Prisma Vol. 5

Contemporary Works For Orchestra

Lawrence Mumford composer
Kevin Mccarter composer
Samantha Sack composer
Alexis Alrich composer
Anthony Wilson composer
Katherine Saxon composer
William Copper composer

Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra | Jiří Petrdlík, Stanislav Vavřínek – conductors

Release Date: April 9, 2021
Catalog #: NV6344
Format: Digital
21st Century

Navona Records’ acclaimed PRISMA series continues with a fifth installment, again showcasing the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra’s riveting take on contemporary composition. With a focus on innovation and imaginative performance, the orchestra brings a breath of fresh air to a repertoire that’s all-too-often dominated by mainstream works.

United by their accessibility and creative vision, PRISMA VOL. 5’s roster of composers—Alexis Alrich, William Copper, Kevin McCarter, Lawrence R. Mumford, Samantha Sack, Katherine Saxon, and Anthony Wilson—take advantage of the orchestra’s ability to lend music an illustrative and narrative quality. Listeners travel through times and seasons, reconnect with the trust of intimacy, and explore natural wonders as the players weave an aural tapestry that’s as complex as it is original.


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Performance Video

Alexis Alrich – Bell and Drum Tower | Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Symphony No. 4: I. Adagio "Of Times and Seasons" Lawrence Mumford Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 10:14
02 All Along Kevin McCarter Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 6:42
03 A Kiss in the Dark Samantha Sack Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 4:23
04 Bell and Drum Tower Alexis Alrich Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 13:39
05 3 Flights of the Condor Anthony Wilson Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 11:11
06 Nunatak Katherine Saxon Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 6:14
07 This Full Bowl of Roses, Pt. 3 William Copper Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 7:14

Recorded February 11, 13, June 9-10, August 18, September 23, 2020 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava Czech Republic

Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák

Assistant Session Engineer (1, 3, 5) Jana Jelínková

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Mike Juozokas, Jacob Smith, Quinton Blue

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
General Manager of Audio & Sessions, Editing & Mixing (3-5) Jan Košulič
Audio Director, Editing & Mixing (1, 2, 6, 7) Lucas Paquette
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Mastering Shaun Michaud

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

Artist Information

Lawrence Mumford

Lawrence Mumford


Lawrence Mumford's music, published by eight different companies, has premiered in cities across the country. Movements from his Symphony No. 4 have recently become a part of  the broadcast libraries of the largest classical radio stations in Boston, Washington DC,  Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities, and have been played repeatedly — even  being included in two stations’ “Ultimate Playlist.” This music is also available on major streaming services including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. 

Kevin McCarter


Kevin McCarter writes music for chamber groups, solo performers, choral ensembles, and orchestras. His music has been performed in a variety of venues. The Chicago Chamber Orchestra gave the premiere of Opening Ideas at the Chicago Cultural Center. The Manhattan Choral Ensemble commissioned As the Earth Brings Forth Her Bud for a spring performance on the Columbia University campus.

Samantha Sack


Since beginning her musical career as a cellist, Samantha Sack has been exploring the full range of musical expressions. Performing was only the beginning of her journey, as she quickly understood the greatest expression of music was creation. After receiving private composition lessons with Mara Gibson in secondary school, Samantha entered Missouri State University under the John Prescott Composition Scholarship and the Claude T. Smith Composition Scholarship. Graduating with a Bachelor of Music Composition further led her to Dublin, Ireland, to earn a Master of Arts in Scoring for Film and Visual Media from Dublin Institute of Technology.

Alexis Alrich


Alexis Alrich started piano lessons at age eight with a rare teacher who encouraged her to start music composition at the same time. Her studies continued at the New England Conservatory of Music, California Institute of the Arts, and with Lou Harrison at Mills College in California. Harrison was a key mentor, and Alrich’s music is also influenced by West Coast Minimalism, French Impressionism, Asian music, and American roots music. Her compositional style is tonal and melodic, using lively rhythms and colorful timbres to weave a musical narrative.

Anthony Wilson

Anthony Wilson


Anthony Wilson (b. 1962) developed a strong interest in music from an early age. He spent many hours at the piano as a child,  experimenting with various combinations of sound. His parents’ record player also provided the wonderful experience of being able to enjoy both the world of classical music and popular music.  

Katherine Saxon


Like many composers, I have a hard time classifying my music. My unconscious influences undoubtedly include the 20th c. Russian composers that I so enjoyed as a young trumpet player, the vocal music of the Middle Ages and Renaissance I discovered when I started singing, and the 20th c. French and American music I came to love in college. That aside, I often draw inspiration from visual sources, including the Pre-Raphaelites, Japanese animation, and abstract expressionism, as well as literary sources, such as poetry and the genres of fantasy and science fiction. I am fascinated with how these art forms make the normal seem strange and the strange seem normal.

William Copper

William Copper


William Copper is an American composer of contemporary classical music, a theorist, and the authority on Intonalism, the science of structuring music according to intonation. His music is praised for its beauty, structural integrity, and innovative originality. He has been a life-long supporter and volunteer as Board Member and officer for music and cultural organizations.

Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava


The Janáček Philharmonic is a world-class symphony orchestra based in Ostrava, Czech Republic and an emerging figure on the international performance scene. With over 100 top-level musicians, the orchestra aims to introduce unique, quality repertoire while showcasing their own recognizable sound.

Jiří Petrdlík


Jiří Petrdlík (b. 1977) is appreciated as one of the most respectable conductors of his generation. He studied piano, trombone, and conducting — 1995–2000 at Prague Conservatory, and 2000–2005 at Academy of Performing Arts Prague — with Hynek Farkač, Miroslav Košler, Miriam Němcová, Radomil Eliška, and Tomáš Koutník, and took part in the masterclasses of the New York Philharmonic Principal Conductor Kurt Masur and the BBC Philharmonic Principal Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. Petrdlík also successfully took part in several competitions, including the Donatella Flick Conductor Competition in London.

Stanislav Vavřínek


Stanislav Vavřínek is one of the most prominent Czech conductors and has been Chief Conductor of the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice since 2018. Having graduated from the Conservatory in Brno where he studied flute and conducting, he continued his education at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Subsequently, he also took master classes with Roberto Benzi in Switzerland, culminating with a concert in which he conducted the Biel Philharmonic Orchestra.


Adagio: Of Times and Seasons is a slow movement for orchestra. It owes its inspiration to various iconic 20th-century symphonic adagios by composers like Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, and Dmitri Shostakovich; and to the mildly syncopated, modal musical language found in both recent dramatic film scores and various American root musics. A strident opening theme is later answered with a more subdued one, and as both are developed they prove to be drawn from the same patterns. Instrumentation is straightforward, except that the Violins are divided into three groups and the Cellos into two.

The premiere of the piece was planned for a national composers’ conference to be held in greater Los Angeles, but due to Covid-19 restrictions the event was cancelled. I am very grateful to the Janáček Philharmonic for their willingness to undertake this recording. 

— Lawrence Mumford

All Along moves through passages that are slow or quick, curious, eager, rejoicing, or patient.  It includes short gestures that are shared among instruments, repeated and varied, and longer melodic lines, also colored by multiple instruments. The music is organized as five main sections, each concluding with a sustained chord (sometimes combined with a pause) and followed by a change in texture. This provides the outward shape of the piece. There’s also an underlying feeling or character that persists through the changes, and the fact that it’s there all along unifies the music — and gave the piece its title.

— Kevin McCarter

Intimacy is a word used too shallowly in normal speech. It means so much more in reality than any dictionary can give it credit for. Intimacy is the trust to let another person into the deepest recesses of your soul. It goes beyond the oxytocin given from the connection of touch; it’s in the relief in sharing a secret with a trusted source, the flood of emotions when letting down defenses, and the harmony of being able to look at someone and understand what they’re thinking without a single word spoken. These almost psychic connections paired with physical sensations complete my interpretation.

In writing this piece, I wanted to recreate this feeling that many people know but may not know how to express. To recreate the understanding that one can reach out in the dark and touch someone in love and trust. The awareness of one’s internal walls floating in weightless space. The feeling of gliding in the endless blue, with gold stars blushing fuchsia. Euphoria.

— Samantha Sack

In ancient days, the cities of China built imposing towers for bells and drums which they used for keeping time. Beijing still has its bell and drum towers today.

While composing this piece, I imagined the tones reverberating through the dusty air, the bells in the morning and the drums in the evening.

Bell and Drum Tower could be called a tone poem or fantasy: a narrative winding through different scenes and moods. The style is based on traditional Western music but is influenced by the clear, resonant harmonies and colorful patterns of Chinese music.

The piece begins with a timpani solo — the “drum” of the title — followed by a cello motif which suggests the mystery and ancient air of Beijing. This restless, yearning theme returns periodically, sandwiched between contrasting episodes. The other main musical idea is played by clangorous brass and chimes suggesting the massive bronze bells of the bell tower.

Interpolated episodes vary from rhythmic and festive to lyrical and atmospheric. Ostinato figures introduced by the piano, for instance, are overlaid with instrumental fragments suggesting festive street scenes. A more lyrical episode, reminiscent of a tragic Chinese love story, features an English horn solo. A section marked “Languid” is slower, suggesting a disjunction in time, or a message from the past. These ideas are woven into the main bell and drum themes as the piece gathers momentum.

The final section starts with a repeated xylophone figure (related to the opening timpani solo) and builds layer by layer, adding strings, percussion, winds, piano and brass until it reaches an energetic climax.

— Alexis Alrich

The Condor is a large bird native to the American continent. It is famous for its large wing span as well as for being able to fly to great heights – as high as 15,000 feet. In the latter part of the 20th century, the condor became extinct in the wild; but with a careful breeding program in captivity the wild condor population has been successfully restarted.

This piece of music evolved out of a considerable amount of mental visual imagery. The opening of the piece describes a desolate scene at the top of a high mountain. Initially, there is no sign of any life, until little fragments of movement reveal a young Condor bird nervously preparing itself to fly for the first time. The three flights, which are all depicted in this piece, are based on the same musical theme and they represent three different stages of life.

The first flight, which occurs when the bird is very young, is the bird’s first successful attempt at flying. While there is a sense of wonder and beauty within this flight, it is essentially a cautious one.

The second flight occurs when the bird has reached its full physical maturity, and so this flight is much more daring, majestic and adventurous. The third flight occurs towards the end of the bird’s life. This is the flight of wisdom, and as such it is a more introspective and spiritual flight borne out of a lifetime of experience.

— Anthony Wilson

An exposed, often rocky element of a ridge, mountain, or peak not covered with ice or snow within an ice field or glacier.

Nunatak was written in 2019 during a road trip across the western U.S. with my mother and one year old daughter, a trip that took us from Santa Barbara, California to the Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen CO. The original version was read by the Conducting Academy Orchestra during the festival, but underwent significant revisions over the following months and in preparation for this recording. Special thanks to my family for giving me the time to complete this project, and especially to my mother, Gaye Saxon, without whom the composition of this piece over long days on the road with a child in tow would have been nigh impossible.

Driving from Santa Barbara CA to Aspen, I was struck by the enormity of landscapes and landforms: the Mohave, the Colorado River, and the Rockies. As we traveled, my mind wandered north, to the glaciers of Alaska and Canada. I mourned the melting of the glaciers and what it means for human misfortune. It occurred to me then that the glaciers do not mourn, that, from the perspective of the mountains buried beneath, the earth is not being destroyed, merely changed. Future generations of humans may be irrevocably burdened by this change, but the mountains will persist, triumphant over us and our folly.

Blue ice melts, revealing landscapes beneath.
Mountains burst forth,
And break free from fields of ice.
Inhospitable winds whip snow to glittering flurries.
Forces too massive for us to comprehend, churning,
indifferent to human fears.

— Katherine Saxon

This Full Bowl of Roses, Part III is in the form of a fugue appropriate to the image of the roses in the bowl, as described so beautifully in the poem of the same name by Ranier Maria Rilke. The music is written in a rigorous form of just intonation, called Intonalism, created by William Copper. Every interval, melodic or harmonic, is perfectly tuneable, and easily hearable by the musicians who played the piece. The music starts very quietly, with the statement of the subject in the violoncello, with successive entries adding to the texture and the power of the music. The answer, as first heard in the viola, is modified in ways used by Bach, and others, to make a fugue more rounded, allowing the music to return tonally to its origin before moving again away.

— William Copper

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