2016 winner of One Ounce Opera’s inaugural Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song competition.




Profound gratitude to all involved and for your contributions:

William Campbell, Andy Happel, Bob Lord, Chris Robinson, Levi Brown, Ronald Crean, Mallory Harding, Catherine O’Shaughnessy, Victor LeJeune, Giovanna Jacques, Thomas Zoells, Matthan Ring Black, Sarah Thompson Johansen, Erin Moll, Marysa Abbas, Aaron Gottl, Community Church of Wilmette, PianoForte Chicago, Inc.


To my amazing cast: The gratitude I have for your hard work is overwhelming. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking this journey with me.


Dedicated to my Mum, Charleen. Heaven has received an upgrade.


Recorded December 6-8, 2016 at PianoForte Chicago, Inc., Chicago, IL


Session Engineer Aaron Gottl

Session Producer Andy Happel

Executive Producer Ross Crean

Music Directors Ross Crean and Catherine O’Shaughnessy

Recording Engineer & Associate Producer Aaron Gottl


Published by Knight & Thorne Music (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.



Artwork Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1849) The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania



Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw

A&R Chris Robinson

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy

Engineering Manager Lucas Paquette

Design & Marketing Manager Brett Picknell

Design Emily Roulo




ARCHITECT (nv5905)













Release Date: August 11, 2017

Catalog #: NV6115







01 Intro

John Cockerill piano Stephen Uhl piano


Act I, Scene 1

02 The Discovery

Matthan Ring Black baritone Tobias Wright tenor


03  The Reveal

Matthan Ring Black, Tobias Wright


04 The Dream, the Call, and the Lullaby

Maureen Smith soprano   Sarah Thompson Johansen soprano

Matthan Ring Black, Tobias Wright


Act I, Scene 2

05 Interlude

John Cockerill piano Stephen Uhl piano


06 Twenty Years

Tobias Wright


07  A Story to Add to the Memoir

Matthan Ring Black, Tobias Wright   Marysa Abbas mezzo soprano


08 In the Garden

Jessica Hiltabidle contralto, Stephen Uhl


09  The Story Continues

Tobias Wright, Jessica Hiltabidle


Act I, Scene 3

10  Villiers’ Parlor

John Cockerill, Stephen Uhl


11  Advice in Investments?

Erin Moll mezzo soprano    Vince Wallace bass baritone    Tobias Wright


12 An Old Friend in Shambles

Vince Wallace, Mark Haddad bass


13  The Plot Thickens

Tobias Wright, Erin Moll, Vince Wallace, Matthan Ring Black





Act II, Scene 1

01 A Stroll in London Fog

John Cockerill, Stephen Uhl, Erin Moll, Vince Wallace


02  An Artist Meets His Maker

Andrew Fisher tenor Sarah Thompson Johansen


03 City of Nightmares

Erin Moll, Vince Wallace


04  It is Helen Vaughan!

Erin Moll, Vince Wallace


Act II, Scene 2

05  Gethsemane

Sarah Thompson Johansen, John Cockerill


06  Silent Too Long

Tobias Wright, Vince Wallace, Erin Moll


07  The Confrontation and Ultimatum

Sarah Thompson Johansen, Vince Wallace, Tobias Wright, Erin Moll


08 Helen’s Prophecy Before the Fall

Sarah Thompson Johansen, Erin Moll, Tobias Wright, Vince Wallace


Act II, Scene 3 (The Fragments)

09 The First Fragment

Tobias Wright, John Cockerill


10  The Second Fragment

Erin Moll, Vince Wallace


11  The Third Fragment

Matthan Ring Black, Sarah Thompson Johansen




Navona Records offers listeners a fresh taste of today's leading innovators in orchestral, chamber, instrumental, and experimental music as well as prime pieces of classic repertoire. Our music is meticulously performed by the finest musicians and handpicked to ensure the most rewarding listening experience.



223 Lafayette Road

North Hampton NH 03862



press (at) parmarecordings.com

603.758.1718 x 151