Share Album:

Release Date: May 22, 2020
Catalog #: NV6283
Format: Digital & Physical

Music to Hear

Joseph Summer composer

MUSIC TO HEAR, Joseph Summer’s follow up to WHO IS SYLVIA from Navona Records off his Shakespeare Concerts set, is the result of the composer’s lifelong obsession with poetry. The album pairs the works of contemporary poets as well as Shakespeare with Summer’s music in order to express deeper significance than either words or music are capable of on their own.

The first two tracks on the record—both for string quartet with a female vocalist—set sonnets by the eminent poet Robert Kelly. They blossomed out of Summer’s friendship with Kelly; in return for Kelly having written a poem about Summer’s music, Summer set the poet’s “Sonnet 4, for Lydia” for mezzo soprano and string quartet as well as “Spring Sonnet” for soprano and quartet. These contemporary verses are paired Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 8” which cries out “Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?” Later comes Boston composer Tom Schnauber’s world-premiere setting of Wordsworth’s “Scorn Not the Sonnet” for mezzo-soprano and piano.

After two more settings of Shakespeare, we hear composer Binna Kim give life to Lady Macbeth’s “Give Me Your Hand.” The piece for mezzo-soprano, cello, and piano is chillingly evocative, portraying Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness in the wake of the murders she helped perpetrate. Summer’s settings of Sonnets 97 & 98 follow, whose rich string textures are full of love and agonized longing. The work ends with Summer’s original “Epilogue to the Tempest,”—Andy Papas’s imposing baritone providing a satisfying finale to the album.

The marriage of music and poetry is both ancient and elemental. In his musical settings, Summer plums a region of the human soul rarely exposed in the bustle of daily life. In MUSIC TO HEAR, Summer invites listeners to claim this deeper humanity, just as Shakespeare did at the Globe Theatre some 400 years earlier.

This release features the award-winning Ulysses Quartet, in residence at the Juilliard School of Music.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
1 Sonnet 4 "For Lydia" Joseph Summer Vera Savage, mezzo-soprano; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 7:03
2 Spring Sonnet Joseph Summer Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 3:55
3 Sonnet 8 Joseph Summer Kathryn Guthrie,soprano; Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano; SangYoung Kim, piano 7:10
4 Sonnet 110 Joseph Summer Andy Papas, baritone; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 3:38
5 Sonnet 144 Joseph Summer Brianna Robinson, soprano; Vera Savage, mezzo-soprano; Omar Najmi, tenor; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 5:32
6 Sonnet 51 Joseph Summer Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; SangYoung Kim, piano 4:04
7 Scorn Not the Sonnet Thomas Schnauber Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; SangYoung Kim, piano 4:46
8 Cannikin Clink Thomas Schnauber Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; Hyun-ji Kwon, cello 3:44
9 Sisters Weird Thomas Schnauber Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Julia Cavallaro, mezzo-soprano; Ethan Bremner, tenor; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 7:27
10 A Wren Howard Frazin Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; Hyun-ji Kwon, cello 2:50
11 Give Me Your Hand Binna Kim Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; SangYoung Kim, piano; Hyun-ji Kwon, cello 9:47
12 Sonnets 97 & 98 Joseph Summer Brianna Robinson, soprano; Omar Najmi, tenor; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 9:40
13 Epilogue to the Tempest Joseph Summer Andy Papas, baritone; Ulysses Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello; Miroslav Sekera, piano 5:45

Sonnet 4 "For Lydia"
Text by Robert Kelly

Spring Sonnet
Text by Robert Kelly

Sonnet 8
Text by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 110
Text by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 144
Text by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 51
Text by William Shakespeare

Scorn not the Sonnet
Text by William Wordsworth

Cannikin Clink
Text by William Shakespeare; from Othello (II, 3)

Sisters Weird
Text by William Shakespeare; from Macbeth (IV, 1)

A Wren
Text by Denise Levertov

Give Me Your Hand
Text by William Shakespeare; from Macbeth (IV, 1)

Sonnets 97 & 98
Text by William Shakespeare

Epilogue to the Tempest
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Tempest

All Tracks recorded September 30, 2015, April 29-30, 2018, April 8-9 and October 1, 2019 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester MA

Producer Joseph Summer
Recording Engineer Joseph Chilorio

Music Directors:
Brett Hodgdon (1, 5, 12)
Tim Ribchester (2, 4, 6-11, 13)
Joseph Summer (4)

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

Joseph Summer


Joseph Summer began playing French horn at the age of 7. While attending the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina at age 14 he studied composition with the eminent Czech composer Karel Husa. At age 15 he was accepted at Oberlin Conservatory, studied with Richard Hoffmann, Schönberg’s amanuensis, and graduated with a B.M. in Music Composition in 1976. Recruited by Robert Page, Dean of the Music Department at Carnegie Mellon University, Summer taught music theory at CMU before leaving to pursue composition full time.

Rhiannon Banerdt


Violinist Rhiannon Banerdt made her solo debut at age 14 with the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has since made solo and chamber music appearances at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, New York's Weill Hall at Carnegie, and Boston's Jordan Hall, among others, with performances hailed by Edith Eisler of Strings Magazine as “real music-making–concentrated and deeply felt.”

Banerdt is a founding member of the Ulysses String Quartet, winners of the First Prize at the 2018 Schoenfeld International Chamber Music Competition, Grand Prize at the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the 2017 American Prize Chamber Ensemble, and Silver Medal at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Beginning September 2019, Ulysses has been named the Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School.

A recipient of the 2012 Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award, Banerdt was invited to perform with the quartet in Jordan Hall. Other collaborations have included performances with the Chiara Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, Paul Biss, and Frans Helmerson. Banerdt has participated in numerous eminent chamber music festivals including La Jolla Summerfest, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Taos School of Music, and the Castleman Quartet Program.

Banerdt holds the position of Assistant Concertmaster with the Cape Symphony. She was one of two Violin Fellowships for the 2013-2015 seasons with the flagship music education organization Community MusicWorks in Providence RI, where she taught individual lessons and group classes for disadvantaged youth and performed regularly with the Fellowship Quartet and Community MusicWorks Players. Banerdt is currently a member of the violin faculty at the Bloomingdale School of Music on New York City’s Upper West Side and a Graduate Teaching Fellow at CUNY's School of Professional Studies.

A native of Los Angeles, Banerdt attended the New England Conservatory, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors as a student of Lucy Chapman and Paul Biss, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the CUNY Graduate Center studying with Mark Steinberg.

Christina Bouey


Canadian violinist, Christina Bouey, is hailed by the New York Times for playing “beautifully,” by the New York Post, “When violinist Christina Bouey spun out that shimmering tune, I thought I died and went to heaven,” and by Opera News, for playing “with exquisite, quivering beauty.”

Among her awards and prizes include the 1st Prize at the Schoenfeld International Competition in the chamber division, Grand Prize at the Fischoff Competition, Osaka International Chamber Competition, American Prize, Hugo Kortchak Award for outstanding achievement in chamber music, Heida Hermann International, Canadian National Music Festival, Queens Concerto Competition, and the Balsam Duo Competition.

Bouey has performed as soloist with the Greenwich Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Salina Symphony, River Cities Symphony, Tonkünstler Ensemble, Symphony of the Mountains, Metro Chamber Orchestra, Bergen Symphony, Prince Edward Island Symphony, Banff Orchestra, Shattered Glass and the Hemenway Strings. Her solo and chamber credits include Carnegie Hall, Esterházy Palace, Yamaha Center Auditorium, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Schneider Series, Rockefeller Tri Noon Series, Dame Myra Hess series, La Jolla SummerFest, Kneisel Hall Festival, Emilia Romagna Festival, Harvard Club of New York, Montreal Chamber Festival, Debut Atlantic, Kansas International Music Festival, L'Archet Concert Group, and the Indian River Festival. She has also been featured on WQXR New York.

Bouey has collaborated with artists such as David Chan, Jeremy Denk, Paul Coletti, Lynn Chang, Robert DeMaine, Steven Doane, Rosemary Elliott, David Geber, Clive Greensmith, Toby Hoffman, Chee-Yun Kim, Yura Lee, Cho-Liang Lin, and Bright Sheng.

Bouey graduated from Manhattan School of Music in 2013 with a Professional Studies Certificate in Orchestral Performance, studying with Glenn Dicterow and Lisa Kim as a full scholarship student, (2012) with a Professional Studies Certificate, studying with Laurie Smukler, and in 2011 she received a Master of Music, while studying with Nicholas Mann. Her Bachelor of Music (magna cum laude) is from The Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Irina Muresanu as a full-scholarship student.

In June 2014, as part of the 150 year celebrations on PEI, professional dancers from Ballet Jazz de Montreal performed a modern dance to her first compositional commission for solo violin, with Bouey playing it on the violin. Bouey is currently serving as concertmaster of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, is a member/founder of the Ulysses String Quartet, and plays in a duo with pianist Tatiana Tessman. She plays an 1820 Pressenda on generous loan from the Canada Council Instrument Bank.

Ethan Bremner


Since his arrival in Boston, Ethan Bremner has become one of the city’s most sought-after tenors. He made his local debut with Boston Opera Collaborative in 2006 as Achilles in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Aulide, and then sang with the company as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème.

He also had an auspicious debut as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir D’amore, Don Jose in Carmen, and Lt. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly with Longwood Opera. He performed the premier performance of Odyssey Opera of Boston as Baroncelli in Wagner’s Rienzi, Sir Robert Shallow in Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera, and Manrico in Windham Orchestra's Production of Il Trovatore. Bremner was a Finalist in the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (New England Region) and earned his Master of Music in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin.

Thea Lobo


Hailed as "excellent", "impeccable", "limpidly beautiful", "impressive", "stunning", and "Boston's best", Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo's recent appearances include concerts with The Peregrine Consort, The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, The Spectrum Singers, Great Music in a Great Space Series, MassOpera, USF New Music Festival, True Concord, The Sarasota-Manatee Bach Festival, Classical Revolution St. Petersburg, EnsembleNewSrq, and many more.

Lobo has performed under conductors Gunther Schuller, Harry Christophers, Stephen Stubbs, Joshua Rifkin, Martin Pearlman, and Andris Nelsons, and has been featured by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Firebird Ensemble, Boston Baroque, Naples Philharmonic, Handel + Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Artist Series of Sarasota, and Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart. Her dedication to new music, art song, and early music has seen her featured on True Concord's 2016 GRAMMY-winning recording of Stephen Paulus's Prayers & Remembrances, invited to the Carmel Bach Festival as an Adams Fellow, and become a prizewinner at the Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers and a grant recipient of the Julian Autrey Song Foundation. She has won the St. Botolph Club Emerging Artist Award, premiere-recorded new roles with Guerilla Opera, created the duo “Songeaters” and initiative “Indictus Project” with pianist Eunmi Ko, and performed as a soloist under the direction of composers Steve Reich, Vinko Globokar, Fred Lerdahl, Nicholas Vines, Christian Wolff, and Louis Andriessen. Lobo is a graduate of New England Conservatory and Boston University, and represented by Vocal Artists Management.

Colin Brookes


Praised as a “master of the strong lines”, concert violist Colin Brookes is a native of Pittsburgh PA, where he made his solo debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony at the age of 17. A founding member of the award-winning Ulysses Quartet, Brookes has taught in the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School, and the undergraduate programs of Yale University and SUNY Stony Brook.

As a freelance musician, Brookes performs with The Knights, A Far Cry, and many others. Festival appearances include Geneva Music Festival, Kneisel Hall, Manchester Summer Chamber Music, and Tanglewood. In June 2013 he gave a solo recital with pianist Euntaek Kim for the St. Gaudens Concert Series in Cornish NH.

Brookes holds a Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School and a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from Yale University. His mentors include Ettore Causa, Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, Marylene Gingras-Roy, Roger Chase, Jeffrey Irvine, and Carolyn Hills. He currently plays a 19th-century Italian viola and modern bow, generously on loan from the Maestro Foundation.

Julia Soojin Cavallaro


Julia Soojin Cavallaro, mezzo-soprano, enjoys a richly varied career in opera, oratorio, recital, and chamber music. Critics have praised her “round, chocolaty tone” (Boston Classical Review) and her “warm mezzo, perfect diction, and easy phrasing” (New York Classical Review).

Her rendition of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben with Boston Opera Collaborative was selected by Boston Classical Review as one of its “Top Ten Performances of 2017.”

Born and raised in the Boston area, Cavallaro grew up in an Italian/Korean American household filled with music and art. A graduate of Harvard College and Boston University, she has since gone on to sing with many of the leading ensembles in New England, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, and New Camerata Opera in New York City. Her opera roles include Cupid in John Blow’s Venus & Adonis, the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas, and Madame de Volanges in Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons. Frequently heard as an oratorio soloist, her recent concert highlights include Bach’s Magnificat, Mass in B minor, and Christmas Oratorio; Handel’s Messiah; and Mozart’s Requiem and Vespers.

Cavallaro is an active chamber musician and recitalist, and is particularly passionate about early music, art song, and contemporary repertoire. She collaborates frequently with composer and pianist Rodney Lister, with whom she has performed works by Babbitt, Brahms, Fauré, Finzi, Lister, Poulenc, and others. In addition to her career as a vocalist, Cavallaro composes for voice, piano, and chamber ensemble, having studied with John McDonald at Tufts University. Her music has been premiered in the United States and Canada. She currently resides in New Haven CT, where she is a member of the professional choir of Christ Church.

Andrea Chenoweth


Andrea Chenoweth, soprano, is a two-time regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. She has appeared with orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States, including regular appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Opera, and Dayton Opera.

Career highlights include her Carnegie Hall debut singing Verdi’s Requiem and touring Japan with Maestro Neal Gittleman and the Telemann Chamber Orchestra. She has sung numerous operatic roles, including Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Atalanta in Handel's Xerxes, the First Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Kitty Hart in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and the Foreign Woman in Menotti’s The Consul. Chenoweth concertizes frequently and is is a frequent soloist with The Shakespeare Concerts. A proponent of new music, Chenoweth has worked with many living composers including Joseph Summer, Libby Larsen, Jack Perla, Jonathon Sheffer, and Monica Houghton. Chenoweth earned her Doctorate in Music at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, her Masters of Music degree in Voice from The Cleveland Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Dayton. Her teachers include Kenneth Shaw, Ruth Golden, George Vassos, Ellen Shade, and Linda Snyder. Chenoweth is an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Dayton, where she teaches voice, aural skills, opera, and a course of her own design: Music and Faith on Stage.

Howard Frazin


The Dallas Morning News praised composer Howard Frazin’s piano trio as “genuinely touching,” and the Boston Globe described his ISAAC oratorio as “clear in design and Brittenesque in texture [with an] almost unbearable poignancy.”

His music has been performed worldwide, including festivals at Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Rockport, Monadnock, Bowdoin, Kneisel Hall, and Yellow Barn. Commissions include Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Triple Helix, A Far Cry, Claremont Trio, Boston Classical Orchestra, Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms Society Orchestra, Fromm Foundation, Lorelei Ensemble, PALS, World-wide Concurrent Premieres, and Andover Chamber Players. Recent premieres include a viola concerto commissioned by the Bach, Beethoven, & Brahms Society Orchestra that featured Kim Kashkashian, a string quartet for Arneis Quartet, and an extended song cycle in collaboration with former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall presented as part of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop’s 90th Anniversary. Frazin is co-founder and artistic director of WordSong, directs the chamber music program at Roxbury Latin, and has taught composition at the New England Conservatory and the Longy School of Music. His music has been recorded on MSR Classics and Ravello Records and is published by Editions Peters.

Robert Kelly


Poet Robert Kelly, raised on the south shore of Long Island, has been studying language all his life, which led him into writing. He has been teaching at Bard College since 1961, the year his first book, Armed Descent, was published.

Since then, he has published at least 80 more, mostly in poetry and a dozen or so in fiction and essays. His most recent books of poetry  are Fire Exit, Uncertainties, The Hexagon, Heart Thread, Calls, The Caprices, and Seaspel. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife, French translator Charlotte Mandell who edits Metambesen, the extensive series of online chapbooks of art and text. They delight in music, which they consider the other angelic form of translation whereby the nakedness of the text is revealed by the garments of melody. Kelly’s poems have been set by Elie Yarden, Meyer Kupferman, Mark Buller, Sue Jacobs Feingold, Bruce Wolosoff, Nicholas Maw, and others, and now Joseph Summer, who has so richly found a woman’s voice in these sonnets.

Binna Kim


Binna Kim is a composer from Seoul, Korea. Her inspirations come from various forms of art. Recently, she has been influenced immensely by installation art from artists such as Lee Ufan, Sarah Sze, and Doris Salcedo.

Her work has been commissioned and performed in the United States, Korea, and Europe by various ensembles, including the New Fromm Players, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, Governor's School of North Carolina Orchestra, Flux Quartet, MOKO Musik, LoadBang, and Ensemble Court-Circuit.

Kim has attended summer music programs and festivals such as the Tanglewood Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, June in Buffalo, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. She has also participated in master classes with Steven Stucky, George Tsontakis, John Corigliano, John Harbison, Stephen Hartke, and Michael Finnissy.

Kim is currently pursuing her D.M.A. at the New England Conservatory, studying with Michael Gandolfi. She received her bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University and her master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with Leonardo Balada.

Kathryn Guthrie


Kathryn Guthrie is praised for her sharp-witted interpretations of contemporary classical and music theater works. After debuting at New York City Opera as Marie in folk-pop star Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna, Guthrie has traveled the world promoting the opera and appears on the cast recording of the opera with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

A champion of new music, Guthrie enjoyed other performances with New York City Opera including the VOX concert series and Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland as the Cheshire Cat. She appears on several recordings with The Shakespeare Concerts and Navona Records, about which American Record Guide said Guthrie’s “singing was radiant” and her performances “are the high points of this program.”

Guthrie has traveled the country singing musical theater with Todd Ellison, music supervisor for Broadway’s An American in Paris, including appearances with both the Philly Pops and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Guthrie was a winner of Astral Artists’ 2012 National Auditions, was a member of Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artists Program, and holds a Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory, where she received the Phyllis Bryn-Julson Award for Contemporary Music, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Connecticut. Recently, Guthrie joined The Shakespeare Concerts administration as artistic advisor.

Grace Ho


Taiwanese-American cellist Grace Ho is an active cello soloist and chamber musician in the United States and Asia. Ho has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Evergreen Symphony Orchestra, Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra, Sun Taipei Philharmonic, Vienna Ensemble, Lewisville Lake Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas Wesleyan Orchestra, and University of North Texas Chamber Orchestra.

Ho has achieved numerous awards including First Prize in the Manhattan School of Music Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition, winner in the University of North Texas Concerto Competition, and Silver Medal in the Crescendo Music Awards. Ho has performed in prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, and Zankel Hall, Meyerson Symphony Center, Taiwan National Concert and Recital Halls, and the Opera Houses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as the soloist in the 2018 Toyota Tour in Vietnam.

Ho is a founding member of the Ulysses Quartet, the Principal Cellist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, and a board member of the International Chamber Players.

Ho has participated in numerous festivals include Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, ENCORE School for Strings, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Manchester Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, International Festival Institute at Round Top, and Teaching Assistant at Manhattan in the Mountains in 2013.

Ho received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music, her Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas with full scholarships, and graduated with the Pablo Casals Award from her master’s degree. Former teachers include David Geber, Clive Greensmith, Eugene Osadchy, Chao-Fu Lin, Shih-San Lin, Tze-Ming Chen, and Shih-Hui Ho.

Brett Hodgdon

Music Director

Brett Hodgdon is a pianist, vocal coach, and conductor living in Boston MA. As a chamber musician and vocal collaborator, Hodgdon has performed for audiences at Merkin Concert Hall, Symphony Space, Jordan Hall, the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Aspen Music Festival.

He is a frequent performer in the Emmanuel Music Chamber Series in Boston.

An alumnus of the first class of Boston Lyric Opera Emerging Artists, Hodgdon has served on the company’s music staff since 2011, where he has played for over 20 productions and can be heard on the BIS label as piano soloist in BLO’s acclaimed 2013 production of Clemency/Hagar’s Lament.  Hodgdon was appointed Chorus Master for the company in 2018.

In addition to his work at BLO, Hodgdon has been a regular rehearsal pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 2008, having rehearsed and coached programs for BSO music director Andris Nelsons as well as many guest conductors. He has maintained frequent collaborations with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Chorus, both as pianist and rehearsal conductor.

Hodgdon has served on the opera faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Connecticut. He spends his summers on the coaching faculty of Si Parla, Si Canta in Arona, Italy, where he made his international conducting debut with the Orchestra Sinfonica Carlo Coccia di Novara in 2019.

He received a D.M.A. in Collaborative Piano from New England Conservatory, as well as a M.M. in Accompanying and Chamber Music and a B.M. in Piano Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Brett Hodgdon appears by permission of Boston Lyric Opera.

Ryu-Kyung Kim


Praised for her superb technique, innate musicality and powerful stage presence, Korean-American mezzo-soprano Ryu-Kyung Kim performs a wide range of music from Handel to Schöberg and has so far appeared in nine premier operas.

She has highlighted her recent seasons in the title role as Queen Lili'uokalani in Little Opera Theater of NY’s Better Gods, as featured artist in the Korea Now concert in Cairo, Egypt, in The Shakespeare Concert at Jordan Hall and Jewett Arts Center, and as Alto Solo in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky with Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Kim’s stage successes include her portrait of the role of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, the title role in La Cenerentola, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen in Carmen, Malika in Lakmé, Idamante in Idomeneo, Adalgisa in Norma, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Emilia in Otello, and Carilda in Handel’s Arianna in Creta with Santa Fe Opera, Baltimore Opera, Cleveland Opera, Dayton Opera, El Paso Opera, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Beheme Opera New Jersey, Opera Orchestra of New York, Virginia Opera, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Caramoor Music Festival. As a demanded concert artist, Kim has appeared in numerous concerts in Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall and in both Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and collaborated with internationally claimed orchestras such as Korean Symphony Orchestra and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in Korea, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra in Japan, and Staatskapelle Halle and Frankfurter Sinfoniker in Germany. Kim earned her D.M.A. in Voice from State University of New York at Stony Brook and received her Artist’s Diploma in Opera from the Academy of Vocal Arts. She also received both M.M. and B.M. in Voice from Manhattan School of Music. She has been on the Voice faculty at the University of Dayton since 2013.

Omar Najmi


Praised for his “luxuriously Italianate voice” and “soaring upper register,” tenor Omar Najmi’s career has spanned a diverse repertoire of operatic and concert works. Najmi performs regularly with the Boston Lyric Opera, where his roles have included Beppe in I Pagliacci, Flavio in Norma, Nick in The Handmaid’s Tale, Vanya Kudrjas in Katya Kabanova, Reverend Harrington in Lizzie Borden, and the title role in the workshop of Joseph Summer’s Hamlet.

In the 2016/2017 season Najmi completed a residency with Opera Colorado in which he had his role debut as Edgardo in the Lucia di Lamermoor Student Matinee. Najmi has spent several summers with San Diego’s Opera NEO, performing the roles of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Arbace in Idomeneo, and Camille de Rossillon in The Merry Widow. Najmi has additionally worked with Chautauqua Opera, Annapolis Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera North, Odyssey Opera, Opera Fayetteville, and the American Lyric Theater.

Najmi made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2018 as the tenor soloist in Mark Hayes’ Gloria. Najmi has subsequently appeared there as the tenor soloist in Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living, and as a prizewinner in the Talents of the World Annual Voice Competition. Other concert appearances have included Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Helena Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with the Savannah Philharmonic, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the Greenwich Choral Society, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Marywood University, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with Phoenix Ensemble, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with Phillips Academy, and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline. Najmi has joined the touring concert Video Games Live as a guest soloist several times, including performances with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Also active as a composer, Najmi recently premiered his first original opera, En la ardiente oscuridadOmar Najmi appears by permission of Boston Lyric Opera.

Hyun-Ji Kwon


Hyun-Ji Kwon, cellist, currently maintains an active schedule as soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea, and was the winner of the top prize at the Seoul Symphony Orchestra Competition and the third prize at the Seoul Youth Chamber Music Competition.

She was the principal cellist for the Ewha orchestra and performed as a soloist with the orchestra for two consecutive years. She came to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory, where she earned a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance as well as a Graduate Diploma, after which she completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree program in Cello Performance at Boston University’s School of Music, in the studio of Rhonda Rider. Her other teachers have included Natasha Brofsky, Il-hwan Bai, and Sungwon Yang. She has performed in master classes for renowned cellists such as Natalia Gutman and Anner Bylsma, and she has participated in numerous music festivals and concerts in both Korea and North America. During her studies at BU, Kwon was selected numerous times to perform in joint Faculty/DMA candidate “Chamber Music Masterworks” concerts, and she was awarded special String Department Honors upon graduation as well as membership in the national honorary society Pi Kappa Lambda. She has performed as guest alumna along with the celebrated Muir Quartet and violist Michelle LaCourse at BU’s Tsai Center, with the Convergence Ensemble, and in several other Boston area ensembles.

She joined the BU School of Music cello faculty in 2015 and Phillips Exeter Academy in 2019. During summer, she serves on the faculty of Boston University Tanglewood Institute as Co-Director of the cello workshop program and cello instructor of the Young Artists Orchestra program.

Tim Ribchester

Music Director

Acclaimed for his “passionate commitment to the composer and score…” “elegant sense of shape…” “perfected technique [and] a personal aesthetic vision,” Tim Ribchester is expanding an international presence as an inspiring, versatile musical leader, particularly in the fields of baroque interpretation and composer collaboration.

At the Trentino Music Festival, Italy Ribchester has conducted all of the baroque operatic and concert repertoire for the past five seasons, including fully staged productions of Rinaldo, Alcina, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Dido and Aeneas. In the Boston area he has collaborated regularly in concert and recording with composers Joseph Summer and Mary Bichner. Recent engagements include debuts with the Bacau Philharmonic in Romania and the Vidin Sinfonietta in Bulgaria, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann in Berlin, cover conducting Das Rheingold and Eugene Onegin at North Carolina Opera, and a recurring residency as Coach/Conductor in Residence at Cape Town Opera in South Africa.

Ribchester trained at Oxford University, the Royal College of Music, London, La School Cantorum, Paris, and the Advanced Conducting Academy in Bacau, Romania, in addition to conducting apprenticeships as assistant to Christofer Macatsoris and Christopher Larkin. Formerly repetiteur and assistant conductor at the Academy of Vocal Arts and Opera Philadelphia, and Music Director of the Delaware County Symphony PA, Ribchester is currently based in Berlin where he appears as keyboardist with Neues Barockorchester Berlin, Opus XX Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic’s Children’s Concert program, as well as maintaining a vocal coaching studio. Following intensive studies of tango performance practice in Buenos Aires he has led and collaborated on tango ensemble projects with the genre’s leading musicians on three continents. He is featured in Park Chan-Wook’s critically acclaimed 2016 feature film The Handmaiden, and in a duo with Cassia Harvey on the album The Russian Cello.

Vera Savage


American mezzo-soprano Vera Savage has earned praise from critics for her “thrilling power” and “rich, mellifluous, mezzo voice.” Savage’s singing has been described as “a dream; supple and powerful with a deep velvet shimmer” and “heart-stoppingly gorgeous.”

Savage’s past season included a “cold and gleaming” (Opera News) portrayal of handmaid New Ofglen in Boston Lyric Opera’s highly acclaimed production of The Handmaid’s Tale, Salieri’s Requiem and the Kuhnau Magnificat with the Commonwealth Chorale, Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony and Arias and Barcarolles with the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, and the Verdi Requiem with the Metropolitan Chorale.

Savage recently made her debut at the Spoleto Festival USA as Bice in Donizetti’s rarely performed opera Pia de’ Tolomei, a revival of Amy Beach’s Grand Mass with the New England Philharmonic and Commonwealth Chorale, Mercédès in Bizet’s Carmen with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Meg Page in Verdi’s Falstaff with Opera Saratoga and Opera on the James, Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Tisbe in La Cenerentola at Opera Saratoga, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito at Opera in the Heights, and a “thoroughly intimidating” Mrs. Baines in Elmer Gantry with Florentine Opera in Milwaukee WI.

Highlights of Savage’s upcoming season includes engagements with White Snake Projects, Commonwealth Chorale, Boston Lyric Opera, and the Shakespeare Projects. Please visit for more details.

Brianna J. Robinson


Soprano Brianna J. Robinson is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University with degrees in Vocal Music Performance and Black World Studies. She received her master’s degree in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in May of 2018.

Currently in her second year as an Emerging Artist with the Boston Lyric Opera, Robinson made her debut as Lucy in Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers in November of 2019. In a previous season, she covered Ofgen, Moira, and Jenine in the East Coast premiere of Paul Roders’ The Handmaid’s Tale. She served as a Rising Artist with Pegasus Early Opera in the summer of 2017, singing the role of Witch #1 in Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. At the Eastman School of Music, she was involved in the production of Massenet’s Cendrillon and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea. Robinson’s Eastman Opera Theater debut as the Empress Ottavia in Monteverdi's L'incoronatione di Poppea was praised by the Rochester City Newspaper as "a true force." She was involved in the Baroque performance ensemble, Collegium Musicum, singing the title role in Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina. Her most recent project with Shelter Music Boston, singing the role of Florence Price in “Florence Comes Home” by Francine Trester, was praised by the Boston Musical Intelligencer and the Boston Classical Review.

Her recent concert engagements include the Brahm's Requiem alongside the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Bach’s Ascension Oratorio and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem with the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Buffalo. Along with her work in America, Robinson has also participated in international programs such as the Berlin Opera Academy and Opernfest Prague.

Ulysses String Quartet


The Ulysses String Quartet has been praised for their “textural versatility,” “grave beauty,” and “gentle blanket of colour,” (The Strad) as well as “avid enthusiasm ... [with] chops to back up their passion” and a “vibrant sonority” (San Diego Story).

Founded in the summer of 2015, the group won first prize in the 2018 Schoenfeld International String Competition and the grand prize and gold medal in the senior string division of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Ulysses also finished first in the American Prize and won second prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017. The quartet garnered a career development grant in the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition and were winners of the Vietnam International Music Competition this past August.

Consisting of Christina Bouey and Rhiannon Banerdt on violin, Colin Brookes on viola, and Grace Ho on cello, the Ulysses Quartet were appointed the Graduate Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School in 2019.

Hailing from Canada, the United States, and Taiwan, the Ulysses String Quartet has performed in such prestigious halls such as the Harbin Grand Theatre, Carnegie Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall. Performance highlights have included appearances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Bargemusic, and Premiere Performances Hong Kong, debuts at Jordan Hall and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and the Vietnam Connection Festival. As a special project, the group will record the quartets of composer Joseph Summer at Mechanics Hall in Worcester MA over the next several years.

The members of Ulysses hold degrees from the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, and Yale University. The musicians perform on instruments and bows graciously on loan from the Canada Council of the Arts Instrument Bank and the Maestro Foundation.

Miroslav Sekera


Miroslav Sekera: In 2002 he won the International Brahms Competition in Portschach, Austria. He has already won awards in many major competitions in the Czech Republic and abroad, including: the F. Chopin competition in Mariánské Lázně, the competition organized by HAMU (YAMAHA scholarship), the international competition in Gaillard, France.

He has been playing the piano since he was three, when his outstanding talent was discovered by Professor Zdena Janžurová, an outstanding pedagogue. He began studying the violin at the same time as the piano. Thanks to the art of playing the piano and at the same time the violin, he was chosen to play the role of little Mozart in the Oscar-winning film Amadeus directed by Miloš Forman. He continued to play both instruments until he was admitted to the Prague Conservatory, where he decided to study the piano. He was admitted to the class of Professor Eva Boguni.

During his studies he also attended the class of Professor Martin Ballý. He continued at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under the lecturer Miroslav Langer. He completed his studies in 1999 as the most successful student.

In 2006 he was released a solo CD by Multisonic with the support of the Foundation of the Czech Music Fund with works by J.Brahms, D. Scarlatti, M. Moszkovsky. For the contemporary Boston composer Joseph Summer, he recorded three CDs in the US, released by Albany Records and Navona Records. In 2013 he recorded a CD for Supraphon with violinist Josef Špaček. He regularly cooperates with Czech Radio. For the second time he performed as a soloist with the FOK Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Jiří Kout. She regularly cooperates with mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková or hornist Radek Baborák.

Tom Schnauber


German-American composer Tom Schnauber is co-founder of the Boston-based arts organization WordSong, and a former co-president of Composers in Red Sneakers, Boston.  He holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Music Theory from the University of Michigan.

He has also studied French horn performance, ethnomusicology, conducting, and did a small stint in Hollywood scoring films.

A versatile composer, Schnauber enjoys writing for a variety of ensembles, including unaccompanied instruments, chamber ensembles, solo voice and vocal ensembles, string orchestra, and symphony orchestra. He has also written three regularly-performed children’s musicals and one irregularly-performed comic chamber opera, as well as incidental music for numerous theatrical productions.

His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe by ensembles such as the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, the Columbia Orchestra, the Freon Ensemble, and the Ulysses String Quartet.  He has received commissions from, among others, the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Cambridge Madrigal Singers, the Falls Church Chamber Orchestra, and the Shakespeare Concerts.  In 2017, an album of his music for strings entitled Death and Waltzes, performed by the Russian String Orchestra, was released on the Quartz label. For more information, please visit:


Ever since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed by poetry. One of my first poems, written when I was 7 and titled “Beauty Can Be Destructive,” was placed in a frame by my elementary school principal, Dr. Hedwig Pregler. I remember sitting in her office once, next to her, as the parents of two boys with whom I’d come to blows complained about my “brutal” behavior. As Dr. Pregler extolled my character I looked up at my poem, hanging behind the boys’ parents, and understood that my actions would be seen in their proper context. I would attend poetry readings by renowned poets before I was a teenager. One of my heroes was Yevgeny Yevtushenko. When Miss Avalon, the library teacher at Colfax Elementary School in Pittsburgh, informed us we must choose a poem to read in class, I was delighted, and read “Irreconcilable,” by the popular Russian poet. Miss Avalon, who had recently been crowned Miss McKeesport, was aghast at my selection. One of my classmates, Maida, proclaimed that I was a communist, a sentiment Miss Avalon supported; but the Queen of McKeesport didn’t dare send me to the principal, as she knew Dr. Pregler would not take kindly to any teacher questioning my moral compass. I had the pleasure of acquiring Yevtushenko’s signature on the poetry collection from which I read in class not too long after my recitation, when he came to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall to do a reading in front of a packed house. Different era, the 1960’s.

As years passed, my interest in poetry never waned. When my wife, Lisa, and I lived in Philadelphia we were habitués of the Bucks County Community College Poetry forums. That might sound a rather unlikely venue for great poetry, but the master of ceremonies, the late Louis Camp, populated the BC³ forum with poets of great talent and prestige. Following the readings, the ringleader Louis Camp would insist we join in for the after party, which would consist of lively arguments, outrageous drunken revelry, and frequent fisticuffs. On one occasion I had to separate a poet from an enraged assailant. The poet, who must remain nameless, had insulted his assailant’s girlfriend, and was making unwanted advances on her at the same time. The “girlfriend,” incidentally, was an attorney, her boyfriend was a biker with gang affiliation, and the poet had the nickname of “Bunny.” It’s always difficult to relate the entire story while keeping it clear that Bunny was the poet’s nickname, and that I was intent on keeping the biker from being harmed by Bunny’s tendency to lash out with dangerous result, entirely without warning, especially when he was, as he was frequently, stonkered.

All that precedes is preamble to an explanation about my friendship with Robert Kelly, the eminent poet, who provides the first two sonnets of this collection. After Lisa and I found ourselves in the Boston area, we frequented the poetry readings sponsored by our friend, John Wronoski, at his establishment in Cambridge: the Pierre Menard Art Gallery. John introduced me to Robert Kelly at one of the readings; and later, Kelly would introduce me to a young string quartet, studying at Bard College, where the poet had been ensconced for five decades. The quartet would premiere my string quartet “The Garden of Forking Paths,” at the Pierre Menard, just a few weeks before the gallery shut its doors forever. Kelly spoke with admiration for my music, and startled me with a poem about my music; which prompted me to return his compliment the best way I could, through a musical setting of Sonnet 4, for Lydia, for mezzo-soprano and string quartet; followed close on with a setting of Spring Sonnet for soprano and quartet.

Following the pair of Kelly sonnets are four of my settings of Shakespeare.

When composing the music to Sonnet 8 (Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?), I envisioned a couple at a concert. The young man cannot enjoy the music as he is distracted by the question of marriage and its attendant responsibilities. If you will follow me here, I imagined that the soprano and mezzo are singing a different text than that which he (and you, the audience) hear. Perhaps the ladies are singing something in French that our young man cannot comprehend, “Dôme épais le jasmine A la rose s’assemble.” It’s all Greek to him, and maybe there are subtitles, a clumsy translation, and he sees the word “harmony,” but he can’t pay attention to the real meaning. He glances at his girlfriend who seems serenely present, at one with the music; and as he focuses again on the singers he invents in his mind a text, videlicet: Shakespeare’s thesis promoting marriage and most importantly, the goal of the union: a child.

Each sonnet I set, whether  Sonnet 110 or Sonnet 144  or Sonnet 51 is a specific reflection on my life. I don’t believe in setting to music any poem that doesn’t have significant personal meaning to me. But that personal meaning doesn’t need to impinge upon the listener’s experience. I’ve said too many times, as an example, that I might have decided to depict the color red with a particular passage of music, but the percipient might hear that as the smell of coffee. It’s not my business to restrict the audience’s interpretation, imagination. My real life inspiration should – if I’ve done my job – create the verisimilitude prerequisite for your own truth. Sonnet 110 is a lament about my beloved late uncle, Bernie; but that is not what Shakespeare was thinking of when he wrote the poem; nor should it be what the listener ponders. As I noted previously, in my Sonnet 8 setting, I created an imaginary audience member who had no knowledge of even the words of the sonnet.

Boston based Composer Tom Schnauber, when I approached him about a sonnet project, decided he wanted to move up one level, from a sonnet about something, to a sonnet about sonnets. Scorn Not the Sonnet is a William Wordsworth (first prize for best name for a poet) sonnet defending the form from animadversion; though was this frowning critic’s criticism worth Wordsworth’s criticism? It’s dubious; as the sonnet was riding high after a period of disinterest when Wordsworth penned this name-dropping defense. Succeeding Schnauber’s sonnet are two Shakespearean excerpts, Cannikin Clink, a drinking song from Othello, and Sisters Weird, a quite well-known scene from Macbeth. Howard Frazin, another Boston based composer, presents Denise Levertov’s poem A Wren, for a mezzo-soprano and cello.

Binna Kim, (yet another Boston based composer) uses a cello and piano to illuminate the wildly changing cogitations of the mercurial Lady MacBeth in Give Me Your Hand. Kim presents the text to the famous scene in a disjointed fashion. Her program notes clarify the disordered nature of her setting. She writes, “give me your hand is written for mezzo soprano, cello, and piano. The text is from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, specifically from Act 5 Scene 1, famously known as Lady Macbeth’s sleep walking scene. The scene starts with Lady Macbeth perceiving spots on her hand and her attempts to wash it off. Her words recall fragments from the murders of Duncan, Banquo, and Lady Macduff by Macbeth and herself. Her speech has become fragmented and broken by an enormous emotional pressure, which shows Lady Macbeth’s fraying mental state. Throughout the scene, we are given snippets of what is tormenting her, it reveals a psyche that is saturated with a myriad of emotions- anger, austerity, sadness, and remorse.  It shows the vulnerable image of her that is not revealed in her wake state. This piece is weaved together by two main musical motives, which includes a lullaby theme and a clock chiming sound- those two musical elements interplay with one another in various ways to reflect Lady Macbeth’s inner conflict. These two musical motives follow her emotions and gets fragmented, distorted and intertwined together as her words and mind frantically jumps from different states.”

As I write these program notes, my wife, Lisa, is preparing to travel to Boston for the day. That’s a little over forty miles from our home in Worcester. We’ve been married a little over forty years now (since 1978) and I miss her when she leaves for a day. I’m aware that that is pathetic. Lisa travels around the world, lecturing about her specialty in the field of Music Therapy; which has led to long absences from me; though I’ve maintained a two week rule, which means that as I can’t accept any separation longer than two weeks. I often fly to her when she nears the forbidden time boundary. My pairing of Sonnets 97 & 98 is about the enormously overwrought anxiety I must endure when Lisa is away. The compositional objective was to set the first sonnet of the pair, the 97th, with as much cloying pathos as the listener could tolerate, and then to place the second sonnet, the 98th, in which is enunciated a more reasonable attitude towards separation, over the first, in such a way as to make the complaint of the first sonnet appear exaggerated, while sill respecting my emotional distress. When Lisa and I were first married she would beg me to cease “mooning” over her. I couldn’t do that; and here I am, doing it again.

“Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be relieved by prayer,” ends The Tempest, and so, too this collection of song, with my original Epilogue to the Tempest, written before I set the entire play as a chamber opera. (Those who have heard my operatic treatment will find some small differences.)

— Joseph Summer

Begun in 2003, The Shakespeare Concerts presents music inspired by the immortal bard: from original English text settings to settings in translation by composers from the classical period to the 21st century. The mainstay of the series is the music of Joseph Summer, with premieres of more than a quarter of his nearly one hundred Oxford Songs; settings, primarily, of text by William Shakespeare. MUSIC TO HEAR focuses on sonnets, and introduces three contemporary composers to our series’ audience. The Ulysses String Quartet, winner of first prize in the 2018 Schoenfeld International String Competition; grand prize and gold medal in the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition; first place in the American Prize and second prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017 is the featured ensemble for this ninth disc in the Shakespeare Concert Series on Navona.

For further information about concerts and a catalogue of available recordings, please visit:

This album was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Mattina R. Proctor Foundation.


Text by Robert Kelly

Because you opened a book no
one could find
however long we looked
over the Blaek Plain
& the Sea of Reeds,
& opened to a color
landscape inward: the heart, seen three-
quarter size, beating,
the river
of Egypt flows on the left,
we came by
but you were away.
Somewhere reading a tree?
You didn’t see but I was looking in your eyes
& found an hour there,
a time when we will all,
even the two of us,
be together under a tree.
It finds
where our heads were going, it runs
beside the river and welcomes us.
did your book say? I am. I am
said the reed,
when you look at this picture know the heart
lives forever.

Text by Robert Kelly

Love, do not be more clever than the heart.
Do not be clearer. Ever be more, love,
but do not be clearer than the heart.

Do not be clear do not be clever, love,
be more than clever love, be the heart,
Do not be than. Be not clear, be love.

Be more than be. More than the heart, be clear.
more heart than clear, more love than heart, be more
than be more. Do not clear the heart ever.
do not be clever, be love ever more.

The clever do not love, do not ever love,
The clever do not clear the heart, the heart
clearer than not be. The clear do love.
More than love be clear not ever. Be heart.

Text by William Shakespeare

Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:
Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,
Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none.'

Text by William Shakespeare

Alas! 'tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made my self a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new;
Most true it is, that I have looked on truth
Askance and strangely; but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays proved thee my best of love.
Now all is done, have what shall have no end:
Mine appetite I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confined.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

Text by William Shakespeare

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil,
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turned fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell:
Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

Text by William Shakespeare

Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer when from thee I speed:
From where thou art why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.
O! what excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind,
In winged speed no motion shall I know,
Then can no horse with my desire keep pace.
Therefore desire, (of perfect'st love being made)
Shall neigh, no dull flesh, in his fiery race;
But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade-
Since from thee going, he went wilful-slow,
Towards thee I'll run, and give him leave to go.

Text by William Wordsworth

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camöens soothed an exile's grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!

Text by William Shakespeare; from  Othello  (II, 3)

King Stephen was a worthy peer,
His breeches cost him but a crown,
He held them sixpence all too dear,
With that he called the tailor lown.
He was a wight of high renown,
And thou art but of low degree,
'Tis pride that pulls the country down,
Then take thine auld cloak about thee.
Some wine, ho!
And let me the cannikin clink, clink,
And let me the cannikin clink.
A soldier’s a man,
A life’s but a span,
Why then let a soldier drink.

Text by William Shakespeare; from  Macbeth  (IV, 1)

FIRST WITCH   Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

SECOND WITCH   Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined

THIRD WITCH   Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.

FIRST WITCH   Round about the cauldron go; In the poison'd entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone Days and nights has thirty-one Swelter'd venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

ALL   Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

SECOND WITCH   Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL   Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

THIRD WITCH   Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witches' mummy, maw and gulf Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark, Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark, Liver of blaspheming Jew, Gall of goat, and slips of yew Silver'd in the moon's eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab: Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron.

ALL   Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good. And now about the cauldron sing, Live elves and fairies in a ring, Enchanting all that you put in. By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, Whoever knocks!

Text by Denise Levertov, from Sands Of The Well,  ©1996 by Denise Levertov. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Quiet among the leaves, a wren,
fearless as if I were invisible
or moved with a silence like its own.

From bush to bush
it flies without hesitation,
no flutter or whirring of wings.
I feel myself lifted,
lightened, dispersed:

it has turned me to air,
it can fly right through me.

Text by William Shakespeare; from Macbeth (IV, 1)

Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.

The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?—What, will these hands ne'er be clean?—No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that. You mar all with this starting.

Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!

Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on ’s grave.

To bed, to bed. There’s knocking at the gate. Come, come, come, come. Give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone.—To bed, to bed, to bed!

Text by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 97
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

Sonnet 98
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight
Drawn after you, – you pattern of all those.
Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

Text by William Shakespeare from The Tempest

PROSPERO    Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true
I must be here confined by you
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got,
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so, that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.