Pinnacle Vol. 2

Contemporary Chamber Works

Kong-Yu Wong composer
Santiago Kodela composer
Amintas Silva composer
John A. Carollo composer
Adnan Marafi composer
Edmund Cionek composer
Sarah Wallin Huff composer
Joseph T. Spaniola composer

Release Date: September 24, 2021
Catalog #: NV6368
Format: Digital
21st Century
Solo Instrumental
String Quartet

Navona Records presents PINNACLE VOL. 2, a collection of contemporary chamber works by composers John A. Carollo, Edmund Cionek, Sarah Wallin Huff, Santiago Kodela, Adnan Marafi, Amintas Silva, Joseph T. Spaniola, and Kong-Yu Wong, that highlight the melodic, emotive, and dramatic styles offered by today’s chamber music. Throughout the album, the composers explore the cyclicity of life and nature. Simple melodies rise to complexity to represent a father’s inspiration, classical and pop sounds blend to illustrate the boundary between land and sea, rondos conjure the ebb and flow of flooding, and musical idioms combine to bring cultural tradition and modernity together as one.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 A Moon of my Own Kong-Yu Wong Gabriela Diaz, violin; Yoko Hagino, piano 7:13
02 String Quartet “Euphoria” Santiago Kodela Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Petr Gabovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 4:47
03 Symphony Estrangeiro, Feito De Ferro, Revestido De Nobreza: I. Sonho (Dream) Amintas Angel Cardoso Santos Silva Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Petr Gabovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 2:38
04 Symphony Estrangeiro, Feito De Ferro, Revestido De Nobreza: II. MOR Amintas Angel Cardoso Santos Silva Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Petr Gabovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 4:58
05 Piano Etude No. 2 “Sightless” John A. Carollo Lucie Kaucká, piano 2:45
06 String Quartet No. 1: Nile: III. Rondo Allegro “Akhet” Adnan Marafi Benda Quartet | Jakub Černohorský, violin; Petr Gabovský, violin; Petr Benda, viola; Tomáš Svozil, cello 8:03
07 Stolen Moments In Green And Blue: I. Green Edmund Cionek Gabriela Diaz, violin; Yoko Hagino, piano 4:55
08 Stolen Moments In Green And Blue: II. Blue Edmund Cionek Gabriela Diaz, violin; Yoko Hagino, piano 4:57
09 Dodecafunky Sarah Wallin Huff Sarah Brady, flute; Yoko Hagino, piano 5:04
10 Armenian Stirrings: I. Blue Moon Joseph T. Spaniola Rane Moore, clarinet; Yoko Hagino, piano 4:11
11 Armenian Stirrings: II. Alexandria Oror Joseph T. Spaniola Rane Moore, clarinet; Yoko Hagino, piano 4:28
12 Armenian Stirrings: III. Through the Darkness, a Light Joseph T. Spaniola Rane Moore, clarinet; Yoko Hagino, piano 5:27


Recorded April 11-13, 2021 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA
Session Producer, Editing & Mixing Brad Michel
Session Engineer Tom Stephenson

Recorded October 30, 2020 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Pavel Kunčar
Assistant Engineer Jakub Stratílek

Recorded November 16, 2020 at Reduta Hall in Olomouc, Czech Republic
Session Producer Vít Mužík
Session Engineer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič

Recorded March 2, 2021 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák
Editing Jacob Steingart
Addtl. Editing, Mixing Lucas Paquette

Recorded September 29, 2020 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Producer, Editing & Mixing Brad Michel
Session Engineer John Weston
Assistant Engineer Jacob Steingart

Recorded December 7, 2020 at Dům Kultury města Ostravy (The Ostrava House of Culture) in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer, Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Jana Jelínková
Assistant Engineer Mikhail Pavlov

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud
Production Assistant Martina Watzková

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Lewis, Chris Robinson, Jacob Smith

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

Artist Information

Kong-Yu Wong


Kong-Yu Wong was born in Canton and he then became a HongKonger. He studies music at different institutes in China and Hong Kong, and was awarded a PhD from the University of York in England. Principal mentors of his include composers Gao Weijie and Nicola LeFanu. Wong’s recent works include a number of vocal compositions in varied forces and different languages. His piano music for young people is especially welcomed by pianists and audiences alike.

Santiago Kodela

Composer, Guitarist

Santiago Kodela is an award-winning Classical Guitarist & Composer working in the areas of concert, solo instrument, chamber, and choral music. His works explore various aspects of sound and harmony, adventuring intensely into the areas of iso-rhythms, metric modulation, and chord harmonization. In 2022 the album PINNACLE VOL. 2 was awarded the 2nd Prize Silver Medal by North-American Global Music Awards in the classical category. Furthermore, his piece Delicate Soliloquies was shortlisted as a finalist in the 2nd Composition Competition by the Dutch Guitar Foundation by a jury integrated by Steve Goss, JacobTV, and Nikita Koshkin.

Amintas Angel Cardoso Santos Silva


Amintas Angel Cardoso Santos Silva (b. 1977) is a composer, singer, songwriter, writer and diplomat whose passion is expressing himself through art, especially music. He refers to the radio, soundtracks of old Brazilian soap operas, and of course, his mother’s singing as his first musical experiences. He also mentions his father’s old school musical taste as an initial and permanent guidance.

John A. Carollo


John A. Carollo was born in Torino, Italy and brought to the United States by his adoptive parents. When he was in grade school, he studied classical piano and sang in the church choir. While attending college in San Diego CA, he studied music and psychology. During this time, Carollo took piano lessons and began composing his first piano works. He graduated from San Diego State University being granted a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

Adnan Marafi


Adnan Marafi is a Kuwaiti composer born in 1994. He graduated from the College of Basic Education in 2017 where he studied piano and violoncello. In 2019 he travelled to Tashkent and recorded his two suites: Karkadae for flute and piano, and Dune for violin and piano. In 2020 his music was performed at The Academy of Arts and Media for Youths in Kuwait, and was described as “Invigorating, rich, and a unique take on contemporary music.”

Edmund Cionek


Edmund Cionek is a New York-based composer who writes for the theatre and the concert hall. His catalogue of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music reflects a deft blend of classical design, pop elements, and humor mixed in a post-modern style. A student of William Bolcom, he earned the degree DMA in Composition from the University of Michigan. Cionek also studied in Paris with Schoenberg disciple Max Deutsch at the École Normale de Musique. He has served on the Board of Directors of the League of Composers-ISCM, the New York Art Ensemble, and currently The Bar Harbor Music Festival. Edward B. Marks, Carlin America & EDITIONS Amsterdam publish his works. He is a member of ASCAP and AFM-Local 802. He was recently appointed to the College Music Society Music Composition National Advisory Board.

Sarah Wallin Huff

Sarah Wallin Huff


Sarah Wallin Huff is a music lecturer at California Polytechnic University of Pomona, teaching “History of Technology in Music,” for which she published an original textbook with Great River Learning in 2019. She received her M.A. in Music Composition at Claremont Graduate University in 2008, and was the Professor of Composition and Advanced Theory — as well as conductor of the Chamber Ensemble — at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita from 2012-2016.

Joseph T. Spaniola


Dr. Joseph T. Spaniola is a composer on a passionate quest to engage the hearts and minds of audiences and performers through the communicative powers of music. Spaniola is active as a composer, arranger, educator, conductor, lecturer, producer, clinician, and adjudicator. He has composed works for band, orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo instruments, voice, choir, and electronic tape.

Lucie Kaucká


The pianist Lucie Kaucká was born on March 31, 1978 in Kraslice near Karlovy Vary, where she began studying music at the age of seven. She continued her piano studies at the Conservatory of Teplice and the Conservatory of Pardubice with Martin Hröel. After graduation from Pardubice she concentrated on the study of musicology at the Palacky University in Olomouc and finished successfully there in 2003.

Benda Quartet


Since the Benda Quartet began performing in 2012 they have achieved a wide variety of musical successes and established themselves among highly respected Czech ensembles. Their first significant landmark was the concert debut they performed at the 60th Jubilee of the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava in April 2014. The concert was recorded by Czech Radio and garnered a huge audience acclaim. Since then has the collaboration with the studio of Czech Radio continued on regular basis and resulted in a number of publicly appreciated recordings. The Benda Quartet have worked intensively together with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and artist management agency Janáčkův Máj on numerous chamber music and educational projects.

Rane Moore


Clarinetist Rane Moore is well-regarded for her thoughtful, provocative interpretations of standard and contemporary repertoire. Fiercely devoted to the new music communities of the East Coast and beyond, Moore is a founding member of the New York based Talea Ensemble which regularly gives premieres of new works at major venues and festivals around the world. Moore has recently joined the award winning wind quintet, The City of Tomorrow, and is also a member of Boston’s Callithumpian Consort and Sound Icon.


Composed in 2014, at the start this work was intended to be music for dance inspired by Debussy’s Clair de lune. Hence my structure follows the Debussy piece and the first few notes very much recall the Debussy-an opening. The rhythmic subtleties invoke memories of dancing movements and the complex chords enrich the pentatonic solo lines. In recent works of mine I have attempted the contemplation of my Cantonese heritage and this work is considered the first one written down.

— Kong-Yu Wong

Euphoria is a vibrant and rich exploration of isorhythmic motifs and polymetric melodic lines. The string quartet works with pre-defined rhythmic cells and modifies them through non-defined parameters. The piece is tonal and melodic in essence, but ever-so often likes to indulge itself with dissonant delicacies and ear-bending harmonies. Guided by a pulsating and heightening tempo, Euphoria breaks the musical pattern by plunging into a more condensed and sombre colour before the grand return to the vigorous and extravagant upbeat pulse. 

— Santiago Kodela

These works are adaptations of the first and second parts of the third movement of the Symphony: Estrangeiro, Feito de Ferro, Revestido de Nobreza (Foreigner, Made of Iron, Coated with Nobility). The Symphony was inspired by the life and death of my father, Ademir da Silva. He was a pedagogue and teacher, a handsome, old-fashioned good man who came from extreme poverty and against absolutely all odds managed to overcome it. He was born in 1947 and passed away in 2016.

It was a sad time, but it was an inspiring one. I had to learn about compassion to make worth of all my efforts and my ancestors’. My parents were real heroes in a very socially and racially unequal Brazil. Their lives deserve a book. Indeed, I have just written it, to be published soon.

Despite the fact his father abandoned him and his family, he did not follow that cruel example. He was a wonderful dad. His death forced me to ponder the meaning of my life. I took two and a half sabbatical years from my job as a diplomat and started writing the symphony in his honour.

It was a rewarding and rather challenging experience. The only thing I knew was that the second line in G clef represented a G, and the fourth one in a F clef stood for an F. I also knew the relation between the duration of notes, chords, keys and time signatures; nevertheless, only the basics. I did not know the nature, role, and range of Classical Instruments. In fact, I had to learn how to write from the beginning. I only had inspiration, tons of melodies in my heart, and a little help from my friends.

As I was previously familiar with letter notation, I created a system mixing it to modern staff writing. Only after studying by myself and with private teachers, I managed to write music in programs such as Encore and Finale. Melodies and arrangements were ready.

Like my father, I had to come from nothing and rise to a comfortable level. I keep studying music and I am about to finalize the reviewing of the entire symphony. Meanwhile, I present this short adaptation for string quartet.

Sonho (Dream)
It is how I imagined my dad as a Maharaja in a previous lifetime in India.

It is about the moment when family and friends were at my dad’s funeral. On the way to the burial site, I sang this lullaby. It just says how much I love him and how he always protected all of us. By the way, in Portuguese, “MOR” is the first letters of the word morte — meaning death — and the last letters of the word amor, which means love.

— Amintas A. C. S. Silva

Piano Etude No. 2, a study of the tritone, comes from a book of etudes called Maladies. Composed in 2005, this piece is part of a set of 18 piano etudes that are to be performed in sets of three: Maladies, Philosophies, and Histories. While I was composing the first set, many of my friends were beset with medical issues, so I named each work after their medical condition. This work is dedicated to my adopted father, Anthony J. Carollo, who was considered legally blind up to his death in 2001.

Sightless is a work of pure tritones. Knowing that the diminished fifth has had a stirring effect on audiences and has been seen as a dark interval used for chilling effect, I wanted to create, nonetheless, a work of beauty where every harmonic interval from beginning to end was a tritone. Back in the Middle Ages, the tritone was considered unpleasing, and perhaps the work of the devil. And according to some sources, leading church authorities banned its use in ecclesiastical music. The historically sinister case surrounding the use of the tritone was put to rest, and I found the end results to be most pleasing to the ear.

— John A. Carollo

III – Rondo Allegro “Akhet”
I call the third movement of my quartet “Akhet,” which is the Egyptian name for the season when the annual Nile floods occur. The constellation Sirius would also rise in the night sky over the Nile, and coincide with its flooding. It was so predictable that the ancients created a calendar around it and managed their civic duties around it as well, such as building monuments and roads during the flooding season when they couldn’t farm and work the fields. In many places, people also had to move away to escape the dangers of flooding. Although in modern times with the Aswan Dam, and the tensions over a new mega-dam to be built, the Nile does not flood like in older times.

Because of the cyclical nature of the flooding, what vividly came to my mind was the Rondo form, which is a cyclical form of music with the main theme repeating after different sections. I had different materials and an interplay of ideas, so I modified the traditional Rondo form to better express the music.

— Adnan Marafi

Stolen Moments in Green and Blue was commissioned in 2016 by the Bar Harbor Music Festival Artistic Director, Francis Fortier, for the 100th Anniversary of Acadia National Park and the 50th Anniversary of the Bar Harbor Festival. “Stolen Moments” refers to the fact that at the time I was extremely busy on several projects at once and worked consistently on this piece in the wee hours of the morning. “Green” is the lush forests of the park and “blue” is its proximity to the ocean. The piece is typical of my music; a mix of classical and pop sounds. Movement I, marked teneramente, is slow and atmospheric. It revolves around the note B, abstract yet thoughtful and lyrical. D, F#, A, and G# was a pesky motif that would not go away until I wrote it into Movement II as the main theme. Being a fan of jazz violinist Joe Venuti, I could not resist a jazz-tinged treatment marked, “Swing 4, Joe Venuti-esque.”

— Edmund Cionek

A funky solo for flute with piano accompaniment, this intense and spastic work exploits various manipulations of a 12-tone row — a.k.a dodecaphony — and sets the serial melody to a backdrop of hard bop and swing. While it is a flurry of virtuosity, DodecaFunky nonetheless convinces itself not to be taken too seriously.

— Sarah Wallin Huff

Armenian Stirrings was commissioned by and written for clarinetist Ani Berberian. As we talked about possibilities for a work and the artist’s personal interests, several important topics stood out: an incredible encounter Ani had with a blue moon in Bethany Beach DE (a blue moon juxtaposed with a storm and a lighthouse); a beautiful piece of music written by Ani’s grandfather titled Oror (translated as “Lullaby” or “to rock); and Ani’s rich Armenian-American heritage. I chose Stirrings as the title because several meanings of the word capture the essence of what the music is intended to convey. Stir: to mix (as in the beautiful blending of heritages); to evoke or to call forth (as in the calling forth a memory of an experience or tradition); or to rouse to activity (as in motivation to interact mentally and/or physically, or to stir one’s emotions). My goal was to combine these powerful images with the unique musical and technical talents of Dr. Berberian to create an engaging piece of music. The result is Armenian Stirrings: I. “Blue Moon,” II. “Alexandria Oror,” and III. “Through the Darkness, A Light.”

— Joseph T. Spaniola

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