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Release Date: April 24, 2020
Catalog #: NV6272
Format: Digital & Physical

Three Theatre Pieces and Chopin

Michael G. Cunningham composer

Zagreb Festival Orchestra
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra

Longtime Navona Records artist Michael G. Cunningham showcases his penchant for storytelling on THREE THEATRE PIECES AND CHOPIN, an album rife with theatrical wonders that delight both the ears and the imagination.

THREE THEATRE PIECES AND CHOPIN opens with The Real Alice, a spoken narrative that tells the tale of the titular character from Lewis Carroll’s surrealistic masterpiece Alice in Wonderland. Rather than simply rehashing the well-known story, Cunningham draws us into the imagination of a real-life Alice, whose observations of her own day-to-day life inform whimsical daydreams represented by musical interludes. On My Name is Pinocchio, Cunningham presents another tale with narrative and interludes, this time musically illustrating the classic tale of the puppet who became a real boy.

At the center of the album is Post Meridian, a jazzy, seven-movement ballet that whisks listeners away to a sweltering night in a 1930s Manhattan tenement district. Throughout each movement, a smooth saxophone captures the romantic struggles of late-night blazing heat, from residents seeking cooler air on fire escapes to the murmurings of sidewalk night owls to a full-blown skirmish with the police.

On the final track, The Triumph of Chopin, Cunningham introduces his own take on Chopin’s Fantasie in F minor, Op. 49 by expanding the master’s piece for solo piano into a fanciful work for wind harmonia. This arrangement further highlights Fantasie’s free-flowing form and Romantic expression, and retains the structure of a self-contained movement that creates an imaginative, dramatic progression.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 The Real Alice, Op. 265 Michael G. Cunningham Zagreb Festival Orchestra | Miran Vaupotić, conductor; Kellian Smith, the voice of Alice 29:35
02 My Name Is Pinocchio, Op. 255 Michael G. Cunningham Zagreb Festival Orchestra | Miran Vaupotić, conductor; Jake Ryan Flynn, the voice of Pinocchio 16:59
03 Post Meridian, Op. 19: I. Rara Avis I Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 2:06
04 Post Meridian, Op. 19: II. Fantasy Fugue Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 4:18
05 Post Meridian, Op. 19: III. Autumn Moan Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 2:13
06 Post Meridian, Op. 19: IV. Rara Avis II Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 0:59
07 Post Meridian, Op. 19: V. Vignette Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 1:49
08 Post Meridian, Op. 19: VI. Wild Ones Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 1:53
09 Post Meridian, Op. 19: VII. Rara Avis III Michael G. Cunningham Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Petr Vronský, conductor; Matthew C. Langley, alto saxophone 1:10
10 The Triumph of Chopin, Op. 242b (After Chopin's Op. 49) Michael G. Cunningham Zagreb Festival Orchestra Wind Ensemble | Ivan Josip Skender, conductor 12:51

THE REAL ALICE
Recorded November 30, 2018 at Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia
Session Producer Krešimir Seletković
Co-producer Bob Lord
Session Engineer Jan Košulič
Assistant Engineers Alen Križančić, Božidar Pandurić
Orchestra Director Ivana Hauser
Orchestra Manager Tin Matijević
Project Director Miran Vaupotić
Narration recorded July 8, 2019 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Producer & Engineer John Weston

MY NAME IS PINOCCHIO
Recorded December 3, 2018 at Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia
Session Producer Krešimir Seletković
Co-producer Bob Lord
Session Engineer Jan Košulič
Assistant Engineers Alen Križančić, Božidar Pandurić
Orchestra Director Ivana Hauser
Orchestra Manager Tin Matijević
Project Director Miran Vaupotić
Narration recorded July 8, 2019 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Producer & Engineer John Weston

POST MERIDIAN (A JAZZ BALLET)
Recorded September 10, 2018 at Reduta Hall in Olomouc, Czech Republic
Session Producer Vít Mužík
Co-Producer Bob Lord
Session Engineers Pavel Kunčar, Aleš Dvořák
Assistant Engineer Maroš Hlatký

THE TRIUMPH OF CHOPIN
Recorded March 17, 2019 at Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall in Zagreb, Croatia
Session Producer Krešimir Seletković
Session Engineer Pavel Kunčar
Orchestra Director Ivana Hauser
Orchestra Manager Tin Matijević
Project Director Miran Vaupotić

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Michael G. Cunningham

Composer

Michael G. Cunningham was born in Warren MI in 1937 and holds music degrees from Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University. After limited teaching appointments at four different universities, he remained Professor of Theory and Composition at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire from 1973 to 2006. Since 1958 Cunningham has created a large catalog of various types of music for all manner of performer combinations and situations.

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Zagreb Festival Orchestra

Orchestra

The Zagreb Festival Orchestra was founded in 1989, comprised of the top classical performers in Croatia and formed with the intent to record a single album. That intent was fulfilled with OVERTURES, a record of composer Gioachino Rossini’s greatest operatic works conducted by the acclaimed maestro Michael Halász, a resident conductor at the Vienna State Opera for 20 years, and produced by six-time GRAMMY Award winner Martin Sauer.

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Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra

Orchestra

The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the foremost and oldest symphony orchestras in the Czech Republic. It is based in the historical capital of Moravia, the city of Olomouc, and has been a leader of music activities in the region for the past 70 years. Its artistic development was directly influenced by distinguished figures from the Czech and international music scene.

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Notes

Alice in Wonderland is easily the most surrealistic and popular children’s story ever created.

— Michael G. Cunningham

This version of the timeless story has a boy-narrator who qualifies as a “Teller of Tall Tales.”

— Michael G. Cunningham

For many, Post Meridian means after dark, and it is true of this ballet. The action takes place in a tenement section of Manhattan in the l930s. It is a typical summer night, and it is hot. People are trying to sleep, sometimes even out on fire escapes. Through the city darkness a saxophonist can be heard wailing away, while different night-people can be seen moving about on the sidewalk. A few encounters are depicted, and even a skirmish with the police. Through it all, the distant saxophone can be heard as the night ensues.

— Michael G. Cunningham

Frederick Chopin may well be the 1800s’ greatest composer after Beethoven, when one considers his abstract note combinations. Though most of his music was created for the piano, his notated poetry and drama influenced many of his contemporaries and those who succeeded him, even though they may have used the much louder orchestra. His originality was pronounced and highly influential. Here his FANTASIE is transformed into a work for Wind Harmonia (band), and his status as a “Monarch” of Music is even more evident.

— Michael G. Cunningham